Wayward Lovers

[wey-werd] turning or changing irregularly; irregular: a wayward breeze.

Adventure Overview: Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, and Cusco

Before I get into too much detail about this amazing Andean adventure I want to share an overview of how we did it. Everyone has a “best” way to go to Machu Picchu and while mine might not be the the best for everyone, I do think it worked out well for me and the type of travel I like.

This trip was unique for us because it was more of a traditional vacation; little to no work, faster travel between places, and over Christmas. Despite being in classic vacation mode I still like to do things in a certain stress-free way. I like to prioritize quality over quantity which means a slow pace and not having a strict schedule. I think we did a good job at planning for that.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Day 1 Dec 19
    • Fly into Cusco from Lima
    • We took a pre booked taxi to Ollantaytambo (Valley). There are reasonable buses and shuttles as well.

Our goal was to avoid any dramatic altitude sickness by going down to the Sacred Valley for a few days to adjust before heading back to Cusco at the breathtaking elevation of 3400m. Ollantaytambo was the obvious choice because the town has amazing Inca ruins to see and the train to Machu Picchu leaves from there.

  • Day 2 Dec 20
    • See sites in Ollantaytambo
    • We spent a big chunk of the day at Pinkuylluna ruins climbing around.
    • Then we found the Sacred Valley Brewing Company in Pachar (just outside of Ollantaytambo).
  • Day 3 Dec 21 (Machu Picchu day)
    • Train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes (https://incarail.com)
      • Inca Rail offers a combo ticket that includes return train ticket, return bus ticket, Machu Picchu ticket, and lunch on the train.
      • Leaving 11:15 AM (because not a morning person)
    • Shuttle Bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
    • Arrive at Machu Picchu 1-1:30 PM
    • Explore Machu Picchu until it closes at 5pm. I felt like this was a perfect amount of time to be in the ruins. They only offer morning or afternoon tickets to limit the amount of people in the ruins and I read that the morning can be busier. This worked out perfectly since I hate mornings.
    • Shuttle bus back to Aguas Calientes.
    • We had supper in the town, walked around a bit, and found our train.
    • Train back to Ollantaytambo
      • Leaving 8:20 PM
      • Arriving 10 PM
  • Day 4 Dec 22
    • The smelliest Collectivo (bus) back to Cusco
  • Dec 22 – Dec 27 Cusco (5 nights)
    • We checked out Saqsaywaman ruins.
    • Enjoyed the Christmas Market.
    • Watched the crazy Cusco Christmas Eve fireworks.
    • Went to Museo Casa Concha about the “discovery” of Machu Picchu.
    • Visited the Pre-Colombian Art Museum. My favourite.
    • A few other little museums.
    • Went to a beautiful native Peruvian folk music & dancing performance.
  • Dec 27
    • Fly back to Lima

That’s pretty much it and all of it was incredible! I’m going to make a few posts going into the details of the big stuff. I took a tonne of photos that I think are worth sharing.