29 September 2007, Saturday
Backpacker, Vistadome or Hiram Bingham?
In case you are wondering, those are three (classes) of trains that go from Cusco to Aquas Calientes. Backpacker is the most economical yet clean and comfortable. Vistadome is everything that Backpacker has with additional windows in the roof allowing you to see the green mountainous terrain. Hiram Bingham is a 5 star super luxury traveling experience. Roundtrip fares are: Backpacker - $60, Vistadome - $90 and Hiram Bingham - $400. What swung it for Backpacker for us is that the Backpacker leaves at 6:15 AM as compared to 6:00 AM for Vistadome. Additional 15 minutes of sleep :) (BTW, if we had chosen the Vistadome, I would have spun it has 15 minutes of less crowded Machu Picchu)
The Backpacker it was. The highest train journey of my life. 4 hours of exotic landscape, with the track running almost parallel to the Urubamba.
After we were done craning our necks looking at the towering green toped mountains, ancient terraces lining the sheer cliffs, Llamas and Alpacas freely grazing in meadows, clean clothed kids flying kites, we settled back relaxed and braced ourselves for the lost city of the Inkas
At the quaint little town of Aguas Calientes, we were picked up by our local tour people, shown to our little hotel with a view of the mountain (every room in town has some view of some mountain), ate a hurried brunch and setout.