We stepped off the train and immediately immersed ourselves in a flood of sounds of the Amazonian Cloud Forest. Beyond us, Machu Picchu staggered hidden behind jungled cliff-sides as scattered clouds fluttered around the bend. I’ll save you the fluff. We’ve all heard of Machu Picchu’s stunning reputation, but what I didn’t know coming to see this great place for my second time is how it would personally affect me.
I don’t know if I can accurately explain it. I can’t really give it full justice. I arrived at the gates of the World Heritage Site brimming with excitement. After multiple plane rides, shuttle buses, trains and again another bus, I’m standing amongst one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It’s a mix of disbelief, confusion towards what you’re seeing and its significance, and jaw-dropping awe. It almost seems unreal, as if you’re looking at a hologram, and then you step into the hidden city.
Before I knew it, after what seemed like minutes on the mountain (but in actuality was a full 4 hours), I was on my way back down to the Aguas Calientes - a town quite literally at the base of Machu Picchu. My eyes welled up at the thought of knowing when I would be back at this magical place. If you have yet to venture to Machu Picchu, please do yourself a favor and put it on the top of your list as it’s an experience you will never forget.
Stepping onto the cobblestone paths towards Hotel Casa Sumaq had me in high spirits as I observed the great Vilcanota River roaring just to the side of me. Perhaps the best surprise of the day was realizing that my room had a direct view of the incredible river. As I unpacked my suitcase I spotted several tropical birds lazily lounging on my balcony, all the while the river’s sound permeating the room. We enjoyed Pisco Sours at the bar and continued to marvel at the view, gazing at the cliffs bordering Machu Picchu.
I’ve got to be honest. We only had one night at Casa Sumaq and I just did not want to leave! We had plenty of amazing things to see on our trip, but being amongst the cloud forest, listening to the river, the atmosphere is electric. I could spend weeks in this region and not once ever stop being amazed. Casa Sumaq’s location is the number one aspect that makes it one of the best places to stay in Aguas Calientes. It’s the closest hotel to Machu Picchu. Wake up in the jungle to the sounds of the Vilcanota, and you’ll never want to leave. Plus, Aguas Calientes was fantastic in and of itself to explore.
A round of applause for our tour guides at Lima Tours for setting up this fantastic itinerary. Also must thank my travel companions and fellow photographers for contributing here @AndyLalwani, @JustinCBlomgren & @HarperBF.