We only made it to Machu Picchu by pure luck. It’s the kind of luck that is sometimes bestowed upon travellers and keeps us chasing that luck for a lifetime. The type of luck that restores our faith in the world, and the idea that everything, somehow, works out as planned. This luck is like a drug that drives travellers to continue experiencing a greater world outside their own, and gives them the courage to explore the unknown. We call it Wanderluck
After we were married in Costa Rica, lovingly encircled by our family and close friends, we continued south to Peru to begin our honeymoon. The only thing we knew for certain was that we wanted to stay in the epic glass-pod hotel, Natura Vive, attached to the side of a cliff in the Andes mountains (which we wrote about here) and, of course, see the iconic Incan ruins Machu Picchu! We hoped the rest would fall into place..
The most important thing to know about travelling to Machu Picchu is that you must plan ahead. As I said, we didn’t plan much, but we did plan for Machu Picchu. The trouble was, as is common with travel, plans change. The 3 years before our wedding had been incredibly stressful and challenging. I was the victim of a hit and run by the driver of an SUV, leaving me in a wheelchair and recovering from multiple hip surgeries. At the time of our honeymoon, I was a year away from my last hip surgery and had spent time at home getting back into hiking in order to prepare for our trek to Machu Picchu. Due to tourism laws meant to protect the environment as well as tourists biting off a bit more than they can chew on an epic hike at extreme elevations, you must book your trek to Machu Picchu through a tour company that has already secured a permit to hike the trail. We were about to finalise our booking and were looking forward to the Lares Trek leading us through the Andes, with the ultimate destination of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To our extreme disappointment, I realised there was no way that my hip was ready for backpacking multiple miles a day, at altitude, with a weighted pack. No, hiking into Machu Picchu was going to have to wait. We just hoped that didn’t mean that Machu Picchu itself wasn’t possible to visit on our trip to Peru, because when we logged online to book entry tickets to Macchu Picchu, we found that they were sold out. I knew that seeing Machu Picchu was a childhood dream for my husband, so I couldn’t help but feel I was letting him down.
At this point, you’re probably wondering about the title of this piece, because you haven’t heard of any good luck so far. Well, that’s about how we were feeling too, until one day, Wanderluck put us on the right track.
[title maintitle=”” subtitle=”Our Wanderluck”]
Looking back, our new journey to Machu Picchu really started in the smaller town of Abancay, where we decided to spend the night to acclimatise to the elevation before Cusco. In the morning the front desk called a taxi for us, and this is where our Machu Picchu Wanderluck began.
As we drove the windy roads to Cusco, our driver noticed our penchant for photography and began stopping at optimal viewpoints. Locals always ask tourists if they plan to see Machu Picchu, so when our driver asked, we shared our disappointment that the tickets were sold out. We couldn’t believe we had travelled all the way to Peru and we were going to miss our opportunity to see these amazing ruins!
Our driver began speeding up, winding quickly around the serpentine road as we began to descend into Cusco, its lights flickering warmly in the distance. He was pointing at the clock in his car while talking rapidly in Spanish. He told us that he thought we might still have a chance to get tickets if we made it to the government’s regional cultural office before they closed at 5pm. Apparently, there are reserve tickets for tourists who arrive in person!
We arrived just minutes before closing. Our driver dropped us off in front of the Dirección Regional de Cultural (DRC), smiling and shaking our hands, wishing us luck in getting our tickets. We thanked him profusely for his knowledgeable help and for reigniting our hope and sending us back on our journey to Machu Picchu!
I waited in a nearby restaurant with our backpacks while Niels went into the office hoping for tickets. As I sat waiting, I rocked back and forth to the sounds of a pan flute and drum played by two local musicians, while trying to decipher the menu with my new Spanish. Niels walked in with a sombre look on his face. I stopped dancing and returned his sombre look. As he neared the table, he reached into his back pocket and produced two slips of paper, beaming. I smacked his arm lightly, chiding him for his cruel joke, and we laughed and toasted our first Pisco Sours in Peru to the kindness of our driver, and that traveller magic, Wanderluck.
[title maintitle=”” subtitle=”But Wait, There’s More!”]
I’d love to tell you that was all, and skip to when we went to Machu Picchu and had the time of our lives, but this was just the beginning of the journey. Once we got our tickets to enter Machu Picchu, we had to secure transportation to the ruins themselves, and that is a multi-step process which must be booked in advance.
It’s our sincere hope that hearing about our saga of getting to Machu Picchu will help you avoid the same pitfalls we experienced. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to plan their travels, we hope this will be your catalyst for choosing to plan ahead for some of your adventures. Trust us, the view from the top of Montaña Machu Picchu is worth the planning!
[title maintitle=”” subtitle=”More Wanderluck and Machu Picchu?”]
Check out more photos and read more about Camille and Niels’ Wanderluck which finally helped them reach beautiful Machu Picchu in the second part of their Wanderluck story here! If you want to read more about the adventures of Camille and Niels, you can check out their Story of my World profile or take a look on their blog: www.CoupleaWanderers.com or follow their Instagram for more crazy travel photos!