Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Aguas Calientes: The Town That Is Unavoidable on Your Way To Machu Picchu

 We took the train (pretty much the only way unless you choose to hike in) to Aguas Calientes.  Russell scored awesome seats in the first row of the train so we had an up close, panoramic view of the scenery during the trip.  Unfortunately, I felt horrible the whole time so I spent much of the train ride in the fetal position.

trying to survive the bug

the greatest part about the train is that it traveled at about 10mph  which made it easy to take pictures!

look at those rapids 
a small town on the edge of the tracks

our panoramic view from the train

can't beat views like this!

Aguas Calientes, the town at the bottom of Machu Picchu where the train arrives, has a unique charm, but is no doubt the most touristy place we visited- a giant market and rows and rows of backpackers hotels mixed with restaurants peddling hamburgers, pizza, spaghetti, and mexican food...odd.

We stayed in an amazing place, Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, which was a much needed respite so I could recover from my "bug" (literally) in comfort.  All Inkaterra hotels are based on eco-friendly values and they are very sustainable.  At this hotel they have a tea farm and fruits and vegetable farm where they get most of their produce for their restaurant.

our casita
living room/bedroom

yes, that is a glass shower to the left, beautiful views of nature!

"the" place for my afternoon recovery rest

our plunge pool and patio

After a rest, we decided to go on a little tea farm excursion.  We learned how tea is made from harvest to the tea cup.

Angel is showing us the perfect tea leaf- you only pick the baby leaves that have just sprouted

mmm, smells like a fresh plant...not like tea

searching for the perfect leaf

Russell's working hard

keep working Russell! I have more leaves that you!

This is a tea tree berry where tea tree oil comes from

some of the leaves I gathered
The tea hut- where the tea magic happens!

 the first step is to make a tea leaf mash

finished product! From here the leaves are cured and then slowly dried over a fire pit

Then, the dried leaves are sifted to remove any large leaves or stems...

and now its time to make the tea bags!

It's tough work!

He did it! 
and so did I!


We woke up early for a bird watching excursion before we headed up the mountain.  Unfortunately the excursion was a bust- I don't think our guide was into leading a 6:30am tour.  First, he left us for being 30 seconds late and second, the tour went something like this:
tour guide holds up a card with a bird on it: "this is a ____ in spanish it is called a _____ in Quechuan it is called a _____.  You might see one here."
people on tour with binoculars: desperately search for birds and see nothing but the Peruvian equivalent to the robin or maybe wren.
tour guide: stands without looking through his binoculars for birds...or looking for birds at all...or pointing out things tour members might like to see
(3 minutes pass)
tour guide: ok, we will move on
and this repeated for about 3 stops until Russell and I ducked out of the tour.

Get excited for our next post about our Machu Picchu excursion!  I was going to include it in this post but with all the pictures it would just be TOO LONG!


  1. Hmm, how did you like your final tea creation? I am curious if it tasted anything like what you anticipated.

  2. The tea was great! Very smooth, no bitterness at all!