Thanks to Radioman's advanced efforts to reserve us our entry to Machu Picchu (go to the official ministry of tourism to pay the right price, around US$50) and Huaynu Picchu (additional US$10, but very worth it), we didn't have too much to do while in Cusco.
(main plaza in Cusco. This town is full of gringos and of people trying to sell massages and meals to gringos. It could grow old fast. There were some nice places to see, and redeeming qualities, though)
Two main things on our list were to find a good book exchange for Jill (mainly) and to find a new front tire for Mike (well, for both of us, but Mike gets to have this errand). The book exchange was a flop. The bookstores all have really crappy English books, if any at all. Some bars/coffee shops advertise book exchanges, but they are in it for profit even if you have a book to trade (talking more than US$15 for used books and they'll give you about 3...). Hostels didn't have much to offer. No dice. But Mike found a new front tire!
(scary old Sahara 3)
(brand new MT-21! at a fair cost of S/150, US$57)
Exploring some more of Cusco by foot allowed us to see a bit more than just the main plazas and markets. Highlights included the all you can eat Indian food buffet for S/15 (alright, alright, this is kind of what we were complaining about just a second ago, but they didn't have a pusher-man out front, just a sign), the used clothes market, and the wild, attacking vicuñas.
(when walls may fall down, they just put up a sign and let you figure it out)
(FYI - this is what a vicuña looks like when he's angry and wants to attack. In a guide book we read that you can enter the grounds of some public building and pet llamas and vicuñas, which sounded like fun. We had a different sort of fun...)
(...vicuña running wildly in attack mode...)
(...vicuña chasing an unexpecting female tourist in circles, trying to kick her in the face...)
(...eventually the vicuña calmed down and just wanted to eat her clothes. All while this was happening, we, and the male companion of the tourist being attacked, were laughing hysterically. But we were also glad the vicuña didn't choose us as the target.)
(crazy hail storm at la Estrellita)
The route to Machu Picchu took us through the Sacred Valley, past tons of Incan ruins, and through some interesting little towns. I'm sure a train ride up would be beautiful and scenic, but our approach was tough to beat!
(on the plaza in Ollantaytambo)
(Riding through Ollantaytambo, with ruins immediately ahead)
(ruins seen from the road exist all throughout the Sacred Valley)
(Radioman following us through the switchbacks. He was nice to slow his new machine down to match our old school, 2-up pace.)
(twisties on the way up to the 14000+ ft summit of Abra de Malaga)
(sometimes you gotta stop)
(getting closer to Sta Teresa we ran into Guillaume, a Frenchman living in Thailand on a South American break for 6 months. His story is HERE
(some of these drainage troughs were super slippery, coated with a layer of moss or algae on the bottom. Crossing one we had a fun little TA dance going, but luckily held it together)
(the last couple of hours to Sta Teresa were on this fun dirt road)
(Mark loving the ride)
(pulling up next to Mark on the road to Sta Teresa)
(surprise truck passing around a bend is old hat by now. But somehow still always a surprise)
Arriving in Sta Teresa, we found a nice little hostel that offered camping and a place to park the bikes for S/5 a night.
(bike storage in Sta Teresa. The owner even kept our boots and riding gear locked up inside. It worked out well)
As luck turned out, there was a van getting loaded to take a run the 7 km up to the hydroelectric damn. So we jumped in for the going rate of S/5 each. There you can either take a train to Aguas Calientes or walk, but since the train cost almost US$20 one way, you can guess what we did.
(on the way to Aguas Calientes. It's a 2.5 hour walk but pretty flat so easy overall)
(no walking, whaaat?)
(although the train would've been faster. We didn't know it at the time, but at top left is Machu Picchu. The walk takes you right around Huaynu Picchu, and you get glimpses of terraced land down lower on the hillsides at times, but man, this site was well-hidden)
(with how many different layers we wear as moto travelers, we're all used to changing quickly wherever. We just consider it a "cultural exchange")
Aguascalientes is a little tourist hotspot that's been overbuilt with accomodations and restaurants. The best offer is generally the 4 x 1 mixed drinks (mmmm, pisco sour) - but make sure you get your free nachos with it, they often try to get out of that part - and the S/15 menú. Simple but good options. However, the draw to Aguascalientes has nothing to do with what Aguascalientes itself offers; it has everything to do with what sits beside it...
IF TAKING THIS RIDE:
2uprtw posted excellent info HERE
and excerpted below
Originally Posted by 2uprtw
If you’re up for a bit of adventure you can try getting to Machu Picchu with your own vehicle. It is relatively easy once you know how. Here is the route:
From Cusco make you way to the village of Ollantaytambo (a 2 hour drive on paved roads)
From Ollantaytambo go to the village of Santa Maria (a 2 hour drive that brings you up to over 4000 meters then drops you back down into a valley, this road is paved for the first part then turns to gravel)
From Santa Maria you make your way to Santa Theresa (a 2 hour drive on gravel, some stretches are dangerous but not technically difficult)
In Santa Theresa find parking for you vehicle (lots of small hotels do this) and take a cab to the hydro station (a 45 minute ride)
From the hydro station you walk along train tracks to the village of Aguas Calientes, at the base of Machu Picchu (2 hour walk)
You just saved about 90$ in train fare!