Peru – Day 7

Day 7 was a leisurely day consisting of walking up to Los Jardines de Mandor, aka the Botanical Gardens and Waterfall. Not very many people know about the waterfall and it’s probably better that way because the fewer people visiting, the more serene and tranquil it remains. There were only a handful of visitors while we were there today between 10:45am and 1:15pm and that was really nice.

  • Ate breakfast at The Tree House Restaurant
  • Walked an hour from the center of town to the Mandor Botanical Gardens
  • Hung out at the garden for some time
  • Missed the turnoff back to town and walked along the railroad tracks, convincing my friend we wouldn’t die in the tunnels
  • Enjoyed lunch once again at The Tree House Restaurant
  • Caught the train to Cusco and made new friends aboard train
  • Shared taxi with new friends
  • Checked into hotel and had room service

It takes about an hour to walk from town to Los Jardines de Mandor for a round trip of roughly 7 miles. On the road up to Machu Picchu, there’s a fork in the road that leads to the ruins if you follow the road straight but if you go right, you’d head to the botanical gardens. There is a small yellow sign at the fork. When you make it up to the main road and hit the railroad tracks, continue left. Also I’d mark the spot or take note of the area so you know where the turnoff back down is because we completely overshot it on our return trip and had to walk along the railroad and river the entire way back. That’s fine and all since you can’t get lost, however, you have to ignore the warnings to not walk through two tunnels and simply do it. We made sure the train had passed before entering and there’s room in the tunnel should you have to move to the side of the tracks. My friend wasn’t very convinced we’d live but we did and here we are, alive to tell about it. She wanted to turn around even though we knew the tracks led to town. To make her feel more at ease, I even asked a senor walking behind us if we were going the right way in Spanish and he reassured me that we were.

From the vendors on the side of the road, it’s about another 35 minutes to the front gate of the Mandor Botanical Gardens. Ignore the Botanical Gardens Green Point Peru sign. I don’t know where that goes. You’ll know you’ve made it to the intended Mandor Botanical Gardens because you’ll see a sign that says Los Jardines de Mandor and a small arrow that says Recepcion to the left as well as parked train carts and a lovely garden and restaurant. It cost 10 Soles to enter the gardens. You should go potty after paying and then ask the ticket agent to lead you across the train tracks to the gate of the gardens. I’d plan for one and a half to two hours in the gardens and visiting the waterfall. The walk to the garden is rocky, literally, walking on rocks, but the walk inside the gardens is very easy. We loved the plants and flowers in the gardens and the waterfall is beautiful. Many of the plants are marked with signs bearing their names at the beginning of the trail. We saw many birds and butterflies. There’s also a rock garden and many gazebos to sit under so you can bring a picnic lunch to enjoy, just remember to take your trash with you. Visiting the gardens was a great way to spend our last day in Aguas Calientes and we highly recommend a visit to the Mandor Botanical Gardens and Waterfall.

We walked back to town hurrying through two tunnels to be sure we didn’t get hit by the train. We don’t know how we missed the road back to town but we did. It’s totally fine if you don’t see the turnoff because the railroad tracks lead directly into Aguas Calientes. Just be very careful going through the tunnels. There’s room in the tunnels should you need to move for the train though it is dark in there and it seems scary. The silver lining on this adventure was stumbling upon a cool wall carving and the Machu Picchu sign.

After lunch, we headed to the train station and enjoyed our first class accommodations aboard the panoramic PeruRail Vistadome train. We were offered non-alcoholic drinks and snacks of a vegetarian sandwich and cupcake. A half bottle of wine was available for purchase for 45 Soles. The views abroad the train were cool and the ride was pleasant and comfortable. The journey included a fashion show of alpaca wear and a dance show. Both were short and entertaining.

We made friends on the train with some nice girls from Sao Paulo, Brazil and shared a taxi to town with them. Hopefully, we’ll see them on the Rainbow Mountain in the next few days or when they visit San Francisco one day.

The drive to our Cusco hotel was about 30 minutes. As we drove towards the city, we realized we’re really in the city with lots of lights, people every where and many buildings in the hills. Our hotel room at Torre Dorada is cute and the service is really friendly. They said they have a car service and will provide us with a phone for our venture into town the next few days which will be awesome as we hop around the maze of downtown. We got in fairly late tonight so we were happy to have the convenience of room service available but the Lomo Saltado wasn’t so good though the Sopa de Beef with Noodles and Banana Split were both tasty.