Climbing to Machu Picchu very early morning.
Machu Picchu is a must for every visitor of Peru who has time enough to get out of Lima. Not seeing it would be like missing the Pyramids during a visit of Cairo, neglecting the Eiffel Tower while being in Paris or refusing a visit of the Acropolis when the wandering shues bring you to Athens.
If we have had enough time we would have opted for a few days on an Inca trail, that would have been an amazing experience. But we hadn’t enough time and the following events showed us that it was better like that.
4 am my alarm clock rang.
Oaaahhh, I wished I could sleep a little bit longer. But I knew that if I did that Machu Picchu would be full of tourists when we would arrive. We wanted to avoid the worst masses, that’s why we woke up that early. Within half hour we were ready to leave. The guy at the reception was still snoozing when we passed by. I told him that we were leaving and asked him for the direction how to get to Machu Picchu. There’s actually a bus which brings the tourists up to the entrance of the sight for some 7 USD one way, but we didn’t plan to take it. If we missed the Inca trail we would at least get uphill from Aguas Calientes on our own. It wasn’t even that could outside as we expected…just damn dark. Especially after we left Aguas Calientes behind us. At least Pavel had a small flash light, so he walked in front of us.
Climbing to Machu Picchu very early morning, Pavel waiting for our friends.
Even in the darkness we realized that there was one little group in front of us and another one behind us. The first part of the trail was really easy to manage, the harder part came later after some 30 minutes of walking. We arrived soon at a small path leading steep up. The road we used to come here continued less steep to the left, but we decided to take the shortcut we found here. Of course we had to be damn careful as we couldn’t see much in the darkness and Pavel’s flashlight just saved us from being completely blind. Despite that everything went smoothly…the first 20 minutes. Then Marian and even Dan started to show some fatigue. And it was getting worse and worse. The breaks our two friends took were becoming longer and longer. Me and Pavel tried to convince them not to give up, but they were slowly getting to their limits. The truth is that Marian’s missing fitness wasn’t such a big surprise as he’s not the sportiest guy, but I wondered a bit about Dan. At that time I haven’t realized what the real reason for his weakness was.
Dan and Pavel.
After a while Pavel decided not to wait anymore.
Making breaks so often was messing up his and my climbing rhythm. Behind one of the further curves when I was animating my friends to follow me and all I heard was again that I should leave them some more 5 minutes, I gave up as well. I told them then I’m going further alone and they agreed, they would follow according to their possibilities.
Soon I found my rhythm and the walking became much easier. It was getting lighter already, damn, I hoped to reach the entrance before they open it. I sweat like crazy and suddenly I needed some little break as well. And then finally I heard some voices, I had to be close. Just few meters more.
Oh no, the queue I saw suddenly in front of me was pretty long already. But there was Pavel waving at me, he was in about the middle of that queue.
Could have been worse. Now when we were two at least we went one by one to the toilet to change into dry T-shirts, didn’t want to catch a cold here. Couple of minutes later they started to let visitors inside of the Machu Picchu site but Dan and Marian weren’t still here. We would meet inside then.
Daylight was slowly coming.
It’s quite incredible that for long time after the Spanish colonization nobody besides the indigenous Quechuas knew about the existence of this place. It was an American historian called Hiram Bingham who discovered it 1911 while being guided by a local boy.
Few steps later the ruins of Machu Picchu revealed themselves and stretched out in front of us.
What an amazing view. We proceed up the zigzagging staircases to the Hut of the Caretaker of the Funerary Rock, which is one of the few buildings that has been restored with a thatch roof. From here we could get a good view of the whole complex. While making some pictures Pavel discovered Marian downstairs. Finally he arrived. But where was Dan? We waved him and after a while he noticed us and followed the same way we took before. According to him Dan was down by the plaza taking some pictures. Either he would reach us where we were or we would meet him when getting to the plaza as well. We passed a little bit further and sit down. From here we had a magnificient view above the complex and the mountains surrounding us. We had something to eat in our small backpacks so we decided to have some little breakfast. Don’t really know if it’s allowed there, but I assure that we didn’t leave any trash. And we got also to see a little spectacle. A little cloud appeared and covered the Machu Picchu complex completely, must have been sort of weird for the tourists down there…like Dan.
Dan, where was he? We had to go to find him. While climbing down we noticed him further ahead…sitting by a stone wall. Was he taking some rest? Couple of minutes later we were by him, he didn’t feel well obviously. He claimed about strong headache, damn. We just hoped it would be the way he said that he just needed some rest and that we could leave him there while we watch the rest of the place. So we did.
Machu Picchu must have been in the past moreover a ceremonial center, not a common settlement. The ruins of the buildings here used to be temples, ceremonial baths or houses of the priests. All above the complex is a stone mountain called Wayna Picchu. It’s possible to climb it as well, but the number of visitors is limited to some 200 visitors daily according to the rule first comes, first serves. To be honest, we had enough from climbing to Machu Picchu already and the only ones who still able more or less to get up the steam mountain was me and Pavel.
But by the entrance here we met the older Czech couple with their guide we met in Cuzco before. Well, they got by bus here, they were fresh, haha.
This place is pretty amazing.
The surprising thing in Machu Picchu are the freely moving llamas. They were mainly moving around the Central Plaza dividing the ceremonial sector from the more mundane residential and industrial sectors which was closed to the visitors. But as we could see later, the llamas didn’t respect any limitations for them.
We returned back to Dan. He still didn’t look well, but we had to get him down.
He managed to get up and after doing some steps he seemed to get a bit better. We walked slowly towards the exit, we planned to let Dan take the bus back to Aguas Calientes. Us three, we didn’t really want to do the same, we climbed the steep trail mainly when it was dark and wanted to see the view now by daylight. We agreed that Dan would wait for us down.
After Dan got into his bus and it departed direction Aguas Calientes we got on our trail. Of course it went much faster getting down then up. And this time we got to see something from the surrounding as well. My head was full of impressions of Machu Picchu, but there was also something else. Dan’s headache. First in Cuzco and then here. And it seemed that it was getting worse. Was he getting the high altitude sickness called “soroche” by the locals? I hoped not.
Amazing what the Incas built.