Machu Picchu Travel Blog› entry 11 of 30 › view all entries
Day four of the Inca Trail. Machu Picchu!
When we woke up it was still raining. We all feared that the rain would ruin our visit to Machu Picchu and that the clouds would obscure the views, but all we could do was to hope that the Inka deities would have mercy. It was 4 o’clock in the morning because it was still a two hour walk to Machu Picchu, and the plan was to arrive at the ruins at sunrise, so see a fresh, glorious sun on the lost city.
Yet at 4
o’clock in the morning it is quite dark in the middle of the Andes. For one and
a half hour we had to use flashlights (bring flashlights!) to see the road
We did a final ascent over a very steep Inka staircase to the Sun Gate. This is the entrance to the valley of Machu Picchu; a portal to fairyland. Once you reach the Sun Gate, situated on the ridge of a mountain, Machu Picchu lies down before you. We stood at the Gate and looked down, but clouds covered the valley. We all waited on the stairs of the Sun Gate, tensed, impartiently, cameras in our hands. I was hoping the Gate would have been aptly named, and gave entrance to a hidden world of sunlight. We hadn’t seen the sun in three days. And then the clouds disappeared and there it was! Machu Picchu! We made it!
took half an hour to descent to the city. Time and again, clouds would cover
Machu Picchu and we would look at each other unnerved, fearing the visit could
still be a let-down. We made a group picture before the city, exhausted, dirty
and elated, but all you can see is mist behind us. It is a telling image. But
at last the gods had mercy and the clouds opened as a curtain. A few slivers of
clouds clung to the mountains, which only added to the mystical aura of the
Everything is beautiful about Machu Picchu. It is a complete lost city, unspoiled, seemingly abandoned not too long ago, of enormous size (yeah well, it’s a city, instead of a single monument or temple). It is situated in a location that you only hear legends about. A hidden valley, closed in by the steep walls of mountains, overgrown by jungle. It all adds up to something more than its parts. It is truly a wonder.
Our great guide Roberto gave us a two hour tour through the city. It almost seemed as if the Inkas had built Machu Picchu with 21st century tourism in mind. There are little miracles to see in almost every room and I will list a few:
- One room features a mirror of water that allowed priests to see constellations.
- There is
a temple where, on solstices, the sun shines through certain windows.
- Sometimes single stones are used for walls and floor at the same time.
- There is a plaza with a sundial.
- All rooms and doors are built with a 13 degrees angle against earthquakes.
- There are terrasses as big as the ones on the Philippines.
- There are fountains that are still working.
- There is even a miniature Machu Picchu to be found, hewn from a rock.
There is much more to see, and I should not forget the sacrificial slab of stone near the entrance to the mountain behind the city, the Inca bridge that we didn’t even see, and the huge sundial on top of the central temple of the city, hewn from a single rock, that marks the midpoint of a few lines through the valley. And don’t forget to look at the beautiful mountains around the city.
We took the bus down to the Urubamba river, to the little tourist town of Aguas Calientes. You can take a bath at the hot springs here if you like but I didn’t. I strolled around the endless touristshops, looking at chessboards with Inkas and Spaniards, savoring the image of Machu Picchu in my head.