Inca Trail - Day 4 - Macchu Pichu time!

Cusco Travel Blog

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4 a.m. and the sun gate is the place to be

This is the one we've been waiting for people, finally the day was here to get our glimpses of Macchu Picchu itself. As they say, to climb the peaks you have to go through the valleys so we first had to put up with a 4 a.m. wake up so that we can be checked in at the sungate at 5:30 a.m. Everyone was in a bit of a sleep-deprived state at this point in the morning, as we waited around for half an hour or so all sorts of random entertainment emerged. Emer and Shane were belting out the showtunes, while Bettina was dishing such useful facts as 'yawns are contagious between monkeys and humans' and 'supposedly you only yawn after someone else if you like the person'

So with our morning minds pretty much addled we were finally let in to begin the hour or so climb to the views of Macchu Picchu.

Slowly the sun breaks through as we hike
  This is a very crowded part of the trek with everyone pretty much single file. It was obvious to most that if the line stopped there was a very good reason (i.e. someone was probably taking a toilet break).  There was one pushy pom who didn't quite grasp this concept and made Emer's toilet break somewhat less private than she would have wanted!

After one final stair climb Macchu Picchu comes in to view which is a pretty good feeling after 4 days of trekking. Gradually the rest of the walkers arrive and the viewing platform becomes a bit of a circus but we had long enough to absorb the great vista. Fernando led us across to the ruins themselves and gave a really interesting 2 hour tour describing their mountain-worshipping and the significance of some of the different temples.

The Empire of the Stairs serves up one more staircase before we get views of Macchu Pichu

After that we had a few hours to fill in however we see fit.  I'd heard a lot of good reports about climbing Wayna Picchu (the big tall mountain you see in all the stereotypical Macchu Picchu pictures) so that was number one on my agenda.  Unfortunately there was a bit of a line and they close the entrance at some odd times, but I got fortunate and was in the last 20 people allowed entry before an hour of closed gate time.

So one last burst of climbing (about an hour round trip on quite steep stairs) and I was at the top overlooking the ruins from way up high.  Supposedly Macchu Picchu looks like a condor from here, I'm not quite sure I managed to pick it.

As I wandered back to the main ruins themselves it was apparent that the tourist trains and buses had arrived and it was all a bit of a circus by then.

People seemed to be taking photos of this place so I thought I better too ;)
  The thought of shuffling around with hundreds and hundreds of tourists didn't really appeal so we jumped on the bus back to Agua Calientes for lunch. This was my first taste of Alpaca steak which is quite tender and delicious. I think I may have managed to sample most people's pizzas too so I was obviously a bit hungry :)

So as I said in the very first entry, the 4 day Inca trail tour itself was handled superbly by GAP. However the organisation on either side of the tour was somewhat questionable.  As we jumped on the train back towards Cusco I was shuffled in to a different carriage from the rest of the group. I didn't really think too much of it at the time, there'd be a chance for farewells later. However then, as the train stopped after an hour and a half, I was then shuffled in to my very own minivan (presumably because I booked an independent Inca Trail tour ???) so there wasn't even a chance for farewells. Fortunately I managed to blurt out a 9:30 Cathedral meeting time to Fernando as the van sped off so I did manage to reconnect with some of the group later on.

So after all that hiking, dinner and drinks was a brief affair as everyone now had their body-clocks adjusted to camping time. Sleep was definitely the order of the day at this point

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4 a.m. and the sun gate is the pla…
4 a.m. and the sun gate is the pl…
Slowly the sun breaks through as w…
Slowly the sun breaks through as …
The Empire of the Stairs serves up…
The Empire of the Stairs serves u…
People seemed to be taking photos …
People seemed to be taking photos…
Finally Macchu Pichu is in sight!
Finally Macchu Pichu is in sight!
A bit of time taken to absorb the …
A bit of time taken to absorb the…
Over in to the ruins now for Ferna…
Over in to the ruins now for Fern…
Fernando gives a great tour of Mac…
Fernando gives a great tour of Ma…
Wandering the ruins
Wandering the ruins
The quarry, with a rock in front s…
The quarry, with a rock in front …
This kite shaped rock points at th…
This kite shaped rock points at t…
The tiny alter (very bottom right)…
The tiny alter (very bottom right…
View from the far side of Macchu P…
View from the far side of Macchu …
Sundial that casts some freaky sha…
Sundial that casts some freaky sh…
Another mountain worshipping alter…
Another mountain worshipping alte…
There was a bit of a line to climb…
There was a bit of a line to clim…
The view from up top after a half …
The view from up top after a half…
Well you dont climb that high wit…
Well you don't climb that high wi…
Cusco
photo by: Vlindeke