Oh, Machu Picchu!

Machu Picchu Travel Blog

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3:55 a.m. I wake up 5 minutes before my alarm goes off.  Today, I will be seeing the long-awaited Machu Picchu.  Over a 4:30 a.m. conversation with another group of trekkers, I gather that they will hike the final 400m to Machu Picchu through dark rather than take an early bus to the top.  I ponder the idea breifly, and it makes sense to me to hike the final leg since I have trekked so far already.   I join this adventurous group, not fully prepared, but my pocket dollar-store LED I always carry on me does the job.

It's slightly drizzling this morning, and as I reach the top, the dim morning light illuminates the steep trail and reveals the dreaded, yet mystical, fog - my main concern is that Machu Picchu would be completely shrouded by fog.

I greet my guide and we immediately enter  into one of  Machu Picchu's labyrinths.  My heartbeat quickens with excitement as we wind through the stone corridors, and I am left breathless in anticipation of what I will be seeing next. 

It feels like an enormous maze as I try to keep track of each branch in the paths, but we quickly emerge into a breathtaking open terrace.  Knowing I am not the type for guided tours (I already have read all about the history of Machu Picchu), I ditch the tour and venture into the mystic ruins to explore solo in the tranquillity of the early momrning.

The fog just makes everything seem like an exciting dream, not knowing what each turn in the labyrinth would reveal.  Though many path led to dead ends or rooms, some led to mini-palaces, while the side of the site was particularly picturesque.
  The ruins on the edge of the steep cliffs seemed to disappear into an abyss nestled amidst sinuous clouds and ancient mountains. 

After a bit of overly-excited exploration, I decide to make my way to Huaynupicchu, the nearby peak overlooking Machupicchu, and hike to the top of it before the tourist hoards arrive. 

However, I simply get lost in Machu Picchu's mazes, and it takes me a full hour of wandering before I finally find my way to the entrance to the Huaynupicchu ascent.  It's a surprisingly steep ascent, but I make it up in good time and spend the breathtaking view accompanied by the first two people who attempted the ascent.

Machupicchu looks pretty small from Huaynupicchu, but what really amazes me is how the structures on such a steep peak as Huaynupicchu could be built.
  There are many steep drop-offs and dangerous areas at the top.  Still, the structures at the top are dominating, and the windows only reveal the deep blue sky and floating clouds, as if they  belonged to  some castle in the sky.  Even better, the panoramic view of the surrounding mountains is unbeateable, and my new friends and I easily waste away 4 hours at the top, gazing at the now-partial blanket of fog concealing parts of Machu Picchu. 

On our descent, we pass by many people huffing and puffing on their way up, not taking water with them, and clearly underestimating the ascent.  Seriously, if you plan on going up, you may go slowly, but make sure you have enough water!

Eventually, the sun is strong enough to lift away the fog and reveal Machu Picchu in all its glory.
  Surprisingly, there are also very few tourists today.  I do not even see any of the supposed several Inca Trail hikers arrive - the only other people I see donning worn trekking gear and dusty clothing are the other Salkantay trail trekkers.  I am guessing that the Sunday Pisac market, combined with the Inti Rami festival in Cuzco has reduced the number of tourists significantly.  Needless to say, Machu Picchu is not hoarded with people, though it is definitely large enough to accommodate the masses, and my entire experience is made much more enjoyable.

It really doesn't matter that much either, whether there are many other tourists or not.  Machu Picchu is a simply amazing sight to behold.  It is enormous, well-constructed, incredibly mysterious, and set in such fantastical location that it really has to be experienced in person.  I have posted some nice photographs here, but you really have to come here yourself, walk though the labyrinths, see the temples, feel the stones, awe in wonderment at its location and steep drops all around, and simply just feel the enchantmet that seems to envelope this unbelievable site.
russisch says:
Inti Ryami - an overblown tourist event? haha. I would say 80% of people covering the slopes were locals btw. Discovering Cusco and it's history and culture is just as important IMO and sheds further light on Machu Picchu and it's purpose. It's not that big of a deal, since the author obviously couldn't make it, but don't dismiss as a huge tourist attraction.
Posted on: Jul 08, 2007
ldalessio says:
Ahh PS. if you even bothered feeling bad about missing Inti Raymi- don't. Its an overblown tourist event. I lived halfway up the hill to the festival grounds at Saqsayuaman and the parade literally passed my door- I still didn't bother going !
Posted on: Jun 26, 2007
ldalessio says:
I'm quite jealous- I lived in Peru all last year in Cuzco and had friends who run an eco-lodge there, the only one in the crap hole that is Aguas Calientes. I miss my second home so much, I'm glad you enjoyed it and wish I could be there too!!
Posted on: Jun 26, 2007
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Machu Picchu
photo by: NazfromOz