The morning started very early. We’d set our alarms for 4:15 so we could get our breakfasts from the hostel and head to the bus station. Of course a night like this you don’t sleep we’ll because you’re thinking about making sure you wake up in time.
Alas at 4:30am my body woke us up and neither of our alarms had worked. My iPad was ringing but was set to vibrate, and Karthik’s phone died in the middle if the night. Lol. Alas, we rushed and had an adrenaline to get ready and I headed out first to start waiting in line for the buses that started to load at 5:30am.
I walk we’d from the hostel just a few minutes but found myself in the marketplace weaving through a maze of darkness which made me a little nervous, but then appeared a security police guard just walking around and all was fine. I then saw the street that had all the buses lined up and a flood of hikers ready to do their trek, and wait in line for the bus.
I sat next to a group of older people from Canada whom we’ve kept bumping into the entire trip. They were talking about an older woman about 79 who had always wanted to see Machu Picchu and got this far but fell ill to altitude sickness and had problems so much so that she was in the hospital. Another reminder that I’m so glad I didn’t have any issue with the s altitude.
Karthik then showed up and so did our guide so all was good with us making our way up to the gates for the opening at 6am to see the sunrise coming over the mountains. We boarded the second bus and started our way immediately down the path towards the mountain. As we began our ascent, the bus weaved long swoops up the hill with tight hairpin turns that led us to the next level.
Once at the top, we saw the queue at the entrance and there were about 45 people in front of us who were huffing and puffing drenched with sweat for having hiked up the mountain to the entrance rather than the bus ride up. We’d considered this, but ended up being persuaded to take the us since we were doing the steep huyana picchu climb starting from 7-8am.
Minutes after we arrived, our guide told us to get our passports ready with all our tickets and we were soon going through the check point. We then moved quickly ahead everyone else because they were parts of bigger groups that had stragglers that made them wait. We walked just a little up the hill and around a corner, we turned and you see the first house on the hill. And just a few steps more, the entire picture perfect Machu Picchu splendor is before your eyes. The cool blueness of predawn had a eerily effect to it, but the serenity and wonder of it all really was absolutely breathtaking. It is one of the sights I will log in my memory bank as something unforgettable– the moment you see something so familiar, but for the first time in real life.
We then began the history lesson of the tour from our guide nayruth. We started the tour but needed tot ale pictures immediately since there wasn’t a soul in the foregrounds. After pictures, we continued on to the main points in the areas visiting the inca house (the kings room) where you saw where his bed and bathroom were. You could see the drainage system that was being used, and the holes on the rocks where torches would be held for lighting. The precision at which the rocks were placed together is a marvel that even today’s technology would have a hard time to reproduce, if even possible. After the house, we saw astrologers areas where they would view the constellations in a reflection from a rain puddle. We also saw a number of places that had so many amazing stories about these people. It was truly amazing.
After our tour of about two hours throughout the ruins, we got to the entrance gate of huyana picchu, which only limits 400 climbers a day. 200 between 7-8 and 200 between 11-12. We were lucky to have tickets to this, yet, we’d received so much inconsistent feedback that we were a little worried. So,e people said it was an excruciating hike up the mountain, with dangerous steps that you could fall off the side of the mountain. Others recall a cave that you have to bet your hands and knees to get through. Karthik has acrophobia so was concerned as well.
We started our hike at a little after 8 and I was surprised that they were shutting the gates behind us to the stragglers who were late. We got our sunscreen on and bug spray (again people said the bugs were horrible) and started our way up the mountain.
It was tough for sure. At this altitude the air is very thin and you huff and puff up the turns up this amazing mountain. There wasn’t hardly anyone around, but as we started getting more than halfway up, we saw others starting the trek down. The feedback seemed positive so we continued on. We met fellow texans on the trails well as Californians, Japanese, French, Austrians etc. at the main part where it becomes difficult, was about another 20 minutes away from the top. Karhtik opted to stay at the terraces, and I co tuned onto the peak. This is where it became very steep, and while wrapping around the mountain in more stairs and paths, the spectacular view of Machu Picchu was amazing. There aren’t enough times I could take photos I of this to ensure that I had the best picture possible to try and translate the view into something so flat as a picture.
There was a small cave part that had stairs and was a tight squeeze for bigger people, but I did just fine, as well as finally getting to e top, the most dangerous part of the hike. The only reason it was dangerous was because of it being the top. It’s not just a flat plane,it had rocks jutting upward so you had to crawl around to find good positions for pictures.
I found another single traveler that had a good camera so we started taking pics of each other so we could get some shots. After winding back down the back side of the mountain, the oath came back together and I felt an amazing sense of accomplishment to have made it to the top and enjoy the amazing view. The stairs down fromthis were tedious, but fine, and I met back up with Karthik to head back down the mountain. At this point my breathing was completely calm so as we continued down the mountain, people were huffing and puffing and thinking, wait, why aren’t you breathing so heavily. So I calmed their own nerves by describing what was upcoming. And I was so impressed how many older couples I saw attempting this hike. So may families seeing this amazing thing together, as well as random travelers who quickly start up chats. It definitely lit my travel fire again and I realized how much I’ve missed being a traveler when I was younger.
Ats we approached the entrance to huyana picchu again, we reapplied sunscreen and went through other areas of the park to see anything that the tour a have missed. We then wanted to go to the sun gate which is another grandiose hike up the other mountainto get the other view of Machu Picchu.
Despite a simple looking hike, this trail is the inca trail that leads to Machu Picchu. It was really difficult. The sun was extremely hot and the climb seemed to go on forever. Probably because we had been hiking for so long already. We made it up the mountain but Karthik was getting a bit overheated and needed to stop frequently. We made it to the top for pictures and another amazing view of the ruins below. After some more pictures we headed down to the entrance and we were spent. We got tickets for the bus and headed back to aguas Calientes to get our bags together and go eat.
After cleaning up a little, we went to find a restaurant nearby and I had a simple hamburger with fries. I was so hungry after the long day that it went by quickly. After acting we went back to the hostel to get our things and make our way to the train station. There we revisited some people who’d wed seen throughout the day. It’s funny to see all the little connections you can make when doing the same routes.
After boarding the train, there was a Dutch guy and a half American Venezuelan girl that sat in our group of four. After talking and introducing, turns out the girl not only lived in Nashville in her you for years (she currently teaches at a university in northern Iraq) but she and I went to the same elementary school and had several of the same teachers. It was absolutely ridiculous hearing names of teachers from elementary school again after all these years.
After the train ride, we bid our farewells and found our driver. We endured a long drive home that was about to make me sick from fumes, the winding and weaving, the passing on double yellow lines etc. finally we made it back in one piece and took showers and headed to get another but pe to eat after this long 20+ hour day.