This week features the second part of my two part adventure series covering my journey to Machu Picchu. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy!
Day 3: Since we did both mountain passes the day before it meant today we would do our 3rd mountain pass (3680m/12073ft) be at our campsite for lunch. It was a walk in the park compared to the other days. We saw some orchids and stopped to marvel at the trail itself. The Inkas building a wall to support it on the side of the mountain.
Amazing Inka Trail stairs, and sometimes the odd tunnel
We stopped at some more ruins incredible terraces like giant stairs on the mountain. The weather was good. The views of the valley were insane. No wonder they built here, I thought. If they worshipped mother nature they didn’t have to look too far to feel her presence. It sounds cheesy, but just as we stepped off the path to the archeological site there were amazing butterflies everywhere. Light blue on the top of there wings and yellow underneath. When the flew it looked like they changed color with every flap. It was amazing. You couldn’t help feeling the energy in these places. It was all around me.
When I thought the day couldn’t get any better, after arriving at the camp we had lunch, I had the best ciesta, then we met Marco who took us 10 minutes from the camp to Winay Huayna (also the name of the campsite) another Inka archeological site. It kinda cleared up so we could really see the mountains, valley, and the “Sacred River” way down below. There were water falls. My eyes couldn’t believe what they were seeing. In that moment I was just so happy to be there. So grateful. I thought of the thousands of people who visit Machu Picchu by bus and train every day, and how much they miss by not doing the trek.
Our last supper! It was Jude’s bday and we couldn’t believe it when a huge cake iced and all was brought out to the tent with all the porters singing. If I wasn’t amazed by the chef already.
We had another incredible meal then it was time to say goodbye to the porters. We would see them in the am, but it would be very early and they had to catch a train back to Cuzco right after they packed up the site. There are control gates near the campsite then an hour long trek to the Sun Gate where we would get our first glimpse of Machu Picchu. The normal wake up time is 3:30am but at dinner we agreed that we wanted to be the first group through the gate (plus we would have shelter to wait under if it was raining) then Marco suggested we wake up at3:00am.
Day Four: 3am came too soon. In the dark I threw myself together, went to the breakfast tent, ate something and then we all made our way to the control gate with flashlights. Our plan worked. We were the first there. We just had to wait an hour and a half for the gate to open. We showed our pass and we were on a mission. Get to the Sun Gate. My legs were sore and tired but they wouldn’t stop. I was moving! It got lighter outside. As I walked I thought wow your going to be at Machu Picchu today! After all the planning, reading, photos I’d seen – I was excited! I was near the front of the group too, and I suddenly thought of this blog post I read about a guy who claimed to be the 1st to lay eyes on Machu Picchu in 2012. Through a series of events he was let through the control gate someone ahead of him then they stopped to fix their pack or something then it was just him and he saw it first. I thought about him on this trail, and then it started happening. A few people ahead of me stopped to take off their rain ponchos, then someone stopped for a breather. Because I thought of that man, I just couldn’t stop! I kept going Jake was ahead of me and I wanted to yell out are we there yet?? Could he see anything? Then suddenly there it was. I wasn’t 1st but I figure probably the 3rd person to lay eyes on Machu Picchu on March 10, 2012.
We got closer and then I got that surreal feeling I always get when I’ve seen hundreds of pictures of something and then I’m actually standing there. I got the same feeling the first time I saw Times Square, Sydney harbor, the White House, the Hollywood Sign, the Colosseum in Rome, and many iconic things I’ve seen photos of gives me a weird feeling when I’m actually there. For a couple hours we walked around the site with Marco, checking out some of the important temples. It was fascinating and huge! Machu Picchu was incredible but the trek on the Inka trail was a unique experience that has given me a stash of memories that I can access for the rest of my life. I thought how great it would be if you could only visit Machu Picchu if you did the trek like the other archeological sites I saw. But maybe not. Maybe if everyone on the planet had the opportunity to see something so beautiful and learn about a culture that wasn’t power hungry and had a deeper appreciation for nature then we will ever know, maybe then the world could change for the better.
Thanks for following my journey.