“You’re at Machu Picchu and you’re cryiiing!” announced Valentine when we arrived to a very foggy, desolate looking Machu Picchu. The man had a good sense of humor and he’d said exactly what I was feeling on the inside. It’s foggy… and it’s raining… and I can’t see anything. NOOooooooo. Don’t cry, don’t be disappointed, don’t cry!
We flew 10,000km and hiked 60km over four days up to 4600m to see the crown jewel looking like the scene from an ancient horror film.Maybe it will get better, I thought… and it would for a bit, but it also got worse and it did rain quite a bit. That’s life.Valentine took us on a tour around the grounds and explained more about Inca culture and traditions and how they think people lived in the compound.It’s an incredibly amazing place. You can only wonder how the Incas really lived here.Kay was pretty much unperturbed by the rain and cover. He was just really amazed by how monumental this place is.We took a few more photos with the group before it was time to hike our special package of the trip up to Huayna Picchu.
Below was part of the “condor” in the compound with the beak at the bottom center and the rock “wings” flying up to the side. Trying to figure out how they did what they did with the stone was mind boggling.Even though it was a little dreary, it actually added to the mystic surrounding the mystery of the Incas and what really happened to them and how they really lived. Nobody really knows.The sure knew how to pick a location for their holy site though!Group photo time and then Valentine and Filio bid us goodbye.From there, we actually didn’t have unlimited time to hike to Huayna Picchu, come back and take the classic tourist picture in Machu Picchu and then catch the bus down to Aguas Calientes so we could get the right train home. And we couldn’t miss any of it because we had a plane to catch the next day!The trail up and down from Huayna Picchu is listed as “dangerous” and they actually make you sign in and out of a guide book to let the park know if you made it back alive, no shit.
I thought it was a little over the top because the trail is not worse than a Swiss alpine pass next to steep drops and basically everything was stairs… so it really wasn’t that bad.After hiking up to 4600m, hiking up 2720m at Huayna Picchu was a piece of cake. While people beside us huffed and puffed and talked about going into cardiac arrest, we kept a brisk pace upwards.
From above, you really do get to see an incredible view of Machu Picchu and you can appreciate the shape of the condor much better.After waiting for the clouds to clear a little, it started raining on the way down. They actually do trick you a little, because the nice, big steps are on the way up, and the tiny narrow, your-foot-barely-fits-on-them steps were what we had with the rain on the way down.
To be fair, even without hiking sticks, which are banned, you can go down pretty fast with some sturdy hiking boots… but we were passing people obviously terrified of heights who could barely take a step downward.After trying to wait for the rain to pass for 20-30 minutes, we just gave up and headed to the classic postcard location.The rain and clouds were pretty badass.It wasn’t how I pictured seeing Machu Picchu and these photos have been edited quite a bit, but it was still impossible to deny the wonder and awe of such a sacred site even in the rain and fog.I got the “dark, moody Machu Picchu”, which I guess I deserve. 😛Kay and I didn’t want to go, but we had to get in line for the buses to take us back to town to catch the train, which would be an experience in itself.We snapped a few more photos, including some mandatory selfies, before heading back down.That’s it, Machu Picchu was in the books!With our biggest ticket crossed off our bucket list, it was time to start the journey home, if only so I could get on a plane to Hong Kong for work. 🙂
Alpaca Expeditions was founded by a retired porter and Inca tour guide. Their fantastic, professional tours specialize in sustainable tourism both by supporting local farmers and by paying fair wages to local porters, employee health/life insurance, and respecting local labor laws. The company also has social projects for children’s needs and they even work to help porters and their families to visit Machu Picchu, something that many locals in the area are never able to do on their own. By supporting Alpaca Expeditions, you can help them give back to the community and support the local Andeans.
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