And the climax of our trip finally came! We were going to see one of the new 7 wonders of the world, Machu Picchu! We woke up extra early again (around 5:00 a.m.), to get ready for our big day. We scarfed down breakfast and eagerly walked down the road to catch our 6 am bus. Bus after bus packed us tourists in and then shuttled us up winding and twisting roads to reach our destination.
At 6:30 am we met our energetic and informative tour guide Pascual. All tour guides here receive a special certification in order to take groups around Machu Picchu. With this in mind, I knew we would receive a great tour.
Walking up to our viewing spot of Machu Picchu, the whole city was covered in a blanket of fog so thick I couldn’t even see the city below. Within 5 minutes the fog began trickling away and slowly revealed the ruins below. The build-up and anticipation felt like the slow rise of a curtain on the opening night of a Broadway show. I wouldn’t have wanted to see the city in any other way. It was quite magical.
We reveled in the view of the rising sun over the Andes Mountains which provided many new views of Machu Picchu. After snapping 500 photos of us and Machu Picchu, we moved on to begin our tour.
FYI, I was feeling a little under the weather this day. I picked up a little cold, I think from the drastic change in temperature, so Brian was the main photog for the day.
Over the next 2 hours we followed Pascual in and around the ruins, learning about the many tales of Machu Picchu, passing a llama (aka Machu Picchu lawn mowers) along the way. For those of you who don’t know, it is believed Machu Picchu was a royal retreat as well as an aristocratic training center for the Incans. For example, this is where kids of priests would go to learn to be priests.
After the tour, Brian and I began our ascent up Machu Picchu Mountain which towers 2000 ft over Machu Picchu.
Oh baby, I knew this hike wasn’t gonna be an easy hike.
Although Machu Picchu is at a much lower elevation than Cusco, (around 8,000 vs. 11,000), we still had to walk about 2,000 steps to reach the peek of Machu Picchu Mountain. With a little bit of a cold, it was still pretty hard to breath so we took a few short breaks to enjoy the view and to avoid passing out.
With each step closer to the summit, the stairs shrank smaller and smaller and became narrower and narrower. At a few points I held my breath as we passed by other hikers, trying my best not to think about plummeting to my death. I truly hate the feeling when you look over the side of a high building or mountain and your stomach instantly drops.
About 1 hr 5 minutes later we finally reached the top. We were pretty proud of ourselves, as it’s supposed to take 1 hr 30 minutes. Looking below Machu Picchu was now a teeny tiny city. I nervously posed for a few photos and tried to breath in the process.
After basking in some much appreciated warm sun and relaxing a bit, we began our travel back down. At this point, my legs felt like jellllllo. It was actually harder going down than going up. At one point my legs gave up on me and I fell down the stairs. I know. SHOCKER (I’m the clumsiest person I know)! Luckily it wasn’t off the side of the mountain.
I loved, loved this hike, but I must say by the end, I never wanted to see another stair in my life.
After resting for a bit again, Brian and I walked around and made our way to the exit. Another bonus, we picked up another passport stamp! Woop woop (we’re passport stamp aficionados).
I couldn’t have been happier riding the bus back down to Aguas Calientes. Blissfully exhausted, I was honored to visit a place so sacred to Peru and the world.
Here’s an article about Machu Picchu from National Geographic if you want to take a peek and learn a few secrets about this magical city.
If you liked this post about Peru, you might want to check these out too!
- Aguas Calientes
- Visiting Coricancha and the Cathedral
- Chocolate Museum
- Quechuan Village
- Incan Ruins Around Cusco
- Our Long Journey to Cusco, Peru
- Ready for Adventure? Peruuuuv it!