Getting to Machu Picchu

06 August 2012

At 5 a.m., we were all awake, fed and ready to go -- all of us but one anyway. That's the problem when you travel with groups. You can count on yourself to be on time, but no one else. Needless to say, I wasn't very happy to be heading out late on the most exciting day of the tour. But, we managed to hustle downhill, whisp through city streets, and catch an anxious bus of early-morning tourists out of the city.

The winding ride was nerve-wracking. Buses were flooring it to the top, bending around the turns and nearly colliding head-on up the narrow paths. I forced myself to keep my eyes wide open, taking in the views as my stomach turned to knots. Palms sweaty, we arrived at the base of Machu Picchu. I could hardly contain my excitement to get going; I just wanted to see it!

Over the last few months, my enthusiasm to see Machu Picchu continued to build. The site holds such a phenomenally rich history enclosed in a breath-taking landscape that's hard to explain in words, photos -- and as I write this -- even in my memories. Chills ran down my spine as we climbed, stretching ourselves taller and taller until we could see the first glimpse of its beauty. I couldn't believe how incredible it looked. We were literally among the clouds of Machu Picchu.

I'm so happy I bought a fish-eye lens before traveling to Peru. It made all the difference in my Machu Picchu photos. I love how much of the view can be seen in the photos. Though, I could've used a crash course on my new, shiny lens!

Our group trekked around the site, following closely behind Marco to hear the history of the Incas and their battle with the Spaniards.

We explored every crevice of Machu Picchu for nearly six hours, but much of the time we trailed Marco in a follow-the-leader pattern and hiked more sites in the comfort of cool, shaded trees. We walked a mile on rocky terrain until reaching the Inca Bridge, which joined two very narrow paths with a long, unsecure wooden board. The Incas built the bridge in such a way so they could cross the bridge and pull the board before their trailing predators could catch up. Marco mentioned that next year, the Inca Bridge trail may be an additional fee or even closed off to the public.

I really wanted to take off for the Sun Gate, but it's a two-hours roundtrip hike. We didn't have enough time, which was rather unfortunate. But, I suppose it's just another reason to go back to Peru!

As you leave the park, you can also have your passport marked with a special Machu Picchu stamp. Aside from the photos, it's yet another form of proof you've been there!

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