Peru | At Last, Machu Picchu

We woke before dawn, somewhere around 3:40 in the morning, to get ready and leave our bag in storage, then queue up at the bus line to the Machu Picchu park. As the buses didn’t start running until 5am (well after the sun comes up in Peru), we had quite a wait, but were soon standing eagerly at the park entrance. Once through the gates, we ushered ourselves past the first wave of people and got a rare glimpse of Machu Picchu in her morning radiance, untouched by crowds or noise. It was amazing.

Never could I have imagined such a sight: Tall, narrow mountains jutting out of the earth like pinnacles, so steep you could scarcely think up an animal brave enough to face their slender summits.

The clouds hung just right, dipping onto the heads of some of these spires in an ethereal beauty – a raw and divine beauty that only the early, dew-filled morning can deliver. And then, like a scene from some legend never told, there were the remarkable terraces and stone buildings of Machu Picchu herself, nestled into the cradle formed by the enveloping green giants. My eyes looked on unbelievingly, immediately envisioning the height of the royal city’s vitality and grandeur, a place that weaved religion and agriculture into one whole: nature and god. Simply said, seeing Machu Picchu was better than anything I have ever read, seen, or heard. It really, really was.

I am happy to say that Machu Picchu is still largely unspoiled – no souvenir shops or Angkor-like hawking of any kind. In the morning, it’s just you and its glorious powerful presence. Just you, Machu Picchu, and silence. And awe. As we climbed higher and got more traditionally exported views, I just couldn’t digest the idea of where I was. I could touch these bricks, sit where prized coca once grew, or gaze upon a sight that was surely someone’s kingdom and pride. I literally stood where a history was made, where an Incan stood, harvested, ate, loved.

Even with guards and controls, you can still do oodles of exploring in the city. Given the vast amounts of impressive brickwork, you can find paths and rooms where few tourists have trudged. It was in just such a spot that we settled into a narrow terrace overlooking fields where llamas grazed glutinously, tossing their red and green bumbled earrings in the sunlight. From here, we watched for hours as more and more people filed into the park, yet were disturbed only twice by passersby. By 9am, a full 3 hours after our initial viewing of Machu Picchu, there were some serious crowds, and the heat was beginning to beat down upon us. We were among the lucky 400 visitors a day to receive a timed ticket to climb Huaynu Picchu, the mountain that hovers so dramatically in the background of every Machu Picchu picture I had ever seen. Once our allotted time frame was reached, we headed to the gates and soon found ourselves trudging along some very steep stairs. The entire hike was fashioned in this way, making it an exhausting ascent, but our gusto landed us at the summit after just 40 minutes. This view was also special, in that it gave us the entire sight from an aerial view, something I had never even seen an image of. There were also additional ruins built atop Huaynu Picchu, making it a picturesque place indeed. Unfortunately, my feet would barely carry me back, and we hadn’t brought any water, so we made our way back both exhausted and thirsty.
I have to say, Machu Picchu alone would have been worth taking a trip down here. It was worth every effort. Like the Great Wall, Coliseum, or Parthenon, Machu Picchu really haunts you, and such an image will be forever emblazoned in my mind.

One Response to “Peru | At Last, Machu Picchu”
  1. Urte – How gorgeous is this place?! WOW! We didn’t get a chance to tour S. America at all during our year traveling, but will definitely plan something soon! Thanks for your kind words! It’s people like you who spend the time to read our posts and send us emails that makes blogging worthwhile! Saying that, we haven’t updated in a long while, need to get back into it – we are back in the States at the end of the month – our amazing journey is coming to a close – back to reality soon! Safe Travels!

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