Machu Picchu is one of those places that all travelers go. Young and old, rich and poor, travelers and tourists (if you believe there is a difference between the two). The history is fascinating and the scenery is breathtaking. It is pretty obvious why preservationists are working with the Peruvian government to slow down the wear and tear on the site. (Which, by the way is ridiculous! Why should one group of adults have to regulate how another group of adults treat a treasure like this? End rant.)
Anywho, Machu Picchu is spectacular. We loved exploring the ancient city. However, the view we liked the most was from high above from the summit of Waynapicchu. The bird’s-eye view is worth every damn step those Inca built.
Come along as I show your why we climbed thousands of steps, with no guard rails, water fountains or plaques “reminding” you to stay away from the edge (I could go on another rant, but I’ll spare you), just to look at an old city.
We woke up before the sun to catch a bus up to Machu Picchu’s entrance gates. We passed a few hikers. I am pretty sure we laughed and pointed too. Who hikes straight up before daybreak?
Smart people. They were many heads ahead of us. Karma is a you know what.
We shuffled through the gate, got our passport stamp (yes, that is a thing) and started heading towards the really big peak looming over Machu Picchu. We walked slowly, admiring the ruins for the first time. Fog hung over the buildings, allowing us to revel in the calmness of the moment. Ingenious architecture that has survived thousands of years surround us. It was magical.
Just then, like a phone call in the middle of the night, I snapped back to reality with the sound of running feet. People were running past us. They were running to get in another line. The line to get access to Waynapicchu – the same line we needed.
I could not bring myself to run – I felt like it was a tad rude to spoil the atmosphere and ambience for everyone. We did break out into a power walk though. (Are you picturing that now?) We reached the line and then waited, not knowing if we made it in time. For safety reasons, the park only allows four hundred hikers up each day – two hundred in the morning and two hundred in the afternoon.
Luckily, our view while waiting was perfect; sunrise over the jagged mountain tops.
Thankfully, not joining the stampede was a good choice. We were numbers 112 and 113 of the first two hundred of the day. We would be hiking Waynapicchu this morning!
Inca Indians built the path was up the mountain. It is believed that this is the path that servants carried the emperor up so that he could have a bird’s-eye view of the city. A few thoughts stuck with me throughout the climb. One: Why did I wear jeans? Two: How tall were these people? Three: Will Mike will carry me?
Two hours of hiking (practically) straight up, thousands of steps, several glimpses of Machu Picchu, two bottles of water and this awe-inspiring sight.
You can appreciate the scope and size of the ruins from this angle. ( I can also appreciate those escalators at the mall right about now.)
From this vantage point you can (kind of) make out the condor shape, albeit upside down, that the city is laid out in. Machu Picchu was the center of the Inca Empire and the condor represents the sky to the Inca people. I couldn’t really see it, but I will take everyone’s word for it.
We looked around a bit longer than needed and both started laughing when we started down. I think we were going delirious. We were hot and tired and neither one of us wanted to hike down. If coming up was difficult, going down would be tougher.
We made it down with no bodily injuries. Hallelujah! We asked someone to snap the picture below a few hours later. The nice gentleman wanted us to turn around so that the ruins were behind us. However, we explained that we had plenty of pictures of Machu Picchu, but we wanted a picture of the Waynapicchu to commemorate our hike up. He blinked his eyes and asked “You climbed that? Why?”
For the views.
To say we could.
Because we are crazy.
The reality is, we did and I would recommend everyone make the climb. It is a really long, steep climb though, so know your body and your limits.