The day we had been waiting for – our last day hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu! The entire camp area was rising early to get a good spot at the entrance of the trail. We could hear groups attempting to quietly pack up in the middle of the night in order to save time. Our group was also one of the first to rise early (3:45am) and be second or third in line underneath the covered bench. By 5am the line stretched too far down to see and the groups were buzzing with excitement to get the first view of Machu Picchu. As soon as we entered the park it went from silence to loud sounding cicadas. Each person followed closely behind the other and walked close to the mountainside. It was dark when we entered but slowly the sky started to brighten and the cicadas were no longer “singing”. I had more energy than I did the previous days and stayed closely behind the leader of our group. Every group was anxious to pace each other but ours kept a nice pace. The trail was easy with a slight incline, then we reached Inca steps that were steeper than I ever could have imagined. It looked like a climbing wall. Others ditched their walking sticks and grabbed the rocks with their hands to pull themselves up. At the top of those steps was the most breathtaking first view of Machu Picchu. We had reached the Sun Gate, which was also the main entrance for the Incas. We marveled at the view in front of us and were grateful to not have any obstructions to seeing Machu Picchu for the first time. Each couple took their turn getting photos before the other groups behind us rushed in.
Just a short while further, we reached the entrance to Machu Picchu. First getting more photos and then our next priorities – a clean restroom and beer! Our guide, Frank, gave us all a tour and described the three sectors that Machu Picchu was divided into. He showed us the rocks that Incans formed into the shapes of the mountains and condor in the side of the Incan wall. We slowly went through the most important parts of Machu Picchu, but still only saw a portion of it. After his tour we were able to do as we wish until it was time to meet in Aguas Caliente. Mike, Nancy, Ryan and I decided to go see the Inca bridge. Returning on the trail from the Inca bridge it started to rain, which was so refreshing after all that hiking we did. It was incredible to know that they built that bridge along the mountainside.
One of the smallest stones in the Incan walls
Temple of the Sun – The right side window faces the highest mountains and the sun rises to light up the altar in the temple.
Temple of the Three Windows
Mike and I took the bus down to Aguas Caliente and had coffee at a cafe while we waited for the meetup time to all have lunch together. It was our last meal with the crew and our guide. We had pisco sours, pizza and enjoyed the last of our time together. What an incredible four days it had been. It challenged me in so many ways and was an experience I’ll always remember.