After two months in Peru, I finally made it and climbed Machu Picchu! Certainly one of the most famous places in South America, and not for nothing one of the world wonders. It is insane!
The trip starts in Cusco, then continues with a crazy combi bus drive to Ollantaytambo and then a two hour train ride to Aguas Callientes, the city at the bottom of Machu Picchu. Aguas itself is a bit of a shame compared with the beautiful “lost city of the Incas” on the mountain next to it, you can clearly tell it was built up as quickly as possible after the rediscovery of the Incan ruins so that tourism could be started. The city is built in typical South American architecture style (the modern, not very pretty one), along with tourist restaurants or hotels everywhere, and separated by the train rails and two small rivers. Weird shaped metal bridges, the fog and the wires everywhere plus the impressive mountain-jungle- scenario make you wonder if you got lost somewhere in Asia, or are just on a completely different Peruvian world.
As most people, I got to Aguas Callientes in the evening, so I could start as early as possible the next day. And there I was, at 4:30 am, walking through the foggy rainy streets of Aguas Callientes and then on completely dark streets along the river until the entrance bridge of the Machu Picchu Park. Instead of joining hundreds of tourists in the comfortable bus ride until the monument, we decided to walk the steep Incan stairs through the jungle. Finally on top, we could see nothing but fog, so we decided to continue walking even higher up. There are two mountains above the monument, Huayna Picchu with more ruins and about 300 additional meters of altitude, and Machu Picchu Mountain, no ruins, but even more spectacular views from 3080m above sea level. Aguas Callientes itself is on 1300m, Machu Picchu on 2360m. Without a clue about all those numbers and no way to see the top through the clouds, we merrily started walking up those stairs, thinking it would be a walk of maximal 30 minutes. Well, not exactly. Two hours later, we finally reached the top, and could overlook the entire valley, Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu. It was worth every single step!
On our way down to the actual ruin city, the fog finally started disappearing, and we finally could discover all the ancient houses, squares, showers and even a watering system. It was once again breath taking how advanced those houses were, and how perfectly they had everything planned out. Not to mention just how stunning it all looked, especially with the rainbow that appeared once the sun broke through the clouds. Machu Picchu is definitely one of the things I will never forget in my life.
And next week, I’ll continue crossing some more things off my backpacker’s bucket list, the Death Road in Bolivia and the Uyuni Salt Flats are coming up! I’ll keep you posted!