Machu Picchu: a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and the “Lost City of the Incas.” Machu Picchu seems to be one of those places that is on most folks bucket lists, however it was not something that was originally in the plan for our trip. Danielle & I talked about how MP/Inca Trail could almost be another trip in itself. But after thinking about it, talking to other travelers (and discovering the ever so convenient day trip option), Machu Picchu made its way back onto the itinerary.
Due to timing (and the fact that I didn’t really want to hike the Inca Trail), I made the decision to do the day trip to Machu Picchu. It was really almost a day and a half trip, because I had to leave the hostel at 2:45am. The trip started by driving to Ollantaytambo where I caught the train to Aguas Calientes. From there, I met up with our guide and our group hopped on the bus which is about a 15-20 minute ride to the entrance of Machu Picchu.
We hiked up a series of stairs to get to one of the best view points of Machu Picchu and waited for the clouds to break up so we could clearly see the “Lost City of the Incas.” When the Spanish came into Cusco in the 16th Century, the Incas abandoned the city and destroyed the entrances to Machu Picchu so it wouldn’t be found. Machu Picchu was known locally, as a few families of farmers were living there but it became famous worldwide when the American Hiram Bingham discovered Machu Picchu in 1911.
It was fascinating walking around Machu Picchu seeing the remarkable architecture and engineering of the Incas. Machu Picchu is built between two fault lines and has withstood the natural elements quite well due to the impressive design. Those Incas were real smart cookies.
Hiking Huayna Picchu was an addition you were able to add on for $10, so I chose to do so since it was available. Hiking Huayna Picchu is restricted to 400 visitors daily and is another popular view point of Machu Picchu. The Loki travel agent failed to mention that Huayna Picchu is a beast and hiking up it would be a real SOB. I found out after booking that it is about a 75% incline the whole way up.
While on our guided tour, I kept looking at the massive mountain wondering how in the hell I was going to make it up. Our guide, Leo, said that one time, a visitor broke his leg and needed immediate medical attention and two porters RAN up Huayna Picchu in nine minutes. NINE. Holy Moses!! Those porters are beasts.
I hiked Huayna Picchu with a couple from my tour group and it took us 45 minutes to climb up to the top. I was quite proud of that time, as most folks we talked to took an hour. I huffed and puffed the whole way up the mountain. Even though MP is about 1,000m lower than Cusco, I cannot breathe well in altitude. That, and the hike itself is a pretty massive mission. But, we made it to the top. And it was totally worth it! We got lucky with a gorgeous day and the view is fabulous! We stayed up at the top for about an hour just admiring and taking in our surroundings.
It was an amazing day exploring the Incan ruins and was even completed with a Machu Picchu stamp in my passport!