|Salkantay Trek - 2 days before Machu Picchu, and I can already see it!|
|Camping under the Machu Picchu|
My legs were quite fatigued after logging massive kilometres from not only the Salkantay Trek, but also the grueling Alpamayo Trek that preceded it. But despite this, they were also stronger than ever from all that exercise. And now that I was without my backpack, I felt fast and free as a bird!
Hanga joined me by vehicle transportation, since she had fallen ill and couldn't do the Salkantay Trek with me. We got a very early start for Machu Picchu, leaving camp before 5 am! I was off and racing up the mountain with extra boost from my hiking poles.
We reached Machu Picchu just after 6 am, the opening time, joining a huge throng of excited tourists. It was still really cloudy and foggy out, like one of those Chinese style murals - really pretty, but we couldn't see anything in front of us! Still, it was really early and we were confident the fog would eventually burn up with the morning sun.
However, the fog persisted. And persisted... and then it started to rain. How frustrating... this was the only cloudy and rainy morning I experienced after 4 weeks of travelling in Peru - and it was on Machu Picchu day!
|6 am - besides occasional glimpses, the fog and rain obscured the Machu Picchu all morning...|
Minutes turned to hours, and frustration snowballed inside me. Soon I was experiencing the worst first world problems of my life - I have been waiting to see Machu Picchu for what felt like all my life, and when the day finally came, I couldn't see a thing!
By 10 am, the rain was still falling and we still had seen nothing. And Hanga and I had an appointment we couldn't miss - we pre-booked access to climb Huayna Picchu Mountain. We felt we had nothing left to lose, so we forged out into the rain to the access gate for the mountain.
Fuelled by the frustration of 4 hours of hiding from the rain, I climbed furiously up the very steep mountain, passing by tired tourists. I summited in under an hour, and met what could be an amazing view, but was obscured by clouds.
|11 am - at the summit of Huayna Picchu! But there's still nothing to see...|
|The fog is finally beginning to lift. We hold our breaths...|
|Only a few fog patches are now obscuring Machu Picchu!|
|The fog finally completely lifted - all is revealed!|
|Watch my time lapse from this spot - click here|
There are truly no words to describe Machu Picchu. Despite being very touristy and relatively expensive (~$85 CAD) for the budget of a long term backpacker, it's one of those places everybody should see in their lifetime regardless of who they are and where they come from. I felt touched to have witnessed such a miracle on earth and gratitude for finally having this experience I've sought for years.
I also felt dramatic relief - this trip had already been quite the soap opera for Hanga and I, and the first half of the Machu Picchu visit was pure frustration and impatience, a reminder of the bad luck that seemed to shadow us - until the fog finally lifted. If it hadn't been for that, I might have left MP angry and disappointed.
Besides the ruins, I was completely and thoroughly humbled by the grandeur of the natural setting of Machu Picchu, and the will of the Inca people to build their civilization in such an isolated, difficult spot. Alas, they never finished building Machu Picchu, and had to abandon it for a reason I believe experts have yet to determine. This fact makes it all the more spectacular.
|Please watch my insightful Barefoot Video Blog! - click here|
It was difficult to have to leave Machu Picchu. I could have sat above its magical ruins and admired it all day. I at least had time to record my second videoblog!
But it was time to move on... my next adventure was waiting in mystifying and raw Bolivia!