Travelling needs to flexible.
Our plan to rise before sunrise to be at Machu Picchu (old peak) was shelved. It rained all night and there was heavy fog so we pushed our leaving time back to 7.30.
Our guide Jo Ricardo from Chimu Adventures arrived promptly and was all smiles and full of sayings. ‘The early bird catches the worm’ ‘make haste while the sun shines’ ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket ‘. It was like he’d swallowed a book of proverbs.
A brisk walk to the bus station to a very short queue and we were at the main gate when Joe announced ‘no time like the present ‘ as we entered the gate.
Right from the start I was captivated by this amazing sight. We walked with Joe for 2 and a half hours as he brought the story of the Incas alive for us.
The building of this city, how the Incas lived, how potatoes were as precious as gold, the invasion of the Spanish, the customs of living in such a remote place, and the discovery by Hiram Bingham. Hiram Bingham III was an American academic, explorer and politician. He made public the existence of the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in 1911.
The walk with Joe was the history part. He gave lots of information and took us to the most intact and important buildings on site. Then he left us to discover on our own.
We were keen to go to the Sun Gate. This is the Top Gate which is the entry port for those intrepid walkers who have done the 3 night / 4 day walk up from Ollantantambo. People like our Rob and the Youngs’ and Baartz’. I have such admiration for them as it’s not an easy walk.
So Steve and I set off up hill for what we thought would be an hour walk. The path was rocky and shaded in part by vegetation and you needed to concentrate on your footing. We were passed by young groups of all nationalities. After about 35 mins of steady slow walking stopping for photos we thought we were only half way when we rounded the corner and there above us was the gate. It took about 40 mins. We actually got there before so the younger ones who tended to sit on the way up and have a break. We walked steadily!
Was it worth the climb. Yes, yes and yes. The cloud came and went and revealed, as if by magic, the ancient city of MP below. We sat in silence on a rock overlooking this magical place thinking. It’s a special place and as the Incas thought – close to God, if that is your belief. It’s certainly a spiritual place and apart from a few noisy people every now and then it’s quiet.
We loved it. Coming down is a different walk. Going down is hard on knees but again we moved steadily. Stopping for photos of some men planting ground covers, and a posse of three spotted hens, we made it back to a shaded terrace overlooking the city of Machu Picchu. Quicker time.
A little more walking to the guard house.
Some photos and by 2pm we called it a day.
We would love to have climbed to mountain next to MP – Huayna Picchu. Word was it is a hard climb quite treacherous at times because of its steepness and narrow track. But if you can climb and don’t suffer vertigo then go for it. We would love to have stayed another night and go up but ………
we were satisfied.
We sat at the cafe overlooking the old city and had a beer before returning back to the hotel for a shower and the train ride back to Ollantantambo and then car to Cusco.
A late dinner with our new swim buddy friend Bill , father of Swim Trek owner Simon Murie, from London. We were exhausted but happy.
In a separate post I’ll give some suggestions of ways to plan for a visit to Machu Picchu