It was finally here- Machu Picchu day! The crew woke up at 3:30am to get packed, eat some lunch and get to the final checkpoint of the Inca Trail. However, when we got there, we had to sit and wait for about an hour for it to open at 5am. After walking down stone steps in the pitch black, we spread out Stacey’s poncho, and listened to some music until the sun rose.
We finished out the Inca Trail going downhill and then doing the “tarantula crawl” up these narrow but tall steps that basically required you to climb up using all-fours! When we got through the Sun Gate, we were so focused on Machu Picchu, that we forgot that the Sun Gate is something to take a picture of! Hence, the photo looking the opposite direction! Ha!
Our last few miles on the Inca Trail
Looking back at the Sun Gate
Okay, so let’s be real for just a few minutes. When I walked through the Sun Gate and saw my first view of Machu Picchu, my heart sank, and my first thought was I hiked all the way for this? And I wasn’t alone. Most of the people in our group were disappointed… But we smiled for our photos, and ventured on only to fall TOTALLY IN LOVE with it about 20 minutes later.
I mean this isn’t the postcard photo you usually see
Our first view at the Sun Gate was so disappointing because of the angle. It wasn’t that classic shot, and from way up there Machu Picchu looked tiny and I thought, I hiked 26 miles for this? BUT then we turned a corner and THIS is what I saw:
Machu Picchu PERFECTION
We started with a brief tour and a mountain-side history lesson. David told us some history about Machu Picchu and Hiram Bingham’s “discovery” in 1912. Then Stacey and I spent hours exploring the complex, and it blew my mind. It is a well-deserved winner of the title of a New World Wonder! So, I’ll let you explore Machu Picchu through our photos and experiences!
The Temple of the Sun & below it, what the guidebook calls a royal tomb and our guide called the Temple of Pachamama… I guess I’ll never know…
A closer look at the Temple of the Sun
The complexes and plazas
Taking it all in
Temple of the Three Windows
House of the High Priest
Another angle of the Temple of the Sun
Llama love in the Main Plaza
More llama love in the Residential Sector
Intihuatana or ‘hitching post of the sun’ – Archaeologists believed that this stone helped the Inca astronomers to predict the solstices. Intihuatanas are rare finds because they were destroyed by the Spanish.
Walking up more steps- the steps never end!!! Ha
These are two examples of Inca Stone – Both are examples of later, fine Incan architecture because they’re stone by a stone by a stone with no mortar. However, the top is an example of a regular building, not related to high priests or royalty- you can tell this by the rough surface. The bottom stones are smooth indicating that this room/building housed something or someone special.
Temple of the Condor – Now, I wouldn’t have looked at this and thought, ‘that looks like a condor’, but since I know it’s supposed to look like a condor, I can’t not see it!
Temple of the Three Windows with lots of llamas
This llama was doing some exploring as well
Going through the corridors
Archaeology at work- Things were roped of for preservation, tools were ready for use, and these men (left) were rebuilding a roof to show an example of what the roofs would have looked like.
Mortar in a house that now holds rain
Stairway to nowhere
This was truly an amazing experience. All of it- the hike, the sites, Machu Picchu specifically and MORE!
We took the bus down to Aguas Calientes and had an amazing meal and some drinks to celebrate! Everyone from our group met there, shared food, toasted to our experience, and laughed & reminisced. It was amazing. We took the train back to Ollantaytambo and then a bus to Cusco.
Stacey and I were excited to not be walking to our next destination
Plotting blog posts on the train ride to Ollantaytambo
Things I Loved About Day Four:
✴︎ I loved the feeling of completing the Inca Trail – All 26 miles of it
✴︎ Exploring this amazing wonder of the world
✴︎ The relaxation of riding the train.
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