Machu Picchu…finally we arrived. Secluded in a beautiful rain forest, high in the Andes mountains, Machu Picchu is an archaeological marvel and the culmination of Inca achievement. To reach it we had flown to Cusco, taken a taxi to Ollantaytambo, taken a train to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo), and ridden a bus up endless switchbacks to the ancient site. And it was absolutely worth it.
We had stayed the night in Aguas Calientes the night before so we could take the bus up the mountain early and try to beat the crowds. We didn’t catch the first buses at 0530 but went up pretty early. It was already crowded, but the crowds were much much worse a couple hours later. Machu Picchu is so spread out that mostly we were able dodge the tour groups and bottlenecks.
It was a perfect sunny day. We spent a few hours walking and snapping pictures. Llamas were out in force and we took plenty of llama selfies. The mountains and forest surrounding the site were breathtaking.
Back at the entrance, Nathan and I used the restroom and then headed back across MP to the entrance of Huayna Picchu where we had tickets to climb it at 10:00. Michael and the girls took the bus back down to the town to hang out.
Huayna Picchu is the taller mountain in the background of typical Machu Picchu pictures. It is 1000 feet higher, and super steep and pretty scary at times. And it was a difficult climb. But we were up for the adventure. And it was really amazing. The views were incredible, and with only 200 people allowed to climb (and we were at the front of the line) it didn’t feel crowded at all. I highly recommend it…if your knees are in decent shape. There are hundreds/thousands? of Inca built stairs and they are steep!
After spending a wonderful 6 hours at Machu Picchu, Nathan and I headed back down to town to find the family. We had a few hours to wander and eat before we caught a 16:30 train back to Ollanta where we then caught a taxi to Cusco. A long yet remarkable day!