After a few days in Cusco, we made our way to Aguas Calientes, it’s the city right below Machu Picchu. All I’ve got to say is make sure to drink the coca tea and take altitude sickness pills… especially if you’re from the midwest. Just walking up the hill made me feel like I had just run a 10K! Aguas Calientes is very small and loaded with hotels, restaurants, spas, and tourists shops. The city thrives on tourism and seems to have lost it’s original culture. Almost the entire city was under construction. Old buildings are being replaced by new fancy boutique hotels and restaurants that totally appeal to the tourists. And just like most tourism hotspots, normal items such as water, cost almost double. I’m sure in a few short years I won’t even recognize the place.
Upon our arrival, we learned of a free hike where you could see Machu Picchu. The lady at the B&B described the hike as “a rush of adrenaline.” Dan was immediately sold I, on the other hand, was not. I get by on my basic knowledge of Spanish, and I’m pretty sure she said we had to climb up a rope to the top… Dan was still sold. So, we dropped off our bags, ate a granola bar, and set off to find the trail.
I literally pouted and dragged my feet the whole way. The hike didn’t sound fun to me, and I didn’t want to risk hurting myself for the “real” hike to see Machu Picchu (total dancer mentality). Half way up the trail, it was gone… washed away from a mudslide (WooHoo!). But, Dan found an alternate root (Boo!). Then, we get to a ladder or what was left of a ladder. About three rungs were broken (We can turn back, hooray!). Yet again, Dan found a way to get to the top (Oh man!). By this time I just accepted that we were going to keep going.
That’s when we reached the rope. Again there was a broken ladder but, this time it was accompanied by a smooth mountain side, and a climbing rope. And let me tell you, that rope wasn’t fully secured in all of the anchors. Dan said, “Get excited!” I pleaded with him, “If there’s one time in your life that you listen to me, it should be now. This is a bad idea!” He said he would test the security of the rope, and I said I would wait for him. There’s no way hell I was going up that thing! Dan tried a few attempts and also decided that it wasn’t worth it. I can’t tell you how relieved I was. 😉 Happily, we went back down and walked around the city to find The Treehouse restaurant recommend from The Perris World Invasion.
The following morning Dan and I woke up at 4:30am, ate breakfast, and stood in line for the bus to Machu Picchu. We entered Machu Picchu around 7am and immediately made our way to the Wayna Picchu hike. They allow 400 people to do the climb and we wanted to get there while it was still cloudy (Great advice Mandy!). We arrived at the check point and waited for the ranger to unlock the gate and sign us in. Ironically the key to the gate was hidden behind a rock at the entrance. All of us tourists began to laugh, realizing that the key was there the whole time. One by one we were allowed entry. Dan and I signed in as numbers 12 and 13. The hike took about one and a half hours… I’d say about 30 minuets of it was me huffing and puffing trying to breath. Once we reached the top we ate a snack and waited for the clouds to burn off. When the clouds did burn off, the view was A-MAZ-ING! We absorbed the view for quite a while. Then, took our time coming down the mountain taking tons of pictures along the way and exploring the ruins.
Machu Picchu is so incredible and more beautiful than I ever imagined. I know there’s been rumor about Machu Picchu shutting down because of the wear and tear from the visitors. Frankly, I think the sight brings in too much money. So don’t worry and book your tickets to Perú!
To finish our day at Machu Picchu, Dan and I soaked in the hot springs, got a massage, and then took a nice long nap. The following day we headed back to Cusco and then to Lima. All in all, Machu Picchu was probably the most majestic thing I’ve ever seen. I still get the chills just writing about it.
Checked another one off the bucket list 😉