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Posts Tagged ‘machu picchu’

It hasn’t been very often in my 30 years that I’ve woken up at 4am (even though I’ve still been awake many times from the previous night), but I actually woke up early the final morning. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning, just knowing that in a matter of hours we would finally see Machu Picchu, which has been a cornerstone of the trip since we first started planning it over a year and a half ago.

After our final breakfast, we were off a little after 5am. We only walked a few minutes until we came to a gate, which didn’t open until 5:30. After that, Cesar told us that it would be about a two hour, up and down hike to get to the Sun Gate, where we would get our first glimpse of Machu Picchu from above. There were about 30 people or so in front of us at the gate, and when it opened, it became a mad dash.

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After we entered through the gate, we hiked at a fast and furious pace, with me leading the way. I have to say I’ve never been more impressed with my wife, and she knew how excited and eager I was to get there, and she kept up with me every step of the way, even though I was practically running. It would have been a fairly easy hike if we had taken our time, but the pace took a lot out of us. It was up and down, but nothing too severe until we neared the end.

There was an extremely steep staircase that we practically had to climb up, not walk. After that, it was up, up, up, until I saw a sign. It read “Inti Puku”—or Gate of the Sun. I knew we had arrived. A short walk through the gate, and we would see the ancient city of the Incas for the first time. Megan was a few steps behind me, and we were both out of breath. I looked at my watch. It read 6:25. The supposed two hour hike took us 55 minutes.

As we walked through the gate, we both frantically threw our bags down to the ground, looked at each other, and walked through the gate….

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The above picture is the view that greeted us. Now we have both seen countless pictures, posters, postcards, t-shirts, etc. of Machu Picchu, and Cesar told us that none would compare to the real thing, and boy was he right. It was literally breathtaking. It left me speechless. And those of you who know me know that doesn’t happen very often. It was one of the most magical, mystical, moving, and profound few minutes of my entire life. I couldn’t move for a few minutes. All I could do was stare. Everything we had endured over the last 3+ days was worth it. We had arrived.

There wasn’t a whole lot of talk from all the people sitting at the Sun Gate. Most just sat and stared. When one of the girls in our group entered and saw Machu Picchu for the first time, she wept. She was so happy and moved that it literally brought her to tears. And everyone understood why. I’m really trying to do my best to describe the raw emotion I experienced at this time, but really, you have to experience it yourself to truly understand how powerful it was. I could have stayed there all day long and just looked at the amazing views all around me.

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After staying up top for a while, it was time to descend to Machu Picchu. It was a 45 minute walk down to the ruins, and as we got closer and closer, the views became better and better.

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We finally got down the path (it took a while because we wanted to stop, snap a picture, and enjoy the scenery every corner we turned). When we got into the ruins, we checked our bags (thank God), sunscreened up, got our water, and went with Cesar for our guided tour of the ruins.

Instead of taking you through the entire two-hour tour, I’m going to upload a gallery of my 25 favorite pictures from walking around the Machu Picchu grounds and let the pictures tell the story. Besides, they are much better than my descriptions.


After taking the tour and having a few hours to explore the grounds ourselves, it was time to get on the bus to Aguas Calientes. I honestly felt like a kid having to leave the amusement park. I was not happy and thought about throwing a fit. But I composed myself, and Megan and I enjoyed our final 15 minutes at Machu Picchu sitting in a quiet spot taking in the views. After leaving, we went to Aguas Calientes for lunch with all the Peru Treks’ groups. It was a great end to a magical four days.

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If any of you have ever even thought about doing the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, I strongly urge you to do it. Don’t make excuses, don’t say maybe in a few years, just get a plan together and do it. Sure, it’s not as relaxing as vacationing on the beach in Florida, but trust me, every ounce of sweat and hard work you put into it is rewarded at the end. These four days are something that I will truly never forget, and that first view when entering the Sun Gate is forever etched in my memory.

Until next time…

~Adam

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