05 April 2015

Salkantay Day 5: Machu Picchu

4:27am, my alarm went off and the day began: Machu Picchu  day!! This was the first morning since the trek began that I was not woken up with a cup of hot Coca Tea. I missed it. 
We headed up early in the morning. Clouds hung low in the sky as our bus  headed up the mountain. We arrived at Machu Picchu just as the gates opened, letting in what I thought of at that time as throngs of tourists. Puma led us around the ancient city, telling us it’s history. At one point he completely fooled our group into thinking that a small room in the entry  way of the royal chambers was for hanging criminals, but he did tell us the truth about the architecture and irrigation.

The Incas used trapezoidal shapes as well as making connections between stones by using concave and convex masonry. These walls were built sturdy and withstood earthquakes as well as  providing for irrigation. We visited the Suntemple, whose windows were situated so that for the winter and summer solstices it would be filled with light. We also saw the stone sundial and so much more.

It was amazing what all the city actually contained, and I was floored by how massive it was. By this time the city was filling with tourists and we were all so glad we had had our tour earlier. The five guys from my hike had booked extra tickets to climb Huayanpicchu Mountain. They headed off and would later report it was terrifying but worth it. Sandra and I had tickets to climb Machu Picchu Mountain. She really wanted to summit, so she raced off ahead of me.

The path was made of rocky stairs. I climbed about 20 minutes until I could see Machu Picchu from above, but then because of blister pain I returned back to the main part of Machu Picchu. At this point even more tourists had arrived (where did they all come from?!?) and it took such a long time to get through all the groups. Finally I made my way through the crowds and found a rock to lean against and people watch. I did that for a while and then headed back to Agua Calientes by bus. On the bus I met a nice Brazilian, Nylson. He and I chatted about the ancient city and travel in general.  Upon arriving back in Agua Calientes, I spent some time wandering the markets and finally met up with my group when they returned. Everyone was exhausted.

We traveled then via train from Machu Picchu to Ollantaytambo. In Ollantaytambo, we boarded a mini-bus back to Cusco. Around 6:30pm we arrived in Cusco and said goodbye. Our adventure had come to an end. 

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