Although this wasn’t a favorite of the day, spotting our first llama was pretty exciting. I got to spend a few minutes chasing after it and it almost made me forget how little energy I had left.
#2. Remember yesterday when we thought Mr. B was crazy for taking a nap. Nope, not crazy. Not even in the slightest. What he actually is, is brilliant. We had finally reached lunch, I was so tired and mentally drained. I don’t know if I have ever forced myself to eat before, but I literally had to force myself to eat because I knew my body needed fuel to continue on. Then after lunch, I found a blissful field of grass, shoved a handful of Coca leaves in my mouth and dreamed of the sweet relief I would feel when we reached camp that night. 30 minutes felt like the blink of an eye. And we were back at it again, 2 hours left. 2 hours of stairs, all the way too the top.
#3. When we finally reached the submit it was … breathtaking. Unbelievably breathtaking. The clouds looked alive. The ground was cold and filled with snow but the blue sky looked warm and welcoming. Standing on the dirt filled ground, covered in dead grass and looking over snow-capped mountains. I felt like I was on top of the world. I had conquered the hardest part despite wanting to give up all day long. And it was so worth it.
Downhill, alas! The rest of the day was a straight shot down, bouncing from rock to rock. Mom wasn’t feeling so hot – the altitude sickness was really intense today – so we slowed our speed a little bit. Before we knew it it was 5pm and getting dark, and cold. As we were noticing this we asked Fabricio what would happen if we didn’t make it back to camp in time, seeing as we were already cutting into our tea time. And just as he was telling us that the porters would come looking for us, our search crew was rounding the corner, flashlights in hand! #4. We can officially say we survived this day. We reached Pacaymayo, our camp, at 7. Phew, it was a long day, and tonight is a cold cold night. Last night I did not bundle up properly but tonight I am extra prepared. Wish me luck, it is going to be a long one.
Being that I froze my booty off last night, I didn’t sleep too great but I am excited for the day ahead. The worst is behind us, and I am feeling strong.
Today’s hike was beautiful, my favorite day so far. The shrubbery has changed and there is Pampas Grass everywhere, swaying in the wind. It is so peaceful and relaxing, the sun is beating down. Today is a perfect day.
A little ways in we reached Runkuraque, another Inca archaeological site. The day was filled with so many pit stops, photo opts and peaks in need of extra exploration.
Right before lunch we hit Sayaqmarka.
And by Day 3, nap time became an official part of our day.
Today’s lunch was smashed avocado and it hit the spot!
The hiking after lunch was just as beautiful as the morning. The shrubbery has changed again, it is much wetter over here so there is more green, more moss, and more live vegetation. We crossed over bridges and climbed under rock formations.
When we arrived at Phuyupatamarka campsite, we were immediately greeted by a family of llamas!
Tonight is our last night camping and with our porters. This campsite is unbelievably gorgeous and I think in a way I am going to miss it. While the actual days did not fly by, it feels like the time and trip has. Tomorrow is the day we will finally reach Machu Picchu!
Today is the day! Mom and I wanted to get a head start so we woke up at 5 and began our hike at 6am, if we didn’t reach the Sun Gate by 4pm we weren’t going to get to see Machu Picchu today so we could not take any chances. As we descended from our campsite we hit Qonchamaka, Phuyupatamaka and Inipata.
This morning was all downhill, yippe! So we reached lunch early. Since we got down so quickly, we were able to take a detour to visit Wiñay Wayna, Quechua for “forever young,” and resembles a “mini Machu Picchu.”
At some point during dinner last night we made the ill decision to make it up to Machu Picchu for sunrise. With a 4am wake up, and 4:45 departure time we were hoping to get on the first run of buses which start at 5:30am. Jokes on us. By the time we got down to the bus line there had to be at least 2,000 people waiting for the buses. Oh, and its raining again! For those of you who do like the sunrise idea, you have to be on line by 3am to make the first set of buses to get up there in time. If not, it is a lost cause. We spent the morning touring Machu Picchu. Walking through the home, exploring the gardens, examining Intihuatana. We started at the Temple of the Sun, on the winter solstice June 21st the light enters its window to illuminate the sacred center rock. We then walked towards the Royal Tomb and the Perfect Wall. We are able to tell which structures are most important by the way the stones are cut and how precisely they fit together. Royal homes will have the most perfect wall structures, then religious areas and so-on. As we walked through the Royal Palace we walked through the living quarters of the royal Inca, visiting their bedroom, bathroom, cooking areas, and servant quarters. One of my favorite parts was studying the Sacred Rock. It is a 25ft long monolith that resembles the silhouette of the group of mountain peaks behind it. For the Incas, the peaks surrounding Machu Picchu were charged with sacred meaning and all play a major role in their vision of the cosmos. Throughout Inca archaeology, the number three plays an important role and stones, stairs, or layers will be in sets of three to represents the 3 dimensions in Inca culture – the snake, puma and condor. The snake represents the underworld, the puma is the material world and the condor is the messenger to the heaves. The Temple of the Condor is a sculpture resembling the head of a condor and paired with the diagonal outcropping allows the structure to take shape of the entire bird with its wings outstretched.
Machu Picchu is located in what is known as The Cloud Forest- I wonder why?!
The overcast was too dense today that we could not hike Huayna Picchu with any visibility so we made our way back to Aguas Calientes to explore the town for the rest of the afternoon.
We started in the Main Square, looking for an Apothecary for anti-itch cream because our bodies were attacked by mosquitoes on the hike.
Then it was time to hit the markets.
All before finding a delicious local restaurant to try some Alpaca and quench our thirst with an icy beer.
Our time in Aguas Calientes was nearly over marking the end of the hiking portion of the trip. I can’t believe we did it. I can’t believe I made it. I visited a new city, country, continent, and world wonder all in a matter of days. What a whirlwind! What an experience. And one I will always be grateful for, proud of, and absolutely never forget!