After waking up at 3 a.m. and waiting in the pouring rain for three hours, we boarded a bus to ride up to Machu Picchu. At the top, we waited in another line that turned into kind of a madhouse, but luckily, our guide was a pro and helped us get in to the gates in a timely fashion.
Our first view of the city through the mist!
We were lucky enough to get some of the last tickets to climb Waynapicchu, the mountain that sticks up behind the city in the classic postcard photos of Machu Picchu. It looks super huge in the photos, but after all those high mountain passes over the previous few days, it wasn't that bad. These are some of the (very steep!) stairs leading to the top.
Crawling through a rock tunnel to reach the top. The Incas constructed this passage to represent spiritual re-birth.
Most of the group at the very top! We made it! I'm not going to lie, it was kinda tough at times, but I just sang Gypsy Kings jams in my head (I was inspired by the location), and that helped a lot. Also, everyone in my group (the trekkers and the guide) was so great and encouraging of everyone else.
Postcard view...breathtaking, isn't it?! What amazes me most is that the Incas hauled these stones many miles to construct the city. I can't imagine the strength that must have taken!
(Btw, the rock/mountain sticking up in the background in Waynapicchu...there are also stone buildings on the top of that mountain!) Experts now think that Machu Picchu was a university where the smartest Incas studied agricultural techniques, rather than a religious center.
Some of the many, many terraces...apparently, this is where the magic (a.k.a. agricultural learning) happened
A while back, the president of Peru was trying to sell Machu Picchu to another country, and showed pictures of this part of Machu Picchu, saying that it was falling apart, and they would be lucky to get rid of it. It was not falling apart at all; rather, he just used the one broken part to convince the public to get on his side...what a liar/so scandalous.
The trek was wonderful, but I couldn't stay there forever. After leaving Machu Picchu, I had another day in Cusco.
Messages carved into the mountains. Our guide on the Sacred Valley tour told us that local schools have races in the mountains, and whichever school wins gets to carve their name and crest into the mountains.
While wandering around on Easter morning searching for a church service to attend, my hostel roommate and I found this group of older women doing Tai-Chi and aerobics routines. It seems that the Miraflores district of Lima is making a big push for fitness right now, as there were a bunch of other fitness-related events going on while we were there. Funny coincidence: when I was applying to international teaching positions last year, I interviewed with a school in Miraflores. It was interesting to see what Lima is like on this trip, and where I might have lived if things had turned out differently!
It was a whirlwind trip, but it was so wonderful! I'm so glad I had the opportunity to visit Peru and complete this trek, which I had been wanting to do for a while. Beyond visiting Machu Picchu and seeing some incredible scenery along the way, I ate some amazingly delicious food and met some really wonderful people. I would definitely recommend this trek to almost anyone...if you have any questions about it, let me know!