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Inca Trail: Machu Picchu

  Machu Picchu is one of the seven wonders of the world.  Visited by 1.5 million visitors each year, people from all over the world travel great distances by plane, train and then bus to be here.  Many are checking off bucket lists.   During the week before hiking the Inca Trail, we talked to an older couple from Canada who had just returned from their hike.  We asked whether the journey to Machu Picchu had been worth it?  The guy laughed and said that the Inca Trail was amazing but not to fall in love with the idea that Machu Picchu was going to be some kind of climax to the hike.   "It's amazing, don't get me wrong," he said.  "But it doesn't compare to the hike itself."   We didn't really understand until we were standing at Machu Picchu.  In many ways, it wasn't different from the other ruins that we had seen:  just on a grander scale.  It did have a more colorful name.  Machu Picchu translates to "Old Penis." Most people in the U.S

Inca Trail: The Sun Gate

It was October 1st and our last day on the Inca Trail.  At 4:30 a.m. we received the word to pack up our gear so that the porters could break down camp and head down the mountain.  During the next half hour, we drank coca tea and had a light breakfast of fruit and bread.  Then all of the porters rushed down the mountain with the gear.

Next, most of the tour groups headed down the mountain in the dark with  headlamps on towards the final checkpoint.  We stayed behind at the empty camp for the next hour.  Freddie explained that the final checkpoint didn't open until 6 a.m.  The other groups were going to bunch up in line where there were no views, no bathrooms or places to sit.  So we sat on a rock wall with Freddy and waited for dawn.


It was pleasant enough and a lesson in patience.  About ten minutes to six, we hiked ten minutes and arrived at the checkpoint just as the office opened.  As Freddie predicted, there was a long, standing line of hikers, waiting.  They got in two minutes before us.  Freddy smiled and winked.

Not a race

The trail was mostly flat or gradually descending with one exception:  the Monkey Climb.

Then suddenly we were there:  the Sun Gate overlooking Machu Picchu.

Julia asked me not to post the photo, but she cried tears of joy just before the group shot above.  We made it!


greg said…
A guide can make or break an experience. Sounds like you have one of the good ones.
John said…
We had to the opportunity to observe quite a few other guides. We were very satisfied with Freddy's job performance, and he was a nice guy too.

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