Day 76: City of Heaven – Machu Picchu

After 15,500 kms and 76 days of travel, we finally made it to one of our most anticipated destinations – Machu Picchu, ‘lost’ city of the Incas. We arrived a day late for KF’s bday…

By 0500, there was already a long line waiting for the first bus up to MP. We got on the 7th bus for the 0530 departure, making us the 200th or so in line! The uphill ride took about 20 minutes but felt like eternity. For some reason, I was really nervous – it felt like highschool, sitting outside the exam hall minutes before admission. This was it.. the grand showpiece just seconds away.. will we see what we came for? or is the anticipation building up for a big disappointment?

Peaks surrounding Machu Picchu

Upon arrival at the main entrance, we got our tickets stamped for Wayna Picchu – the mountains that form the monumental backdrop of the Inca city. Admission to climb this peak is limited to 400 a day, and we’ve heard from fellow travelers the view from above is spectacular. We only had one shot at seeing MP at dawn and here we were struggling to decide if we should view it from Wayna Picchu, or from the classic postcard viewpoint.

City of heaven being revealed before our eyes

We hiked past the entrance and stepped into a hazy dreamscape of rolling clouds. Zero visibility. I was disorientated without clues from the sun. Quick, which way to go? Figure it out before it’s too late! We picked an uphill path that took us through a shelter of trees and emerged into a clearing where several trekkers sat waiting. This must be it…

… and suddenly, like magic, it happened before our eyes.

The clouds rolled out, revealing a stunning city of stone clinging to the sides of the mountainous landscape. Organized and beautifully crafted, this was the city of heaven. Mysterious. Mystical. Even for a man of no religion, I could feel the divinity of what laid quietly in front of me. I couldn’t speak.

Within seconds the city disappeared into the clouds again. We decided to climb higher to the Guardhouse for the classic postcard perfect view and waited. The magic happened again, this time as the rising sun shone through, ushering in a new day and adding a golden brilliance to everything it touched.

A city on the edge of the mountains

It was a pivotal moment, phenomenal and powerful. I felt complete, no regrets. I have seen hands down the most awe inspiring feat before my very own eyes. A thousand times more impressive than the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Wall of China, or the Mayan cities of Tikal and Palenque…

We found it impossible to peel away from the scene in front of us (believe me, we had said ‘let’s go’ several times but our legs did not action on our words), gazing for two hours, mesmerised as the ever changing cloud formations rolled around us.

No photo, no postcard does justice to the phenomenal beauty of this Peruvian treasure. Not even close. We had moaned about how expensive MP was compared to other world heritage sites – but the whining is over. Witnessing with our own eyes, the city of heaven at the break of dawn, live and real, has burned eternal images in our memories. Priceless…

View from the smaller peak of Wayna Picchu

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8 Comments

  1. Rosanna says:

    I think your pictures do the place justice!! And Im jealous of your good weather and blue skies!! Enjoy the rest of Peru!

  2. piki says:

    I am glad for you to enjoy this wounderful place so much. Thank you for sharing your emotions, I am impressed! I spend five weeks travelling in Peru and Bolivia in February and March but unfortunatelly had to postpone the visit of MP for my next trip to South America, and I am firmly decided to make it next year. Enjoy all the beauties of Peru!
    Anica

  3. ace says:

    stunning!

  4. Leslie says:

    AMAZING guys! So happy for you two! :)

  5. 山 him says:

    Rosanna: no way!! what we saw of MP was way more stunning than that I've captured in stills.. :(

    Anica: Make sure you arrive at MP as early as possible to watch the clouds disperse!

    ace/leslie: holaaaaaaa!!

  6. Ange says:

    Hey guys,

    I'm Rosanna and Cindy's friend Angie who you met briefly in Quito. So far, only read a few entries of your blog and loving it.
    I can definitely second the feelings you had on that bus winding up to Machu Picchu…its a strange feeling of anticipation and psyching yourself up about seeing what could be the most amazing thing ever, and worrying it wouldn't live up to your expectations.

    I'm really glad that for all of us, it more than lived up to what we imagined!

    I don't know how long you stayed, but I love the cloudy moments the best especially how the clouds/haze make the city disappear and reappear long enough to miss it, even if you're standing rooted in the same position

    Have a safe trip guys. Great pics!

  7. Rafzana says:

    Wow, these pictures give me goose bumps! Very beautiful. I've always wanted to go to Machu Picchu, and now I want to go even more!! :-)

  8. Anonymous says:

    These pictures are amazing. I would have liked one with a llama though.

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