Machu Picchu

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June 23rd 2008
Published: June 23rd 2008
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Brandon, Marko, and I were successful in hiking an Inka Trail sin guia(without a guide). That was the theme of our trip, Sin Guia, we were determined to study guide books, read blogs, and ask locals to get us to our destination.

We began by taking a local bus from Cuzco to Santa Maria and then hiked the rest of the way through Acocalmayo, which was the most amazing hot springs I have ever been to, then through Santa Teresa, and on to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. We stayed at a very cheap hostel the night before our trek and then camped the rest of the way.

It was such a fun adventure. Walking on train tracks, over sketchy bridges, through rain forests, under waterfalls; it was heaven. If I hadn't known how to speak Spanish, it wouldn't have been nearly as easy. The guide book gave a very vague explanation on how to do this, so we ended up speaking with the locals and they helped us find the correct path. Everybody was extremely nice to us and at one point we stopped for a break in a little town along the way to watch a soccer
Camino Del InkaCamino Del InkaCamino Del Inka

The Inka Trail sin guia.
match between two teams of eight to ten year-old boys. It was a true cultural experience, we talked to the spectators for awhile and they seemed happy to have us watch the game. After a few goals and a few cheers, we continued on our way.

Machu Picchu was absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, the town at the base of the ruins, Aguas Calientes, reminded me alot of Phuket Island in Thailand. Row after row of bars and restaurants, people selling knick-knacks everywhere, and expensive lodging. Our saving grace was a large grass field just outside of town which offered "camp spots" for $5. After taking advantage of some food in town...other than Top Ramen and bread, we went to bed early in anticipation of the next days trek from the deep valley to the top of Machu Picchu.

We awoke at 3:45am, completely drenched from the humid jungle climate. We gathered our things quickly and began the hike up a stone staircase to the entrance of Machu Picchu. There's a switchback road with a bus shuttle to the entrance of the park, but we opted to do the entire hike without aid, and that meant taking a stone staircase
The beginngThe beginngThe beginng

We started from the town of Santa Maria and asked some locals where to go, they sent us down this dirt road that took us through some old towns.
up almost 1200ft. It went a lot quicker than we thought and we arrived at the gates at 4:45am to find that the park doesn't open until 6am. So, we rested and ate a breakfast of bananas and crackers with the only other people there, two from Japan and one from Baker City, Oregon.

At 5:30am, they let us in and we immediately started climbing. When we arrived at the ruins it was still before sunrise so we decided to take the stone staircase to the top of Machu Picchu Mountain. We hiked swiftly to beat the sun. Twenty-five minutes later we made it to the top, exhausted and drenched. The clouds were covering the site of Machu Picchu, so we waited and watched the sun beginning to rise and the clouds moving out and then we got a small peek of the ruins. It was amazing. The setting was so perfect. As the sun rose higher the clouds burned off and we were able to see the full extent of the ruins. It lived up to and exceeded all my expectations. You could feel the spiritual presence of the Inka and Pachamama (mother earth).

We are now
Puentes ViejosPuentes ViejosPuentes Viejos

We seemed to cross the river alot and a few of the bridges were a little sketchy...
in Cuzco for the next three days to celebrate Inti Raymi, and then Brandon and I are off to Puno, and Lake Titicaca.

I hope everyone is have a great summer. Get out and climb something to watch the sunrise.


Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18


Train TracksTrain Tracks
Train Tracks

After walking on roads, trails and bridges we were told to follow the train tracks the rest of the way to Aguas Calientes.
Las NubiasLas Nubias
Las Nubias

The clouds in the morning were amazing. It was a perfect way to see the site for the first time, it was like the ruins were shrouded in mystery.
Marko and BrandonMarko and Brandon
Marko and Brandon

The time between Moonset and Sunrise.
Ruins uncoveredRuins uncovered
Ruins uncovered

Slowly the ruins began to appear.
El GrupoEl Grupo
El Grupo

It worked out perfectly, Mark is a biathlete from Canada so he was inshape and ready to do the trek on a more strick budget then we were.

Llamas and Alpacas all over the place.
Sun Dial Sun Dial
Sun Dial

This is believed to be a sun dial and the peak in the background is Machu Picchu Mountain which we had climbed earlier that morning.

In Inkan times, Cuzco was shaped like a Puma. At the front on the hill overlooking the city, was the head or Sasqaywaman which they joke about and call it, Sexy Woman. The architecture of it was more perfect than Machu Picchu, because the stones were so large and they were perfectly cut to fit into eachother with no cracks. They also didnt have to climb a mountain to build it.
Famous 300+ ton StoneFamous 300+ ton Stone
Famous 300+ ton Stone

11 sided and over 300 tons. The rocks were rolled, pulled and pushed over 1.5 km.

The week before Inti Raymi, which is on the 24th, there are parades and dances in the street.

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