Inca Trail Day 4 - the Grand Finale

Trip Start Sep 11, 2008
Trip End Jan 03, 2009

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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Friday, November 28, 2008

We had to get up at the ungodly hour of 4am on the last day so we could get to the checkpoint early and hence be one of the first groups into Machu Picchu.  After a poor night´s sleep (thanks to hard ground and crowded campsite), it wasn´t much fun.  I really didn´t see the point, since the view from the sun gate is almost always thick cloud until late morning anyway, yet the guides insist on getting there early anyhow.  As it turned out, because we were down to one guide, we got stuck waiting for the slower people in our group, and although we were one of the first groups to the sun gate, we were one of the last into Machu Picchu.  We weren´t particularly happy sitting in the cold staring at the cloud, watching the other hikers stride past, but then to our delight, our second guide appeared, having travelled back to MP, and we were able to go on. 

Once we got our first glimpse of Machu Picchu, our spirits were immediately lifted.  The experience of coming over the hill, and looking down to see the huge stone city perched on top of the mountain, shrouded in mist, and surrounded by even greater mountains stretching into the clouds, is one I will never forget.

There are some places in the world, that are so well-known, and instantly recognisable from photos in books, movis etc, that are so hyped up and overrated that when you see them in real life, it is sometimes a bit of a let down.  Machu Picchu is not one of those places.  Somehow the experience of actually being there, breathing the cold crisp air, walking among the ruins, being able to touch the stones, and feeling the shadow of the mountains on all sides, was so much more incredible than any photograph can ever capture.  I am truly at a loss for words to describe Machu Picchu - nothing I can come up with seems sufficient.  And although it was tough, I´m glad I hiked the trail, instead of catching the train.  Approaching Machu Picchu the way the Incas would have travelled there and seeing that first amazing view from above really added to the experience, and gave a greater appreciation of the remoteness of this incredible place.
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