Machu Picchu & Wayna Picchu

Trip Start Sep 08, 2008
Trip End Nov 02, 2008

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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Thursday, September 25, 2008

25 September 2008 - Thursday

An early wake up call of 04:30 am got us all out of bed and ready to head up to Macchu Picchu. We caught a bus at about 6am from Aguas Calientes town that would take us up to Macchu Picchu. 6am seemed a little late for me as I was really keen on climbing Wayna Picchu mountain as well. The rules around climbing Wayna Picchu is that only 400 people are permitted a day. 200 at 7am and then another 200 at 10am. As soon as you´ve entered into Macchu Picchu, generally everyone keen on Wayna Picchu would make their way to the Wayna Picchu entrance and queue until you know whether you´ve been lucky enough or not. Nix and I were in the queue at about 6:30am with what looked like hundreds of people ahead of us, thus were pretty convinced we were not going to be one of the lucky few. A very disappointing thought.

About 45mins later, we were approached and asked which slot we would like to make. At 07:26 they let us through the gates as persons 90 and 91 of the morning. Still well within the 200 limit of the morning!!! We had a guided tour of Macchu Picchu scheduled for 9am, and thus only had an hour and a half to make our way 300m up to Wayna Picchu, do some sightseeing, and then make our way back to the entrance gate. Needless to say, our hike up was attempted in record time and we were at the top within 30 mins (usual expected accent time is 40 mins). We were absolutely soaked from the exertion and humidity. The views from Wayna Picchu were unbelievable. A great outlook over Macchu Picchu city. The climb up and around Wayna Picchu were more steep than one could possibly expect with minimal or no railings to stop you from going over the edge should you wander too closely.

The whole mountain has a very special feeling to it. The buildings are built right on the edge of the mountain giving you a full on view of the city and also the Urubamba river. Apparently Wayna Picchu was built as a look out or guard place to oversee the rest of the city. There were constantly one of two guys playing a flute (not sure where they got the air to climb and play flute at the same time from), which created such a great atmosphere on the mountain. As we couldn´t spend too much time up top, we started descending at the last minute possible. Had to laugh though as just before the descent we came across a woman with terrible vertigo, shuffling with her back and gloved hands to the wall trying to get a good picture of Macchu Picchu. Why you would climb Wayna Picchu when you´ve got vertigo is beyond me as that whole place is built on the edge of the mountain.

Again, we made it down Wayna Picchu in record timing (20 mins) and finally made it to the entrance with absolutely no minutes to spare. Thankfully our guide was a few minutes late giving us time to catch our breath and to try and abate the shaking legs. We were walked through the city while our guide gave us a brief overview on what each of the sections where, the history around them etc. Very interesting but am sure it was only skimming the history of the city. I think there is so much to be learnt and all of that cannot be conveyed in an hour or two's guided tour.

Angel had asked us to head down to Agua Calientes at about 11:30 for lunch. However, Nix and I had decided to pack our own lunches and decided to stay up at the city longer and head to the sun gate instead. Overall, how many times to you get a chance to visit a wonder of the world? Lunch really can't be THAT important in comparison. The sun gate seemed much lower than Wayna Picchu and was a much more gradual climb in comparison.

On the first stretch towards the sun gate, we started off on a very steep ascent. We didn't think too much of it as surely the road would flatten out soon, and continued on. About half an hour into the hike we came across a few people who told us we were nearly there and only about an hour to go. So we continued on. The road would smooth out soon surely... At some point we turned around only to see that we were just about as high as the buildings on Wayna Picchu. We asked the next set of people where this path was headed, to which the French guys explained that we were about an hour way from the top of Macchu Picchu mountain!! We had taken the wrong trail and were a few meters below the cloud line. Oh well. A few photos later and we started heading back. The views again were fantastic, but we weren't exactly where we'd hoped to end up. We just wanted to be at the Sun Gate!!

On the way down we saw a pair of condors flying above Wayna Picchu heading towards the Sun Gate. Some things get it so much easier than us... Seeing the condors again was amazing and in all likelihood we wouldn't have seen them had we taken another path. For a short crazy moment we contemplated heading back down Macchu Picchu mountain and finding the route back up to the Sun Gate, but our time was seriously running out and unless we ran all the way there and back, we wouldn't have made it back to catch our train in time. What a pity!! So we had no choice but to find ourselves onto the shuttle bus back down to Aguas Calientes.

It was all travel for the rest of the day as we caught our train at 2pm from Agua Calientes to Ollantaytambo. From here we sat on an endless bus ride back to Cusco. Really great to have a shower after the days running around. Also great to be wear a clean set of clothes yet again!!
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