In the predawn, I rose with my friends to catch the bus to Machu Picchu. We are ready to see the sun magic light hit the ruins of the ancient city. Our guide shows us a wonderful location above the city - away from the crowds. We watched the sky get brighter and the surroundings become more visible. It took the sun much longer to make an appearance - the Andes Mountains were in the way. We enjoy the drifting clouds and morning dew lift away. When the sun final crested over the peak, we were rewarded with glowing views on the sundial and the amphitheater. More stunning views were found at the top of Machu Picchu Mountain. The climb is one long, steep, and tiring staircase.
It is amazing to see what community can create and how they do it. The topsoil for their planting was hiked up the mountain from the surrounding area, the rocks were carved with small hand tools to fit snuggly together without mortar, and the culture didn't even have the wheel to help move things around.
I recommend traveling with the Lorenzo Tour group. Not only do you get the see Machu Picchu, they take you mountain biking down a near 15,000 ft mtn., hike along a non-crowded Inka Trail, and give you the opportunity to go white water rafting, zip on South America's highest zip-line, and enjoy uncrowded hot springs.
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Hiking The Inca Trail with 5 Great Friends
Last month, I had the opportunity to travel to Peru and embark on a 6 day journey through the mountains with 5 of my best friends. We landed in Cusco, the original capital city of the Inca Empire
After spending a few days in Cusco acclimating to the extreme altitude adjustment, our group traveled north by foot, along the original Inca Trail. This was the same trail messengers would use to carry messages from the capital city to the secret city of Machu Picchu, a small city curiously placed on top of a mountain.
After a 4 day journey through the mountains, rivers, and rain forests of Peru, we arrived at our destination—Machu Picchu.
This journey was special for all of us, as we were exposed to sights and sounds we never knew existed. The plush greens and vivid sounds along the way felt otherworldly. At points along the way, we actually hiked above the clouds, as though we were entering a city in the sky.
The food, culture, people, and rich history of Peru made the trip monumental for me, and I would ask that if offered the opportunity, each person should try to visit this very special place.
Although we wanted to hike the Inca Trail we didn't have the time. At first we were disappointed, but when we were able to get to Machu Picchu before all of the hikers arrived we felt a little better about our decision not to do it. If you are unable to hike, for whatever reason, take advantage of getting to the site as early as possible. It was great to have the place basically to ourselves for a little while.
The clouds come to play over the rolling hills along the Camino Inka Inka Trail to Machu Picchu. It was a breath taking experience with amazing views that only the imagination could attempt to recreate.
What do you do when you want to photograph an iconic site that has been photographed millions of times? You either take the same shot millions of people had already taken already or try doing something different. For the latter option, you need the help from any photographer’s best friend: Patience. One morning, a few years ago, I brought my friend along as I sat patiently in front of the Inca site for several hours taking pictures (adding a few dozen of them to the million plus inventory of photographs of the site!) as the fog was lifting and the sun was coming out. I tried shooting the same scene from different angles—framing it with other elements included— until the universe paid me back for being patient and not giving up, and sent this beautiful bird my way to pose in front of the Lost City of the Incas. At that moment, I took my “perfect” picture of Machu Picchu, turned my camera off, stretched my achingly stiff legs, and smiled….
As a child, my grandfather loved to teach my sister and me to say challenging words. One of his favorites was Machu picchu. When a friend asked me to join a trek through Peru, I jumped at the chance. I'd finally get to see the words my grandfather taught me come to life.
If you aren't hiking into Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate, the next best option is to make your way up the mountain before sunrise. We did so to beat the crowds. But imagine my surprise as I was hiking up the steps as the morning mist lifted when I came face to face with a llama enjoying the morning sun.
My morning friend was about 5 feet away. Wayna Picchu looms in the background. Words fail to describe the peace and beauty of that moment. And I have my grandfather to thank for teaching me the words that got me here.
After hiking to the top of Macchu Pichhu (mountain, not monument), I added my own cairn, or stone trail marker, to this pile. It's a tradition the Incan messengers used while making deliveries, and native Quechuan people still use them today for devotional purposes.
Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is a place that needs no introduction. What is it about Machu Picchu that makes it so wondrous? Well, I’m not sure there is a concrete answer; the magic of this place cannot be put into words. Rounding the corner and taking the first step into Machu Picchu is almost fairytale like. You take that step with both excitement and anxiety to finally see one of the most amazing places on earth. Once that step is taken, you feel as though you are dreaming. You stop, stare, and try to take in the massive and exquisite surroundings. Questions fly through your mind; who built this place? Who lived here? How did they build it? Why? When? You yearn for the answers. You want to know anything and everything. It’s amazing how travel can trigger the desire to learn. Machu Picchu is a perfect example of this, and seeing and experiencing a place firsthand is the best way to learn. Machu Picchu is just one of the many places in the world that is rich in both history and culture.