We woke up early for a bird watching excursion before we headed up the mountain. Unfortunately the excursion was a bust- I don't think our guide was into leading a 6:30am tour. First, he left us for being 30 seconds late and second, the tour went something like this:
Tour guide: (holds up a card with a bird on it) "This is a ____ in Spanish it is called a _____ in Quechuan it is called a _____. You might see one here."
(People on tour with binoculars: desperately search for birds and see nothing but the Peruvian equivalent to the robin or maybe wren.)
Tour guide: (stands without looking through his binoculars for birds...or looking for birds at all...or pointing out things tour members might like to see)
(3 minutes pass)
Tour guide: "Ok, we will move on"
...and this repeated for about 3 stops until Russell and I ducked out of the tour.
Last minute we decided to take the bus up the mountain on the recommendation of a friend since I was still recovering from "the bug". Beside fearing for our lives as large tour busses zig zagged up a mountain and narrowly passed each other for the 20 minute ride, it saved a ton of time and energy. The energy part was especially key for me since I'd pretty much eaten bread, crackers, water and coca tea for the past 24 hours.
We began our Machu Picchu adventure around 8:45am. The sun was up and most of the clouds had cleared so we had beautiful views of a most spectacular place. We opted not to have a guide so we are certain we missed out on much of the history and legend told about the ruins but we decided it was nothing a documentary wouldn't tell us (so we plan to find one when we get home).
I can't say that the Machu Picchu ruins are a particularly easy or safe excursion yet there was a retirement home "field trip" and several toddlers-5year olds tromping around. The poor retirement home folks were sitting down for a rest every 10 minutes...and were not properly informed about attire. Many were wearing the equivalent to ugg boots, keds, and even ballet flats (no traction at all). Then there were the "fancy" people decked out in designer jeans or track suits with make up, fixed hair and all sorts of ridiculousness. Different strokes for different folks, I guess!
Around 10am we headed to the ticket line for Wayana Picchu, described by Lonely Planet to be an easy trek up a hill that may not be worth one's time. Well, I will say it was probably the most difficult, scariest thing I have ever done. ever.
The good news is- nobody died. The bad news is, I had a bit of a break down at the top and cried in front of about 50 people. Nice. I felt like such a grown up. Enjoy the pictures!
Our first look at Machu Picchu. Check out the heights and the drop offs. Remember, I'm afraid of that stuff!
|We arrived as the clouds were lifting|
|The size of this place is unbelieveable!|
|Perfectly angled and leveled terracing that was once used for agricultural purposes.|
|This is supposed to be one of the best places to get your picture made...I think the guy who took our picture got a little too close!|
|More terracing, it really is incredible!|
|This is like the "junk yard" where they put left over stones. Don't worry, it does have a steep drop on the other side where you could fall to your death :)|
|Notice the difference in the stone work on this building. It's the sun temple which was one of the most sacred. These blocks have been cut to fit perfectly together with no mortar.|
|a lone tree|
|millions of tiny steps!|
|This is the courtyard where the town came together to listen to live music and have picnics in the summertime (j/k but that would be a great place for it).|
|a close up example of the precisely cut stone|
|This is foreshadowing: "Wow look at those two mountains over there. I'd hate to climb that tall one."|
|Incan homes. They used to have thatched roofs.|
|Their equivalent to the alley|
|My favorite picture of Russell. Probably one of 3 good pictures I took the entire trip (my talents do not lie in photography).|
A little video to show you the scope of this place!
Realization that we had been looking at the wrong mountain. I am not happy.
|This is my fake "I'm scared" picture|
|In the video above when Russell talks about the old people, there they are coming up behind me as I give another dramatized frown.|
|Here we go! Up the mountain one tiny, slippery, uneven stair at a time.|
|Still going! I'm doing ok at this point. Just watching the people in front of me and not looking down, back or to the side of me.|
|Here we are at an overhang. You can't tell from this picture but that white spot behind us is Machu Picchu. This picture was followed by...|
|...the break down. Yes I am crying here. Once I stopped crying and could speak above a whisper, I sent Russell up the rest of the mountain.|
This video gives you a feel for where I stopped.
The following videos are Russell's play by play through the remainder of the climb. He did this so that I could see what I missed. Let me tell you, even watching these videos makes my blood pressure rise!
|yes, that patch on the lower right hand side of the picture is Machu Picchu|
|Dumb lizard- why did you come all the way up here?!|
|That arrow says "walk this way so you don't die" not really, but it should.|
|There I am on that little ledge in the turquoise shirt, reading my Kindle and trying not to look like a total loser.|
Whew! He made it back alive!
After our trek, we headed back to the hotel for a much needed massage in the little spa. It started raining while we were there which made for relaxing background noise (like a sound machine but real life) and put me straight to sleep.
Finally we boarded another train and headed to The Sacred Valley.