Like clockwork, we were awaken with our usual coca tea and warm water for washing. We quickly packed up our things…we were told that it would be a fine day, and that if we wanted to our any extra clothes into our porter carried duffel, we could this day! It had rained quite heavily the evening before during dinner, but the skies had cleared miraculously once again for us!
We packed and gathered our things in the dark.
And headed down to the last check point on the trail, which opens at 5:30 am. Hard to believe, but there were about 50 hikers there ahead of us at 4:30 am!!!
Finally we made it thought the check point and headed for the Sun Gate. The path was far gentler, and the group was walking like they could see the barn door! The views as the sun broke through were once again, breathtaking.
And we were off again! Until of course we hit the Gringo Stairs! 50 steps going virtually straight up…steep, slippery and treacherous! Our guide advised that we remove our hiking poles and literally crawl up the steps using our hands for support. Frightening, bu the technique worked. Here’s a glimpse of the steps from the top.
Within minutes were arrived at the Sun Gate. A small building overlooking Machu Picchu with a main opening that lets the rising sun of the summer solstice shine through and directly onto the famous site. Absolutely breathtaking!
As you can see, the site is still pretty far below us, so after many photos, we gathered once again to descend into the famous Incan site. The paths were rough on our taxed limbs and joints, but the excitement of finally getting here fueled us forward. We reached a point that was a perfect overlook of the entire site.
Inside we saw the incredible terraces that were the foundations of the city above, and provided food for its inhabitants. Next we ascended to the temple of the sun. Our guide Henry was an amazing interpreter for us.
One of the most interesting temples for me was the temple of the Condor. Looking at this picture you can see the two wings of the condor in the nature rock in situ. Below the rock is a hollow, which represents the body, and the flat rock emerging from the ground in front of the wings represents the head.
Having pretty much covered the site, it was time to bus down to Aquas Calientes where we would meet everyone for a group lunch before boarding the train back to Ollantaytambo, and then bus to Cusco. The bus down to AC was hair raising to say the least, but nothing that a couple fo Pisco Sours couldn’t cure once in the town! ( I know, my vow not to have a drink while at altitude was broken!!)
The ride back was great in that it gave us all about 3 hours to truly contemplate what had just occurred over the past few days. Even the setting sun seemed to be celebrating our accomplishment!