Early morning at the Machu Picchu
It is 4.00am when the alarm rings. My entire body is sore and my feet seem way heavier than usual…Obviously paying for those 4 days hiking on the Salkantay trail! Barely awake we leave for the bus station in Agua Calientes, to be sure to grab the first bus going to Machu Picchu at 5.00am. I actually advise buying your bus ticket the day before at the bus station, so don’t have to stress out in the morning!
By taking this bus, we were sure to be the first to arrive at the Machu Picchu entrance check-point. And this is the case, we are almost alone at the entrance while the fog is slowly disappearing. It is cold, I am not fully awake, but seeing this amazing archeological site in front of me, as if it was hanging in the clouds, is something I won’t forget.
We are at 2500m, between the Andes and the Amazonia region, walking in the most sacred Incas religious site. Machu Picchu was a religious sanctuary, as well as an administration center and an experimental zone for agriculture. I start my visit with stars in my eyes…how not to be fascinated and impressed by the amount of work and the technics needed to build this amazing place! But most of all, I totally understand why an emperor wanted to settle up there: the view is breathtaking!
Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu
After our grand tour, we rush to the entrance of Huayna Picchu mountain, to start the ascend. Huayna Picchu is the Sugar Loaf mountain overlooking the archeological site on every picture. You need a specific ticket to climb it. Yes, i said “climb”, because the ascend turns quickly into a fight against gravity.
To visit Machu Picchu you choose between a few different tickets, and it’s easy to get confused about it. First, the basic ticket allows you to visit the Machu Picchu archeological site. Then, you can buy another ticket to visit Huayna Picchu mountain, in addition to the Incas remainings. There are only 400 tickets sold for Huayna Picchu every day, with two sessions for your visit: between 7.00am and 8.00am and between 10.00am and 11.00am. The third type of ticket allows you to hike to the Machu Picchu mountain, the highest one! Visiting hours for this “montana” are also from 7.00am to 8.00am and then 9.00am to 10.00am.
To resume, if you want to hike one of the two mountains, you will have to get up early. But morning remains the best moment to enjoy the beauty of Machu Picchu anyway, because this is when you can see the Incas ruins appearing out of the mist, when you can feel the quartz stones warming up under the sun…and most of all, this is the only moment when you don’t feel like this is one of the most visited places in the world !
After hours walking around in this legendary place, don’t forget to get your passport stamped….because it will be the coolest stamp ever!
We finish this incredible day by taking the train from Agua Calientes to Ollantaytambo, so then we can come back to Cusco by bus. It was a very long day I won’t forget anytime soon!
The next time I will visit Peru (because yes, there will be a next time!), I will visit the ruins of Choquequirao. Considered as Machu Picchu little sister, this ancient Inca city close to the Salkantay is far less accessible and so fare less visited!