After seeing umpteen amount of photos of this majestic place scatter across backpackers Facebook albums, it was now time for my experience here. Looking forward to it I was, however because it has been DONE, it wasn’t something of a sacred rediscovery for me. Yet, if you are in Peru, you pretty much have to do Machu Pichu. That’s the country’s main attraction, its emblem if you like. Up high towards the heavens, glowing with green on its base and mountains coving its location, I was ready. Due to my time constraints, I couldn’t do a 3 or 4 day hike like most others do. I managed to bump into a friend I met a couple years back in Norht Thailand, randomly it worked perfectly. He found a way to do Machu Pichu dirt cheap, with 2 days and 1 night. We got a mini bus to Hydroelectrica, walked 2 hours down the train tracks to Aguacalientes, which was the town below Machu Pichu. All that was left was a 1 hour hike up over 1,000 steep steps and we were there. $105 US Dollars, that included our transport, meals, accommodation for one night and ticket. Bargain. The original plan was a day trip there and back, costing over double that amount, so we were grateful. Plus we weren’t fished around, we got to do some walking too, see a bit of a new town so it was perfect.
After a 6 hour journey through some mesmeric mountain tops from Cusco, curling windy roads but the scenery was just breathtaking. Titanic like, huge rocks like Meteorites on every corner. I thought I had seen the best of this kind of beauty in Quito, Ecuador, however this was definitely beating that. The walk down the tracks was awesome too. It felt backpacker like. It felt rough, willing and a journey in itself. The old fashioned way, we wanted to budget, we wanted to walk and feel the Andes, it was brilliant albeit for 2 hours. The humidity wasn’t too intense, we just chatted away about travels and life.
Aguacalientes. I love that town. Very clean and quirky, colourful with its presence, lots to look at in terms of shops, plenty of places to eat. It has a active train line in the middle of the city where roads for cars would be, adding to its uniqueness. It has a nonstop flowing steam with pale smooth rocks scattered around, down the centre of the town. Again, mountains coving this town, tucked away from the rest of the Andes, and the world. A happy atmosphere, and had a scent of tranquillity. I would loved to have spent more time there.
Morning arose for our day at Machu Pichu. 4am wakeup call. People were already awake and setting off to the bridge crossing, which opened at 5am. I love being up that early, when its worth getting up for. There is a sense of peace, just relaxation, almost like the sleepy breeze feeling you get when you see some wet due on grass. It was getting light but we began our climb. Buses weren’t going up to the top of Machu Pichu just yet, so it was very much a quiet journey, with only the pants of the backpackers getting more deep as the humidity increased and the more steps lay ahead. It took me 45 mins to get there, with an approximate time of 1.5 hours for the average person. I like to power walk such obstacles, going slow only makes my mind fill with frustration, my legs ache more and my need to rest increase. I made it to the top before 6am, which was when the gates opened to the site. Even though still around 100 people present, that was expected. Getting there that early is necessary, if you want to avoid the prawn sandwich eating, sun hat wearing tourists showing up in all there taking over glory.
Looking out over to the place, in sheer awe of what it was. It’s size was bigger than I imagined, with little cuts and ways to see it from so many different angles. This place was a true gem. A location for the elite in Inca times, or so I’m told. For engineers, teachers, astrologists, mentors – this place was a huge university. Its position, so high up and away from the world, made it the special place that it is. Almost a heaven before heaven. It was a beautiful day. Clouds did sometimes reach us, but sonly drifted away for the blue skies and brazing sun to beckon down on this utopia. I took my pictures early, from all different angles. I wanted them out the way, savoured, so I could be one with the place myself. Despite the tourists, it didn’t matter at that time. It was special. Looking down on the earths below us, I shed a tear. I was in complete surprise of how much it took me back. It beat the Taj Mahal for me. I felt so connected with this place. I want to be buried here. I felt attached and just sat and gathered my thoughts.
We had a short tour from a guide which was included in our dealings, which gave a real insight to what this place meant and was about. Its use, its discovery, its rediscovery, for such a special place, and now the 3rd wonder of the world, I think its important to understand what it is. Its all good taking the photos, saying “I’ve been here”, yet to be able to be privileged to see such a sight, understanding why it is so precious Its imperative to me. Even typing this now, I can recall the peace just sitting there, like a breeze throughout your body, a goose bump like sensation but with good electricity sizzling throughout my body. I had this feeling in Tortuga Bay in the Galapagos, but here it was more powerful, more real, it felt right. I met another friend who I care for dearly, and it was nice to share this experience with two people I knew.
Yet, this place really can be for the individual. It connected me to the heavens, to the winds, the clouds, to the mountains, to the earth. To our past, to its past. I could write on and on in different phrases, adjectives, but to be able to really experience this, you have to go. I’m breathing now happily, thinking of this place, of my time there. What a beautiful special place this is. And unlike many other destinations held in high esteem across the world, I imagine I will return to this place. And that is unique. Vast majority of people will go somewhere once, to see it, and experience it. The first time is always the best of course, so there is no need to return. The pictures have taken, the in the moment pleasure has been achieved, yet I don’t know with Machu Pichu. Its just a place I want to return to. For how it made me appreciate its existence.
After a couple of hours though, that does diminish. Not because of being there too long, but because of the flurry of day tourists. It really turns into a museum after that. So many flock up. And it just feels like any old place that can be visited by anyone. I mean, not as much as a museum, its Machu Pichu, its appearance still is gorgeous to the eye, but the atmosphere becomes a little old and worn, and becomes less of a sacred place. But I know going back early again, before they all wander in, just for them 2 hours, its magical. There are plans to reserve this spot, increase prices and decrease the hoards of thousands of tourists daily. That’s understandable, as nearly 4,000 people attend daily. I stayed there from 6am to 12pm, 6 hours just wondering around, gazing. I’ve never been in awe of something as much in my life. I never get that warm, appreciative, happy sensation when thinking or writing about it. What a special place. Machu Pichu is everything heaven must be.