Day 19 | Friday, November 11, 2016
We are doing the completely abnormal thing and spending another day at Machu Picchu. Most people only spend one day or a part of one day at Machu Picchu. We purchased tickets that include Machu Picchu Mountain as well as general entrance for today. We would have liked to have hiked Huayna Picchu Mountain because their are several additional ruins to see but you have to purchase tickets for Huayna Picchu at least 3 months in advance and given the nature of this trip we just haven’t been booking things that far in advance.
We opted to be in the first group to hike Machu Picchu Mountain this morning in hopes of avoiding the mid day sun as the temperature is supposed to be a few degrees warmer today. Being in group one means that our entrance time is between 7:00 am and 8:00 am.
After signing in at the guard shack at the base of Machu Picchu Mountain we hit the trail. It soon become all to apparent that it was a good thing we didn’t know what we were fully signing up for when we purchased our tickets yesterday afternoon.
We had read online that it takes 3 hours to hike Machu Picchu Mountain round trip from the guard shack. When we checked in the guard told us 2 hours up, 2 hours down. We had no idea that the next 3 hours would be spent navigating up one insane ancient staircase after another and then back down.
Granted the views make it worth it and that moment when you get your pic snapped at the peak at 10,043.57 feet above sea level you feel a great sense of accomplishment.
We did it!
I have to be honest about a quarter of the way back down my legs were feeling so shaky I was hoping that I would manage to safely make it back to the guard shack.
We spent the rest of the morning and afternoon exploring the upper part of the city, getting our iconic pictures of Machu Picchu and viewing the city from the back side. We hiked to the site of an Inca Bridge and hung out with the llamas.
Unlike some of the ruins we visited in the Sacred Valley there is a quarry onsite here at Machu Picchu. As you meander amongst the giant granite boulders you wonder how the Incas managed to move them such amazing distances and up such steep inclines. I can now attest to the degree of difficulty of hiking Machu Picchu Mountain. I can’t imagine doing so with a multiple ton stone in tow.
Well folks that is a wrap for day 2 at Machu Picchu. We are hopping back on the train headed for Cusco tonight. We added another 8,032 stairs today to our running total 17,152 stairs walked.