Posted by: Jay & Christina | June 22, 2010

Machu Picchu

The city of Machu Picchu from a different angle

Our last day of trekking started with a wake-up call at 3:45am. The last campsite we slept in had some more facilities than the basic ones of the previous nights. There were even hot showers for a small fee, but Jay and I figured if we were going to be tough, we better have the stink to prove it. Four days of no shower? Pshhh, no problem. At the campsite bar (read: danger!), we ran into Willie (Jay’s friend from San Diego) and his friends where we shared our experiences of the past few days. Knowing that we were all getting up really early, we hit the sack soon after.

3:45am. We woke up in complete darkness and hurriedly got dressed, packed, and inhaled our breakfast.

As we were getting ready to go, all I could see were the flash of people’s headlamps, in single file row as they made their way to the entrance gate. The entrance gate to the trail doesn’t open until 6am, and from there, it takes another hour to get to the Sun Gate, and an additional hour to Machu Picchu. People get kind of anxious at this point of the trek because 1) they want to see Machu Picchu really bad and must be the first person to do so 2) they want to climb Wayna Picchu, the famous peak you see in all the photos of Machu Picchu. Only 400 people are allowed to climb Wayna Picchu per day. You have to queue up for a ticket, and people race for it first thing in the morning. I, for one, really wanted to climb Wayna Picchu. But, I knew the chances would be slim considering that once we actually reached the city of Machu Picchu, the sight would’ve been open for a few hours for the visitors coming in by train.

Once we entered the trail, some groups became almost hysterical and rude, racing to the top rather than actually enjoying the hike. Fortunately, our guide let everyone in our group go at our own pace and told us that Machu Picchu would still be there by the time we arrived. We entered the Sun Gate and waited.

At the Sun Gate awaiting the sunrise

So, what can we say about Machu Picchu that hasn’t already been said?
Again, we were in the presence of a human masterpiece, and like Petra, we were completely in awe. Our first glimpse of Machu Picchu came as the sun rose over the mountain behind us, giving us witness to this incredible city with its dramatic steep cliffs and surrounding mountains. It is mystical, mysterious, and you can’t have anything but the utmost respect for a civilization that was so advanced and in-tuned with nature.

We made the final leg of the hike

and was welcomed by a llama:

Say ‘Machu Picchu’!!

Then, we took our obligatory tourist picture:

I promise we weren’t photoshopped in

Our guide, Victor, gave us a tour of the city

Victor knew that I wanted to climb Wayna Pichu so at the entrance of the park, he asked if there were any available tickets. Nope. I was disappointed, but also really tired from the day’s activities so, I was also relieved. I don’t think I could have handled another big hike. But, Victor reassured us that this was not our last chance. He said sometimes people tire out later in the day and change their minds about climbing Wayna Picchu, an additional 360 meters (~1,100 ft) up.

After our tour, we had the rest of the day to wander around as we pleased. We wanted to find a corner to chill out, but then Victor came back to us and excitedly told us that he had asked the ticket booth at the entrance of Wayna Picchu about going in, and some people had turned in their tickets. If we were going to do it, we had to do it NOW! Before we could muster up any sort of reaction besides looking bewildered, we were ushered into the entrance of Wayna Picchu and on our way up to the peak.

The climb was really, really steep. Some parts of the stone staircase was barely wide enough to support us on our tippy-toes.

When we reached the top, we felt like we were on top of the world. The platforms of the Wayna Picchu ruins allowed for some walking around, but we were so high up, and the edges dropped suddenly. It was scary and exhilarating at the same time.

Crazy kids sitting on the edge of a platform. There’s nothing but a 1,000 ft drop below their feet.

The large switchback on the left is the bus route to Aguas Calientes from Machu Picchu, to the right is the city of Machu Picchu. And Jay took this photo from the top of Wayna Picchu

The climb down was a little more precarious than the way up, but we are beyond happy we were able to climb Wayna Picchu, every last step was worth it!

Afterward, we spent some time in Machu Picchu before heading down to Aguas Calientes. Our group agreed to meet at a restaurant to say our proper goodbyes.

Victor and Jay

We had developed a good bond with our group and spent the next few hours laughing and celebrating. The following evening, we met again for dinner and drinks in Cusco, seeing each other clean and fresh for the first time in a few days.

We spent a couple days in Cusco recharging our batteries for our next stop, Lake Titicaca!



  1. SO AWESOMMMEEE!!!!!!!!!

  2. SO AWESOMMMEEE!!!!!!!!!
    I can not imagine what you felt at the time. I have to be there myself to know it.

  3. So glad you were able to hike Wayna Picchu. What an experience!

  4. so so sooooooo COOL! I’m glad to hear that you got to hike Wayna Picchu! Your pictures are awesome! I am deathly afraid of heights, so everything that you two have done is astounding! Way to go you two!!! Lovely, lovely pictures!

  5. Man, you suck! Araceli, Brian Ruff and I are sitting here at work looking at your blog wishing we were there not here. You have gone to some unbelievable places. All the drinking pic’s are making me thirsty. Keep going and don’t look back.

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