There were a couple of reasons as to why we were up at 3.45am. Firstly the porters had to get the stuff packed up in order to get back to the train station to leave the trail. Also if we wanted to get to the Sun Gate for dawn then we had to begin walking in the dark. The Sun Gate was historically the main entrance to the Machu Picchu complex and is supposed to be the point where the Lost City of the Incas comes into view. I say supposed because the only thing that came into view this morning was a wall of mist. We hung around for a bit to see if conditions would improve and briefly saw the silhouette of a mountain only for the fog to descend again. As I sometimes say when things don’t quite go to plan, it’s about the journey rather than the destination!
Conditions became a bit clearer as we approached the city itself and thankfully as the morning progressed, the views became much better. It felt like we we rejoining civilisation again as we merged with the throngs of selfie-stickers and iPad photographers who had descended upon Machu Picchu. The Inca Trailers were probably easy to spot (and mostly likely smell) as the disheveled people who hadn’t showered for 4 days. It’s a bit pompous to turn your nose up at the day trippers who were visiting for the day by train or bus but without wishing to sound like some sort of cliche it does feel rewarding to have reached Machu Picchu after trekking and camping for the previous four days.
Tina and Monica gave a tour of the site, pointing out some of the features. It was fascinating but I felt a bit too tired to be able to fully appreciate the place especially as the weather became very hot once the mist disappeared. I’ve been fortunate enough to see some amazing ancient Mexican cities recently. What makes Machu Picchu potentially the pick of the bunch is its amazing natural location.
Getting to Cusco was a bit of an ordeal. First you catch a bus from Machu Picchu down to the nearest town. Then we took a train to somewhere about halfway back to Cusco, then a minibus onto the hotel. The train obviously catered towards tourists and the hefty ticket price of $70 reflected that. Yes it really was seventy American dollars for an hour and a half on a train. The ticket was already included in the price of the trip, otherwise I’d have probably got a minibus back all of the way. The train was quite nice, although hardly the Orient Express, and the landscape was pleasant to look out at via the viewing windows in the ceiling but it was the same scenery that we’d seen for the past four days. On the train I was sat next to a lad called Tom, who was the most knowledgeable Australian about football that I’ve ever met. He’d even heard of Tranmere Rovers which puts anyone up in my estimation!
Back in Cusco I was in bed as soon as I stepped into the hotel, absolutely shattered.