The Incas and a hike to remember

“The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself” (Oscar Wilde)

Machu Picchu has got to be one of the most amazing places in the world. It’s fascinating how the Incas have built a city at such height, carrying those giant stones all the way up. It’s a strange, beautiful and unforgettable experience. The display of the city itself (especially seen from the first time, and from the viewpoint right after entering the city) is stunning. However, me and my group got fog as soon as we got there. It didn’t make it less spectacular, though.

The photo above was taken more or less 350 metres above Machu Picchu. If you ever go there, it’s very probable that at some point you’ll be hearing about Huayna Picchu: the mountain right in front of the Inca city. It’s a (approx.) one, one-and-a-half-hour climb and it stands 350+ metres over Machu Picchu. It’s a must-visit spot where you get to appreciate some natural caves and the Temple of the Moon. And you don’t pay extra.

People were commenting that there’s a restricted number of daily visitors (I’ve read 400, been told 500, etc.). Most people I was talking to, or accidentally listening to around the ruins were giving up visiting Huayna Picchu because “it would be probably full already.” Make no mistake. It’s at least worth the shot to get to the passage/entrance to the path and find out. While in Machu Picchu, me and a travel bud I met while traveling to Aguas Calientes were told — by this local guide — that it was no use, that the maximum number of permits to go there had already been taken for the day. We almost gave up, but then again, we were already there. If you’re already in Machu friggin’ Picchu, for the love of the gods, might as well try and get your ticket to Huayna.

So we got to the entrance and there were half a dozen people standing in line. When it got to be our turn, no one said anything and we were asked to fill in our names and country (and probably passport number if memory doesn’t fail me). We did just that, and surprise, surprise! We were visitors #87 and #88 of the day. Take my advice: no matter what people tell you, check things out yourself.

It’s a one-and-a-half hour — and sometimes steep — climb, but it’s absolutely worth it. We took a one-hour rest at the top of the mountain, and at some point this old man arrived and stood on the big rock where we and other visitors were enjoying the view. His face was red, he was obviously tired, but he was smiling nonetheless. Suddenly, he opened his arms and said something like “Finally, I made it! It’s my birthday today, I’m now 70!” and everybody cheered… it was funny.

I’ve posted some hints and tips about how to get to Machu Picchu on a low budget (forget about the Inca Trail – it’s the no-guides, low-budget backpacker trail).

By the way, I bumped into this photography article while writing this, so for those who enjoy tilt-shift photography, both Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu are perfect “victims” for that kind of shooting (especially when the 40+ group excursions arrive at the scene). Unfortunately, I had neither camera, nor lenses for that… but here’s an idea anyway.

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17 comments

  1. Amazing photo and I am sure an incredible experience.

  2. zenkayaking

    Excellent report! Machu Picchu is number one on my wish list to visit. Thanks again for the write-up. I enjoyed it!

  3. Fantastic photograph. Machu Picchu is top of my visit wish list! So anything you want to say about budget travel will be much appreciated!

  4. I went there a couple of years ago. It’s an amazing place to see! It was cool seeing all the animals that lived up there, mainly the llamas! http://doin-work.com

  5. Peru is a likely candidate for the next time I hit the road. Excellent photograph.

  6. That seems like an amazing hike. Loved to have been there.

  7. @slamdunk: yes, it was incredible! Ah, backpacking days.
    @zenkayaking: hope you get the chance to go there soon!
    @Anna: sure thing, will do!
    @chappy81: yeah, I was also surprised when I got to the top and there were llamas minding their business up there (and the rabbits hiding in the stone walls)
    @tradersolstice: it’s very well worth it.
    @MSR/Yooch: it is, and I highly recommend it!

    @everyone: thank you for all the kind words 🙂

  8. Wonderful photograph and by the sounds of it, a worthwhile experience. I am unlikely to visit so am vicariously living it through your eyes and words. Thank you.

    I wonder if the reason they tell people the quota is already ‘full’ is to keep down the number of people who do visit, therefore limiting effects on the area. Sounds like it works for most.

  9. Hopefully to the earth,
    don’t be so bad to my earth
    keeping from global warming.
    from Indosesian people

  10. An amazing photograph and your trip sounds breathtaking, the view certainly seems so. The photograph makes the view seems so serene, but that seems a facade, the serene seems to hold a silent, awed, and heavy undertone of wonderment.

    It must have been exhilarating.

  11. Marie

    amazing photos!

  12. I am currently taking a class an Indigenous South Americans, and I have recently acquired the friendship of multiple Peruvians. Therefore, to say the least, I was drawn to your article.

    I have never been out of the country, and I am constantly procrastinating on a trip to Peru.

    This small article, told in its relatable format, has inched my inspiration towards going. Perhaps 2010? I just wanted you to know that in some way a positive impact on the world comes from your effort. In other words: Thank you for your interesting post.

  13. aspirantpolyglot

    Wow, I envy you, Machu Picchu is a place I definitely want to see in person one day.

  14. @Rivoli Palace: I hope you can be proven wrong and visit it one day 😉 yes, I thought about the same things regarding why they limit the # of people. That also reminded me of this old article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1208026.stm

    @Patrick: that’s gotta be interesting! At least when you go there you’ll know much more about the culture, which is great. Thank you for the kind words, ask your Peruvian friends about “ceviche”, “encebollado” and “choclo con queso”, and when you get there keep us all updated 😉

    @aspirantpolyglot: I hope you get an opportunity to do just that!

  15. @Omega: thanks, I suppose – I think I’m fairly decent to the Earth… & I guess everybody’s entitled to their poetry.
    @Marie: thank you!
    @Kaosar: thank you, it was! “heavy undertone of wonderment” is a good one; the video helps a bit but still not enough, one’s got to be there and experience it 🙂

  16. Kris

    Thanks for the advice. I’m going there soon and will check it out.

  17. wow – powerful image
    sounds like a great place. thanks for sharing!

    http://www.tracyzhangphoto.wordpress.com/

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