“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.