This the view from Waynu Picchu, the peak behind Machu Picchu. Note the winding road leading up on the left (the shuttle buses take this route). Top center is Machu Picchu as viewed from above.
While it is true that there’s more to Peru than Machu Picchu, it goes without saying that it’s a pretty sweet place. What’s not to love about crazy old Inca ruins in the middle of the Peruvian highland cloud forest?!
It’s even sweeter if you get up at 4am and hike the hundreds of stairs up to the ruins so as to beat the horde of 3000 tourists that are marched through there every day by their tour guides. It’s so calm and peaceful. I could almost imagine what it must’ve been like when the terraces were full of crops, and the place was full of life.
It’s probably even sweeter still to be one of those in the quota of 500 people that get to hike the ancient Inca trail that leads to Machu Picchu. But I have to admit we passed on that one. A “must” though it may be, hiking for five days in the middle of rainy season just doesn’t sound like a grand old time to me. As much as I want to think of myself as an outdoor person, when it gets down to it, I’m really not. I love the city, but I also love the mountains. I just love them more when viewed from a train. :)
That doesn’t mean Jake and I didn’t get our share of hiking in that day. There’s another mountain peak just behind Machu Picchu called Wayna Picchu that Jake was itching to climb (keep in mind this man climbed Mt. Rainier, while I’m happy to stay and throw snow balls at the visitor station). Add a few hundred more stairs, treacherous drop offs, and shaky knees, and you’ve got the idea. I’m glad I didn’t know beforehand, or I may not have done it. Good thing we weren’t in the US or they would have made us sign a 10 page liability form that would’ve scared me off for certain! The views were pretty great, shaky knees and all!
We finished the day off in the nearby town of Aguas Calientes with a well earned liter of real cane sugar Coke (far better than the corn syrup-laced soda we get here in the States!) and a game of checkers. Perfect ending to a very lovely and exhausting day!