We made it!

Machu Picchu is literally breathtaking, stunning, amazing, wonderful, mysterious and completely incredible.  Surrounded by mountains, it is a feat of engineering, a marvel of construction, and something we’ll never forget.

Built by the Incas between 1450 and 1540, it was abandoned when the Spanish arrived in an effort to preserve it from destruction. Luckily, it was never discovered and remained as it was built until the 20th century.  Local peoples knew of the site, and one family was even farming its terraces when American historian Hiram Bingham discovered the site in 1911.

It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, and was named one of the seven New Wonders of the World in 2007.  2500 visitors descend on the site daily.  Despite this, it never felt busy or overcrowded, and there were many corners and buildings to look at where you found yourself completely alone.  There are many sections to Machu Picchu: temples, residential buildings, farm buildings, storage facilities, farming terraces, and many other buildings whose original uses have long been forgotten.

So the big day finally arrived, and we set off for our 3 day Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu.  Now, I had done a LOT of reading online, and I thought I was ready.  Most of the bloggers out there stated that if you were in reasonably good health and shape, this hike would be no problem at all.  Those people, are liars.  You can read all about my preparations here and here.

So here is our crew on day 1, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to rock!  If only we knew what was coming (and that, my friends, is called foreshadowing!)

And the first day was stunning.  Amazing weather, beautiful scenery, and not too challenging overall.  We also had the chance to see quite a few archaeological sites, some tiny, and some large.

If my memory serves me correctly, this site is called Wayllabamba, which was discovered by Hiram Bingham on his way back from “discovering” Machu Picchu.

After a short 5 hours of hiking we reached our first campsite, nestled on a set of small terraces with a stunning view of the valley.  I was pretty much ready to die, knowing full well this was supposed to have been the “easy” day.   What made my life a lot tougher was the washroom situation.  I was not expecting the Four Seasons, but I was also not expecting a squat toilet, and myself and the 1 other woman with me to have to share it with 22 men.  Just imagine!  It was completely disgusting.  And the bottoms of your pants get sooooo filthy, and you can’t shower.  So yeah.  Recipe for yukkyness.  And on my way to use the washroom before bed, I saw a tarantuala.  So that was freaky.

But waking up to a view like this?  Priceless.