Several days of fresh air, plus nearly 26 miles of hiking on the Inca Trail led to a 2nd night of great sleep. It was short lived. Jesus tapped on our tent at 3:30a to get us moving for our final day.
Day 4 of Our Inca Trail Adventure
There are very few things that will get me out of bed at 3:30 in the morning. A once-in-a-lifetime experience is one of them. By 4:15 breakfast was done, the campsite was packed up, and the porters were on their way. They wouldn’t be joining us at Machu Picchu. Instead, they hoof it to Aguas Calientes for a 5:30a porter train back to Olltaytambo. If they miss the train they have to walk back!
At 4:30a we were lined up at the checkpoint that would give us access to Machu Picchu Mountain. From what I could tell we were about 6 groups back in line. The checkpoint opened at 5:30 and we set off on the final 5K hike up Machu Picchu Mountain. Our goal was the Sun Gate near the top of the mountain. Just before we reached the top we rounded a bend in the trail and came face-to-face with the “Gringo Killers”.
There we were staring up at 50 of the steepest stairs we have ever seen. And, of course, no handrail. We had not come this far to stop now. We took a deep breath and charged to the top so there was no time to think about it. After a short walk and final flight of normal-looking stairs, we reached the Sun Gate. Below us was Machu Picchu one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.
WE HAD MADE IT!
Heather and I both agreed later that standing there we were a little underwhelmed. Sure, seeing Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate was amazing, it just did not hit us like we had anticipated. We did not realize it in the moment, but the journey had become more important to us than the actual destination. Over the last 4 days we had done something difficult. Something that many people will dream about, but will never do. Something we were not sure we would be able to do, and we had.
Our group spent about 20 minutes at the Sun Gate taking turns getting our pictures taken. Once everyone had the pictures they wanted, Jesus headed us down the other side of Machu Picchu Mountain. It took the better part of hour to get down to Machu Picchu. Along the way we stopped at a couple Jesus-approved picture spots. Our final stop was the vantage point where all of the iconic pictures of Machu Picchu are taken from.
Heather and I at the Sun Gate
Our guides at the Sun Gate (Jesus making sign of the llama)
Almost to Machu Picchu!
Jesus patiently took group and individual pictures of everyone in our group. We even got shushed at one point because our group was enjoying ourselves a little too loudly. After pictures, we left Machu Picchu. We had to wait for our assigned time to explore the rest of ruins. While we waited, Jesus stamped our passports, we enjoyed real bathrooms, and visited the snack bar.
Yes, I took this picture
In Machu Picchu on our 20th anniversary
When we made it back into Machu Picchu Jesus took some time giving us a tour. He did a great job of explaining the important aspects of the city. Then he left us to explore on our own. Heather and I enjoyed walking around the ruins before heading for Aquas Clientes to meet Jesus and the rest of our group.
Jesus giving us the history of Machu Picchu
The trip was essentially over at this point. Since this blog series is now in the 10th post I will summarize the rest of the trip for you…
- We took the train back to Ollytaytambo
- We took a bus back to Cusco City
- Everyone said goodbye to Jesus
- The next day we flew to Lima
- In Lima we created and conquered the Pisco Trail
- We flew back home
We had an amazing trip. Sure, there were some small issues along the way. G Adventures always did a great job sorting them out. I’d give them a 5-star recommendation for this tour. If you decide to use them, ask if you can get Jesus as your guide.
One final thought. If you have a dream, my advice is simple… Get out there and go for it! You aren’t getting any younger after all!