Inca Trail, Peru

Happy feet

Standing next to the Watchman's Hut was the perfect perch for me to see one of the world's greatest wonders. It's past 7 this morning when I finally reached this very spot after hiking all 45 kilometers of the trail. My excitement was sky high. Fog was still covering the ruins and the sugarloaf mountain behind it, giving us a peek-a-boo experience of what we came here for. When the fog finally lifted up, the ancient ruins of Macchu Picchu revealed itself in its full glory. What a goose-bumps moment! It's like seeing a celebrity in flesh. My jaw dropped. I'm awed.

Our day started really early. We were woken up at 4:30 a.m., had a quick breakfast, bid our goodbyes to our porters, and made a queue at the checkpoint where our permits were checked as soon as the gates opened. From there, everyone made a dash for the Inca trail that culminated in a very steep set of 50 steps up to Intipunku ("The Sun Gate"). As I stood at the Intipunku's gate, all I could say was "where's the view?". There was a heavy cover of whiteness in what supposedly was a sunrise view above the ruins of Macchu Picchu somewhere down below. A bit disappointed that I couldn't see anything from here, Luis reassured me that there are still wonderful views coming ahead. Mother Nature is very fickle and any minute, the fog will just disappear.

Our group moved along the final stages of the Inca trail which slowly descended to the Watchman's Hut just outside the old city gate of Macchu Picchu. We paused here for a moment anticipating a much better view while trying to collect our thoughts after having accomplished the task of walking the entire length of the trail which started in Piskacucho.
Luis brought us to the different highlights of this once mighty royal estate of the Incas. He gave vivid descriptions of the various sectors as we went through the Temple of the Sun, the Royal Tomb, the Temple of the Condor, the Temple with Three Windows, the Principal Temple on the Sacred Plaza and the Intihuatana.

Archaeologists today are still unclear as to why Macchu Picchu and the rest of the ruins along the Inca trail were build, inhabited and then abandoned. There are plenty of theories for sure. But when I think about it, this mystery now forms a big part of Macchu Picchu's allure. A mystery that will not be fully understood in our lifetime. When the American professor Hiram Bingham stumbled upon Macchu Picchu on July 24, 1911, he thought he found the last Inca citadel of Vilcabamba. It never occurred to him that he actually "re-discovered" something even more important. Talk about serendipity! Even the Spanish conquistadores never knew about Macchu Picchu due to its remoteness in the highlands.

The rest of the morning was spent wandering around the ruins for ourselves as the bus-loads of tourists coming from the train started pouring in. We who the undertook the pains of the trek still smelly and filthy found ourselves in the company of perfumed day-trippers. Never mind, we still have the advantage of having seen it all before they came. And of course, nothing beats walking the Inca trail to Macchu Picchu!

Luis gave each one of us our bus tickets for the trip to Aguas Calientes and reminded us never to miss the train for Cusco that leaves at 3:55 p.m. Both Luis and Manuel will wait for us with our sacks at the Indio Feliz restaurant just next to the railroad track in Aguas Calientes.

I separated from the group and took a leisurely time savoring every moment while up here in the sacred city of the Incas. I sat again next to the Watchman's Hut, basking in the mid-day sun while looking down at this man-made wonder below. I went back a little up the trail where there was hardly any tourist in sight and just stood still in silence while looking in awe at Macchu Picchu. This has been a dream of mine for a long time now. To finally make it here after following the old Inca trail is very fulfilling indeed.

Aguas Calientes

At 1 p.m., I took the bus for Aguas Calientes, a small town down the mountain and met up with Bethany and Amanda who were already having their lunch at Indio Feliz restaurant. I had lunch and gave Luis and Manuel their tips for a job well done. Knowing I still have enough time before the train will depart, I indulged myself to a $25 massage. It felt so good as my weary muscles were kneaded and pulled that an hour later, I had to be roused from sleep. Later, I bump into Mary, Bill and Grace, really friendly members in our group and bid them goodbye. I boarded the "Backpacker Train" and sat next to Ailse and Laura, the British girls in our group who are on a year-long round-the-world trip (including a stop in the Philippines).

On the train back to Cusco

Four long hours later (yes, when you're only sitting, the journey's really very long), our slow train made its way up to San Pedro Station in Cusco. We took the van provided by Andean Life and was sent to our respective hotels. In my case, it's back to the familiarity of Hostal Amaru, my own rustic abode in this former Inca capital of Cusco.


  1. Wooooow! This is a great read. I went through all your entries on Peru because I also want to try the Inca Trail and hike at the Amazon. Very inspiring! I take it that you highly recommend Andean Life as a service provider? :)

    - Christine

  2. Jovial Wanderer,
    Yes, I highly recommend Andean Life. It's locally based in Cusco - you can book online with them!

  3. I envy those feet that had already land on that historical place.

  4. WOW!
    Macchu Picchu is one of my dream travel destinations :D
    Your post makes me feel like I'm in front of Macchu Picchu itself.


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