Machu Picchu – Dream BIG and give yourself permission to envision a You that you choose to be

An enchanted world is one that speaks to the soul, to the mysterious depths of the heart and imagination
where we find value, love, and union with the world around us.

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Machu Picchu, perched high in the Andes, is one of the most spectacular and enigmatic archaeological sites on Earth. Abandoned, overgrown, and unknown to the outside world until 1911, the lost city has now become the most recognizable icon of the Inca world. Built at the height of the Inca Empire around 1450, perhaps as a sacred religious site or an estate for the emperor Pachacuti, the complex consists of giant precisely cut and polished stone walls, terraces, ramps and homes. This impressive architectural feat, sits amongst cloud-covered green mountains above the Urubamba River at 8,000′ above sea level, makes for a breathtaking experience.

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Waking up in Aguas Calientes at 4:00am was a little rough, but the excitement of getting to the top of Machu Picchu filled me with energy. We threw on our hiking packs, head lamps and boots, drank a cup of cocoa tea and headed out the door in search of the steps up to the main entrance (for my budget trekkers, this is the free way to get to the top).

The trek itself was a bit strenuous and takes about 90 minutes. I hike quite a bit and I was struggling to breathe with each step that I took up the steep cobble stoned stairs.  The highest point is over 4000+m  in altitude so it can definitely slow you down a bit. Nevertheless, just take it slow, and stop and admire the beautiful valley below. The steep path roughly follows Hiram Bingham’s 1911 route and offers extraordinary views of the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary, which looks almost as it did in Bingham’s time. The only sounds were of the rushing water at the bottom of the canyon, heavy breathing of other hikers and the songs of faraway birds. It was the most alone we’ve felt in Bolivia, and remarkable for the fact that we were so close to the city.

The steep path roughly follows Hiram Bingham’s 1911 route and offers extraordinary views of the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary, which looks almost as it did in Bingham’s time. The only sounds were of the rushing water at the bottom of the canyon, heavy breathing of other hikers and the songs of faraway birds. It was the most alone we’ve felt in Bolivia, and remarkable for the fact that we were so close to the city.

We reached the entrance gate packed with people, got out tickets scanned and continued on toward the mythical ruins. There it was! Absolutely breathtaking! I stood in awe as the beams of sunlight began to cascade over the ancient Incan ruins and the sun rose above the mountain tops, it was the highlight of the trek for me.

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After exploring for a few hours wandering through the hills of pristine Bolivian nature, making sure to witness it from all angles and elevations, I felt satisfied that I had explored it to the fullest.  For those that are conditioned to the explanatory signs at national parks,  Machu Picchu provides virtually no information about the ruins. (This lack does have one advantage—the ruins remain uncluttered.) The excellent Museo de Sitio Manuel Chávez Ballón ($8 entry) fills in many of the blanks about how and why Machu Picchu was built (displays are in English and Spanish), and why the Inca chose such an extraordinary natural location for the citadel. First you have to find the museum, though. It’s inconveniently tucked at the end of a long dirt road near the base of Machu Picchu, about a 30-minute walk from the town of Aguas Calientes.




I made several new friends while exploring around, some human, some llama. So many friendly faces just as excited as I was to see this beautiful treasure. 

When I was first planning my trip around the world, Machu Picchu was one of my top places to visit and while researching I read several warnings about bringing snacks with you into the ruins. You are able to bring snacks with you, just be sure to clean up after yourself and leave to trash behind. You should always bring food and water with you whenever you are traveling anywhere, you never know what may happen and what situation you may be put into, especially when hiking. You do not want to risk dehydration or passing out due to lack of nutrition because you didn’t bring the proper things with you.

It was an amazing day, but sadly it had to end and we had to begin the trip back to Cusco. Giovanni and Felippe wanted to explore the ruins for a bit longer so I told them I would meet them at the train station so that I could pick up some postcards. So, I climbed back down to Aguas Calientes and spent another hour and a half exploring the markets 🙂
Anxiously waiting at the station 15 minutes before the vista dome train was about to depart I finally see the guys running and out of breathe. They barely made it back in time, but still hadn’t picked up anything to eat. We quickly ran up the street to a small bakery owned by a frenchman (I didn’t see a sign on the store but it is located on the last street on the train station side of the village) and picked up a few sandwiches and drinks. Sped back to the station just as the doors were opening, found our seats and smiled at each other knowing we were all able to check another bucket list item off the list. 
The train stopped back at the hydro electric plant where we began our hike. We found our bus from the day before, hopped in and were on our way back to Cusco. The twisting, bumpy, deadly road couldn’t phase all of the beauty that I’d seen. I sat back and enjoyed the ride. The sunset over the valley was wonderful.
An hour away from Cusco we got a flat tire, but luckily we weren’t stranded for long. Everyone got out of the bus and assisted the driver and we were back on the road in no time. Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved. It made my day to see everyone come together. When we pulled back into Plaza de Armas we hugged our new friends goodbye and wished them well on all of their journeys. Another amazing day to add to the books 🙂

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kristiwiley
    Nov 06, 2012 @ 17:51:13

    I love the one of you looking at Machu Picchu and the headstand one. And seeing the sun shining through the amounts would take my breath away took. Great pictures.

    Reply

  2. Víctor Millan
    Mar 19, 2014 @ 21:08:38

    Lindas fotos, especialmente de tus espectaculares zapatos, el primer plano de la llama, y especialmente, tu alegría.

    Reply

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