The following blog post is written by Stephanie Durbin:
Day 6: 4-29-15
Machu Picchu arrival
Back to Cusco
Today we got up at 4:00 AM to head down to Machu Picchu. Before we started our final stage in the journey, we were able to see the sunrise at the closest ruins to Machu Picchu along the Inca Trail. These ruins housed the majority of the farmers that would make daily journeys to bring food to the nobles at Machu Picchu. What a spectacular view…Jason was able to get amazing footage of the river, the ruins, waterfalls near the ruins and the backside of the mountain of Machu Picchu.
The last day of the hike was a lot longer than I had anticipated. There were some pretty narrow passages and bridges along the trail that we really had to take our time about. We took some pictures along the trail where if you looked over the edge, it just dropped for hundreds of feet. Keep in mind that there were no guardrails along most of the parts!
We finally reached the Sun Gates where we got our first view of Machu Picchu. The Sun Gates were amazing. Twice a year, on the summer and winter equinox, the sun will shine directly through the gates to illuminate Machu Picchu. It was quite spectacular walking through the gates down into Machu Picchu (most people that come just to see the ruins travel by bus up to the base of the mountain).
We walked around Machu Picchu and took pictures for a few hours. Alvero told us more about the history of the ruins and the Quechua people. It was so crazy to see how intelligent this culture was with things such as irrigation, architecture, utilizing the sun, etc. They even built their homes and buildings in such a way (based on trapezoids) that were made to withstand earthquakes.
As we were walking around, it was funny to watch our group get annoyed with all the tourists that just took the bus to Machu Picchu because we felt that we deserved to be there more than them; after 4 long days of hiking we feel like we earned it and had a deeper appreciation for the culture.
Day 7: 4-30-15
Today we woke up early to explore Cusco a bit more before leaving…we were on a hunt to find some souvenirs and take more pictures before heading back to the airport. We enjoyed our final Peruvian meal and made our way to the airport!
Like any vacation, we were sad to say goodbye but couldn’t be more thankful for the memories and adventure! This was such a life changing experience; it opened up my eyes to appreciate other cultures even more. Can’t wait for more adventures to come!