It’s my ten year anniversary of reaching Machu Picchu after an arduous four-day hike of the Inca Trail through rain, sleet, and altitude sickness. Despite my tribulations, the journey and the destination were more than worth it. It’s an experience I will never forget.
My traveling has been on hold since the pandemic—I hope to get back to it again someday soon. In the meantime, here are my journals from the entire Peru trip, culminating in my arrival at Machu Picchu.
This is the largest of the famous circle terraces at Moray in Peru. Moray is thought to have been an Inca agricultural station. The steps used to climb down to the center (visible here as zig-zags) were built by the Incas into the sides of the terraces as jutting stones in order to maximize the available farming surface. You can get a sense of the massiveness of the circles by taking note of how tiny the people look.
As today is the 104th anniversary of the discovery of Machu Picchu by archeologist Hiram Bingham, I thought it appropriate to share a photo of the fabled Lost City of the Incas. This was taken on our way down from the Sun Gate in the early morning after completing the Inca Trail.
This is where we stayed on our final night on the Inca Trail. Our tents were so close to the edge of the cliff, in fact, that at one point, as I was walking behind someone who was getting something out of his tent, had he decided to back out of his tent at that moment, he would have sent me flying over the edge.
It was an amazing way to end three days of arduous hiking before beginning the final leg to Machu Picchu in the morning. Sleeping on the edge of that mountain is an experience I’ll never forget, and I’m eternally grateful to our guides and porters for staking out this prime real estate for our group.
Here’s a photo of some donkeys grazing up high in the mountains, shot during the first day of my Inca Trail hike. Every time I look back on these photos I’m thankful that I decided to do the hike–there’s so much beauty along the Inca Trail that I would have missed had I chosen to take the train straight to Machu Picchu.
It’s been a while since I shared a Machu Picchu photo, but I was inspired by my cousin’s current trip to the fabled Lost City of the Incas. In fact, he may be standing on its hallowed grounds as I write this. Hopefully he is enjoying a sunnier day than I did, as my photos from that day are mostly gloomy, though no photo could ever do justice to the sensation of walking through Machu Picchu up high in the clouds anyway. Nevertheless, I always liked this photo of a lone tree standing among the ruins.
Patallacta was the first big Inca ruin site we came across as we hiked the Inca Trail. This photo was taken from a plateau at the top of our first moderate ascent on Day 1. Unfortunately, the classic Inca Trail does not pass close enough to these ruins for a visit, but there is an alternate five-day hike during which you can camp nearby and visit the site.
Hikers enjoy a well deserved break as they gaze out at the valley below the Inca ruin of Intipata, the Urubamba River flowing far below.
This was taken near the end of Day 3 of the Inca Trail and is one of my favorite memories of the entire hike because it was the first time I had a few moments to relax and savor my surroundings. In some ways Intipata was almost more special than Machu Picchu because only hikers of the Inca Trail had the opportunity to visit it, and those of us who chose to visit Intipata rather than the more popular Winay Wayna practically had the entire place to ourselves. It was a nice, peaceful way to unwind after three days of hard hiking, knowing that the hardest part was over and that in the morning we would be standing at the Sun Gate enjoying our first view of Machu Picchu.
This is a zoomed-in photo of Machu Picchu taken shortly after dawn from just below the Sun Gate at the end of the Inca Trail. Unfortunately, most of my photos from that morning are on the dark side due to the overcast and hazy conditions, and also because I made the mistake of leaving a polarizing filter on my lens, which meant even less light coming into the camera. Oh well, lesson learned. It’s more about the memories it evokes than the quality of the photo anyway.
Before my hike of the Inca Trail in Peru I took a couple of day trips into the Sacred Valley of the Incas. One of my stops was Moray, an Inca ruin with massive circular terraces. This photo features one of the smaller terraces at the site, but I liked the way it framed the mountains in the background.