After staying in Agua Calientes the night before, we wake up early to catch a bus to Machu Picchu. The ticket booth is very close to our hostel, we are excited about that. The short bus ride up is exciting.
We didn’t hike the Inka Trail, so we have a leisurely version of seeing the site. I plan on coming back and doing a longer, more immersive trip.
We arrive and decide to get a guide because didn’t get one in Ollantayambo and could tell there was a lot we missed out on. We turn out to be right, there are no signs or anything indication important parts of the ancient city. I definitely recommend getting one, you didn’t come all the way here to not learn about this amazing place.
When you enter the ancient city, you have the option of going straight up for the postcard photo we have all know and love or go straight through. With our guide we enter the city, saving the postcard photo for later. Entering this way into Machu Picchu, which you have surely seen in photographs many times before, changes your perspective on the ruins. You instead enter it as if you were Hiram Bingham discovering it for the first time. All at once, you are in Machu Picchu.
We have a particular fantastic day, the sun is shining bright and the rainy season has given us green grass and many alpacas to eat it. It is magical. We listen to our guide and cover our heads from the sun. We learn that Machu Picchu was established for elites, intellectuals, and other people high up on the hierarchy of Inkan society.
There is a tree trunk made for looking at the stars in reflective water. Our guide tells us only the most beautiful virgins were brought here to procreate with intellectuals. It is an uncomfortable yet fascinating truth. On the lighter side, we are told there were security measures put into important doors that even the alpacas would adhere to.
We finish the tour and go up to get our postcard photo of the ruins. It is indeed gorgeous. My girlfriend is content with the view at the first tier but I continue and get caught in a one-way situation. I have to beg the landscapers to let me back through and climb the stairs all the way back up to where my girlfriend is. It is exhausting, very exhausting, but I do feel like I get a unique look at Machu Picchu by starting at the bottom, going up, coming down, and going up again, but do make sure to save yourself the energy because it is immaculate and beautiful wherever you are in the ancient city.
We head back to Agua Calientes. Instead of eating at one of the tourist restaurants around town, we head to the square where we saw street food the night before. Most of the carts aren’t set up yet, but one family is serving chicharrones with onions, potatoes, the giant corn ubiquitous in Peru, fresh mint, and salsa verde. The meat is so fatty and delicious, we look back on this meal as one of our favorites on the trip. A memorable way to close out our time in the region around Machu Picchu.