It’s just as beautiful as they say…
Machu Picchu is not one of those wonders of the world that doesn’t live up to it’s hype. It’s bigger, taller, scarier, and more majestic than any of us in our small little group of travelers ever imagined.
It’s more beautiful than the pictures. It’s more spacious than what’s on the internet. The air is bright and crisp in your lungs, and the bugs are the real deal. #nojoke #bugspraydidnothing
Machu Picchu really is something you have to experience in person to understand it, and Jeff and I were lucky enough to be in Peru shooting for a non-profit organization called Mike Silva International, so we extended our trip to see this place for ourselves.
After spending a week in the coastal city of Trujillo shooting for MSI, we flew to the beautifully old Inca capital city of Cusco, which sits at 11,000 feet in elevation in the middle of the Andes mountains (LOVE).
We fell in love with the old Spanish cathedrals in Plaza de Armas, shopped for Peruvian hats and blankets, and drank plenty of coca tea to battle the altitude. We had, after all, just come from sea level!
The next morning, we boarded a train to take us to Aguas Calientes, the small town at the base of Machu Picchu.
The train ride takes you straight through the heart of the Peruvian Andes, and we booked a train that has giant windows along the ceiling so you can take in the massive views of the mountain peaks and Inca ruins along the way.
This Idaho girl was GIDDY traveling through the beautiful mountains and definitely stuck my camera out the window to try and capture it all… carefully of course… 🙂
(I would 100% recommend doing one of these trains if you ever travel to Machu Picchu! They are definitely worth it!)
We spent the night in Aguas Calientes where we had fabulous Peruvian food and watched the clouds roll in. Machu Picchu is behind the cloud-covered mountain on the right – after two days of traveling, we were almost there!!!!
We woke up at 4:00am the next morning (!!!!!) so we could get onto the first busses up to Machu Picchu and see it as close to sunrise as possible – before the crazy crowds descended mid-morning.
But when we walked into Machu Picchu, it was completely covered in clouds (this is the view when we first walked in).
You could only see bits and pieces of the ruins through the fog, much less the epic views of the Inca city nestled onto the mountains we all had our hearts set on. While we kind of expected this, we were all super worried that the clouds were too thick to clear up at all that day… We starting doing a lot of fog dances…
Still, we decided to sit and take it all in, hoping for the best, knowing we were going to be there all day so we could soak up as much as possible! We hired a private tour guide for our small group (Jeff and I were traveling with a few of our friends from MSI), and he showed us around for two hours while the clouds swirled around us.
Our guide, Hamilton (YES – that’s his actual name! And he’s Peruvian!) was fantastic! The tour guides at Machu Picchu are highly regulated, so all of the guides there are trained, educated, and speak multiple languages. I highly recommend spending a little extra to do a private guide instead of a group tour – it was SO worth it!
Right around noon, the clouds started to lift and the sun came through!!! Within an hour, the skies were bright blue and WE. COULD. SEE. EVERYTHING.
The best part is that there were llamas walking around everywhere that were super friendly and tame, so we all took turns posing with them. #llamaselfies
The craziest part about this place is the sheer drop-offs on either side of the mountain. This pathway leads right to the edge of the mountainside and drops with no warning, so we learned to pay attention to where we were walking… real quick.
In this image, you can see the river down below, and if you follow it around that peak, you’ll hit Aguas Calientes. And if you look carefully at the lower right section of the photo, you’ll see white lines crisscrossing through the jungle. Those are the switchbacks of the dirt road that the busses take to get UP to the entrance of Machu Picchu.
If you ever get the chance to visit this magical place, don’t let the opportunity slip by!! We are so grateful we did this and got to see this amazing wonder of the world!