19 June 2014

Peru: Day 10: Machu Picchu and back to Cusco

It was way dark this morning when I got up and left the hotel. S finally was getting a good night's sleep, so she stayed back. I grabbed some food from the hotel breakfast, made my way to catch the first buses up the mountain, and was inside the sanctuary while the sky was just starting to glow.

I hung out for a while, taking photos, until the crowds turned my perch into a hollering spot. After that, I packed up and joined a few new friends for a hike along a ridge line to an old structure overlooking Machu Picchu. My new friends are in the middle of a long journey around the world, and we made plans to possibly meet up when they pass through LA in May.

By now, the sun was fully up, but I had a few hours to kill before my entry time for the Huayna Picchu hike. Huayna Picchu is the big mountain that's always in the background of the iconic MP shots. You can hike it, but you need a ticket and are assigned an entry time. By the time my window opened, I was ready for a challenge. I hadn't gone running in over a week, and my body was anxious for a push.

The round-trip up and down HP is estimated to take around two hours, but you're given a four-hour window to complete it. The record for the fastest trip up is 22 minutes. I did it in 25. By the time I got to the top, I was soaked and winded, but the views were tremendous. The peak was small and rocky, and only a half dozen people could be up there at once. From the summit, you can see all of MP.

You are also high enough that you have a tremendous view of the surrounding mountains, including the snow-capped ones way in the distance.

After racing up and down (round-trip time: 65 minutes), I took the bus back to town, grabbed a bite, and wandered through the orchid garden at the hotel.

S and I met up, had a massage (which I needed after all of the climbing), and we wandered the souvenir market until it was time to get on the train. The train took us partway back to Cusco, and we caught a shuttle van the rest of the way.

Tomorrow is another travel day, from Cusco into the Amazon jungle. I'm unsure of the internet situation there, so this may be my last post for a few days.



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