... Machu Picchu, despite its enormous popularity, more than meets these characteristics. So much so that we have been amazed that, despite its people, it is a place that has no point of comparison to see it live than to be able to contemplate its photos. Machu Picchu is sensations, mystery, legends. And all that is only lived stepping on ...
... and getting up very early, because if yesterday we kicked "the old peak" and the "Puerta del Sol" from top to bottom, today we will enter less popular places but if possible, more adventurous: The Inca Bridge and Huayna Picchu.
We got up at 4:30. Paula has risen a little uproar this morning, perhaps because of the few hours of sleep. Quick, after having breakfast alone at the hotel, we have queued up in the bus area that goes up to the entrance of the complex. It wasn't past 5:05 and there were already more than 60 or 70 people in front of us.
The reason is only and exclusively one: THERE ARE NO MORE THAN 400 DAILY FEES to go up to Huayna Picchu and are given by rigorous arrival queue.
UPDATE 2012: Now you can buy joint ticket for Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu at //www.machupicchu.gob.pe/ even being able to choose the time. Thank you very much for the information Laura.
Only the first can choose between climbing at 7:00 or 10:00 (only options available) and 7:00 is not usually a good time due to the quasi-permanent fog of the place. Luckily, we achieved our goal and they stapled us as valuable "paper"
Our intentions today went through a route similar to the following ...
No one coming to Machu Picchu should miss a sunrise in this place. Whether it is dawn without fog (on very rare occasions) or if it is dawn between a mist that does not leave or see Huayna Picchu in the background, it is one of the most wonderful sensations that can be experienced in life. The feelings generated by this place, sitting there, observing, in silence, has little point of comparison with other places in this world ...
As we achieve the 10'00 shift to climb Huayna Picchu, we will look for the way to our first milestone of the day, the Inca Bridge (30 min).
Arriving at this unique place requires "floating in the fog" on one of the most dangerous roads in the city from the south of the Citadel, between deep cliffs, although it does not require much physical effort. He Inca Bridge as such is nothing more than a drawbridge of logs made on a narrow granite path over the mountain filling an occasional void.
Today it is closed to the step since years ago a German traveler fell into the void in his attempt to cross it.
We return along the same path as the one we have gone to, signing again at the checkpoint that watches the return of all the travelers who come to visit this enigmatic place. We also remember that today is May 11, which means that ... !! CONGRATULATIONS MIRIAM from Machu Picchu for your birthday !!
One of the most incredible moments of these two days arrives around 8:20 in the morning. The fog begins to rise, and the sun's rays intermingle with the mist letting the great citadel of Machu Picchu dazzle in a truly spooky landscape. A privilege to observe it sitting there on the terraces of this immense city in the clouds. And it is that the Incas built as high as possible because they wanted to be as close as possible to their gods.
We go back into the Citadel, as we did yesterday DAY 11 of the trip, but this time looking for the access point to the so-called "Young Mountain", the mountain that dominates the ruins and is already famous for appearing in all the most typical photos of the network.
It is also a pleasure to be able to enjoy it with hardly any people at this time of the morning (the first trains of Cuzco and Ollantaytambo usually arrive from 10'00)…
As we walk again through its temples and fortresses, we remember multitude of legends that whisper its walls, some as peculiar as that it was not even an Inca construction, but pre-Inca inherited. Or also that it was a refuge for women or Sacred Virgins, reinforced with the discovery of 107 human remains, mostly women.
It's 9:00 and although we have time for 10'00 it seems that they are doing a little fat. Time to climb !! Huayna Picchu, 1 hour of rise and another of descent. Isaac points to the checkpoint and signs the "under his responsibility" while Paula, who is still somewhat upset, prefers to wait down to not force as we have so far endured the trip very well.
(Isaac) I have to admit that I didn't know very well where I was going. The climb It is the hardest I have ever done on any trip. Gone are the "Ascent to the Sacrifice of DAY 7 of JORDAN'06" wave "Ascent to the Golden Rock of DAY 3 in BIRMANIA'06".
After a small initial descent begins a very steep and very hard climb of endless stairs and with hardly any breaks. The eyes, hands and the rest of the senses are set at 100% since there is hardly any section with any place to grab, and this exists when stairs are no longer intuited to step on. The haze has left everything very slippery and also the fact of being a way up and down makes at some point you see an inopportune slip.
However, all this has its prize and this comes in the form of impressive and majestic views of the Sacred Valley, the Canyon, Machu Picchu in the background, the Urubamba River and even the Intipunku that we climbed yesterday.
45 minutes after starting "this punishment" allow me to reach the goal, the first terrace
A twist that I carry in my backpack and a beautiful place where once they inhabited a surprising Inca Civilization, allows me to recover initially from overexertion ...
Almost with the last forces and by some cavern literally "cat", it continues to climb to the next terraces reached every time higher levels ...
... until we finally play the top, the sky of the Incas, Huayna Picchu (2,634 m).
But I could not have come here without the support and the thrust of the best traveling companion possible ... that despite being at a great height and distance from me, it follows me from a distance.
At the top, all kinds of travelers (some even with their particular picnic -a great place to do it-) observe and enjoy the "peace of the Incas"
The descent is even more dangerous than the rise. With some odd slip and much more slowly I start a descent that has cost the lives of more than one. It seems that there are not 3 or 4 who have lost their lives in this place. The last, a tourist with his guide, who tried to help him when he lost his balance and rushed into the void with him. They took days to recover the bodies, but others have not yet been found. Now I also see the vertical cliff much clearer. Never could anyone who suffers from vertigo climb here.
!! Hi Paulaaaa! !! I'm already here !! What if I would go back up? I guess we all move through challenges and objectives. Just download my answer would be ... NI DE PÑA! But what if it hadn't gone up?
The hardest moment comes. We go to the exit and we cannot avoid turning our heads back while we leave the complex along the exit path. Until always Machu Picchu
The descent to Aguas Calientes (previous use of the ONLY bathrooms again, 2 SOLES) whet our appetite more, if it was not enough with such efforts, so as we still have time before our train leaves for Cuzco (15'20) we look for a local restaurant where we find a rest time in the middle of the hustle (81 PEN)
... And from there on back to Cuzco (train 1h 20 'to Pisacucho, direct bus from Pisacucho to Cuzco 2 hours 30' and taxi 5 PEN), from where we write, exhausted and exhausted, and already eaten (21 PEN).
But here we wanted to make a reflection. Yesterday DAY 11 of the trip We said that Machu Picchu has two faces.
It may sound very sharp but we leave thinking that Peru DOES NOT DESERVE to have a wonder like this within its lands. Now in cold we think it may be too exaggerated. We arrived in Cuzco in love with Peru, its people, its traditions, its kindness ... it was to arrive at Machu Picchu and find us abusive prices, shameless people, massive abuse against UNESCO and wrong doing.
- Predatory pricing: superior to other wonders of the world. In Petra you are stuck 2 dinars for a bottle of water or their prices multiplied by two, in the Coliseum Romano or throughout Rome you are stuck 2 or 3 times more for any food or drink. Machu Picchu has no name. A bottle of water of price 1 or 1.5 soles throughout the country will charge you !! 9 soles !!, a price twist 3 soles charge you !! 12 soles !!, meals x8 and x9 times the rest of the country
- Overrated Monopoly: In addition to the products, visiting Machu Picchu two days is !! THE RUIN !! For any traveler. Almost unreachable. A monopoly train with no other alternatives that charge you $ 120 + $ 14 x 2 = $ 28 up and down by bus for a ridiculous 20-minute ride + $ 55 for tickets. More than $ 200 per person, going as a couple means $ 400 without food or drinks in 2 days!
- Scoundrel people: As in the rest of the country, people have been a delight, sincerely, in Aguas Calientes, there they ran out of bargain. The clearest example was that we entered a pharmacy at 5:00 in the morning asking for a bag because Paula was scrambled. The lady looks us up and down and tells us after 3 or 4 seconds ... !! 20 cents !! which I almost shot 50 cents in the face and then still says "if I have less?" In the end we don't pay anything and we almost took the bag from his hands.
- Null management: If you go up without a ticket, you cannot buy it above. If you want to go to Huayna Picchu or get up early or forget to buy it previously, although then you spend 3 hours looking at the air instead of sleeping a little more. If you want to use bathrooms, or you leave the complex (30 'if you are on the other side of the complex) or do it on a rock without getting caught. Of course, no technologies or online booking (UPDATE 03/12/2010: It seems that since this month of December there are already possibilities to book through //boletajevirtual.drc-cusco.gob.pe/ -We don't know if from outside of Peru you can also-).
- UNESCO does not paint: Although UNESCO's recommendations estimate Machu Picchu's maximum capacity at 500-800 people, they enter between 2500 and 3000 per day, which is already being reflected in fallen walls and closing of certain already deteriorated areas. Here all that matters is to earn money at the cost of "everything goes". With how easy it would be to make a maximum daily quota and online reservations and people organize their trips well in advance.
But perhaps, and while the Peruvians themselves realize that they have to preserve what they have before in 20 years there is nothing or they cannot exploit it, we are left with the good face of Machu Picchu and the people of Peru to Cuzco , and is that Machu Picchu has been a point and apart as travelers, as few sites have achieved it before.
Family, friends and readers, we are tired but great, as always. A very strong hug for everyone
Paula and Isaac, from Cuzco (Peru)
EXPENSES OF THE DAY: 110 PEN (approx. 30.22 EUROS)