“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.” . Francisco Pizarro and his Spanish conquistadors clearly underestimated the magic of Machu Picchu, because they never did find this magnificent royal estate, believed to have been built in the mid-1400’s by the Incan ruler, Pachacuti. Translated from Quechua, Machu Picchu means “Old Mountain.” Nestled on the saddleback ridge at almost 8,000 feet between the Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountains, this name has proven itself to be accurate. After the decline of the Incan empire, Machu Picchu was deserted and for centuries, rested hidden away from the world. It became a sort of mythical place that existed only in folklore, although the Peruvian people knew it was real; in fact, there were farmers LIVING there when it was “discovered” largely intact in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, a Yale University professor who chose to believe in a little bit of magic. . It was a cool, drizzly morning when we started the climb up to it and when we reached the spot looking down on it, it remained swathed in clouds, hidden from view. Then slowly, as the sun continued to rise, the clouds began to move before my very eyes…and Machu Picchu revealed itself in all it’s glory. It was quite a dramatic reveal, the definition of a magical moment. . This place rides around in the back of my mind and I think about my brief time there often. I feel a strong pull to return, this time to spend more time wandering through the ruins after the time I’ve now spent researching Machu Picchu’s history. Too often, we see the iconic shot of the ruins from far above that inundates all of our favorite Instagram travel accounts and lose sight of the story behind them. Don't go just to get the pictures: learn about this place BEFORE you go (I really enjoyed the book “Turn Right at Machu Picchu” by Mark Adams) and allow yourself as much as time as possible to wonder at the civilizations that came before us and to soak up every last little bit of magic…it’s going to stay with you for the rest of your life. ✨
Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek Day 9. 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻. . . ➡️ 5km from Aguas Calientes up to the entrance. Another 1.8km up to the Sun Gate (Inti Punku) ⬆️ 453m up to the entrance and another 273m up to the highest point at the Sun Gate. Day 9 because the weather was terrible on day 8 and I had an overdue appointment with some thermal baths. 💅😜 So anyway I made it and this place needs no introduction. Felt like I was flying up the hill to Machu Picchu with just my camera and water instead of carting around a 30kg+ backpack. Made it by around 5.40am and was amongst the first 5 to make it (by foot, some cheat and take the bus). It wasn't really worth getting there first because my view from the first picture was just full of mist until around 10.30am when it finally cleared up. There is plenty to explore up there but not 5 hours worth so I had a lot of time just sitting around, absorbing the place and trying to ignore the thousands of tourists around me but even they can't detract from the magic of this place. I still think that in Choquequirao it was easier to feel a connection with the Inca but they are both incredible places.