Machu Picchu – The Inca Trail

If you’re going to hike for four days, in my view it’s important to have a grand finale planned at the end of your efforts; something that will drive you on when your legs and body are weary and you feel the muscles aching when you are climbing yet another peak.

No hike we have completed has come close to the climax that the Inca Trail delivers. Day four of the hike: we camped at 4,000 metres, and woke up in bright sunshine above the clouds! The white fluffy cumulus clouds that filled the valley below were exactly as you see from an aircraft as you ascend through the clouds on take-off.

The day of hiking then took us down through the valley, past other Inca sites and eventually up to another high point. The final ascent was by way of a set of steps. As we reached the top and looked out over the vista that opened out in front, our first sight of the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu left us awe-struck. The sight was majestic, and far more spectacular than even the pictures we had previous seen. The sense of achievement, of our efforts in hiking for the last four days, in shivering through the freezing cold nights and battling through rain, sleet, wind mixed with glorious warm sunshine, made the moment feel yet more satisfying.

Wondering through the ruins at sunrise the next morning and having the place to ourselves before the day trippers arrived from Cusco, it was a wonderful place to drift and let the imagination run wild. What purpose had this isolated settlement served? What kind of people lived here? And why was it abandoned so abruptly? Not questions with ready answers, and ones that many specialists have been debated since the site’s “discovery” 100 years ago.

Machu Picchu is one of the great mysteries of the world and a must-see for those with an interest in archaeology or anthropology. But it is also the end of one of the world’s most famous hiking trails; one that has an ending that is hard to surpass.

(Oct 1996) Link to official Machu Picchu site

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Freelance travel writer

2 Responses to “Machu Picchu – The Inca Trail”

  1. Paola Santos #

    Agree Andy, Machu Picchu has been one of my best travelling experiences. Very few places have a magic similar to that of this site.

    October 9, 2009 at 9:28 am
  2. Andy Jarosz #

    Thanks Paola!
    It is an amazing place, and one I'd happily return to.

    October 9, 2009 at 10:19 am