It’s finally that day, Climb Machu Picchu day! Start time: 4:20 am. Damn son. For some reason when I woke up I forgot to 1. drink water and 2. bring a water bottle on the trek.

From the hotel we stayed at in Aguas Calientes to the start gate to climb Machu Picchu, it was a 2km walk.

It was pitch dark outside without any street lamps, and so we had to use our headlamps to bobble down the street.

We arrived about 15 minutes before 5am, which is the time that they open the gates for climbers. The line was already looping around and so we joined it. You have to have your permit papers and passport/ID with you to get through the gate.

The hotel provided us with a small breakfast and some juice, which I ate half of before we started.

We laughed so hard because just as we were in a line to climb Machu Picchu, all the stray dogs in the city were also forming a line next to us. What an exciting life, to be able to climb Machu Picchu every day!

When we began climbing it was still pitch dark and our headlamps. I faced my head towards the ground and slowly began walking. Everyone was booking it, so Daniel and I stayed together and just kept pushing. It’s about a 45-minute hike straight up the side of the mountain and about 1,800 steps.

We were the last 2 to arrive from the group but it was rewarding hitting that last step. By the time we arrived the first busload of tourists was arriving. They. All. Suck. As tourists do so we had to wait in a line to get inside and meet up with our tour guide for the tour.

IMG_7147DID YOU KNOW that Hiram Bingham, an American Historian rediscovered Machu Picchu on 24 July 1911? Now that’s pretty cool.

IMG_7153After some Incan history, and watching the sun rise over the hillside, we walked among the ruins and learned a few more facts.

IMG_7150As the clouds cleared on the ruins in the early morning light. #Thatviewthough.


IMG_7139Walking around the ruins we did some double takes at how brilliant the Incans were.

IMG_7154How they managed to move giant rocks from a stone quarry to build this city into the mountains in 1438. Incredible!

IMG_7156The peak of Machu Picchu is at 2,429 meters, which is actually quite low especially because the town of Cusco sits at 3,399 meters. Making it the perfect place for alpacas to live.

IMG_7159The geometric shape of the city shows how meticulous and exact the Incans were when building. They were also based many of their cities on the sun and the moon and the 360 degree rotations of the Earth.

IMG_7160There are both a Sun Temple and a Moon Temple built into the city, which show the perfect angle for the sun or the moon on the shortest and longest days of the year.

Machu Picchu Mountain Peru 20It’s such an amazing place that filters aren’t required for the photographs.


Machu Picchu Mountain Peru 21 IMG_7164Stopping to learn about the aquaduct system and how water was collected and distrubuted throughout the city.

IMG_7167 IMG_7168 IMG_7169The fog settles thickly into the city, making it hard to see some of the buildings.

IMG_7178But when it clears… Seriously though!

IMG_7175In one area of the city you can see the stone quarry where rocks were cut and then taken down into the city to build the houses.
IMG_7176A truly amazing place that the pictures barely do justice to.

IMG_7183The two bridges down there show the walking bridge where you begin the hike and next to it is the road where the buses begin the drive up the mountain.

Salkantay Trek, Cusco Peru 59You can take pictures from every angle and still there is something amazing at every turn.

Machu Picchu Mountain Peru 27We had entry tickets to Machu Picchu Montana, which is one of the surrounding mountains to Machu Picchu and is another 652 meters straight up. Meaning the peak sits at  3,082 meters. After our tour finished and I finally was able to get a drink of water, we headed toward the entrance of Machu Picchu Montana to climb to the top of the mountain.

IMG_7202WHAT WERE WE THINKING?! Ugh. The things you do for these beauties.

IMG_7206Such a hard climb with uneven steps, precarious cliff edges, and sore legs from this mornings climb. But we suffered through it and my battle buddy Daniel and I stuck together again as we headed towards the top.


The Trek to Machu Picchu, Peru 15What up, Alpaca butt.

The Trek to Machu Picchu, Peru 14Haha, he has an itch. That is one of the most akaward things, watching an alpaca itch his body.


The Trek to Machu Picchu, Peru 13It adds that added touch, an alpaca in the photo, eh?

The Trek to Machu Picchu, Peru 18These views from the top of the mountain are all the more spectacular. You can see the low hanging fog covering the peaks of the surrounding mountains, which will be a problem later.

The Trek to Machu Picchu, Peru 12 The Trek to Machu Picchu, Peru 11Climbing higher and higher. We kept asking the people descending how much farther and the answer was not what we wanted to hear.

The Trek to Machu Picchu, Peru 7But eventually we got high enough that 5 more minutes became a truth, and we made it!

The Trek to Machu Picchu, Peru 4And couldn’t get a damn good picture of Machu Picchu from up here. We were sitting in a cloud.

At the top we caught our breath and waited as long as we could for the clouds to pass and when we were freezing cold and out of time, we headed back down.

It seemed to take FOREVER.

The Trek to Machu Picchu, Peru 19One of my favorites from the day.

The Trek to Machu Picchu, Peru The Trek to Machu Picchu, Peru 2 The Trek to Machu Picchu, WE MADE IT!Had to take one with me in the photo, just because.

The Trek to Machu Picchu, Peru 10AND of course, had to show some of the WV love in Machu Picchu!

Once we got back to the city from Machu Picchu Montana we made an executive decision to walk all the way back into town instead of riding the bus. It was a good decision, until we started walking down the 1,800 steps. We made it into town just into for a torrential downpour but at this point I was HANGRY and could care less about the rain because I needed food STAT.

We had a few hours before the train ride out of Aguas Calientes back to Cusco so we drank ourselves happy so we would fall asleep on the train. It was exhausting.

One of the longest days ever but not as exhausting as summit night for Mt. Kilimanjaro. After the train ride and a hectic bus transfer and a couple of hours driving, we did make it back to Cusco and I collapsed into bed at the hostel.

This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.