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29 May 2024
Machu Picchu, Peru.

I woke up today very excited; this was why I came on this trip. Today, I would be going to the place my dad always wanted to go but couldn't because of his health. It was the day I would visit Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu.

After an early morning call, around 5:30 am, I showered and went down for breakfast. After a buffet breakfast and the usual Coca tea, I was ready to join the rest of my travelling companions on our three-part trip to Machu Picchu. We boarded the coach outside the hotel at around 6:15 am and set off through Cuzco. We were on the first part of the journey to the Inca city that was rediscovered by the outside world again in 1911 by Hiram Bingham.

After a two-hour coach trip, we arrived at the train station near   Ollantaytambo, where we were to catch a train to continue our journey. To go to Machu Picchu, you have to book in advance & we soon enter the station after showing our tickets & copies of our passports. Each person has an allocated seat & a time to catch the train. The train we are on is the first one of the day & the platform is jam-packed with porters bringing provisions for the train & parcels to be taken to Machu Picchu. We board the train & are shown to our seats by the hostess for our carriage. We sit four at a table, two by two, on either side of the aisle & it surprises me how much room we all have & how clean & well-organised it all is. The hostess reminds me of the hostess you expect to get on any airline flight you will take: smartly dressed, very helpful & always smiling. We soon set off through the mountains as the railroad follows along a winding river, crossing & re-crossing the Inca trail; many people trek to Machu Picchu.

The train journey takes another two hours & our hostess serves us a snack & drinks. The landscape we travel through is beautiful & the river roaring alongside us is full of white water crashing over rocks scattered throughout it. I wonder if they do white water trips through the valley & if they do, how many people are injured trying it out? We arrive at the Machu Picchu station & then are separated into two smaller coaches to climb the last section of the mountains to Machu Picchu.

From here, people are setting out for a walk up to the Inca city, which we can still not see. The coach climbs up a winding road clinging to the mountain's edge, barely wide enough for a coach in places. Those of us next to a window are given great views of the drops down the mountain & the climb up it. We can see steps built up the hill directly to the summit. These steps are for the visitors who decide to walk to Machu Picchu to allow them a more direct route than our winding route. I would be amazed if anyone takes these steps rather than the winding road. The steps are so steep I got worn out looking up them. I imagine a mountain goat would have difficulty using them & the only walkers we saw were all using the road the coaches travelled. I don't know how long it would take anyone to walk this last stretch, but it takes another half hour in the coach & I can't see anyone walking it in less than 2 hours.

When we arrived at Machu Picchu, we split into groups for a guided tour around this fantastic place. Words do not exist to describe how I felt when I got there & started to look around the place my dad had always wanted to visit but never could. I was getting a lump in my throat just remembering it & writing down these notes, but the words I would use to describe my feelings are awe, amazement, gratitude, love, peacefulness & sheer glee at making an effort to see something so wondrous.

Our guided tour lasted around two hours & how I managed to walk around & up & down so many steps at about 9,500 feet amazes me. We see the king's complex of rooms, more steep steps, many springs & fountains, steps, an unfinished temple, storerooms & some more steps. Our guide had said that she would miss the last climb to the sundial as it was steep & some of the group may not be able to do this last climb. Taking my walking stick in hand, I asked which way to go to get to the top; others echoed my desire to finish the climb & she changed her mind & took us the rest of the way up. We arrived at the sundial & I found myself thinking of my dad & wishing he was here with me; I knew he would have been looking down on me with pride & looking through my eyes at everything I could see. This was the section you see in all of the travel photos & must be the most photographed place in Peru. It truly is incredible & if it's not on your bucket list, it should be.

After finishing the walking part of our tour, we had a buffet meal in the large restaurant built under a large hotel there. I don't think the Incas would be too impressed by adding a hotel, restaurant & tourist shop here, but I was glad for a sit-down & a rest. The food on the buffet was of a very high standard & there was lots of it, some people complained that it was a bit cramped & the service wasn't that great. I agree it wasn't a hugely expansive building, but the service & food were excellent; get a grip, people. You are at Machu Picchu; what happened to the sense of awe you felt a few hours ago when you got here? As a place to visit, it will also be a place I never forget.

After eating, we rejoined the small coach to return to the train station. We caught the train for another two-hour trip back to our coach. The view on the way back was not as good as on the way up because the sun dropped behind the mountains & it soon got dark. At the train station, we met our coach for another two-hour trip back to our hotel in Cuzco.

  Photos from Machu Picchu.