March 24th, 2020
If I could relive one experience from the past, I’d be on the first connecting flight back to Peru!
When I close my eyes I can still see the colours of Cusco, a palette of browns and orange, painting a picturesque scene of ancient walls, cobblestone streets and rusty tiled roofs. The rush of trekking on the edge of Red Valley still makes my heart beat fast and I still feel insignificant and pallid compared to Rainbow Mountain and its radiant grace. But above all, it’s the magic of Machu Picchu that will have a spell on me forever.
We were registered for the two day Inca Trail trek. After spending a few days exploring Cusco and adjusting to the high altitude, our spirits were even higher as we left our hostel at three in the morning to take a bus, followed by a scenic train ride, into the majestic mountains that surround the ancient citadel.
To me and my friends the hike wasn’t very challenging. We had plenty breaks to catch a breath, chew on some coca gummies and entertain (or annoy?) our trekking companions with our Disney song singalong. From exotic mountain orchids to waterfalls, the scenery changed continuously along the way. Most trekkers rush through the hike to reach Machu Picchu at around midday and spend some time there. Our guide, however, encouraged us to take it easy as it’s better to get there after the crowds at sunset.
We took our time and took it all in. As we made the final climb (hands and knees) to get to The Sun Gate, the reality of what was about to happen still hasn’t occurred to me. Then Machu Picchu was there before us: sitting royally like a precious crown on a mighty kings head, blessed by a single ray of sunlight peeping through the clouds and touching nothing other than its carved out stone walls. For the first time that day my legs felt like jelly.
We got to spend some time at the nearest view point overlooking the site. Except for some alpacas clumsily trying to find shelter for the night, there wasn’t a single soul in sight. We probably took a hundred pictures, but not one could ever capture the distinctive quality of this moment.
A quote from one of my favourite authors, Paulo Coelho, comes to mind: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it“. Visiting Machu Picchu has been one of our biggest dreams and having it revealed to us in such a remarkable way makes me believe that there’s some truth to these words.
I’d encourage every traveler to put a tick next to this bucket list adventure. And since I can’t travel back in time, if you could save some room in your backpack, I’d like to come with you!