The final destination of our Salkantay Trek, was of course the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. I think Machu Picchu itself needs really no introduction… For us, it was the culmination of five rough days in the mountains, and for me: many years of dreams and wondering what such a place could actually be like. I have marveled at the possibility of this place since I was quite young, and came a across some photo in a book somewhere long forgotten. The image stayed in my mind for many years and every time since I came upon a photo of Machu Picchu my childhood wonderment and curiosity never ceased.
So much had I looked forward to one day visiting this place, and so much had I built it up in my mind, I was almost certain of being disappointed. It was expensive, touristic, crowded. But, in the end, when the ancient city fist appeared through a blanket of fog early that morning, none of that seemed to matter. The beauty and the magic were not destroyed- just a little polished over. The feeling of standing on the hill side, watching the fog come and go- the city disappearing and reappearing before us, was amazing. Each time the city was revealed through a brief opening in the gray shadows, it was an amazing feeling. I think if I were to return again, I would have quite the same feeling as seeing it for the first time.
Throughout the day, we fought the fog (and rain), and Lena was still fighting a stomach virus, but somehow we managed to wander trough the ruins for over ten hours! We arrived just before six, when the gates would be opened to a flood of eager tourists. We swarmed in with the tide, climbed quickly to the top of the hill, and had a brief few minutes to experience the ancient city in relative peace. Over the next few hours the waves of tourists continued, and the city filled with people. Perhaps it was the weather, but I think most of the them did not seem to stay more than an hour or two- By about 1:00, the feeling of peace returned- along with a brief period of sunshine, and the city literally glowed between the clouds and the green mountain peaks.
Since I took close to a hundred photos that day, I’ll cut the rhetoric here and just leave it to the images…