Two hours by coach along a mountain pass. Sitting outdoors at a cafe by an offshoot of the Urubamba river. A shaky, late night train journey. Running through an empty marketplace in the dark and down the railway tracks. A tour briefing, tickets handed over. One short night in a hotel with water on one side and rails on the other. A 4am start, queueing down the high street of a small town in the dark with hundreds of other foreigners to the land. Boarding the third bus to arrive, sitting separately and crammed in with tourists holding their breath. A 20 minute ride up, 400 metres higher above the sea, round hairpin bends as the light slowly started to emerge behind the mountains. At the top, through the gates, down a stone path seen so many times on screens, awaiting the view you know lies at the end of it.
This was our journey to Machu Picchu.
I had wanted to visit Machu Picchu for as long as I could remember. Becoming a girl who was in love with photography and felt eased by the world around her, just starting to travel after only leaving the UK once before at two years old, I was enraptured by the city in the sky, abandoned by its creators only to be found by explorers hundreds of years later. I had dreams, but I thought they would never become more than that. Just before my 25th birthday, I was able to make them a reality.
Tips for visiting Machu Picchu:
– Bring lots of water and snacks
– Bring suncream and a hat – it’s hot!
– Tickets are from 6-12 or 12-5 – we went for sunrise, but I hear the 12-5 slot has its advantages in that the city is almost empty by 5
– After leaving our lacklustre tour to explore on our own, I can say I’d definitely recommend spending some time wandering by yourself
– The best places for ‘that classic shot’ are just as you walk in to the site, up the terraces opposite the famous view, or on the pathway that you leave by
– Don’t forget to get a Machu Picchu passport stamp – this is on a little booth by the toilets as you leave
– Speaking of, you need your passport as to get in! Don’t get all the way there to be denied access at the gates
– If you plan to get the bus up from Aguas Calientes (as we did) you need to buy bus tickets in advance – some tours do include these so be sure to check
– hikes up Wayna Picchu (the mountain behind the citadel) are ticketed and tickets are limited. Book in advance if you want to do it!
– charge your camera batteries, please
– take it in – you’re stood in the middle of a wonder of the world
lots of love, until our next adventure