Dreams Come True in Peru
One of my first travel memories as a child was seeing photos of Machu Picchu and being in awe of this incredible lost world high above the clouds. I thought it must be one of the most remote places on this earth, I read that explorers would have to trek for days in order to reach the ruins, and I was so sad that I would never be able to see this for myself as I was not an explorer or an adventurer.
Then I grew up and began my career in the travel industry so that I could become an explorer, in my own way. One of my first international trips on my own was to Peru in South America, and it really felt like my childhood dreams were coming true.
My journey started in the Sacred Valley, we arrived in darkness to the Casa Andina Premium Valle Sagrado after a driving in from Cusco. Imagine my surprise when I awoke in the morning to the views of the incredible Andes surrounding us! The Sacred Valley is ridiculously scenic and is the perfect way to start your Peru adventure and slowly acclimatize yourself to the higher altitude and hopefully avoid feeling its affects. The Sacred Valley sits around 2800m above sea level compared to Cusco which is 3400m.
The only time I noticed the effects of the high altitude here was while climbing the huge stone terraces of Ollantaytambo, which is an impressive Inca archaeological site with a history of virgin sacrifices during the Inca empire. These ruins amazed me, that is until we visited Machu Picchu!
To my delight, I didn’t have to trek for days to reach Machu Picchu, I could take a very comfortable train from Ollantayambo. We stayed overnight in the Machu Picchu village which was quite beautiful with the Vilcanota river running through the middle of town and surrounded by mountains. As we were short on time, we took the bus up the steep zig zag road which leads to Machu Picchu.
This was around midday, and as you can imagine it was peak hour at the ruins! This first visit was a bit of a letdown for me, I had dreamed of being here for so many years and those dreams never included hundreds of other tourists yelling out to each other amongst the Inca ruins, it took away the beauty and wonder you should feel while here in the village above the clouds.
That all changed the next morning when we got up at the crack of dawn to be some of the first on the mountain, we decided to do the Hike up the Sungate (also known as Intipunku), this is the arrival point to Machu Picchu for those hiking the Inca trail. I found the hike to be quite easy and it wasn’t as steep as I imagined it to be. The views along the way were just incredible and we even saw a little hummingbird halfway up.
The highlight of course was when you reach the top of the Sungate and the clear view out to the Inca Citadel, it was simply breathtaking, and I felt so incredibly lucky to be here and for accomplishing one of my childhood travel dreams.
I often look back on my time spent in Peru; it is one of those destinations that will stay in my heart forever. The peace of the Andean Mountains, the stories and legends of the Incas, the intense colours of the textiles, the beautiful people! How can you not fall in love with this incredible country?
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