Reflections on IMG's 2012 Machu Picchu Trek
By Peter Anderson
Well, I am now back home to our HOT summer in the US and already missing Peru's temperate winter weather. I just wrapped up leading two of IMG's fantastic Classic Machu Picchu Treks on the Inca Trail for my second year of guiding in Peru. Before leaving, a friend asked whether I would be bored going back again this year. The answer is and was clearly NO.
Even having made the trek before, the different sights you catch on each trip make every one unique. For example, one of the most finely fitted stones that I have a framed picture of in my home wasn't to be seen again. Beyond that, the Inca Trail itself is so impressive, the views awe-inspiring and the ancient sites along the way make this trip one that I hope to do again and again into the future. I would also be remiss mention how fortunate we were to work with the incredibly knowledgeable and skilled local guide, Walter.
The feeling of looking down at Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate before any tourists arrive is breathtaking. Also, it is essentially important that we are able to return the following day for one more day of absorbing Machu Picchu itself (most aren't as lucky as me to return). Our second day there allows us to explore sites that are a little more off the beaten path. But for some it allows for extra rest and relaxation in the vibrant town of Aguas Calientes. With this extra day, although not for everyone, we offer an early morning ascent of Huayna Picchu, the quintessential peak just to the side of Machu Picchu. While no trails or Inca sites are recognizable from afar, it is a great hike over steep Inca steps, terraces, and even through a cave! While there is no doubt it is a hard 1+ hour ascent, especially after four days of trekking, the unique view looking directly down on Machu Picchu is unforgettable, not to mention the views of the snowcapped Andes on the horizon. Additionally, this day allowed our first group to visit the Temple of the Moon, a rarely visited, but incredibly sacred cave site of Machu Picchu. On the second trip we opted for one last stroll through Machu Picchu and a visit to the equally quiet hanging bridge and trail clinging to a huge cliff. Both days were incredible and left us plenty of time to catch our train back toward Cusco.
Especially having three trips under my belt and watching other operations/tours on the trail, there is no doubt in my mind that WE do it right! I cannot imagine a better way to experience Peru and Machu Picchu. Hope you will join me next year for another mystical adventure and exploration of Machu Picchu.
Peter Anderson, IMG Guide