August 23, 2012
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 was then and still is, a resounding NO.
Even having made the trek before, the different sites I’ve seen during my journeys make each 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 this last trip. Where did it go? I’ll search it out next year! Beyond that, the Inca Trail itself is so impressive, the views are 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 be amiss to not mention how blessed we were to work with the incredibly knowledgeable and skilled local guide Walter Cantunta. Walter was a continuous source of information and assistance to our team.
The feeling of looking down at Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate before any tourists arrive is breathtaking. Another unique element of this program is that we are able to return the following day for one more chance to absorb Machu Picchu. Most aren’t as lucky as me to be able to return trip after trip, and really want to maximize their time at Machu Picchu. Our second day on site allows us to explore features that are a little more off the beaten path. For others it allows for some extra rest and relaxation in the vibrant town of Aguas Calientes. With this extra day, we offer an optional 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. In addition to climbing Huayna Picchu, our first group was able to visit the Temple of the Moon, a rarely seen, 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 a hanging bridge and trail system clinging to a huge cliff. Both days were incredible and left us plenty of time to catch our train back toward Cusco.
After three separate 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.
More photos on facebook.