Day 4, Inka Trail

Day 4, Inka Trail, Perú (5/12/2012)

[For an introduction to this four-day hike, see Day 1.]

Day 4: Today we woke up at 3 AM, had breakfast at 3:30 AM and set out on a short walk to the checkpoint in order to do our final leg of our four-day Inka trail adventure. The checkpoint opened at 5:30 AM so we waited in line with a long line of hikers in the dark. It was surreal. After getting through the checkpoint we hiked up and down at times steeply until we finally reached our glorious destination about 3 miles from camp, the majestic ancient Inka city of Machu Picchu. Our first glimpse was at IntiPunku, the Sun Gate, far above the ruins. As we arrived at the citdel through the Sun Gate (only hikers of the Inka trail can arrive through this portal), we could already see the buses hauling tourists up along the many bends of the serpentine Hiram Bingham highway far below. But we got to the ancient city well before the buses unloaded, so the city still had a serene sense of peace about it.

It began raining as Franklin began his three-hour tour, so I put my camera away for a bit. We were tired, unwashed and yet wonderfully exhilarated. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world. It eventually stopped raining and we boarded one of those tourist buses and took it down to the lovely little town of Aguas Calientes where we had a terrific lunch with Franklin, Becky and Colin.

Total distance hiked today was about 3 miles in about 2 hours.

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River far below

Pre-dawn hiking

Inka steps ... what else?

Stormy peaks of the Andes

One of the steepest climbs


Hand over foot here

Survey marker

The final steps!

IntiPunku - the Sun Gate

I made it! My first view

Laura arrives!

Happy hikers!

Steps on top of Huayna Picchu

Group pose at Sun Gate

Serpentine Hiram Bingham Highway

My Argentinian friend

Path from Sun Gate ...

... to Machu Picchu


Lovely wildflowers ...

... along the way

Valley far below


Descending to the citadel

On the grounds

Hikers atop Huayna Picchu

Franklin and Machu Picchu

Descending to the photo spot

Group victory photo

We made it!

What a view!

Getting stormy

Continuing to descend

A cute ...

... little baby ...

... llama

Constant restoration

Huayna Picchu in back

View below


Storage house


Path high above to Sun Gate

Franklin giving the tour

Poking around

It's a huge complex

Gorgeous flower

View to the quarry

Resting peacefully


Zoom to Huayna Picchu

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