Posted by: eeb | May 23, 2010


I just returned from a two-day excursion to Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World! From pictures, it has always looked like it deserved this honor, but after being there, I can truly understand it. Machu Picchu is magnificent and unbelievable.

panoramic view of Machu Picchu

Our trip started Friday morning at 6:00 AM. We took a van through Peru’s Sacred Valley to the town of Ollantaytambo, where there are some Incan ruins. We then took another van to Chilka, where the Incan Trail, a 4-day hike into Machu Picchu, begins. Finally, we took a train to the town of Machu Picchu. The view from the train was incredible–we even had windows in the ceiling so we could see the mountains towering above us.

train station at Chilka, where the Incan Trail begins

view from the train ride to Machu Picchu (see the ruins on the hillside?!)

We arrived in the town of Machu Picchu shortly after 1:00 in the afternoon, and checked into our hostel and walked around the town. It is clear the town lives for tourists, as it was just street after street of restaurants, hostels, and convenience shops. Dr. Mayes took us to a French-Peruvian restaurant called India Feliz, where we had a great meal! We were finished with dinner by 4:45, though, and then went back to the hostel to relax and get to bed early (I really think I was asleep by 7:00!).

The reason I went to bed so early was because we had to get up at 3:45 Saturday morning! Our hostel gave us tea and bread, and we were out the door by 4:15 to go wait in line for the buses. The buses weren’t scheduled to leave until 5:30, but already there was a large line! Once 5:30 finally came, we all boarded the buses for the steep drive up to MACHU PICCHU. The buses zig-zagged up the mountain side, which provided us with breathtaking but terrifying views of the valley below.

treacherous road leading to Machu Picchu

We got to Machu Picchu just after sunrise, right around 6:00. We showed our tickets and we were in! Machu Picchu is unlike anything I have ever seen before–it was absolutely stunning. With the morning fog, the ruins even felt mystical. We walked in complete awe, snapping pictures, and ooh-ing and ahh-ing.

MACHU PICCHU (and Waynapicchu Mountain)

We even saw llamas!

llamas, or alpacas? oh, and Machu Picchu

Right after 7:00 we sprinted through Machu Picchu to Wayapicchu Mountain, the mountain that towers over Machu Picchu. Only the first 400 people who enter Machu Picchu are allowed up the mountain, but because we got there so early, we had no problem getting signed in. The mountain took about 45 minutes to climb…45 minutes of Incan-built stairs straight up the mountain. Each time I stopped to look at the view I thought it wouldn’t be able to get any better, but it always did. The view from the top was spectacular! I don’t even think I can describe it, but hopefully these pictures will!

a group of us about to start our trek up Waynapicchu

me at the top of Wayapicchu surrounded by mountains

view of Machu Picchu from Waynapicchu

Beth and me having a laugh attack at the top of Waynapicchu

By the time we got back down Waynapicchu, we still had about an hour to explore Machu Picchu. I was so taken by how Machu Picchu is built into the hillside, almost as an extension of its surroundings. The construction is amazing, too, as each stone fits perfectly with the others around it. I couldn’t help but think about how it was built and what it was like when the Incans lived there (we watched a documentary on Machu Picchu before we left and some historians believe sacrifices were performed there, while others believe it served as the Incan’s “vacation” home). There are so many rooms, windows, and buildings, and I wish I knew what they were all used for!

the spectacular Machu Picchu

see how it is built right into the mountainside?

Around 9:45 it was time to board the buses and begin our trip back to Cusco. The trip to Machu Picchu has been my favorite Peruvian experience so far, and I think it will be challenging to top!

We only had about 4 hours there, but the time we spent at Machu Picchu was incredible!

jumping for joy



  1. ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    this is all so amazing, i’m really jealous! i can honestly say some of those pictures, especially with the llama and the laughing attack, may move into my top 10 favorite pictures of all time, hahaha. keep enjoying peru!

  2. Emma,
    I am enjoying and learning from your experiences. Keep taking and sharing those photos. Thank you!

  3. WOW – double wow – thanks for bringing us along on the ride… can’t wait to see more.

    • Hi Aunt Erin,
      I’m happy to share, and will definitely have a lot more to show you once I get home. I definitely want to come down to Charleston for at least one weekend!
      xo, Emma

  4. Absolutely fabulous. Great travelogue. Thanks, Emma!

  5. love the photos, Emma! sounds like a fantastic trip! please send my best to Beth, too. – Dr. L.

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