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Visiting Machu Picchu is breathtaking. The kind of breathtaking where we had to stop ourselves for a minute to remember the experience because there would never be another first time. That’s really all there is to it. In person, it was better than any photo we had ever seen.
That morning had hummed with anticipation from the moment we boarded the Perurail train. On the way, the mountains tower over Peru’s Urubamba River, making for a scenic and impressive journey as we headed for the little train station in Aguas Calientes, now officially called Machu Picchu Pueblo. I was in awe of the whole experience.
In Aguas Calientes, we boarded a bus which wound its way around numerous switchbacks until we arrived at the entrance of the site. During the experience, we were thankful we took the train rather than the longer, more arduous Inca Trail trek.
Once inside, our Kuoda guide led us to the upper agricultural section for stunning views of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu peak – the large peak that towers behind the site. From there, we followed a long tour route. Just inside the sanctuary, we headed up a steep hill to the classic, postcard view of Machu Picchu at the Caretaker’s Hut and Funerary Rock.
From there, we descended down into the main area and through the ancient gateway to the Temple of the Sun. Then we went to the Royal Tomb and the Temple of the Three Windows.
After an informative tour and more history than we could truly retain, we spent much of the afternoon and the following morning just wandering through the site. We let ourselves get lost in the buildings and back alleys, finding our way back to a landmark and then getting lost again. We let the experience of the site fill us and capture our imaginations. What was it like to live here? Why was it abandoned? What was the significance of this building or that rock?
At several points, we sat down and just soaked the whole experience up. Visiting Machu Picchu is truly a once-in-a-lifetime trip and we wanted to remember it.