Here is a report from one of our new staff who went to visit Machu Picchu for the first time.
Monday May 19, 2014. Finally the day had arrived to visit Machu Picchu. After two months in Cusco, I really was becoming more and more curious about this mythical destination.
I decided to go with the Inca Jungle Trek option, a four day adventure ending in Machu Picchu, on route enjoying several activities such as mountain biking, rafting, zip lining and hiking. This was an amazing experience but for now I will just focus my attention on the visit to Machu Picchu. The day before, we received our Machu Picchu entrance tickets from the guide together with a quick briefing on what our day would look like. The guide for instance informed us that the Machu Picchu weather is overall warm and humid but due to the mountains this can quickly change. He also informed us that with this 4 day excursion we would cross several different climate zones.
In the morning we got the opportunity to go by bus or by foot to Machu Picchu. I chose to walk to the Machu Picchu entrance. At 4.15 me and my two other friends began our walk towards the Machu Picchu entrance. It was a very heavy and steep walk with a very humid environment. After many steps and after 45 minutes heavy climbing we arrived at the Machu Picchu entrance. Here we welcomed our group and waited until the Machu Picchu entrance opened. We showed our Machu Picchu entrance tickets and passport and entered the UNESCO-protected area.
We got a 2.5 hours guided tour. What a great 'city' of the Incas! The guide was right about the changeable Machu Picchu weather. He told us stories while we watched Machu Picchu disappearing into the clouds, and ten minutes later, Machu Picchu reappearing. We visited many of the attractions at Machu Picchu.
One of those sites was the temple of the sun. The temple of the sun is an important building around Machu Picchu. The building is established on a rock. The temple of the sun is regarded as the finest and best stonework in the whole complex and we also discovered it had an astronomical function. In winter, the sun shines (through Intipunku) and falls exactly on the ceremonial stone in the middle of the temple. The guide told us that here the bodies of important people were stored in the temple of the sun during the Inca period. A good landmark is the central square of Machu Picchu. On one side of the square you can find the ceremonial sector of the complex, on the other hand, there is the living and working area. You can also find the Temple of the Condor. In the middle of this temple there is a huge stone into which a condor is carved.
After the tour we got the opportunity to climb Huayna Picchu mountain or Machu Picchu mountain. There was only one condition attached: you must have booked your Machu Picchu Entrance tickets in advance. I booked my Machu Picchu entrance tickets for the mountain in advance, so I climbed the Machu Picchu Mountain at 11am. It was said that the highest point of the mountain Machu Picchu would be closed at 12.30md and that the climb would take you approximately 2 hours. Actually I only needed 1 hour to climb to the top of Machu Picchu Mountain. What a great view! If you are not able to climb Huayna Picchu, try the Machu Picchu Mountain! A beautiful view after a brisk walk up, but definitely worth it.
There was also an opportunity to go to the sun gate, although I had no more energy left after two vigorous walks in one day. My friends went to the sun gate, because they did not go to the Machu Picchu Mountain. I saw their photos and from there you had a phenomenal view. If you are not prepared for Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain climbing, take a look from the sun gate. The Machu Picchu weather varies. In the morning at 6am, it is very foggy and damp, but the Machu Picchu weather changes as the day progresses. When I was at the highest point of the Machu Picchu Mountain, the weather had cleared up completely, so you got a good view of Machu Picchu.
After this very interesting day we took the bus back to Aguas Calientes where we ate delicious pizza on a terrace of one of the restaurants before our train left for Ollantaytambo.