Other Pages of Interest

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Viva El Peru: Machupicchu - Day 2

Early morning sky at Machupicchu
Our second and final day at Machipicchu was another early rise, we were up at 4:30am with the intention of watching the sun rise from the site - and we made it with only a few minutes to spare.  It turns out that we were not the only ones with this idea, and the line for the shuttle buses was at least 200 people long at 5:30am (when the shuttles start running).  The park was well prepared for this type of crowd and the line moved quickly, but we had to move in fast forward to get the girls into their backpacks and start the hike before the sun came up.
The more popular place to watch the sunrise is from the sun gate - but for this crew, that was too many stairs for this early morning trip.  We learned our lesson from the day before and brought all sorts of comfort items and snacks for the little ones, and had the added benefit of a big breakfast and decent night's sleep for the girls so they were nice and happy campers.  

I just love this picture of Jon and Gretchen.  They both look so happy, and so similar, it's endearing.  I also love Gretchen's new little curl "wings', she has been a little baldy for so long, I love seeing her with hair!  

 The morning was a bit cloudy, but as we waited for the sun to rise, the clouds disappeared.  This fog blanket seemed to be receding over the mountains throughout the morning.

If you look closely here you can see our buddy Jeff with little Talia on his back looking out onto the morning sky.  This was such a peaceful way to start the day.

The sun is up and the temperature is rising...
The number of visitors allowed at Machupicchu each day is limited to 3,000 - which sounds like a lot, but requires you to plan your trip ahead of time because they sell out months in advance.  To enter the park, you need your entry ticket and your passport, which they look at every time you pass through the gates.  (They don't stamp your passport each time, though there is a commemorative stamp available for anyone who wants to stamp their own passport.)  There is a small food court area and a gift shop just before the entrance, and they have bathrooms available for 1 nuevo sole per visit (and you have to take your toilet paper from the cashier before entering the bathroom).  One of the nicer services that they offer is a coat check - where you can leave your backpack or jacket while you tour around the area - we took advantage of this service when the temperature rose 20+ degrees in an hour.

One other improvement we made of our first day was to take time and let the kids run around outside of  the backpacks for awhile.  There are plenty of large terraces where the girls could stretch their legs, have a snack and we could change a diaper in peace.

Our little adventurer
 The second, lesser-known portion of Machupicchu is called Waynapicchu, and this area of the site requires an additional entry ticket.  Waynapicchu is limited to 400 visitors per day divided into two entry widows from 8 - 9:00am or 10 - 11:00am (200 visitors permitted at each window).  Your designated window is printed on the entry ticket - so we waited around until our 10:00am window to start the hike.

Waynapicchu is the signature tall mountain peak behind almost all of the photos of Machupicchu. We had no idea what to expect when we booked this portion of the tour.

 I imagine that the views from the top of Waynapicchu are amazing, the highest point of this ~2 hour hike is virtually to the top of the mountain.  But, I wouldn't know for sure, we never got there.

The hike started safe enough.  There were a few spots where you are on a narrow pathway that has the mountain on one side of you, and a very long drop on the other side, but aside from my fear of heights, we felt comfortable continuing on the path.  I was the biggest scaredy-cat in the group.

 And then we reached this point.  This was the first full climbing point on the trail, and Milena made it up without issue.  She took this picture from the top of this set of stairs - you can see Jeff and Jon working their way up the steps and me trailing behind.  You can't tell in this photo, but the stairs are slightly curved, very narrow and the one side has a multi-hundred foot drop without any sort of barrier. We decided it was an irresponsible parenting move to go any further - not knowing if the girls would suddenly shift their weight - and more importantly, knowing that if we got up, we would have to figure a way to get back down.  So we turned around, took some nice pictures and became the first group of the 200 people to return from the Waynapicchu trial. As amazing as the trail probably is, it really is just not safe for children.

Had we continued on the trail, you can see portions of the hike in this photo.  The stairs climb all the way to the top of this mountain, and I was way more impressed by the people who could actually complete the trail after I saw what that entailed.  This is my biggest piece of advice to people traveling to Machupicchu with little ones - it's very doable, but don't buy the extra entrance to Waynapicchu, it's far too physical and precarious of a trail for kids.

And that was our trip to Machupicchu.  It was incredible, it was exhausting and it's closer than you think to the US!  A highly recommended trip for anyone who is looking for an adventure, and we are so glad that our little Gretchen is such a wonderful traveler so that we can do things like this.

1 comment:

  1. Good for you guys!! I hope you enjoyed it. The pictures are just fantastic! FYI for your other blog readers, there is a third way to get to Machupicchu -- you get off the train about 2/3 of the way through the train trip and do a day hike from there. It doesn't involve sleeping outside. And you still get to see some of the great pre-main site attractions... But not sure it would have been good with an extra 40 lbs on the back! You made a wise choice.