Journey through Peru: Machu Picchu

The day had finally come – it was time to see Machu Picchu!  Our morning started early, about 5am. We were staying in Yucay at a wonderful new B&B in the Sacred Valley (Casa de Tres Osos – we highly recommend it!), so we took a taxi from there to the town of Ollantaytambo where we caught the train up to the high jungle.  Unfortunately Cliff and I were still sick, so we were mustering all the strength we could for this trip.  We had come too far to go without seeing one of the 7 Wonders of the World!

The train was really a neat experience.  The riverside that we followed was beautiful and watching the scenery turn from valley to jungle was so cool.

We arrived in Aguas Calientes around 9am and decided to look for a place to grab a little breakfast and some hot tea for our sore throats.

In Aguas Calientes

In Aguas Calientes

We came upon one little restaurant that advertised breakfast and asked the man out front if they were open. He assured us they were and took us up a narrow flight of stairs to an open-air seating area. On the floor was a young man sleeping on a mattress. The man walked up to him, kicked the mattress to wake him and he quickly slid the mattress into the back room and ran to the kitchen to start cleaning. It was one of the strangest things I’ve seen in a restaurant. We were hesitant to order, but the man was persistent, so we did.

Anyways, after a quick bite we went to the bus line and awaited our turn to board. It was a short line since we’d taken time to get food. The bus ride was a 20-minute switchback ride up the mountain. When we got there we found a guide who spoke good English and was willing to go slowly for us with the kids.

Machu Picchu itself is just breathtaking, but when you add in the cloud-shrouded misty mountains surrounding it it’s like something out of Shangri-La.

First view of Machu Picchu

First view of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Mist-shrouded mountains

Cloud-shrouded mountains

The altitude was high, but it was actually a bit lower than Cusco, and significantly lower than Puno or Arequipa, so we did okay with it. We weren’t able to hike up to the “postcard view” with the kids, but we still managed to get some pretty good pictures :).

Family picture time!

Family picture time!

The kids loved the trails and were fascinated when we came upon the water system cut through the stones. They played in this one place for at least 10 minutes, as tourists stepped over them.

Playing in the water at Machu Picchu

Playing in the water at Machu Picchu

We found that of all the places in Peru we had visited, this place had the lowest tolerance for children. The other tourists who had come were likely making a once-in-a-lifetime trip here and many were looking for a spiritual experience too.

Eating a messy snack on mama's back

Eating a messy snack on mama’s back

The kids were extra fussy that day (probably because they’d been sick off and on the past week) and weren’t cutting us any slack, and neither was anyone else.  At least our guide was super helpful with the kids and even offered to carry our backpack for us!  That was a blessing.  The kids had a great time playing in the rooms of the ruins.

playing in the rooms

playing in the rooms

I even changed Cliff’s dirty diaper in this room – not many people can say they’ve changed a dirty diaper at Machu Picchu!  Ahh, the mom life 🙂

playing

playing

happy camper

happy camper

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

It was amazing to see the detail that went into the creation of this magnificent place.  The stones were cut so evenly, and in the corners you could see how they were laid criss-crossing each other.

stone walls

stone walls

Ready to hike up!

Ready to hike up!

We hiked up to a top part of the ruins and there Cliff was the star of the show with his blonde messy-curly hair.

at the top

at the top

At first just one lady came up and asked for a picture with him, then before we knew it there was a line of a dozen or more young ladies and older women, waiting to take a picture!  We finally had to cut it off and tell them we had to go…it was pretty funny though.

On top of Machu Picchu

On top of Machu Picchu

While we were hiking back down we spotted a funny little mammal related to the chinchilla in the rocks.

Chinchilla-related rodent

Chinchilla-related rodent

John had brought our Texas A&M flag with us, hoping we could grab a pic with it, but it turned out the guards didn’t like the idea, so our guide helped us get one when they went on their lunch break 🙂

Gig 'Em!

Gig ‘Em!

The backside of Machu Picchu

The backside of Machu Picchu

The kids were ecstatic when they saw there were llamas at the ruins.

Llamas in the ruins

Llamas below the ruins

They had a great time watching them and really wanted to go chase them.

Llamas

Llamas

Watching the llamas

Watching the llamas

From there we hiked out of the ruins, the kids were all but finished with the experience, so we just took a different way out to see a few more things.

Hiking out

Hiking out

In front of the "agricultural area" of Machu PIcchu

In front of the “agricultural area” of Machu Picchu

Livi and Daddy

Livi and Daddy

The views were just incredible – and every turn gave a totally different perspective.

View on the way out

View on the way out

It was a really cool day – and even though part of me just wanted to go back to the hotel and sleep, I was thankful we were able to make it up despite being sick.

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