The alarm went off at 4am but I wasn’t tired or grumpy. On the contrary, I was full of excitement and emotions. Today would be the day I would finally fulfill a lifelong dream, today would be the day to test my physical limits, and today would be the day to marvel at the ancient wonder that is Machu Picchu.

It was the first time for a long time that I was travelling solo. Chris was busy climbing a 6,000m volcano but I couldn’t leave Peru without seeing Machu Picchu, so I hopped on a bus to Cuzco, booked myself a ticket to Machu Picchu, and off I went. I strapped on my hiking boots, grabbed a cup of coca tea from the breakfast room, and then started my two-hour hike from Agua Calientes all the way up to Machu Picchu.

It was still dark when I left the hostel at 4:30, but my trusted head torch and the radiant moon provided enough light to find the path. Despite it being that early it was incredibly hot and humid already. I could hear the mosquitoes coming for me, but they were deterred by the litres of mozzi repellent I put all over my body in anticipation. The entire hike is uphill. You can either take the windy road that was built to bus the tourists up to the ruins who don’t fancy walking, or you can take the shortcut of steep steps cutting through the road. The latter saves you a lot of time, but is also much harder of course. Since torturing my body is one of my favourite past times I took the steps.

machu picchu altitude hike up to machu picchu

machu picchu altitude other mountains

I went up, and up, and further up for two hours straight. I was starting to get really fed up with the lack of oxygen, the humidity and the endless steps, but eventually I heard some guys in the distance cheer with pure joy. I started welling up immediately. I was that close to finally seeing Machu Picchu. I had been dreaming about this moment since I was a teenager when I saw an article about Machu Picchu in a National Geographic magazine that my Spanish High School teacher bought into class one day. Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca site and archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti around 1450. The Incas abandoned the site again after the Spanish conquest and it wasn’t discovered again until 1911, which is also why it is called the lost city. The Machu Picchu altitude is 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level. The fascinating Machu Picchu history in addition to the absolutely stunning backdrop, made Machu Picchu probably the first ever item on my bucket list. 17 years later and I finally made it. A few minutes after I heard the guys cheering I made it to the gate too. I freshened up a little, showed my entry ticket, and off I went into the mist.

machu picchu altitude in mist

Machu Picchu revealing itself in the mist

It was extremely foggy, but eventually I saw it. Machu Picchu was right in front of me. I couldn’t believe it and despite the extreme fog I may have squealed a little bit. I didn’t have too much time to hang around though, as I was booked onto a further hike up the sugar loaf shaped mountain behind Machu Picchu at 7am. You can only hike up Wayna Picchu twice a day and it is limited to 200 people at a time, but the views from atop are spectacular. I was at the front of the queue and bang on 7am, off I went into the unknown, misty path. The path went downhill at first, which if you have done hiking before you know can only mean one thing: it will go up again at some stage, and soon enough it did. The path turned into tiny jungle-enclosed steps that were built by the Incans themselves, and it was so steep at times that I had to hold onto the rails to literally pull myself up that mountain. It was extremely exhausting, and I had to stop many times to catch my breath again. I wasn’t the only one though, which was quite comforting.

machu picchu altitude wayna picchu and view

The steep steps up to Wayna Picchu and the stunning views along the way

machu picchu altitude wayna pichu stepsmachu picchu altitude people on steps

machu picchu altitude temple of the moon

The temple of the Moon at Wayna Picchu was once home to a high priest and some virgins

I finally made it to the top after 45 minutes though and at first I couldn’t see anything, as it was still very misty. I decided to find myself a little spot, cool down for a bit and wait for the fog to disappear. After only 15 minutes it did and the beauty that is Machu Picchu revealed itself right underneath me. I was some 263m above the ruins, and I was so overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the view, and also the fact that it was my last week in my beloved Peru, that I burst into tears. I was completely overcome with emotions, but that was ok. I had finally fulfilled my lifelong dream after all.

machu picchu altitude sign

machu picchu altitude machu pichu from wayna picchu

Machu Picchu from above. The view doesn’t get more spectacular than this, does it?

machu picchu altitude tammy looking down at machu picchumachu picchu altitude wayna picchu altitude signAs the fog disappeared and the sun was coming out I made my way back down to the ruins, so I could see Machu Picchu up close. When I arrived in the fog in the morning I hadn’t realized how big the complex was, but now I could finally see it. I explored the many different buildings on the grounds and eventually made my way up to the spot from which you can take the famous postcard shot. I feel so lucky to have seen such a stunning monument and its beauty will stay with me forever more.

machu picchu altitude gate and room

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Machu Picchu in all its glory

machu picchu altitude tammy

And of course I had to do the famous postcard shot

machu picchu altitude machu picchu and mountain

machu picchu altitude from sideWhat’s your number one bucket list item and have you been lucky to see it yet?



About Tammyonthemove

Tammy & Chris are a couple hailing from Germany and England, meaning between them they are efficient and polite, but unable to talk about football. Find out why they stopped pushing pens around the British civil service to travel the world on their blog.

22 Thoughts on “The Happiest Travel Day of my Life

  1. Wow Tammy congrats! That coca tea makes all he difference with altitude sickness. I missed Machu Picchu because I became violently ill with food poisoning. The tour guy showed up at 3:30 AM and I walked outside – in 31 F temps mind you – in a pair of shorts explaining how I’d puked my guts out for the past 8 hours lol. Had to miss it but vicariously I’ll live through your stunning shots.

    Thanks for re-creating this day for me, fab post!

    Ryan Biddulph recently posted…21 Things You Need to Know about Blogging from ParadiseMy Profile

  2. Wow, stunning pictures! Machu Pichu is on my bucket list, along with so many others. My top bucket list item though I think is going to Pig Beach in the Bahamas. There are wild pigs swimming around in the crystal clear water!

    Ashleigh recently posted…Another day trip from FesMy Profile

  3. Great post!
    Trekking the Inca Trail to see Machu Picchu is definitely something that I want to be able to do in my lifetime! There is just nothing else that makes my heart light up like thinking about how it would be.
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Great post, Tammy. The pictures are beautiful too. Machu Picchu wasn’t really on my radar, but it is now!

  5. Hi Tammy! Great Post. I remember feeling quite emotional as well when I saw machu Picchu for the first time. It’s such a special place.

    • Tammyonthemove on January 29, 2015 at 4:31 pm said:

      I just couldn’t control myself. I don’t know what it was, but it just overcame me. Glad I am not the only crybaby. 😉

  6. Congrats on doing this!! Fantastic!! I’ve recently done the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal and suffered from High altitude symptoms. Apparently garlic soup helps – it indeed did! 🙂 loved the photos!!
    Serendipity Tess recently posted…India and ulterior motives – first impressions & expressionsMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on January 29, 2015 at 4:40 pm said:

      I’d love yo do the Annapurna Circuit. I got really bad AMS during the EBC trip. I should have tried garlic soup!

  7. So jealous. Your pictures are amazing! Machu Picchu is on the top of my list, but I’m not going to make it this trip!
    Kendra Granniss recently posted…The “Sticky Falls” and Crashing My MotorbikeMy Profile

  8. I remember the hike on the Inca Trail to Machu PIcchu, it was a touch day and those inclines are NO joke! So worth it though, amazing views at the sun gate.
    Hannah @Getting Stamped recently posted…El Nido Tour A Review – Palawan PhilippinesMy Profile

  9. Wow, those steps are not joke! I definitely want to see this place one day. I’m glad to hear it was every bit as amazing as you hoped. My bucket list item was exploring Milford Sound in South Island New Zealand. It was beyond words in its beauty!!

    • Tammyonthemove on March 8, 2015 at 2:16 pm said:

      Those steps are a killer indeed, but like you said they are worth every single aching muscle. I’d love to explore the Milford Sounds. I have heard so much about it.

  10. We’ll be wrapping up our year abroad in Peru in six weeks. Can’t wait for a visit to Macchu Picchu; can wait for returning to regular life. 😉
    Mark recently posted…SCRATCH MAP GIVEAWAY!My Profile

  11. I enjoy reading your post. Macchu Picchu is really a nice place to visit! I hope I got the chance to visit there one day! Thanks for sharing your great experience with us here! Amazing photos

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