There are two options to get to the top of the mountain that holds up Machu Picchu- the rather expesnive bus or hundreds of steep stairs leading up the side. I once again chose the easy route. Planning to get up at 5am but accidentally “sleeping in” until 5:45am, I managed to arrive at 6am at the bus stop. The line already snaked around the block, but there was nothing for it but to grab a ticket and get in line. I made it up the mountain just as the sun crested the horizon, throwing an amazing soft light across the ruins and the valley. Ahhh, this is what all my efforts had been for; the hype was justified. The sheer cliffs and the intricate architecture were even more amazing in person. Even with the heavy crowds and the expense and my still aching feet, I was absoltely enchanted by the site.
It is apparently quite common for the ruins to be shrouded in fog and clouds first thing in the morning, but the travel gods were smilling on me and I got to see the place in glorious morning light. In the end I spent over 7 hours wandering around, even through a heavy rain storm that rolled in during the early afternoon. I had come prepared with a poncho and snacks and water and even a novel, so I would wander for a bit and then sit and do some people watching and then wander some more. It took quite a while to absorb that I was actually within the grounds of Machu Picchu, so I am glad I took my time. After heading back to Aguas Calientes I had some late lunch and then caught the train back to Cuzco. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.