RAIN?!!!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!!!
We woke up at 4am this morning and it was raining. A bit bummed out, we dragged out our rain gear, trying to look on the bright side of things --we bought all this stuff, now we finally get to use it.
Well... that feeling didn't last long. We hit the trail at 4:50am, trying to get to the gate before most of the other groups. This is where all the groups stack up. From this point on, the trail gets more congested and groups start to stack up.
At 5:30, the gate opened, and it was like the releasing of hounds. Dimas took off at a really fast pace, intent on getting us to the Sun Gate ahead of the hoards. We were 6km from Machu Picchu. The rocks on the trail were slippery with the rain, and before long, many of us were soaked inside and out either from the rain or from sweat or a combination of both.
It was still raining when we got to the Sun Gate, but the view of Machu Picchu was clear. The view was great, despite the rain! We made it!!! We had hiked for the past few days and we finally got to see 'the prize'. Huge mountains towered over the Inca site, which was located high above the river valley below. The clouds really made the scene even more dramatic.
As we headed downhill to Machu Picchu, the rain eventually stopped. However, low lying clouds from the valley had started to blow over Machu Picchu. We waited out the clouds at the patio cafe by the entrance gate.
By the time we went out for our tour of Machu Picchu, the weather was much better. The complex was enormous!!!! Terraces upon terraces were built here. There was a huge astrological sundial as well, and a compass that pointed to magnetic north (we checked it with modern day compass). On each winter solstice, the sun shines through the sungate and into the window of the temple. We saw the place where the Incas would have executed people (by tossing them over the cliff), the largest building that still stands (which would have housed industry), the huge sacred rock which has a shape that resembles the mountains behind it, and a large natural rock outcropping that resembles a condor.
We had a little bit of time to explore on our own, so we hiked back up the steep stairs to the top, for a clear shot back down over Machu Picchu. When we got up there, we found llamas!!!! They are so neat! There were a few of them just lying there on the grass, looking very mellow. Peeking over the back of its mother was a tiny baby llama. It was so cute!!!!