PERU | MACHU PICCHU (AND LOADS OF ALPACAS)

Peru | Hiking the Sun Gate Trail in Machu Picchu #travel
There really are no words to describe the glory that is Machu Picchu. Cradled in the epic arms of the Andes Mountains, it seems like a thing straight out of myths–this ancient city of giant stones carved right into a green, green valley surrounded by clouds.

Peru Rail | Machu Picchu
We boarded Peru Rail, our train car blaring with an incessant pan flute soundtrack. I think it was supposed to set the mood? Despite the ruckus, the three hour ride from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes was worth it for the views alone. The train car ceilings were lined with windows so you could see the mountains growing taller and taller all around.
Peru | Hiking the Sun Gate Trail in Machu Picchu #travel
Peru | Hiking the Sun Gate Trail in Machu Picchu #travel
Early morning mist shrouded the ruins and we started along the trail up to the Sun Gate, a hike that offers view after view of this:
Peru | Machu Picchu #travel
Machu Picchu | Peru
And ample moments for jumping shots, a la:
Machu Picchu | Peru
We stopped quite a bit along the way to take boatloads of photos and then hiked back down to the entrance. All said it took us about an hour and half. At the Sun Gate we met a lovely biologist who studies rain forests in Costa Rica. She pointed out a few types of orchids and birds that thrive in Machu Picchu.
Sun Gate Trail Machu Picchu
Warren donned his infamous cap, the same one he bought in Machu Picchu during his first visit six years ago. They had a touching reunion while I read my favorite passages from Pablo Neruda’s The Heights of Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu Peru

 

But epic landscapes and childhood dreams fulfilled aside, this post really should be about the most important thing: alpacas. Because there were a million of them grazing around and looking utterly picturesque.
Machu Picchu | Alpacas
We got to meet this little friend (who ran away after Warren tried to make her wear the aforementioned fisherman’s cap). Turns out, even an alpaca can’t abide the humiliation of a fisherman’s cap–smart gal.
Machu Picchu Alpaca
Machu Picchu Alpaca
She eventually forgave Warren after she heard him opening a granola bar. She trotted over and, without any fanfare, snatched it from Warren’s hand and gulped it down. Then she hung around giving him Bambi eyes in hopes of scoring another sweet treat. I should say that you actually aren’t supposed to eat in the park because of the overwhelming urge humans have to feed pack animals.
Machu Picchu Alpaca
Machu Picchu | Alpacas in the Ruins #travel
Alpacas love walking in synchronization, apparently.
Machu Picchu | Alpacas in the Ruins #travel
Besides the alpacas, there were also some quite marvelous ruins to explore.
Machu Picchu  Ruins
Machu Picchu | Ruins
And magnificent sights to behold.
Machu Picchu | Huayna Picchu
But let’s get real, with alpacas afoot, I really couldn’t concentrate on anything else. Especially when they were just lounging so casually. While I took a million photos for my sure-to-be award-winning series, Alpacas in the Ruins, Warren hiked that giant mountain below. It’s called Huayna Picchu and only 400 people are allowed to hike it per day. It is known to be a monster.
Machu Picchu | Alpacas and Huayna Picchu #travel
Of course, Warren scurried up in 45 minutes and down in about 20, which is about triple the speed I would have been able to. But, alpacas!
Machu Picchu | Alpacas and Huayna Picchu #travel
Warren, triumphant.
Machu Picchu | Hiking Huayna Picchu
Machu Picchu really was a dream fulfilled and I’m still pinching myself to believe that I actually saw it with my very own eyes. Next week, I’ll take you on our last Peruvian adventure–we’ll go up 14,000 feet to visit gorgeous Lake Titicaca and some floating reed island villages!
More Peru adventures:

 

Peru | Cuzco Children's Folk Dance Festival #travel
Peru | Terraces in the Sacred Valley #travel

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