The next morning up at 4:30 am, breakfast at 5:00 am.  We checked out and left our bags in a big pile, with everyone elses bags and headed to the bus stop at 5:30 am.  The guidebook warns you over and over about getting a receipt for your luggage, making sure the place they keep it is secure, blah blah blah.  Reality, that rarely happens. You just have to have faith in the goodness of people.  We always do and have never been disappointed. 

The line to get on the buses for the sunrise trip was starting to get long.  We were so excited.  This was one of the moments you always say you want to do, but are never actually sure if you’ll get to do it.  We were lucky to get on the first set of buses, so we would make it to the top for sunrise.  The bus trip takes about 20 minutes, winding up switchbacks to the top of Machu Picchu.  From there you stand in another line to get in.  Through the check in point you are on your own. Most people, like us, head up to the caretakers hut, straight up, for the best view.  Here is where you take your Machu Picchu picture, the one that most people are familiar with.  We huffed and puffed for about 10 minutes finally reaching the top.  What a view!! 

As you stand on the edge and look down, the clouds and mist slowly start to part.  Machu Picchu slowly begins to reveal herself to us.  You almost feel like your back in time with Hiram Bingham, discovering the site for the first time.  It’s really breathtaking.









An incredible thing started to happen as we watch the sun rise over the mountain across from Machu Picchu.  There were several wild  Llamas and Vicunas which had been grazing in the dim light, on top of Machu Picchu.  As soon as the sun started to come over the mountain, they stopped grazing, headed over to the edge, and stood there, watching, until the sun completely rose over the mountain.  I have never seen an animal watch the sun rise.  On one side you had a group of humans doing sun salutations as the sun rose, and on the other,  the animals in a sense doing the same.    After the sun was up, the animals went on their way.  I just watched them in awe.  It made me think of all the sunrises I had failed to stop and watch and appreciate.  Even the animals know and respect the power of the sun. 









The sunrise is spectacular and you can see why the Incas had several benches carved out of rock, facing the east, so their people could watch. 

Next we made our way back down into the site.  Here we able to see the Temple of the Sun and other sacred buildings.  The Hitching Post of the Sun, the sacred site where two times of the year, on the solstices, the sun is directly above the stone, is impressive.  Supposedly if you put your forehead on it, everything would be revealed to you.  Unfortunately, it has been getting too much wear, and is now  roped off.  You can still feel some energy.

We had a good 4 hours before the crowds came in after 10 am.  If you go with the set tour group you miss the sunrise, and you also get there when crowds are the biggest.  Fortunately for us, by the time the crowds came, we had made it through the site for the first time, and were going back to our favorite places.   The weather was fantastic, warm and sunny.  It was hard to believe it was this was their fall.  While there are lots of places to explore, it’s also great to sit and just take in the view.  No one is really sure what Machu Picchu was built for, very recently it was proposed that instead of a city, it was actually a pilgrimage site.   built as a pilgrimage, mimicking the Incas creation journey.  The Incas believed they were born of the Sun and Moon in Lake Titicaca, on the Peru Bolivian border.  From there they mingled with other humans and created the Inca race.  To the Incas, the Milky Way was a celestial river, and the Urubamba River below Machu Picchu is its counterpart.    Discovery Channel’s online site has a great explanation  This theory makes the most sense to us. 

Whatever the reason,  it’s a beautiful, peaceful place.  I wouldn’t say, aside from the sunrise,  that we felt an overwhelming sense of spirituality, but there was definitely a sense of peace and grace.   We were so happy to have been there, not only to see such a world wonder, but also for the fact that we did it together, as a family.  This was our own pilgrimage. 




mp1  Terraces at Machu Picchu


mp3  Looking down on the main site


mp4ajpg1  Temple of the Three Windows


mp8a  Main Plaza


mp12  The mountains surrounding are just spectacular




mp112 Sacred Rock carved to match the mountain in the background


mp10ajpg  Having a great time


Temple of the Sun (above and below)






mp151  Looking down into the valley below








mp231  Carved rock representing the constellation Southern Cross


mp24  Hitching Post of the Sun