Machu Picchu Hikes
The mountains were sacred to the Inca, and named as deities called “apus” (insert Simpsons joke here). A visit to this region of the Andes leaves little doubt why the peaks inspired such devotion. Besides their belittling beauty, the mountains divert and gather clouds while capriciously influencing the weather every hour.
Machu Picchu itself sits on a spit of flat land between two peaks, surrounded by dozens of other peaks. The best way to appreciate the severe landscape? Take a hike.
The very popular Inca Trail is a multi-day hike that has to be booked in advance by at least three months. We missed out. But you can hike to the Sun Gate of the trail to see the first view of the citadel for ancient pilgrims. And if you’re at the park in the morning, it’s fun to watch exhausted groups of hikers descend into the city.
To climb Huayna Picchu, you need a separate ticket that lets you in at one of two times. It’s a popular climb for an astounding view of the valley. If you want to leave the crowds, take the backside path to the Temple of the Moon. We saw no one for over an hour and got to channel the Hiram Bingham spirit along this quiet path.