“And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” (Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist)
Seeing Machu Picchu has always been my dream. This magical Inca’s ruin is listed on the top 5 of my bucket list. I know it’s going to be hard to make it comes true, but not impossible.
Situated at high altitude (2,430m above sea level), Machu Picchu requires a fit physical condition. Not only to defeat Inca Trail or climb Huayna Picchu, but also to deal with altitude sickness. This pathological effect is caused by shortage of oxygen can be life-threatening . For me, the challenge is even double as I need to maintain the blood sugar in normal condition. The preparation started 7 months earlier by taking exercise to increase heart rate as well as keep monitoring my HbA1C and ferritin at certain level.
Planning the journey to Peru is quite different to other places. It is recommended to make itinerary based on the altitude level of a place, because it will give you time to do acclimatization (wikipedia: adjustment process to gradual changes in its environment). We spent 10 days in Peru, start from Lima in central Peru to Arequipa in southern Peru. Following is the itinerary:
Lima – fly to Cusco – from Cusco airport, take taxi to Ollantaytambo then ride the train to Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Back to Ollantaytambo by train continued with taxi to Cusco – Cusco – Cusco to Puno by bus – Puno – Puno to Chivay by bus – Chivay (Colca Canyon) – Chivay to Arequipa by bus – Arequipa – Fly back to Lima – Lima
Note: Most people spend couple days in Cusco from Lima before they go to Machu Picchu. The fact is Cusco situated at 3,400m above sea level, higher than Machu Picchu. Hence, it’s better to go to Calientes prior Cusco to do acclimatization.
After having +/- 35 hours flight from Indonesia, we stayed overnight in Lima before flying to Cusco. We decided to take train to Aguas Calientes from Ollantaytambo instead of Cusco, because that’s the only train that match with our flight schedule, and it’s cheaper! Aguas Calientes is a small village located 6km from Machu Picchu, the closest point to the site. The scenery along the journey from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes was amazing!
Monday, August 10th
It’s 2 AM in the morning and I’m already awake. I couldn’t sleep. The combination of jet lag, altitude sickness, and excitement really boost my adrenalin. As informed by bus officer, the bus from Aguas Calientes will start operate at 6 AM, but we need to be in the line since 4 AM. After having very early breakfast, we went to bus station. It’s 4.45 AM and the queue line was almost 1km. Our bus departed at 6.15 AM and 20 minutes later, we arrived at the entry gate of Machu Picchu. There are some regulations applied before entering the site: max 20L backpack is allowed to bring and no trekking pole unless someone has disability and really need it. If you are photography geek, no tripod and professional lens more than 200mm are allowed
To reach the view point (the place to take the legendary postcard picture), it took almost 30 minutes to hike. One of the most memorable 30 minutes in my life. Straight line wise, you have to hike from the bottom hut up to the highest hut, as seen in below picture.
The reality is you have to hike along the track. Well, it’s not as steep as shown in the picture, but still..the shortage of oxygen condition will challenge you to the limit. I did several quick stops to drink and eat chocolate bar. To maintain my blood sugar at certain level, I always chew candy along the hike. And finally…I did it! Every effort is paid off!
To have this magical ruin with Huayna picchu mountain towering in front of my eyes is beyond words. Speechless. How does it feel? I don’t know how to describe it. I’m so grateful to have this unforgettable experience with all my physical limitation. Alhamdulillah! For me, journey to Machu Picchu is a life example to believe that nothing is impossible. No matter what condition you have, when you want something, the universe will conspire to help you!
“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life” — The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
See the complete illustrated journey in Machu Picchu in my web album