MACHU PICCHU! Rain cascaded down onto me, as fellow poncho-covered backpackers from around the world powered up precipitous trails, surrounded by floating misty mountains. It was the rainy season, which brought its own allure of mystery and enchantment. A sudden humbling realisation rushed through my body as I walked those same long-winding, narrow stone cobbled paths and steep slippery steps as the Incan empire once did, which took around 100 years to build. The legendary 4-day trail leading to the archaeological world wonder, Machu Picchu, or ‘Old Mountain’ in ancient Quechua, an oral language still spoken by native locals today! The journey started at the puma-shaped city of Cusco, the religious-administrative center of the Incan empire. The arduous hike underwent dramatic transformations from Andean alpine terrains to damp cloud forests, with the dissipating mist revealing river valleys and terraced Incan ruins along the way, forming connecting stories between nature and its past people. We camped in different remote havens along the way, gazing silently at the majestic views, a reminder of life’s serenity. Damp, sweat-covered and sleep deprived, but the thrill of the destination triggered my fully awakened senses. As I climbed the final steps, the rising sun dispelled the foggy curtains, uncovering the sought-after panoramic view of the Machu Picchu citadel, erected at 2,430m above sea level, where we were greeted by tourists and llamas.
[excerpt from my ‘Snippets of a Nomadic Year: From South America to the Balkans‘ article published in F*Shift Magazine‘s Explorer issue, Oct 2016, pp. 40-41]
For a detailed low-down on how to plan your trip with tips on what to watch out for and things to not miss out, check out: Oh Snap! Adventures blog post!
Photography: Steven Lopez (instagram: @eslopez128).