The Wayna Picchu Challenge

There was a considerable line at the entrance of Wayna Picchu, the young mountain that looks down on the lost city of the Incas from its 360-meter peak. I’m guessing the Machu Picchu altitude of 2430 meters is calculated with Wayna Picchu’s contribution.

The people that had just ended the descent showed enormous signs of fatigue. I saw a Brazilian friend I met the day before sitting down at the far end. He signaled a hello almost without moving. He had just finished his trek. Beside him was a group recovering their energy, eating and drinking.

I looked around and saw people that were going to do the climb dressed as if they were ready for a stroll at a shopping mall. I was well equipped with trekking shoes and trousers. Others were wearing All-star shoes and jeans. In front of me, an Asian group was taking pictures next to the gate. Behind me, a Brazilian group was chatting.

I showed my ticket and passport and left my autograph in the guest book that controls entry and exit from the trek. I was ready for the Huayna Picchu hike.

View from Wayna Picchu
View from Wayna Picchu

The final climb is a little surreal. You go through a dark and narrow cave. The way out is so narrow I had to take off my backpack to make it through. On the other side of the cave is the reward. Big boulders that make up the top of Wayna Picchu, from where the view to the sacred valley is amazing!

A light rain was the sign I needed. It was time to start getting out of there. The beginning of the descent is a different path than the way up. You don’t go through the cave, but the path is worse and more dangerous. You walk down the mountain without any type of side protection.

Some of the paths are crazy! Rock on my left side, nothing on my right. To make things more dramatic, not only was the path wet and slippery from the rain, I suffer from vertigo. I went pass a lady sitting down. She was going step by step aided by a Peruvian guide. Behind me, a Spanish man tried to calm his partner by saying it was ok, without disguising his nervousness.

Things got worse when the rain decided to go crazy and keep us company. I finished tired and wet and had mixed feelings. The climb is hard, the descent is frightening. I just wanted to get out of there, dry myself, eat and rest. The coffee esplanade just outside the Inca’s lost city seemed like a good place to be my headquarters, where I waited for the rain to stop.

I waited for quite a while, savoring a coffee. The line to catch the bus back down to Aguas Calientes started to be out of proportion, but it wasn’t yet an option for me. Patience is a virtue, so I waited. I had a few circumstantial conversations. Then I waited some more, with the hope of going back into the lost city.

It then hit me. I became aware of the epic accomplishment it was to climb Wayna Picchu and I felt so happy! It took me a while to understand the privilege of seeing Machu Picchu from above.

Travel Wayna Picchu
Travel Wayna Picchu

After waiting for almost an hour, my persistence was rewarded as it stopped raining! With no hesitations, I walked back inside Machu Picchu looking for the perfect spot. I wanted a good perspective of the complex. The quarry seemed a perfect choice. It was inside the city high enough to give me a view of all the splendor of the ruins, with Wayna Picchu in the background. The perfect postcard picture.

The rain actually worked in my favor. Most of the tourists abandoned the Machu Picchu ruins, leaving me with the feeling I had them all to myself. I sat on a rock, placing my DSLR Nikon D5100 camera in my backpack and putting on my earphones. Ironically, to the sound of Arcade Fire’s Funeral, the city came to life! I swear I saw the Incas in their daily routine! My family and best friends also decided to join me. They keep showing up every time I have peaceful moments, so I’m never alone. They’re following me around the world, active in my travel stories. I got lost in my thoughts to the point that I stopped thinking, almost in a state of meditation. My time travel ended when the music stopped. I was overwhelmed and thankful for the privileged life I have.

On my way out, I took a last look over my left shoulder and felt a strong emotional goodbye. On the trip back to Aguas Calientes, it took me a while to get back to a normal emotional state…

Please like and share:

Leave a Reply