Waking up at 4 in the morning on my dad’s birthday was worth its effort to get some looks at the famous Machu Picchu without hoards of other tourists in our view. We had arrived in Aguas Calientes, also now known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, the night before via train from Ollantaytambo.
We grabbed a quick breakfast and were in line by 4:45am for the half hour bus that takes you to the entrance of Machu Picchu. The buses don’t start running until 5:30am and Machu Picchu opens at 6am, so we waited.
It was a dreary day with rain spritzing on us, not ideal for our probably once-in-a-lifetime look at the old Inca ruins that are famous worldwide. That didn’t remove the sheer awe I felt walking into the old city and catching my first glimpse.
We just stood there and took it in, watching the clouds pass and return, casting their shadows across the meticulously maintained grounds of the old scholarly grounds of the Incas.
A couple of hours later, more groups began to arrive and the clouds had completely eliminated any such view of the city. Then I heard a huge collective gasp followed by claps and cheering as I looked out on the now-clear expanse of bright green lawn and the remains of the city that once was. Being a part of that collective appreciation of beauty and history (and cloud-clearing) caused emotion to well within me and soon my vision was blocked again, this time by my own tears.
We sat, we snacked, we snapped lots of photos, and we hired a guide for more background information. We walked out to the Inca Bridge and then climbed to the Sun Gate to look out over the masterpiece from a distance.
In the afternoon as it was nearing our time to grab our train back to Cuzco, the sun decided to come out and the skies cleared up, giving us quite a spectacular view to carry in our memories from our visit to Machu Picchu.