Machu Picchu, Inca City – Part 2 : Is Machu Picchu Worth It?
On our travels through South America, we heard mixed reviews about the “Seven Wonder of the World” – Machu Picchu. The negative reviews along with the high costs associated with visiting this famous Inca ruin poses the question, is Machu Picchu worth it?
This is a hard question to answer with a simple “yes” or “no” as each person you speak to will answer differently. So instead of me just saying “yes, Machu Picchu is worth it for sure” I have written out a descriptive story of about my first time visiting Machu Picchu. I hope my story inspires you to check out this Wonder of the World for yourself!
A 4am Wake-Up Call
Our last day had arrived and it was time to lay our eyes on the great Machu Picchu. The town of Aguas Calientes was silent – it was 4am and only a few dogs roamed the streets in search of an early morning meal. When we arrived we were first in line at the bus stop to catch the bus up to Machu Picchu. Believe me, it was worth the early wake-up call, not more than fifteen minutes later the line was hundreds of meters long and still growing.
We sat waiting for the bus until we were met with Carlitos’s giant smile through the crowds, he was shocked that we were first and he celebrated (even bragging to the other tour guides of our achievement.)
The first bus arrived and we pilled in and headed up the windy road to Machu Picchu. It was still slightly dark when we first walked through the gates and we headed off to start our tour with our tour guide, Carlitos.
Touring Machu Picchu
As we walked along the grassed terraces previously used for farming, fog drifted over the Inca ruins giving an eerie feeling of what life was like for them years ago. We began walking through the daily living quarters, learning about the different classes in their society. From the construction workers to the Inca royals, everyone had a place in this beautiful city.
Carlitos took us to a temple inside the ruins, but this was not a site I expected to see. The ‘Ruin’ in its original form (untouched by the repair teams that work to restore the site) was in perfect condition other than the roof which rotted away over time. Rock blocks were carved so perfectly – as if modern-day methods were used. The blocks were placed on top of one another, sitting at a perfect angle inwards to survive the many earthquakes over the years.
Fountains that are spring-fed from the mountain still showered the ground below allowing you to experience yourself the great engineering of the Inca empire. Terraces allowed the growth of crops, spring-fed water gave life to the crops and supplied drinking water to the mountains habitats, and the rock from the mountain created the building blocks for their homes.
This was a self-sustainable city, fit for the most important people of the Inca empire in a location so remote and unsuspecting that it was never found by the Spanish some five hundred years ago. It wasn’t until about four hundred years later that it was first discovered.
Carlitos went on to show us other parts of the ruins, explaining how everyday life was for the Incas. Although a lot of information is not known about Machu Picchu, it’s clear that it was a city built for the mountains and the earth that they worshiped. A place where important people came at important times in the Inca calendar to witness or participate in religious rituals.
As our tour concluded, the hot sun had burned off the surrounding fog and at last, we could witness Machu Picchu in all its beauty.
Exploring on our Own
We headed up to Machu Picchu Mountain and were met with a breathtaking view from above. The sun lit up the city giving it a beautiful green glow to the grass that gave shape to the many courtyards and terraces. From above, the many people below seem to disappear as they were sheltered by the many houses and temples below.
We seemed to have the place to ourselves and this was a perfect moment of peace away from the large crowds.
Moving further around the ruins, we had been informed of a neat walk along some of the original Inca Trail that led to a five-hundred-year-old bridge. The path was located on one side of Machu Picchu mountain.
The path was located on a straight drop to the valley below, but somehow it was flat below our feet, rocks simply placed atop one another that grew to two meters wide in parts. Over the edge, the bottom of the path continued down to form part of the cliff face, this was sometimes ten meters in depth until it was met with a small projection of rock to bear its weight.
Machu Picchu’s engineering feat was seemingly shadowed by a path built simply to visit the city.
The path moved along the face of the mountain for about three hundred meters before the bridge, this was as far as we were allowed to walk as it simply became too dangerous. The cliffs went steeper and the path became more narrow. The consequences of a small lapse in concentration became deadly and the paths stability appeared weathered over the years.
After completing the trail to the Inca Bridge it was time for us to leave. Along the short walk to the exit gate, I protested that this was my most astonishing moment in the Inca site, something I would never forget and an amazing way to finish the experience of hiking Machu Picchu.
Reflecting on the Day: Is Machu Picchu Worth it?
Was visiting Machu Picchu an exhausting experience? Yes, four days of walking the Salkantay Trail was a lot of work. But that being said, the final day exploring Machu Picchu wasn’t too bad. We took the bus up and walked down and it was completely manageable. Plus, the effort to get to Machu Picchu makes it even more special when you finally get there!
Was Machu Picchu flooded with tourists? Yes, but that is to be expected with the “Wonder of the World” status the Inca site has earned. However, now (as of July 2017) numbers of visitors are limited into time slots and visitors can only explore with a guide. This reduces the number of tourists running around wildly taking pictures.
And now, the most commonly asked question…
Is Machi Picchu Worth it? Absolutely! It may be touristy and somewhat overpriced, but any trip to Peru simply isn’t complete with visiting Machu Picchu!
I was surprised with how much I actually enjoyed my day at Machu Picchu. I was in awe at the stonework – the Inca’s were engineering geniuses!
I personally think it is a “Wonder of the World ” that is worth the hype!
But, the truth is, if you are asking the question “is Machu Picchu worth it” then wouldn’t you rather go and answer the question for yourself rather than wondering if you should’ve gone years later?
Traveling more in Peru? Check out our other posts!
- Colca Canyon
- Cusco: A Backpackers Guide
- The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu: Our Story
- Lima: So Much More than Just a Big City
- Complete Guide to Huaraz
- Hiking in Peru: Everything You Need to Know
- Highlights of Peru to Help you Plan your Trip
- Our Peru Photo Gallery
- Working in the Peruvian Jungle