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15 February, 2013

Arriving at Inti Punku the Sun Gate

Machu Picchu TravelFashionGirl
Machu Picchu Photo from TravelFashionGirl
As I mentioned in one of my previous posts - looking forward to 2013 - in a couple months time I will finally be able to scratch out the number one on my bucket list ... the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I'm so excited about this and I cannot wait till it's May. For so many years, I have been wondering how I would feel the last day of the Inca Trail ... arriving before sunrise exhausted but full of anticipation at Inti Punku - the Sun Gate - watching the sun come up and slowly see the wonder of Machu Picchu appear beneath me ... Because I will have to wait a couple more months before I have the answer to this question, I have asked a few fellow Travel Bloggers how they felt when they arrived at Inti Punka - the Sun Gate - after having hiked the Inca Trail.

Alyson from WorldTravelFamily

Alyson on the Inca Trail
Alyson from WorldTravelFamily on the Inca Trail
The fourth and final day of the Inca Trail had been the hardest for us. People tend to worry about Dead Woman's pass - the climb to 4,200m - we actually found the last day, downhill and hundreds of stone steps, to be the hardest. Downhill is very hard on knees and feet. We'd left altitude sickness behind in Puno, that had been a though couple of days. My boyfriend had been bed ridden with screaming headaches, he was over it for the trek although breathing was obviously harder than at sea level. We arrived at Inti Punku, the Sun Gate in the afternoon and there it was ... Machu Picchu. I'd like to say it was something I'd wanted to see since childhood, but that's not true but it was something I'd wanted to see since the travel bug bit me in my early twenties. Magnificent, the clouds broke for a few minutes and a shaft of sunlight lit up the ruins. We made our way down to a grassy field just above the site, my boyfriend took off his pack, rummaged around in it for a minute or so and presented me with a silver ring inscribed with the word ... Love. "Will you marry me?" he said. Yes ... I did !

Alexandra from TravelFashionGirl

Machu Picchu Photo by Alexandra
Machu Picchu Photo by Alexandra from TravelFashionGirl
Peru is one of my favorite countries and a big part of that reason is Machu Picchu. I'll never forget how it felt to experience mysticism of the ruins not once, but twice. The first time I visited Peru I did the Lares Trek on a solo adventure tour that didn't offer us enough time in the world to take in this ancient wonder. Even before you arrive and you go up the mountain you are filled with an out of this world feeling that is enhanced the second you walk into the Machu Picchu grounds themselves. Your eyes need a second to adjust and fully understand the majesty of what lays before them. If you arrive before the sun fully rises you are greatly rewarded. When the mist flows away and the entirety of the vision is revealed you gasp in awe at the beauty that lays before you. As the suns rays grow stronger and fully ascend over the mountain, you stand enchanted and all you can do is marvel at the glory of the mysterious Incan civilization. Machu Picchu is without a doubt, well deserving of its title as one of the seven world wonders

Curious Nomad

Curious Nomad hiking the Inca Trail
Curious Nomad on the Inca Trail
The last morning of our hike to Machu Picchu, we woke up around 3:30 a.m. because we had to make it to Sun Gate by sunrise. Our group quickly got ready and started hiking in the dark with flashlights I could only see a few feet in front of me. It was chilly that April morning. As dawn started to crack, we all got excited because we knew we were getting close. Everyone on the trail started hiking faster. The fresh air in the Andes filled my lungs. The trail was getting busy as everyone was rushing to beat the sun. Finally we made it to Sun Gate. There was a wall of steps or ledge we had to climb over before we could see Machu Picchu. The sky had a few clouds, but the sun shined brightly through over the ruins. I felt a glowing energy throughout my arms and body as I stared at Machu Picchu below with awe. It was magical

Shara from SKJTravel

Inca Trai photo SKJTravel
Inca Trail Photo from SKJTravel
My situation was complicated by the fact I’d contracted altitude sickness the day before and had spent that day puking in utter misery, yet determined to see this ancient wonder. So there was a part of me, when I saw the city for the first time, that said simply, “Oh yeah, this was worth it.” But more than that … there’s a romance about this “lost city” and a mystery that still pervades. I’d seen photos in books of the state of the place when it was first discovered, and the work involved in reconstructing many of the buildings stone by stone. So there was also a kind of pride in archaeology for resurrecting this amazing place. I wondered what the Inca felt in that spot as they came and left … were they filled with any kind of marvel, or did they take it for granted as merely another place, just like the fortresses we passed along the Inca Trail on the way to Machu Picchu. Everyone in our group was silent as we watched the sun come up, with our own contemplations. The thoughts above aside, which I worked through pretty quickly, mostly I tried to be quiet and empty of mind, to simply feel one with the past, one so fabled and renowned. That sounds so New-Agey, but it was the kind of experience best unfettered from verbal thoughts. I felt immensely fulfilled by an experience larger than words.

Shara hiking the Inca Trail
Shara from SKJTravel on the Inca Trail
     Haiku Peru - Machu Picchu by Shara
     ruins lay quiet
     stone steps and terraces yawn
     beneath white capped peaks
     width of history
     depth of human achievement
     strangling time with stones
     centuries gilded
     with secrets, sun gods, temples,
     caressed in jungle
     across verdant slopes
     terraces cascade cleanly
     stones fit precisely
     in between the stones
     delicate blooms christen great
     walls with nature’s laugh
     angel orchid dips
     her slender brow in the breeze
     yellow skirt shimmers

WoW apparently seeing Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate makes one very creative, romantic, speechless,  stunned, .... I wonder how I will feel once I get there ... counting down :-) Did you accomplish your number one on your bucket list? In case you did, how did it feel?

UPDATE May / June 2013:

I finally had my own Inca Trail experience and it was absolutely amazing:
Inca Trail Day 1 - Getting Started
Inca Trail Day 2 - Dead Woman's Pass
Inca Trail Day 3 - The Longest Day
Inca Trail day 4 - Arrival at Machu Picchu

Inca Trail Preparation and Packing List

Freya - Holiday Nomad, a Travel and Photo Blog


  1. Thanks for including me in your article! One of my favorite places in the world :-) Enjoy!

    1. Thanks for contributing :-) I cannot wait to have my own experience.

  2. When you hike the Inca trail the surface is uneven in many parts, so mind your step. Make sure to take a moment to look up at the mountains and sky to enjoy the views. It's an amazing journey. I'm happy that you will be there soon. If I go back, I will make sure to have energy and time to hike up to Huayna Picchu (little mountain).

    1. I will for sure, thanks ! I think I will give Huayna Picchu a pass after having done the Inca Trail :-)

  3. Freya, I think a hike like that would take a LOOONG time 'cause I would stop every 10 feet to take in the view. Wow!

  4. Freya, I think if you go you have to add a few days to the itinerary because judging by theses photos, I'd stop every 10 feet to take int he view. Wow!

    1. haha Maria, yes I think I will do the same both for taking into the view as well as for catching my breath ;-)

  5. Wicked
    We are super stoked for you!!!
    You will have an amazing time and to be able to cross such an experience off you your bucket list will make the travels that much more beautiful allowing you to soak up everything.
    Like so many things the wait will be just as exciting!!
    wishing you very happy trails.

    1. Thank you :-) Yes the wait is very exciting as well but just cannot wait till it's end of April/beginning May to all experience it finally myself :-)

  6. Wow breathtaking view I love it! My husband and I loves to hike too, we are just hours away from Appalachian Trail been here at East TN for a year now. I hope we can go for a hike this coming summer. Thanks for sharing your photos :)

    1. thanks for stopping by :-) Yes we love hiking as well and try to include hiking as much as possible in our trips.

  7. I am starting to wonder whether you are a full time traveler and work part time.

    1. haha no I have a full time day job. I'm really lucky that I have a good amount of vacation a year and that I travel sometimes as well for work. Other than that, since I live really central in Europe, a big advantage is that I can always go on city trips during my weekends :-).
      I only started really blogging about my trips last October or so, so I still have years of past trips to write about ;-)

  8. Awesome experience, we hope to get there as well next year. One of our must to do things when travelling :)

    1. It has been number one on my bucket list for years, so I'm very much looking forward to it

  9. This is certainly a moment that I want to experience too. What a great idea for a post too! It's interesting hear the various emotions each traveler had in that moment.

    1. Hi Suzy, thank you so much. I love to hear other people's stories as well.

  10. I'm the fiance involved in Alyson from World Travel Family's post. We've been happily married for 10 years now. That sort of trek is ceratainly a great way to find out if you can live together! Machu Picchu is awesome, breathtaking, enjoy your trip Freya!

    1. Hi James, thank you very much. I'm sure it will be great
      WoW that was incredibly romantic proposing on the Inca Trail, way to go :-)

  11. Nice view. I am fan of hilly areas and I love tracking. One can experience a real feeling of our nature. Some time these lonely places can provide you a good company.

  12. A friend of mine recently did this trail with his girlfriend. I can't wait for my turn.

    1. me neither :-) I'm counting down.

  13. Wow! Great stories!

    I've dreamt of seeing Machu Picchu since childhood (my parents said we couldn't go to Peru 'cause the situation with Sendero Luminoso in the '80s made it too dangerous), but I'd never considered hiking up there! Now I know how I want to visit it!!! ;o)

    Thanks for these wonderful and inspiring tales! I'm sure your experience will be just as fabulous! :o)


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Freya - Holiday Nomad