The day started at 4am!
There are a couple of reasons for it, which are only hard to understand before you climbed it. The area of the ruins opens at 5.30 and everyone recommends to go there early morning, to avoid the tourist masses. Also the sunrise is around 6.30 which is supposed to look nice on top of it. The last reason is that we got a ticket to climb one of the neighboring mountains, which takes another few hours and the entrance is only opened until 11am.
So after the breakfast we headed to the entrance, in the dark with our headlights on. While most of the tourists take a bus up the mountain, we also went up walking, for the experience and because it’s 17 US$ for one trip. While the buses drive up some serpentines, the walking path consists of stone steps, straight up the mountain. Needless to say that we needed a few breaks, as well as all the others we met on this way, but we reached the top 1.5hrs after we left our hostel. Compared to other parks like Iguazu, the queue was quite short and moved fast, so that we could enter soon after we arrived.
On time for the sunrise, we stood at the place, where 99% of the pictures you see of Machu Picchu were taken. We spend some time there, went to an old Inca bridge and through the ruins afterwards. From time to time we listened to some of the tour guides to catch some random pieces of information about the ruins. When we arrived at some kind of sacred stone, the whole scenery got a bit ridiculous. 50 people were standing around, taking pictures of a medium sized stone and stretched their arm to “feel” the energy coming from the quartz within the stone (one of the random pieces of information). All of that got topped by a group of Asian tourists that lined up to get these pictures taken. One interesting fact: while knowledge of the English language in south America is, even at touristy places, usually not really high, at Machu Picchu we met Peruvian guides that spoke English, German, Chinese, Japanese fluently (as far as I could judge it for English and German and from how it sounded when they spoke other languages).
We went back around noon, when it started to rain a bit and we got hungry. The way down took us about half as long as the way up in the morning. In Aguas Calientes, we had a feed, went to the hot springs (that’s why the city is called Aguas Calientes), had dinner and fell asleep pretty early.