Peru South America Travel

Sundays at Machu Picchu

July 22, 2016

To say that visiting Machu Picchu has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember would be a bit of an understatement. Anytime I would come across an article the site in National Geographic or would see a picture of the ruins on instagram, I would be flooded with both a hintΒ of jealousy that I wasn’t there in person myself and also a feeling of wanderlust that made me want to pack my bag and catch the next flight down to Lima, Peru.

After days of hiking out in the literal wilderness of the Peruvian countryside, where I’m pretty sure I interacted with more horses than humans, we finally made it to our final destination–Aguas Calientes. Located at the bottom of the mountain far below Machu Picchu, it’s easy to see how the Inca site could have been forgotten about for so long. You can’t see the ruins from the city and I can only imagine how difficult it would have been to get up to the top back in the day (luckily visitors now have the luxury of taking a 15-20 minute bus ride up to the entrance gates).

Brimming with excitement, I went to bed and dreamed of exploring the ruins and hiking up Huayna Picchu first thing in the morning… Only to wake up the next morning to pouring rain and fog so dense that it was impossible to see even 20 feet in front of you. Stressed and upset thanks to my Type A-traveling personality (sorry mom!), I fretted the entire morning as we made our way up the mountain.



The fog finally began to clear while we waited to climb up Huayna Picchu, which has two entrance times in the morning that are limited to 200 hikers each, and as the sky became brighter and brighter, so did my mood until I couldn’t wait to race up to the top.



Which, lol jk, definitely didn’t actually happen because I’m not very fit and kept having visions of myself falling off the side of the mountain.


Our first clear view of Machu Picchu came when our group was about halfway up to the summit of Huayna Picchu. I must have sounded like a total idiot at every switchback because every time I looked back at the view below us, all that was coming out of my mouth was “Wow!” and “Can you believe that?!” as I waved my arms around wildly.


Not great vocabulary for someone who prides herself on having won the school spelling bee in 5th grade, but it’s incredible difficult to come up with words to describe such a beautiful site! Next time I’ll bring a thesaurus along with me and look up synonyms for ‘awesome’ haha.


Tbh, the photo below really doesn’t do justice to just how steep this staircase was. It was literally so steep that our tour guide told us to keep our heads bent down because if we looked up, we’d fall backwards… Definitely not for the faint of heart or for someone who isn’t a fan of bear crawling their way up a mountain!



Once we got to the top of Huayna Picchu, the view was even more amazing than I could have ever imagined. And so to commemorate, I took many, many touristy pictures to commemorate the fact that I’d made it to the top and wasn’t just stealing pictures off of google.


Because you know what? There’s nothing quite like being on top of a mountain to remind you just how small you are in comparison.


With the sun beating down on us, we made our way bak down to Machu Picchu to join up with the other half of the group who had opted to hike Sun Gate, which I was going to hike later that day.


We toured the ruins and listened to the fascinating history behind its existence. We don’t really know much about Machu Picchu, which is actually the Quechua phrase for “Old Mountain” since the true name has been forgotten over the years, and so a lot of the sites and their significances are up to speculation.




But even without concrete historical knowledge, it’s so easy to see why the Incas would have revered Machu Picchu as a holy site. You’re basically walking around in the clouds,Β which gives the site a heavenly aura to it.



I snapped way too many pictures while we were touring around like the typical tourist I am, but no shame.


The mountain in the background is Huayna Picchu, which was the mountain we hiked up earlier that morning! Looking back, it was probably a good thing that it was so cloudy or else I would have been pretty intimidated by the hike before we even started!!


Wanting to see Machu Picchu from all angles, a few of us hikedΒ our way up to Sun Gate. And by “hiked,” I mean that I practically ran up the path since I was with two tall people. Oh the joys of being petite with a short gait!



While we did have the iconic view of Machu Picchu from Sun Gate, we all agreed that we liked the view from our first hike that morning since there were less people crowding the area.

But with a view like this, who really cares about whether you’re getting pushed around a bit!




We wandered back down to the main site and took our time to walk around the ruins for a little bit. There aren’t any markers that explain the various ruins, which means that we had to be a bit creative when it came to guessing what the different buildings and rooms might have been used for 500-1000 years ago.




Honestly, the only thing that I would have changed about our day at Machu Picchu is that I would have liked to see more llamas haha. Other than that, it was everything that I could have ever dreamed of and more!

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  • Oh wow – the scenery is incredible!

    Candice | Beauty Candy Loves

    • Machu Picchu was so gorgeous!

  • reneejessome

    This is honestly amazing!! You are so lucky you were able to experience this!!

    Renee | Life After Lux

    • I counted my every blessing when we were hiking our way up Huayna Picchu!

  • Wow! What an amazing experience! Your photos are beautiful!

    Doused In Pink

  • What an amazing experience this must have been, now you have me wanting to go and I never really thought about it before. Peru was never on my list of must travels, I honestly never knew about all of it’s beauty! That hike must have been such a workout, I’d definitely enjoy that! However, I don’t know how I would’ve felt about being told not to look up because I might fall back, that’s so scary, haha! Isn’t it amazing how they’ve mastered these techniques in navigating the mountains!? My husband is from Guatemala, though it’s in Central America, I find that there are many similarities in their architectures and landscapes. I’ve never been, but want to go there as well! Thanks so much for sharing, beauty, and I hope you have a great weekend ahead!



    • Not being able to look up while climbing up that one part was so scary!! I’ve always wanted to explore more of Central America, and I think that Belize is next on my travel bucket list!

  • What a wonderful hike to this heaven! Your photos are extraordinary! Thanks for sharing this special place. I feel like I was there with your descriptions. So glad I didn’t miss this post. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you! We really did hike up into the heavens!

  • What an amazing experience and your photos are fantastic! Machu Picchu was already on my travel bucketlist and your photos have made me want to go even more! (only I’m a bit scared of heights so I’m not sure if I will be able to hike up, especially if I might fall backwards!)
    Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend
    Julia x

    • Hiking through Machu Picchu was so amazing! I definitely wouldn’t recommend climbing Huayna Picchu if you’re afraid of heights, although the view is totally worth it in the end!

  • Violette

    Wow!! It looks amazing!

  • WhatWouldVWear

    OMG! Courtney, these pics are breathtaking! I always wanted to viist Machu Picchu! It’s incredible! Glad you’re having the best time! Safe travels!

    xoxo, Vanessa

    • Machu Picchu is definitely one of my favorite places I’ve ever visited! And now I’ve caught the travel bug for South and Central America!

  • Jenny Plog

    I’ve heard so many amazing things about this place. The pictures are amazing truly breath taking. Thanks for sharing.

    • Machu Picchu definitely exceeded all of my expectations!

  • Biana Perez

    What an incredible adventure and even more so are your stunning photos! I’m sure there are memories that you made while climbing to the top that made it amazing! xo, Biana –BlovedBoston

    • Thank you! Machu Picchu was so incredible!

  • The more I’ve read about Machu Picchu in your blog posts the more I’d love to visit! And the pictures and the way you decribe it is just so lovely and makes me want to visit it in person! Xx

    • Much Picchu definitely exceeded all of my expectation, even though I definitely spent a lot of time beforehand checking out blogs and instagram posts about it and Peru in general!

  • Love it! Machu Picchu is super high on my list. I majored in Anthropology in college and this was one of the sites we studied a lot

    • A bunch of my friends in college majored in Anthropology so they loved all of the pictures I sent to them. The ruins were absolutely fascinating!

  • These photos are stunning!! Sounds like an incredible experience!


    • Thanks!! Machu Picchu was absolutely incredible!

  • ALY

    Wow breathtaking place. Amazing travel diary.

    <3 | X ALY | Latest: Butterfly Dress feat Gamiss Style Post

  • Your photos are so pretty! I did the Sun Gate hike too although I was too chicken to do Huayna Picchu. The view of the ruins is something special for sure!

    xx freshfizzle

    • The hike up to Sun Gate was so gorgeous, and plus you get such an iconic view of Machu Picchu from the top!

  • Incredible adventure!!! Thank you for sharing…your pictures are so beautifull

  • Neha 14wow

    Your photos are so beautiful…xo, Neha

    • That’s so sweet! Thank you!

  • That’s amazing! On a scale of 1-10, how hard was the hike? Angharad x

    • I would say that the hike was probably about a 6/7, although the severe humidity was almost the worst part haha.

  • Vettae-Fee Kling

    What a nice day ! loved all these nature pictures πŸ™‚
    XoXo – Vettae
    New post | Simply Vettae

  • Machu Picchu is so fascinating to me as well and these photos are unbelievable Courtney! I can’t even imagine what a powerful feeling it must have been to see it for the first time through the fog. What an incredible experience!

    • It’s so hard to put into words how exactly I felt as the clouds parted for the first time, but the best description is probably “awe.” It was such an amazing day!

  • Milica

    Lovely post! Maybe we could follow each other on GFC and instagram @djonovic_milica? If yes, follow me and I follow back as soon as I see it.
    Let me know with a comment on my Blog


  • Carina Vardie

    Stunning pictures! I’m glad you finally got to live your dream and have this unbelievable experience.


    • Getting to hike Machu Picchu was definitely such a dream for me! I can’t wait to cross off more places on my travel bucket list!

  • Holy guacamole! What a beautiful sight. I cannot wait to one day venture to Machu Picchu, but until then I’ll have to look at your photos. :]

    // β–² β–²

    • Getting to explore Machu Picchu for myself, after years of pinning pictures online and reading about the site in travel magazines, was such a dream!!

  • I also get so jealous when I see in Nat Geo a picture of an amazing place but I get more jealous of you because you actually went! I heard somewhere that the ruins where closed because they were getting damaged, I guess it was a myth. Lovely images Courtney!

    My Vogue Style |

    • I actually went on my trip with National Geographic, which was funny because I used to save articles from the Nat Geo magazine about Machu Picchu! They have certain arts roped off, but otherwise it’s open to visitors.

  • Oh my goodness, how cool, this looks awesome!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

  • Wow what an experience! I love your photos! =)

    – Cielo
    Mermaid in Heels

  • Molly Hogan

    It’s always been my dream to visit here! Hope you had an amazing time!



    • I hope that you can make it down to Peru sometime soon! Machu Picchu was such a dream!

  • wow!!!!!! what the beautiful place, it’s amazing. I love these place, you are very lucky to visit these place.
    β™₯ β™₯

    • Machu Picchu was so amazing and it’s still hard to believe that I actually made it down there!

  • Mary

    You made it to the top! Good for you! These pictures are so beautiful, and I’m sure you’ll remember this trip always!

    Love, Mary

    • Thanks! Was pretty proud of myself for making it to the top, and the view was totally worth the exertion!

  • Dylana

    Looks so so amazing!


    • Machu Picchu was so incredible!

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