Nothing compares to the serenity of peering through the Sun Gate, overlooking the magnificence of Machu Picchu, after a grueling five-day trek. The last section of the climb is incredibly steep, wearing down joints and cartilage that already ache from the precipitous decline the day prior. The arduous trek involves hiking 12-15 km per day. The number of kilometers is misleading, as the climb is either straight up or straight down. Trekking poles are a must, especially with hours of steep stairs that descend into the valley on the second to last day.
The company we booked our trek through provided more of a “glamping” experience than we had anticipated. We slept in regular tents in our sleeping bags, but we had full three course meals cooked daily. The food was incredible and full of the necessary carbohydrates and protein to get us through our hikes. The porters were the most generous souls, stopping their daily activities to clap for us as we passed. Considering that they complete this trek weekly with nearly five times the weight on their backs, their encouragement was humbling and inspiring.
Peru’s mountains and glaciers are stunning. Viridian and fern intertwine with Brunswick green flowing down the mountain face, with glacial summits peeping through in the distance. The slate and sepia speckled ruins camouflage into the hill faces, noticeable only to the trained eye. The mystical sites were protected for hundreds of years from foreigners’ glances, harboring the sacred beauty of the Incan people among the hidden crests and valleys of the mountains. Magic flows through these divine and sacrosanct relics of an indigenous population destroyed once again by human hands.
The Incas believed that their king, the “Sapa Inca,” was the son of the Sun. Those who obeyed the moral code during their short stay on earth would bask in the Sun’s warmth in the afterlife. The sun is such a powerful and remarkable life source, and the Incan tradition of worshiping the sun, similar to the Wiccan tradition of celebrating the cycles of the sun and moon, is beautiful.