Friday, June 3, 2016

Machu Picchu, I Choose You


        We, of course, saved the best weekend trip for the final part of our maymester where we visited Machu Picchu. This is perhaps the most well-known attraction of Peru, where people often say they aspire to “climb” Machu Picchu. While you have the option to actually climb up the 2,000 stairs to Machu Picchu, I was shocked we were able to take buses directly to the base of the Incan ruin. As it turns out, the majestic and mountainous image of Machu Picchu is actually filled with tourist accommodations such as the busses, a hotel at the base, as well as a restaurant. While these accommodations I’m sure increase tourism rates, do they also take away from the natural beauty of a phenomenon like Machu Picchu?
            My answer would be yes, of course. Initially, I thought I was ill prepared to hike something like Machu Picchu, but as it turns out my lulu lemon and barely used hiking shoes looked much more intense than many other tourists. I saw couples with young children, teenagers in converse, and even a woman in heeled boots with a leather jacket on. These outfit choices were far from the intense hiking apparel I expected to see at Machu Picchu. I attribute this change primarily to tourism, and the increasing accessibility to Machu Picchu with the help of busses and hotels. The part of our visit I found most similar to my expectations was our hike up to the Puerta del Sol. This 45 minute hike featured not only the most beautiful views, but was scarcely filled with tourists. It also gave us a preview of the end of the Inca Trail, which is perhaps the least touristy part of Machu Picchu as a whole.

            Reaching the Puerta del Sol was not only a physical accomplishment but also a true treat. I got to experience Machu Picchu like I imaged it in my head, as a natural phenomenon with stunning views, few people, and a completely silent atmosphere. For me, this was the most amazing part of our visit because it didn’t involve the touristy aspects of Machu Picchu which I believe take away from the experience as a whole. 

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