Bobs Climb Of Wayna (Huayna) Picchu

As I intend climbing Wayna (Huayna) Picchu (“Young Peak”) I am up at 3.40am, get dressed (Allen is still a little crook and decides not to come) and head downstairs to the lobby. All is in darkness but suddenly the porter leaps up from a sofa around the corner where he had been resting, and pulling on his coat begins to organise the dining room. After a quick breakfast (too early for anything hot) I head down to the bus stop and join a queue, already numbering about 120. The buses don't start until 6.00am so we are standing in the dark (but its not cold). Eventually we are off and get to the top a short time later. Its then into another queue to get into the complex which doesn't take too long, and then following Leo's directions I take a direct route through the ruins which gets me to the entrance gate well before the mob (only 200 are allowed to climb) and I am in the first 30. At 7.00am the gate opens and after I sign in with name, address, time and signature, can head off. There are clouds on the tops of the higher surrounding mountains, and while the sun has just broken through there is still mist coming up from the valley, obscuring Wayna Picchu every now and then.

After heading downhill for several minutes I reach the saddle where the track splits with the left hand path heading towards the “Temple of the Moon” while straight ahead heading sharply up, begins the climb of somewhere between 45 to 90 minutes. Already I can see earlier starters higher up the trail which zig zags through the covering vegetation. Gradually I start to overhaul some of the slower ones and give them a little curry, suggesting that in view of their age they should be jogging up while old farts like me should be tottering (all in good fun) although I think some of them shouldn't be there – one Chinese in his mid 20's and weighing around 15 stone was sitting down gasping for breath and red as a beetroot. As I get higher, each view of Machu Picchu starts getting more and more spectacular. I eventually pass through a short section of Inca tunnel (requiring me to take of the day pack and do some crawling) and shortly after arrive at some Inca ruins and terraces.

However, not having much time up here (the others are sleeping in and will arrive at the site somewhere around 9.00am by which time I need to be back down) so I push on until I finally reach the final set of stone steps heading steeply upwards. As I stop on a ledge for a breather, someone is already there and we exchange comments re the climb (between panting). A young woman, Sandra, (well isn't everyone younger than me) is Mexican, down holidaying in Peru for a week mainly to visit Machu Picchu. After some final encouragement, I then push on and soon reach the top (Leo was spot on with his timings – he thought it would take me about 40 minutes which it did), there are 8 others already there, so I commandeer a prominent rock to sit on and appreciate the view.

If possible, the view is even better from this side as I can see the total site straddling both sides of the crest, including the full expanse of terraces covering almost half the total site, starting on the right hand side at the rear and extending downwards to the left (from my position). The quarry and buildings are also plainly laid out with the total complex completely outlined and highlighted by the surrounding vegetation. It also has the added attraction of very few visitors on the site at this hour, and early morning sunlight coming from the side.

By now the sun has almost burnt off the mist in the valley and apart from fluffy clouds on the mountain tops to the rear of the site and faint patches of mist passing between me and the site, the air is very clear, unlike yesterday when I could see the haze from Intipunku (The Sun Gate). I know that no matter how many photo's I take, they can't do the view justice, so I pull out my MP3 player, switch on some meditative music and sit in the sunlight, just soaking it all in. There it not a sound from my fellow travellers – I think they are all gob smacked with the view and the ambience. This would have to be the most spiritual moment of all my holidays (even the temple of Ramesses & Nefertari at Abu Simbel). In its hey day, isolated from all the trappings of modern civilisation with just natural sounds and the spectacular surroundings, I can see how the Inca would have believed they were in direct communion with their gods.

Sandra eventually arrives and I offer her a portion of my rock and we both just sit there taking it all in. Eventually I have to leave (I could have stayed there all day what with the company and the view) but I have arranged to ring Leo on a radio phone at 8.30am on my way down, so we could organise where to meet for his on-site presentation. Regretfully we exchange photo's and Email addresses, say our goodbyes and I head back down.

Obviously, other than having to take care on the steep parts (and very narrow steps) I make fast progress and half way down ring Leo & arrange where to meet. After we do meet, Leo takes us all on a 2 hour informative and descriptive tour of the site which fills in many of the gaps (more reading to be done when I get home). Then we are left to roam at will before we catch a bus to get us to the train back to Ollantaytambo. Shortly after, my last camera battery expires so I head off a little early so I can get a feed back down in Aguas Calientes (not having had much breakfast). On the way I run into Sandra who wants a joint photo which we get and then after a hug I'm on my way. She is also going back to Cusco tonight by bus, returning to Mexico tomorrow.

On the train trip back to Ollantaytambo we are entertained with a fashion parade by two of the rail staff in conjunction with some Peruvian fashion stores, which provides much laughter (I couldn't imagine this happening on Vline back home). We arrive back at Ollantaytambo where our bus picks us up, but straight away we are caught in traffic in a political rally in the town square and are unable to move for over an hour. Eventually we do get moving, arriving in Cusco well after dark. After ducking around the corner to a local restaurant for a quick feed (pizza) its off to bed for a well earned rest after a long day.