Since the Trail from Wiñaywayna to Machu Picchu (and this is the real Inka Trail) continues to be at a high elevation, the views were stupendous. It was also nice to know that we were in the Machu Picchu reserve in plenty of time and that we had no more really steep terrain to traverse. Although this section of the Trail definitely fits our guide's description of "Andean flat"—which means a lot of up and down, so there was still some climbing involved. But although there were some rocky steps, there was also some truly flat ground, which was quite welcome after the previous steep section.
These two pictures will give you an idea of how far we had come. First, the terraces you can see down below by the river are those at Choquesuysuy, which it seemed we had passed a long time ago. And then there is a look at Wi˝aywayna from a viewpoint near the end of the trail. The light-colored spots on the hillside are the tents of those hikers who were spending the night there prior to heading for Machu Picchu in the morning.
As you can see from the following pictures, the clouds were low and some of the views were a bit hazy, but we surely were glad for the cloud cover. Without it the hike would have been hotter and therefore much more difficult.
And rather than spoil the views, the mists and clouds made them even more impressive...
Here are some pictures that can serve to remind you how lush the forest is in this area of the Andes...
Here is another look at the Trail. Joan and Kathy might be looking out at the Urubamba RIver here, far below in the valley. We've climbed that far?
At one point during this section of the hike Hernán, our wonderful guide, tried to convince us that they had filmed Lord of the Rings in Perú. Of course he didn't know we had a New Zealand expert in the party, not to mention some LOTR experts. Joan did comment, however, that the views we were seeing reminded her very much of her Kiwi treks.
Hernán warned us well ahead of time that the last bit of the Trail before we could see Machu Picchu was very steep, so at least we weren't surprised by this. And, we knew that our goal lay just beyond it, which made it a little easier to manage. Still, it felt a bit like a final test we had to pass before being allowed to see the wondrous place that is Machu Picchu.
Click here to see reward we got for all our hard work, the "holy grail," as it were—Machu Picchu!
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All photos, unless otherwise credited, are © by Henry J. Amen III. Please do not use without permission