WARNING: You are about to see some unbelievably beautiful photos of the sun rising behind the mountains at one of the most magical places on earth. You may need to avert your eyes occasionally lest the sight completely overwhelm you.
We had spent a few hours already at Machu Picchu after hiking the Inca trail the day before, but we obviously couldn’t get enough. Even though we were extremely tired, we got up at 3 am (!!) to try and catch the first bus up to the archaeological site to see the sunrise. It seemed like the thing to do. This was confirmed when we arrived at the bus stop in the middle of the night and there was already a long line of people waiting to head up to the ruins. Even though I can probably count on one (ok maybe two) hand the times I’ve seen the sunrise in my life, it’s ALWAYS been worth it. At least that’s what I kept telling myself as I was shivering outside in the dark standing in a line for a bus that wouldn’t actually leave for another hour. Hey, at least our hotel gave us a *FREE lunch bag with breakfast to eat while we waited.
*Nothing’s free in life.
As we arrived at the park, the sun started peaking up over the mountains. What a glorious sight!
Since we managed to get on one of the first buses up to the ruins, we were able to take pictures without too many people there, which was great. It started to fill up with thousands of people later in the morning, though.
But those quiet moments overlooking the ruins as the sun was rising behind the mountains….was surely an experience I will never forget. 🙂
At this point, the sun has finally risen from behind the mountains and the ruins were drenched in the most the most beautiful morning light. We lucked out that we didn’t get a lot of fog and had clear skies. On most days, the top of Huayna Picchu is usually covered in clouds.
That’s me- contemplating how beautiful this place is. Looking out at the deep valley below and standing on the edge of a path with a 1000+ foot drop and no railings, I felt so tiny but at the same time…not insignificant. I felt like I was on top of the world looking down on creation… This was definitely a high point in my life. I was celebrating my 30th birthday – a milestone – with a group of family and friends on an adventure trip in South America. During this moment of reflection, I thanked God for creating such a beautiful world for us to explore. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the amazing experiences I’ve had in my life.
After a few history lessons and stories of legends from our tour guide, we were given the rest of the afternoon to relax. My sister and I found this nice spot to sit down and take a nap to recover from the early wake-up call.
So, is it worth it to wake up at 3 am to see the sunrise at Machu Picchu? I didn’t have a choice (it was planned that way by our guide) but for me, those quiet moments, photos without thousands of people in the background, those morning rays of sunshine–it was DEFINITELY worth it. It really is an amazing experience.
However, others may find that it can be a bit anticlimactic. There may be too much fog to really see anything and it’s not really a traditional sunrise. You can’t see the sun come up over the horizon because of the surrounding mountains that actually obscure it for awhile. So, if your train (or sleep!) schedule doesn’t allow it, don’t worry. The ruins are beautiful at any time of day, and maybe especially during golden hour, an hour or two before the park closes when the crowds start to thin out.