While we’re looking forward to seeing the world again, we’re looking back on some of our favorite travel memories. Here, our team shares their memories of visiting Machu Picchu, and why a trip to Machu Picchu is worth the wait.
As a wonder of the world, it’s no wonder that Machu Picchu makes it to a lot of travelers’ wish lists. It’s the kind of place you dream of going from the moment you learn about it. “When I was a kid I used to watch PBS all the time with my grandma,” said Paula. “One time they had some kind of special on Machu Picchu and it was my first time ever hearing about it or seeing pictures of it. It blew my little kid mind that such a place could exist and ever since that first time seeing it on my grandma’s little TV I’ve always wanted to go.”
If you’re thinking about it, take Steph’s advice: “DO IT. From the views to the history, it was just breathtaking. There is nothing like it in my opinion. And you can capture a selfie with a llama, what’s cooler than that?!
Of course, exploring an ancient site means you’ll learn a lot—like how the Incas built their stone structures, the hidden meanings behind each building’s shape, and more. “Everything was amazing,” said Evan. “One thing I learned that is somewhat surprising was that Machu Picchu was only rediscovered in the 1900s. It’s crazy to think of something so historical and monumental to only have been found roughly 100 years ago.”
Ani, too, was surprised by how such a unique place can teach you something new about the world. “I learned how geography can shape culture and bring similarities between people continents apart. It was fascinating how similar some of the traditions as well as some of the items of clothing of the Quechua village people were to the Himalayan village people.”
That first look at the ruins once you get up to the mountain? We’re not exaggerating when we say: it completely blows everyone away. As Kate said, “I did a two-day hike on the Inca Trail, and there’s a place on the trail where it was really steep and we’d been climbing and climbing and then all of a sudden I got up to the top, turned a corner, and there she was! It was such a dramatic reveal, and I immediately cried and had this burst of adrenaline, even though I was really tired from the climb.”
Joanna (who is a native of Peru!) had a similar feeling once she saw the site. “There was a pivotal moment when I turned a corner at the entrance and there it was in all its glory! It was one of the most heartfelt and patriotic moments I had felt. I was proud to be from Peru and so happy to be sharing such a personal moment with my traveling companions.”
Of course, it’s not just that first moment that’s wow-worthy—all of Machu Picchu has an extraordinary feel. “When we were at the site and a massive condor flew overhead,” said Greta. “According to our guide, condors were sacred to the Incas as the ‘connector’ between the people of earth, and the gods. As the bird soared over Machu Picchu, I felt that tingly sense of wonder that only comes from those extra-special moments.”
“For me, growing up with the dream of someday going to Machu Picchu always seemed like that—just a dream that was out of reach,” Paula said. “When I finally got the opportunity to go it was unbelievable to me and I still can’t believe I was there. It is truly one of the wonders of the world and after going I encourage everyone to see it for themselves. Even if it seems out of reach. Keep dreaming and it will happen.”
P.S. — Once you get the chance to visit Machu Picchu, don’t forget this tip from Arlena: “You can get your passport stamped with a special souvenir Machu Picchu stamp for free!”
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