Wait--what is Machu Picchu?
In 1911, British adventurer Hiram Bingham mistakenly thought it was the lost jungle refuge of the last Incan emperor. More recent evidence however, including the discovery of a similar structure (Choquequirao), leads us to think it was a vacation estate for the emperor.
In other words, Machu Picchu was the equivalent of the American president’s Camp David--only way cooler, obviously.
My friend Ben and I (hi Ben!) started our hour hike up the steep trail from the Urubama river.
We arrived at around 7:30, when the mist of the cloud forest still hid the ruins from our view.
While waiting, we hiked to see the Inca drawbridge. Built on a dizzying cliff, no one can cross it anymore after a tourist fell to her death a few years ago.
As the morning went on, the site emerged bit by bit.
Finally, we could see all of it:
Machu Picchu, and even more so its surrounding views, definitely live up to the hype.