I distinctly remember the first time I ever saw a photo of Machu Picchu. I was 17, flicking through the pictures of a friend that had visited Peru as part of their World Challenge, when I suddenly stumbled on an image of a place so stunning, so utterly different from anywhere I had ever seen before, that I could hardly believe it was real. Since then, I always knew that I would go there one day, and when it came to picking a destination for my year abroad, the possibility of fulfilling the dream was a very big part of choosing Peru.
Although a lack of funds and bad timing prevented me from doing the 4 day Inca Trail trek, my journey to Machu Picchu still felt like a pilgrimage, involving an 11 hour coach from Arequipa to Cusco, a 4 hour bus to Ollyantambo, a 2 hour train to Aguas Calientes and a 4am start for the first bus up to the ruins.
I knew it was going to be spectacular - Machu Picchu is, after all, the most photographed attraction in South America - but I wasn’t prepared for the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding forest and mountains, nor the haunting quality of the rainy-season mists. An incredible experience, a fantastic day. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.