After the worst day of my life, I had to get up on day 4 for the final day. The camp site was buzzing at 3:30am, so we could rush to the check point and so the porters could pack up camp and get on the first train back to Cusco. I got lost on my way back to the campsite from the bathroom and again broke down crying. Thankfully even in my non-existent Spanish and tears I could communicate with the porters from another group and they pointed the way back to my campsite. After arriving at the check point, we waited in the dark for about an hour before we are allowed into the “park”. We had a quick 6km “run” to the Sun Gate, so we could watch the sun rise over Machu Picchu.
The last 6km was just as hellish as the day before. I lagged it as usual, but at the same time, since I was last, I had to keep the groups behind us from running ahead of us. I was actually pretty good at it and only 2 people squeaked past me. But seriously, there is like no reason at all to run as everyone arrives at the Sun gate pretty much at the same time. All the tours arrange it so you have enough time to arrive when the sun comes up. But whatever. There is no changing the mind of crazy people. The last little bit was pretty painful that included something that I like to call the “monkey” wall because you are pretty much climbing up a 90degree angle wall. And then there is a quick perch to rest for a moment. And then the Sun Gate is right around the corner.
By the time I arrived at the Sun Gate, I was so tired. The view was so hazy, I didn’t even care. We stayed at the Sun Gate for a while before taking a slow hike down to the ruins, stopping to take tons and tons of pictures. But I was so tired, I could barely appreciate it at all. We moseyed on through the park, which was now open to the public and day visitors and exited to use proper bathrooms (hallelujah!!! Don’t forget to take the paper offered to you after you pay), grab some real food and store our backpacks (Tip: store your bags near the entrance, NOT near the bathrooms. It’s cheaper near the entrance). Anyone can also stamp there passport at the entrance. After cleaning our selves up a little bit, we reentered the park and our guide gave us an hour tour of the place. It was interesting, but I was so so tired, that I didn’t care as much as I should have.
After the sun came out and we were walking around, it got really hot, which didn’t help with the tiredness. Plus, once the day visitors arrived, the place got really crowded really fast. Between the heat and the crowds and there being so much stuff to see, it totally reminded me of Disneyland. After the tour, our guide gave us our bus tickets down to Aguas Calientes, the town where the train picks everyone up and told us to stop by a certain pizza place in town to pick up our luggage and make the afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo. The group dispersed and wondered around but apparently we all were on the same page as we all wondered our own way back to the entrance of the park and onto the bus down to town. We were all just too hot, too tired and too dirty to really appreciate everything.
After the bus ride back to town (US$8, but included in the price of the tour), we met up at a pizza place in town to get our bags and to eat lunch. I don’t know if it was just compared to what we had been eating for the last few days (not that it was bad) or I was just so tired, but it was seriously one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten. We had a while before the train was going to leave, so I wondered around town with some of the other people on the tour to check out the shops. The town was super cute. It’s like a one street, very touristy town. Every store is the same, so I got board after like 3 minutes since I didn’t really have an idea on what I wanted to buy yet. I went back to the restaurant and just hung out with the rest of the group until we made our way to the train station. That place was a tourist clusterfuck (watch your stuff!) but we got settled into the 1st class car in time. The train was really really nice with huge windows and a glass roof. It only takes you as far as Ollantaytambo and then we transferred to a minibus to get back to Cusco.
Moral: Since the end of the tour, I have told everyone, if you care about Machu Picchu and the ruins, don’t do the hike. By the time I got to the end of the hike, I didn’t care about the ruins at all, I just wanted to get back to civilization and eat normal, pee normal and shower. I know I didn’t take advantage of it all like I should have. I was also sort of ruine’d out between everything in the Sacred Valley and all the ruins we saw along the way. I am very glad I did the hike and so proud of myself for finishing in one piece, but when I talked to those who didn’t hike, I can see why they didn’t and now recommend not hiking to those that care about the end result because I did not.