"It has been two solid months of backpacking South America. While the experiences I have had are beyond words, at this point, I am exhausted. This is usually the case by the end of a long trip. It is why often the last place that I visit in a string of places tends to be my least favorite. I am tired and hungry for food I am used to especially after the past two weeks in Bolivia.

As I exist the taxi in Ollyamtambo, I dumb my very heavy and very broken backpack that I have been lugging around for two months. I have been completely living out of its contents for a while now and let me just say, at this point everything in there should just be burned, I am passed the point of receiving help from a washing machine.

adventure, llama, and machu picchu image

As I sit atop my backpack on the side of the road, I take a moment to catch my breath before looking around to take in my surroundings. The town is small. Perhaps, town is to broad of a term. The landscape is green, very green. Not green like Patagonia had been. This is different. the only landscape I have seen like this has been in photographs of Vietnam or Souther China.

Is this Peru? Are we sure that we are in the right place? Our taxi driven had not spoken English and without internet access our sources of information were quite limited. As I look around, I spot a small cafe selling typical South American coffee which means it is much too sweet for my liking. More importantly, this cafe offers wifi. Time to research Machu Picchu.

It is the off-season which is working in our favor. If it had been high-season, we would have never been able to land train tickets to Aquas Callientes. Machu Picchu is remote. It's location is believed to be the entire crux of its existence. It was never meant to be found. With that said, the closest town to this ancient site is Aquas Callientes and it is just as remote and difficult to visit. The best and only option is via a train ride.

After booking tickets on Peru Rail for the vista dome class, we unload our backpacks into baggage and board the train. Sitting closest to the window, I cannot believe everything I am seeing. At some point, tea and a snack bar were placed in front of me, but I was too lost in the landscape to even notice. These are the tallest mountains I have ever seen and between the rock cliffs and the terraced farming, I am suddenly entering into a world unlike anything I have ever experienced.

Once entering into Aquas Callientes, we spot a small asian food restaurant that offers wifi. We commander a small spot in the corner of the restaurant where we research hotel options and bus tickets to Machu Picchu. This moment is typical of traveling and planning on the go. After securing a room at a near by hotel and purchasing a few of the last remains bus tickets for the following morning, I take a much needed shower and crash on the bed dreaming of what the following day will bring.

It is early, too early. I am not a morning person. I need coffee and food ASAP. Unfortunately, our hotel won't be serving breakfast until 7am, and it is 6am. Even if the kitchen was open, I already know what breakfast would be, over sugared coffee with cinnamon and a piece of toast. I am wishing desperately that I had packed more granola bars for this trip. A lesson I will be carrying into my future trips.

adventure, llama, and machu picchu image

I get dressed into my athletic clothes. It is cold outside, but I know my friend is planning to hike up and around the mountains of Machu Picchu as much as possible. I won't be cold then. As I make my way to the bus station, I notice the entire town is still sleeping. It is quiet and peaceful with the only hustle and bustle coming from other tourists like me making their way to their next adventure.

The bus is quite packed but comfortable enough for the next hour or so. As was yesterday, the landscape is stunning as we wind along the river and make our way to the base of Machu Picchu. With all of the tall tree canopies overhead and the grey clouds, it is difficult to make out exactly where the ancient site is in relation to our climb. Lucky for me, I had acclimated quite well to the extreme elevation changes in Bolivia. I didn't get elevation sickness then or now.

As we wind back and forth climbing higher and higher with every turn, I suddenly catch a glimpse of Machu Picchu. There are no words to describe everything I am feeling in this moment. Awe is perhaps the best that I can come up with. It is breathtaking. Stunning. Vast. Mind Blowing. It is everything I thought it would be and so much more.

Have you ever had moments in your life where you felt like you were walking through Disneyland? A place so unique and yet completely fake. This is what I felt looking out over this archeological site. How could this place be real? It couldn't be. I half expected to knock my knuckles on the stone walls only to be met with hollow sound coming from a fake stage like wall. But, as I run my hands over the ancient stones, I am suddenly taken out of my haze. This place was real. And, I am here. I am standing among the greatest archeological find of the last century, Machu "Pinch Me" Picchu.

adventure, llama, and machu picchu image

There are moments in your life that change you, humble you, and refine your character. For me, this was one of them. There are no words to describe the depth of gratitude I felt for this moment and the humility it brought. Machu Picchu is stunningly beautiful and immensely vast. Seeings the scope of what once was is deeply humbling and a reminder of how small I am in relationship to our large unbelievable planet. Go see it. Go touch it. Go let it change you."

xoxo, KB