Travel Regrets: The Inca Trail and the Sun Gates

With this post, I start another occasional feature on Hither & Yon. After much deliberation, I've come up with a truly clever title for the series: "Travel Regrets." Really sings, doesn't it?

The first travel regret I will share is from our 2009 trip to Peru, when we visited Arequipa, Cuzco, and Machu Picchu. The lovely Robin and I were dazzled by Machu Picchu, as everyone is. And we were breathless, too. Not only from the spectacular views, but by the arduous climb to the spot in a high altitude. So when our guide pointed to the portion of the Inca Trail leading to the Sun Gate high above Machu Picchu (you can see the trail in the photo above; the Sun Gate is also visible in the photo, as two little black protuberances at the top left, in the declivity between the mountain in the foreground and the peak behind it), we decided against the trek, which would have taken ninety minutes or more round trip. Sure, we were tired. Sure, it had already been a long day. Sure, we were breathing heavily. But I regret not taking that walk.

The Inca Trail (Camino Inca) is a four-day trek in the Andes mountain range, from Cuzco to Machu Picchu. We were at one end when we left Cuzco early that morning (in a cab) and at the other end as we toured Machu Picchu. The Sun Gates of Machu Picchu consist of those two stones perched at a narrow passage in the crevice of the mountain just above Machu Picchu. The sun shines brilliantly through this portal each day when it rises, which of course gives the pass its name.

I doubt that we'll ever have the opportunity to return to Machu Picchu (we plan to return to Peru, but hope to experience the Amazon River and/or Lake Titicaca then), so I have often kicked myself for missing that chance to hike at least that much of the Inca Trail and to stand in the Sun Gate overlooking Machu Picchu.

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