“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
Well, mine is 6,298 miles and more and my first step was a metaphorical one: I decided to go.
I can’t remember when I first considered going to Machu Picchu or that it was a place I intended visiting at some point in my life. I do remember having a passing fascination with explorers and generally discovering new uncharted territory. I remember watching a mini-series about Captain Cook and finding the whole thing, particularly the end (no spoilers here!) both amazing, exciting and terrifying. I also loved the old Doug McClure movies of undiscovered lands, usually inhabited by undiscovered dinosaurs (see: The Land That Time Forgot, Warlords of Atlantis, etc). And now, having cast my mind back, I also remember reading Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth and several Tarzan novels (I was also a big fan of the movies and the series). And the godfather of adventure Indiana Jones…
Although, these influences may point to my quest for an adventure, none particularly point to Machu Picchu, so just how did I end up here booking a trip to go there? The simple answer is that I do not have any idea why Machu Picchu became the place for me to want to go. Perhaps, as the most popular hiking trail in the world it crept into my subconscious and planted a seed there that would take me until the age of 35 to have the opportunity and the inclination to go for it.
I discovered toward the end of last year that 2011 could present me with an opportunity to realize this ambition. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice to say that I have the time and the money to spend on the trip and fantastic support from my girlfriend to do it, also knowing that the time and possibly the money might not be there next year or any year soon after that. I also had to think about my age and my health. I have always intended to hike the trail, rather than catch the train, because I also want to experience camping out in the wilds of Peru and to push myself physically and most probably mentally, so that reaching Machu Picchu would feel like a personal achievement. I think I am reasonably fit and I am trying to get fitter and all of my joints, etc are in good working order – if I waited until I retire or even a few years from now I may not be able to say the same and possibly the opportunity may slip away completely. And one dictum that resounds in my head, particularly from my journey across America, is “You only ever regret the things you haven’t done”, which I think may be paraphrased version of a Mark Twain quote (although it wouldn’t look out of place in the Baz Luhrmann Sunscreen lyrics).
I should also point out that I am doing this trip alone. I won’t go into the costs, but it is a significant amount. Therefore, you probably have to be very passionate about going to part with it. It is not something you would do an a whim. Plus other’s circumstances are different to my own and this really is a unique opportunity for me right now and I couldn’t imagine that necessarily fitting in with other’s. I have travelled alone before (3 months in America for new visitors to my blog), so a couple of weeks in Peru should be no problem for me, especially as I feel in better physical and mental shape than I was when I left for America.
So, having decided to go for it this year, I logged on to the internet to find my ideal trip itinerary…