Among the Apus
I was sitting on top of mount Machu Picchu, 3361 m above sea level, exhausted and exhilarated from the climb. My muscles were buzzing and my feet brushed the short grass of the landing where I perched to rest. I bit into my apple, as I watched the neighbouring mountain tops glimmer in the min-morning sun. All of a sudden, I noticed a hummingbird fluttering by some mountain flowers, just a few feet away. Filled with joy and admiration, I recognized what the locals say about the mountains. It is a place where we connect to the divine.
For the Andean people, the most important representatives of the Spirit World are the Apus. These are the Light Beings that live on the mountains. The Apus are part of the Upper World, but they are linked to us in this world, and people “talk” to them daily. It is believed that the Apus are of male energy. They are like wise and caring grandfathers who can teach us about the cosmos. Their male energy complements the nourishing energy of the earth, the Pachamama.
Indeed, the energy of the mountains at Machu Picchu is remarkable. There is a deep sense of serenity. It makes you move slowly, calling your attention to everything in that moment – the way the sun rays fall onto the ancient rock; the way the air smells clean and sweet; the way the majestic silence of the mountains muffles the rhythmic footsteps of the visitors.
As you step in, it quietens your mind and instantly fills you with wonder.
And then there are the wondering llamas…
Hiking to the top of Mount Machu Picchu
As I mentioned earlier, getting to visit Machu Pitchu isn’t exactly a spontaneous affair. It is even less so when you want to climb to the top of the mountain. Besides the effort of waking up at an ungodly hour to get onto the path at your allocated time, it is one hell of a climb. Two hours, 4 kilometers and 199 floors in ancient stairs to be more precise. Some of the steeper sections are built with narrow stones where you can only put about half of your foot on the step at once!
Within the first half an hour you are sweating and taking off all the layers you put on before leaving your room at 5 am. Then you start questioning your fitness habits. Then you begin to bargain with yourself about whether you actually need to make it all the way to the top.
The view from down here is just as good, isn’t it?
Trusting the Experience
Looking for anything else I could take off, I pulled off my hiking boots and tied them by the shoestrings to my backpack. I felt the soothing coolness of the rock. I closed my eyes and felt the connection to the mountain, feeling its energy passing through me. Eventually, feeling replenished, I got up, brushed off my mosquito-proof pants, and went on climbing up.
The most imparting thing to remember is to go at your own pace and make frequent stops. This should come naturally, because you will see so many curious things on your way. And then there are the views.
Uplifting and humbling.
The wonderful thing about the climb of Machu Picchu is that you will never feel alone. The path will be sprinkled with cheerleaders who already made it to the top and are on their way down. It will be infused with amusing conversations and offbeat acquaintances. It will be filled with humanity and solidarity. That said, this path is typically less crowded than the one to the top of Huayna Picchu, so you may actually find yourself walking for stretches of time without seeing anyone else at all!
It is truly such a beautiful experience, both visually and spiritually. I highly recommend it to anyone vising Machu Picchu!