We took a tour with Roberto (a guide you can book through the Sumaq Hotel) and went in the first wave (7am). It was hard, but he kept us motivated and we made it without incident. Throughout the trek he would let us know how far we had come and make sure we were taking our water breaks. You saw a lot of people struggling through but we did just fine.
The hike itself was pretty intense. We had a mix of fitness levels but the altitude hit us all hard and made it difficult for even the avid exerciser in the group. There were a few scary parts but nothing where I felt like we were risking our lives. I could see how it would be difficult and slippery if it were rainy though. Thankfully we had a dry day and went in the morning to avoid the sun. Highly recommend the early start as it was hot and humid already so having the sun beat down on us too would have been pretty miserable.
When you get to the top you have to be patient to get a non-cloudy glimpse of Machu Picchu. To be honest, the views from the guard house are more picturesque but I would still recommend the hike for the sense of accomplishment and the views of the surrounding area. The adventure itself - and the pictures of my friends climbing through that tiny cave and on the death stairs were truly worth it!
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