John Leivers, who worked with the adventure outfitter Amazonas Explorer convinced me to sign up for a five-day itinerary instead of the more popular four-day trip. I understood John’s reasoning the next day when, after a relaxed afternoon of hiking along the Urubamba River, we arrived at the ruins of Patallacta. After a quick bath in the ice-cold stream, our Peruvian guide Efrain Valles led me into the ruins for a tour by flashlight.
….In the late afternoon, we approached a set of stone steps that vanished into the tropical greenery above. “You go first, Mark,” Efrain said, suppressing a smile. “Let me know what you see up there. “At the top of the stairs the foliage parted and I turned left into a bright patch of sunlight. There I was greeted with a final surprise from the Inca geniuses who’d built this trail centuries before. Unfolding before me was a postcard come to life — the dazzling white stone city of Machu Picchu.