One of the not-so-guilty pleasures afforded to us on this tour was the opportunity to stay at the Belmond Sanctuary Hotel, immediately adjacent to Machu Picchu. This not only saved us time, it also allowed us to get an early start on our second day before the large crowds developed.

For the second day we remained in the lower part of the grounds and began by heading toward the urban section to a pyramid-like structure that served as a temple to the upper world. The Inca had multiple representations for the world including animals - the condor symbolizing the heavens, the puma the middle world, and the snake the lower world. At the top of the temple of the upper world is a protruding rock on an altar originally thought to be a sun dial but actually points to the magnetic North Pole, with corners facing north, south, east, and west.

We then worked our way to the residential section and explored a number of buildings here. We also saw several "echo" stones, rocks placed in such a way that they roughly silhouette a mountain behind them.

Our guide Julian pointed out a crease between the nearby mountains where advanced technology has indicated that there are more Inca ruins overgrown by plant life. Currently there are no plans to reclaim these structures, however.

After a morning of exploring, we headed back to our hotel to check out and have lunch. We then bused down to Machu Picchu Pueblo to do a little shopping and begin the 4 hour trek back to Cuzco.

Overall, this experience is truly bucket list worthy assuming that you are healthy enough to handle all of the climbing and walking over uneven terrain and that you have the resources to handle the transportation, lodging, and entrance fees.