A couple days ago I wrote an article about the Hike to Wayna Picchu and one of the people who commented on it noted the danger involved. I’m sort of torn as to how to reply. Sure, it’s completely valid that you can slip off a mountain and die. But at the same time, the vast majority of people die in their own beds (thus making your bed the most dangerous place to be!).
I think it’s easy for people to get all worked up over insignificant chances of danger and their stress ends up causing them a lot more damage than the perceived threat ever could. Take my brilliant article about swine flu from a while back. It’s important to warn people about dangers, but at some point all the warnings get ridiculous.
“Don’t stick your fingers into any outlets today.”
“Chew your food well so you don’t choke.”
“Don’t eat vegetables that were treated with chemical pesticides or you might get cancer thirty years from now.”
“Don’t have sex…EVER!”
I mean…COME ON! Sure there is an inherent danger in anything you do, but I think the place you’re most likely to be hurt is crossing the street a block from your house and the reason is you have done it a million times so you grow complacent, and you’ll one day just step into traffic while typing a text message on your blackberry…THAT’S A VERY REAL DANGER!
If you’re at Machu Picchu, my guess is that you’ll be so alert that NOTHING bad will happen to you.
But dangers reported regarding Peru are way overblown, mainly because I think there’s a conspiracy out there to keep the average person at home. After all, if everybody took the time to travel and learn about the world, that’d lead to a massive restructuring of society in which everybody was happy and nobody was in a position of ultimate dominion over their hordes of slave laborers (Ok, that’s overstated, don’t worry, I’m not sitting at home with a hat made of tinfoil to fend off the aliens).
To make a long ranting point short, you aren’t going to fall off the mountain.
That being said.
You should be careful.
If you reference the above video, you’ll see exactly how careful my wife is. Those ancient Inca stairways are steep (didn’t the Incas know anything about liability?). Her way of descending perhaps isn’t the safest. If you get concerned, it’s best to face the stairs and back down like a reverse crawl (with the hands on the stairs as well as your feet). If you lose your balance, fall TOWARDS the stairs, not AWAY from the stairs. You might scrape your knee, but nothing bad will happen.
In the immortal words of Christian Bale, “THINK for just one @#$%-ing second!” And everything will, as always, be fine…until the day your treacherous bed finally takes your life!
Oh, this video is from Ollantaytambo, not Machu Picchu by the way!