My Life Adventures, Travel Experiences and Reflections

Wednesday

Machu Picchu: The Lost City of The Incas

Huaynapicchu: The tallest mountain peak in Machu Picchu
One of the New 7 Wonders of the World, the ancient city of Machu Picchu, sits about 8,000 feet in the Andes and is a testament to the stamina and skill of the Incas who built it of rock and stone in the 15th century. Over 600 terraces are in place and a water system running about 1 km remains. Incredibly, many building walls are still standing after years of earthquakes that plague the area.
Founded in 1911 by American archeologist, Hiram Bingham, Machu Picchu is surrounded by mystery and speculation. Zones for farming, commerce, royalty and sacred practice have been identified.
Witnessing sunrise in Machu Picchu is a crap-shoot. Arriving before the crack of dawn, many have been disappointed when greeted by the rain, fog and drizzle typical to the area. The good news is that the fog moves quickly and visibility does improve.
There are those who enjoy the luxury Machu Picchu experience. If you can afford it, take the Hiram Bingham train R/T from Ollytambo. Peru to Machu Picchu ($1000/pp) and stay at the five-star Sanctuary Lodge, located at the base of Machu Picchu...where your basic room will run about $1000/night. I would think at that price, the room should include a private, guided tour of Machpicchu but .... who knows? We didn't stay there.

We, the 'moderately-priced' travelers booked a tour group ... South Adventure Peru Tours. They were great and took care of the details all for about $600/pp. Offering an array of treks and tours in the area, they are honest and pleasant - we highly recommend them.
Hiking The Inca Trail is another option for those who are into that sort of thing...it takes about 4 days and is at altitude, so being physically fit would be helpful. South Adventure Peru Tours can outfit you for that pilgrimage.

Day 1 -  We were picked up at our room in Cusco, driven to the train station in Poroy, given our train tickets to Aguas Calientes, entry tickets to Machu Picchu and lunch and dinner details. After the 3.5 hr train trip, we arrived in Aguas Calientes and were met at the train station by a rep who walked us to our hotel room.
Peru Rail
Day 2 - The bus station in Aguas Calientes is just steps away from the train station. About $20 R/T. Walking to Machu Picchu was an option - but not for us. It's a very steep and winding climb - we opted to reserve our energy.

Arriving at Machu Picchu, you are required to show your passport along with your entry ticket - once inside, we met our guide who oriented us to Machu Picchu and its highlights. Be prepared to climb - a lot.
Intihuatana
One such highlight was "Intihuatana" (place where the the sun is bonded) - this stone was used as a way for the Inca to determine seasons and time and is considered to be sacred.  Legend has it that if you touch your forehead to it, your vision to the spirit world will be unblocked. Unfortunately, the practice became so popular that concern for the stone's preservation grew and a guard was posted to protect it.

After spending the day in Machu Picchu, we returned to Aguas Calientes and caught the train back to Poroy where we were met by our driver from South Adventure Peru Tours who dropped us off at our room in Cusco but also made plans to take us to the airport the following morning.

Exploring Machu Picchu was a dream come true. The wonder and mystery of how The Inca were able to transport boulders weighing in excess of 50 lbs each, up hill without the use of the wheel or iron tools, and how it still stands considering the stones are not mortared into place is astonishing.

It was one of the most special places I have ever visited. 

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