Saturday, April 8, 2017

Peru Trip: Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, one the most famous sites in the world, was voted one of the Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. It is only accessible by hiking the Inca trail or taking the very expensive train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Caliente, a small town at the foot of the ruins.

Upon arriving in Aguas Calientes we purchased our bus fare for the next morning that would take us to the entrance of the ruins. After another short night, we were up by 5:00 am to catch the bus at the stop around the corner from our hostel.

Even with busses lining up to load tourists, the line to board was super long. It was getting light by the time we arrived at the ruins a short time later.

In addition to our tickets, we had to have our passports with us to prove identification.  The line was fairly quick and we were granted access to the ruins.  We enter at the bottom of the town and hiked around the various sites following the signs and map provided. We chose not to hire a guide. There were so many of them, we just simply had to stand in front of a famous site to hear their explanations before moving to the next area.

The weather in April is iffy. We had a lot of fog due to the altitude with occasional clear skies.
Machu Picchu was built around 1450 by the Inca ruler Pachacutec as a royal estate. It was occupied for approximately 80 years before being abandoned likely due to Spanish Conquests threatening the Inca Empire.

The site is roughly divided into urban and agricultural sectors. With the temples and government in the upper town and the warehouses, farming terraces and servants residing in the lower town.

Intihuatana is a rock (top right photo) believed to have been designed as an astronomic clock and calendar. One of the most impressive things about the site is how the Inca were able to cut enormous blocks of stone so perfectly straight that they would fit together tightly without mortar. They used the technique on windows, doors and curved walls.

At the bottom of the city were some covered buildings where llamas and many tourists took shelter during the intermittent rain. There weren't very many places to take refuge from the rain. Although the city would have had them, all that remains now are the stone walls.

Part of our entrance tickets allowed us to hike Machu Picchu Mountain. We tried our best and hardest to do the hike but the rain had flooded the trail, our clothes were soaked, our shoes muddy and we knew that we weren't going to be able to reach the top and come back before they close the trail.

We also had limited visibility due to the weather, so we couldn't really get the views we were hiking to see due to the fog. We trudge halfway up and decided to descend and enjoy the ruins rather than make ourselves miserable.

On our way down the weather began to clear and we were able to find some great spots for panoramic pictures of the sights.

On our way back we stopped at the hostel to change out of our really wet clothes before leaving Aguas Calientes to continue our adventure.