Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Written by: Jessica

Machu Picchu currently has two entry periods, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Doors open at 6 a.m. and it gets crowded quickly.  There are two ways up the mountain: hike it uphill for most of an hour prior to entering, or pay for a bus.  We had paid for a bus, the first of which would leave at 5:30 a.m.  This made for another early morning for us, as we had morning admission and wanted to get there bright and early. The bus ride up the hill is steep and winding, but offers beautiful pictures on the way to Machu Picchu Inca, as the locals call it. They call it that because there is also Machu Pichu mountain, and Aguas Calientes is also known as Machu Picchu pueblo. A guide convinced us that his services would be useful upon our arrival, so Diego haggled out a price and we departed on the tour. The tour was very valuable. There is not a single sign in English, and the only signs in Spanish were pointing a direction and saying what the building was.

Machu Picchu is not actually all that old—about 500 years. The conquistadores knew of it, and demanded taxes from the Incas, but did not destroy the city because of the challenges presented by the difficulty in destroying stone buildings at the top of a very steep mountain. However, unlike through most of history, the conquistadores didn’t demand gold. No, they demanded Coca leaves.  The plant that may later turned into cocaine.  Without the guide, we wouldn’t have known any of this—merely seen a collection of rock walls and beautiful vistas.  Of course, we learned a lot more too, but that sure sticks out in my mind!

I’ll let the photos show you just how amazing Machu Picchu was to see.

The view of the Andes from the bus
At the entrance of Machu Picchu
Inside the ruins
So many clouds…The entire city
The main square, where most people walked around and held ceremonies.
Llamas! Thousands were sacrificed to the gods every year. Purely-colored ones had specific purposes, white llamas were sacrificed during weddings, for example.

After a tour, our guide showed us the hut that marked the start of our hike. Diego and I had signed up for something more than just entry: admission to a 2-3 hour hike up Huayna (Wayna, depending on local spelling) Picchu, one of the taller mountains next to the Inca city that gave us a view overlooking the ruins. The hike had to be started between 7-8 a.m. as that was the entry period we had paid for when booking our entry to Machu Picchu. Once again, there are two time periods to start the hike and both were during morning admission. Machu Picchu Inca stands at 2,430 meters.  The top of the hike we completed at 2,720 meters.  It was a steep 1.5 hour hike, requiring us to use hands and feet at times, but very worth it.  At the summit, Diego took a series of time-lapse pictures over the course of 20 minutes. Here are some of the photos we took.

Wayna Picchu hike up – some spots were steep, dangerous, and slippery.
An example of the steepness
At the top! Took about 1.5 hours with some stops for photos and recovery periods.
Machu Picchu from the top, the hike is worth it. It was an incredible view.
The Andes mountain range, there’s more to see at the top beside Machu Picchu. It was breathtaking.

Since we had entered the Inca city, which had a population of about 400 people, about 6:15am we were down off the mountain by 12:30pm.  We enjoyed a lovely lunch, picked up our luggage, and then made our way to the train station.

It took forever to get back to Cusco, the old Incan capitol, something that I think both of us were partially dreading.  The bus, between where the train ride ended and Cusco, took hours due to horrible traffic. Tourist traffic, for the most part, it seemed. And, as we went, we could feel the elevation sickness settling back in. Welcome back, headache…we didn’t miss you!

The next day, we dropped our laundry off to get washed. It cost less than a dollar per kilo of laundry to be washed and dried within two hours. While that was being done, we walked around the city, and groaned every time we saw some of the numerous stairs around Cusco. The hike the day before had been almost completely stairs (just call us the stair masters!) and our legs were not enjoying more—at a higher elevation, no less!

While we wandered around we stopped for lunch. Diego and I were particularly fond of Uchu Peruvian Steakhouse.  The décor was really interesting.  Of course, it was the food that really sold it!

Food was great, decor was interesting.

Once all of that was completed, we picked up our laundry and our luggage from the hotel, and caught a taxi. It was time to get out of that city with its stupidly high elevation.  The plan was to fly from Cusco to Lima, overnight there, and then the next morning continue on to the Galapagos!

5 Replies to “Machu Picchu”

  1. Beautiful pictures! It’s incredible to see how the Incas built it…. a city /palace for the Inca (King) at 9,000 ft…they shaped the stones to fit together perfectly (no mortar or clay between stones).
    I loved Machu Picchu pictures and I’m waiting to see “Galapagos Report”.

  2. Where is the picture of Diego riding a llama?? 🙂 So glad you both are having a great time and sharing your experiences with the rest of us.

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