Machu Picchu

Trip Start Jul 31, 2005
Trip End Sep 05, 2007

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Flag of Peru  ,
Thursday, August 2, 2007

We left a FREEZING cold Cuzco on the first train to Aguas Calientes, the views as we climbed the surrounding mountains were beautiful, Cuzco was only just waking up and the sun was only just rising. We had been up since 4AM dressed in thermals, gloves, scarfs and hats - lucky for us on the train they also gave us a big wollen blanket.

The train journey was four hours and soon enough we were in Aguas Calientes. The town of Machu Picchu. We were amazed at how touristy this small town on the edge of the Andes but geographically in the Amazon jungle had become. This was Peru, but it sure did not feel like it! The narrow street which ran uphill was lined side to side with hostals, hotels, restaurants and shops. We found a hostal soon enough, very expensive for Peru but we guessed with their location they could charge whatever they pleased!

We spent that first day walking around the small town, visiting the handicrafts market by the train station which was very good we must add! And just chilling out - we had an early start the next morning too. That of course did not stop us visiting one of the many restaurants and ordering a cheap Menu of the day - which here in Peru have been excellent.

4AM the next morning our alarm went off, up and dressed and out for the first bus up to Machu Picchu at 5.30am, we decided that we should go earlier to beat the hoards of tour groups and crowds. Arriving at the bus stop shortly after 5AM we joined the queue of others who waited to get up the mountain first!

We moved past the checkpoint and into the site proper, that first view of this ancient Inca city, the dominant mountain of Wayna Picchu behind and the jungle will never be forgotten - it was nothing short of spectacular. After we had taken our first few photos we moved on around the ruins to the various temples, knowing that in no time at all there would be lots more people than there were at that moment.

The ruins were impressive, some have been restored but a the majority of it is original, preserved so well because the jungle had covered the city and so when the Spanish arrived in Peru they had no idea that a city lay underneath the jungle. Lucky really because they destroyed most of the other Inca settlements, a reason why today Machu Picchu is so important.

We walked around the ruins, up and down the steep Inca stairways, across the plazas and in and out of temples, we took tons of photographs and watched the beams from the sun creep through the cracks between the mountains until the sun was high in the sky.

We left the main site for a while and hiked along a clifftop path to the Inca drawbridge which sits on the side of a cliff. Walking back and towards one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the entire site we saw Alpacas, lots of them, some roaming the terraces which sit on the steep mountain edge and others sitting perfectly in front of Wayna Picchu.

We had our homemade lunch and escaped from the heat and the hoards of tourists who had descended on the site from the trains from Cuzco, and waited to join a guided tour. We thought that this tour would enable us to learn more about this ancient city.

We were wrong, unfortunatley our guidebook gave us more information than the guide, there were so many people you were literally falling over each other, and the sun was so hot as by this time it was the afternoon we were scorched and tired. Nothing could beat our experience that morning, when it felt like we had the site to ourselves and we watched everything come alive, from the colours on the mountains to the people who visited.

At 1530 we boarded our train and headed back to Cuzco, delighted that we had spent the night and made the most of Machu Picchu. It is one of the most breathtaking sites in the entire world.


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