Wow-a-weee-wa... Machu Picchu.

Trip Start Sep 15, 2008
Trip End Jan 01, 2009

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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Today was the day, a visit to South Americas #1 attraction, the legendary Lost City of the Inkas - Machu Picchu.

The morning felt a little like the Amazing race, with everyone wanting to be first at the ruins. We woke at 4:30, ate breakfast, and joined the 4 block long line by 5:20am to catch a bus up the hill, and this is low season.

We made a mad dash to the Wayanupicchu ticket booth to get a pass for hiking the large monolith behind Machu Picchu.  The park only allows 400 people up the ridiculousy steep trail to Wayanupicchu after several deaths.  Once we had our tickets in hand Carlos, our Quechua guide, took us through the city explaining the history of the Inkas, the Spaniards, and Machu Picchu.  Even after reading a significant amount about the Inka Empire and Machu Picchu, hearing the history and legends while walking through the ruins was awesome.

Cliff Notes on the History
The Inka were the rulling government of 4 regions of the Empire encompasing much of South America, they were not infact one homogenous culture.  With in the Inka Empire lived many different types of people, each with their own cultures and languages.  Many of these indigenous groups aggreed to join the Inka  peacfuly in the beliefe their lives would improve as ruling partners of the Empire.

Pachacutec, a powerful Inka leader responsible for most of the Empires expansion, is beleived to have commissioned the creation of Machu Picchu, around 1460, as a family retreat from the hustle and bustle of Cuzco.  

As the Spanish began their conquest of South America, Pachacutec had passed the Inka Empire onto two of his sons who later waged an all out civil war for control of the Empire.  The Spanish met with Atahualpa, one of Pachacutecīs sons, in 1532 to offer Christianity to the Empire with a gift of the bible.  Not knowing what a book was, Atahualpa threw the book on the ground, which the Spaniards interpreted as a signal for war.  The more sophistitcated Spanish Army easily over took the region with the help of disgruntled members of the Empire.  It is believed the royals of the Inka Empire retreated into the jungle, and have never been found.  There are also rumors that the descendants of the Inka are still living in the jungle as their own culture.

During the Spaniards conquest of the region they never found Machu Picchu.  If they had, it most likely wouldnīt exist the way it is today.  The Spanish reached very near villages, but did not venture further due to their concern of landslides in the very steep valleys surrounding the city. 

An American, Hiram Bingham, visited Machu Picchu in 1911 and brought the ruins into international awareness.  However, many people had visited the site before him and local Quechua people were living and faming around the city when Hiram arrived.

Machu Picchu exceeded our expectations in every way.  The location, the engineering, and the history are all amazing.  Our early visited allowed an uninterupted tour of the site.  After the tour we hiked up the tall Monolith behind the city for breathtaking views and a few additional ruins.

Machu Picchu...WOW!
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