The Stunning Machu Picchu

Trip Start Aug 22, 2012
Trip End Jun 16, 2013

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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Monday, October 1, 2012

I love trains!  We took a train up to Aguas Caliente from Cusco and saw amazing vistas. We stayed the night there and unfortunately got some wicked bites on our lower legs that had both Jim and I in a scratching frenzy.  It seems like there are so few places in the world where one can escape some type of biting, itch-inducing and indeed very annoying bug!

In order to enter Machu Picchu before the masses of tourists arrived and to see the sun rise above the surrounding peaks, we got up at 4:15am and lined up in the dark with the other keeners to catch the first bus leaving at 5:30. It was so worth it to have those few moments in the magnificence of this place with morning mist lightly covering the mountains while the sun peaked through.  There was a calm, magical silence. Too bad it only lasted for 30 minutes before the throngs arrived. 

They allow 2500 people on Machu Picchu daily and from what I understand, it is booked to capacity nearly every day.  According to a few people I spoke with, it is sinking 2cm/month from the weight of all that activity.  We bought another pass to climb Huayna Picchu – a hunk of a rock peak that overlooks the complex. I looked up at that peak thinking “there is NO WAY we are supposed to climb this especially in the allotted 3 hours”.  Turns out that was the expectation.  It was one helluva climb mostly straight up stairs that at times had nothing on either side of those stairs except the great open space.  We were virtually vertical.

With the altitude impacting our breath, the climb up was difficult but the climb down was equally
as hard because of the strain on the knees. Thinking back to my pilates classes, I tried to keep my core engaged but just did not have the stamina to do that for the entire climb and descent.  Well, I must say that it was all worth it because the views and the experience of feeling on top of the world was amazing along with the sense of accomplishment.  And the view down to Machu Picchu offered another whole perspective.

The afternoon at Machu Picchu was sunny and windy with dust swirling around us; we wandered from one part of the complex to another dodging the intense sunshine and mobs of tourists.  Jim was in photography heaven while I hovered around tour groups who had English speaking guides so I could catch tidbits of historical information. Jim and I do not generally hire guides.  Our reasoning for this is similar to why we don't like making reservations. Despite the benefits, they prevent us from being in our 'go with the flow' style of travel. Someday we will find the balance of guidance/structure and freedom....maybe.

What is so amazing is that the Incas only ruled for about 100 years yet everywhere we go in Peru there are majestic ruins of such fine, complex and highly developed work of theirs.  I see similarities between the Mayans and Aztecs of central America but according to what I have read and learned, these civilizations never met up. There is so much mystery in the history of humankind and we yet we are centric in our thinking about the civilization in which we live believing it is the most advanced. Who knows?!

Our apologies for so many photos but it was such an amazing place.
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Eli on

WOW! I want to go to there! :)

Sue Walker on

The beauty takes your breath away, Jim you are an amazing photographer, The beauty is enhanced by your wonderful talent, Thank you. xo

Penny on

Amazing photos! I hope I can get there sometime, too!

Keep 'em coming.

Margy on

Paul and I really enjoyed this entry because it brought back so many good memories. After we left Machu Picchu we could identify other travelers who had been there because of the bites on their legs. Isn't sunrise at MP glorious. Five years ago they did not charge to climb Huayna Picchu. I think ones willingness to climb it should be payment enough. Coming down was the most challenging for me. Safe travels and thanks for sharing your experience through words and pictures.

Jane on

Wow, wow, wow! I feel so grateful to be able to join you from a afar in your experience of this magnificant place. The photos are breathtaking, the writing vivid - you two make a great pair for so many reasons! Thank you for taking the time to post. Jim, I hope you plan to publish.


Trish O'Brien on

Amazing! What an experience, and thanks again for sharing.... It made me want to learn more about it.

Katharine on

I am as breathless watching these photos as if I'd done the climb, Donna. Magnificent. Macchu Pichu and the Camino are waiting for me. You both inspire me...and rock!
Love and Happy Thanksgiving!

Doug on

Donna, you amaze me. A tough little nut you are. Totally awesome vibe up there I'll bet.

Larry on

Great update again,
I've just bought a projector with the intent of using it to focus some of Jim pictures on paper to do some art. Great subject matter for watercolors and charcoal sketches.
Safe and inspiring sojourns ahead

Paula on

sounds like an amazing adventure. enjoy!

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