Cultural Highlighs

Trip Start Nov 28, 2011
Trip End Apr 09, 2013

Flag of Peru  , Cusco,
Monday, May 14, 2012

The morning of the day when we would leave to Machu Picchu Peublo (also called Aguas Calientes) we started with a good breakfast and then .... Jorgen felt sick'ish (would would he have to copy that?)

So as our Inca train would leave late afternoon, we decided to have a little rest and would leave around 1 pm to the busses which are heading towards Ollantaytambo.

Fortunately during the day he was getting better: Praise bananas and crackers ... they always work so well! We arrived at Ollantaytambo. Ollanta is a beautiful small village between the mountain peaks were the Incas build fortresses. At this point, the Spanish were defeated by the Inca's, who flooded the valley and forced them back. But when thos came back the second time, they conquered the site forcing the Inca's who survived to Machu Picchu and then further into the jungle city Vilcabamba.

As our train was leaving not within an hour, we treated ourselves on a nice cup of herbal tea for our stomaches. Well, Maria had herself a coffee as she did not have one in days. Yummie!

Then we got to the train and the passage was special! The trail goes along the sides of the mountains, through the steep valleys deeper into the mountains and alongside the river. Dramatic scenery and breath-taking surroundings, and the train was not about to stop yet. It was getting dark, and darkness is coming quickly. Within half an hour the sky is dark, filled with stars and when the long shadows from the peaks are gone the jungle is turned into a mystic place.

We arrived safely and impressed in the probably only for tourists created village Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aqua Calientes) and before we could realize it, we met a women who owns the hospedaje (hostel) Antarky. We did not see much yet from Aguas Calientes, but we will see more tomorrow, after returning from Machu Picchu. Jorgen still is not feeling well, so for him, the bed the good place to be. Maria bought some food from the stores around for our way up and at Machu Picchu and made some new 7 and 8 years old friends who are running the store in the evening. ("How do you spell 'cerveza, with 's' or 'z'?" ).

Next morning; 5.00 am: Machu Picchu day. As we are both not 100% (have we ever been??!!??) we took the early bus in stead of walking our way up. It turned out to be a wise decision, especially when we see what we were supposed to walk if not.

It is still dark when we are in the line for our bus up to Machu Picchu. It is true, even when you are early, there is always a line waiting to get in! Nevertheless, busses seems to be around barely worth mentioning. Around 6 in the morning, the deep darkness of the night disappears and makes way for the morning light... still, no sunlight yet as the peaks of the Andes are high enough to create beautiful shadows and a light-blue sky! After zick-zacking our way up (on the bus) to the entrance we are now at Machu Picchu and as soon as we passed the entrance, we are on our way to the most popular spot, the Care-takers house! From here the scenery at sunrise must be spectacular and as we expecting a bright and sunny day, this is the place to be!

After a small climb we reached the look-out and we saw for the first time Machu Picchu: for real! While the small climb was not breathtaking, the scenery was! Magnificent! Just hard to describe so maybe it is better to look at our pictures! (or go yourself). We waited here for a few moments to realize we are here and to imagine how people must have build this site and living over here!

At the same time, almost 20.000 kilometers to the north-east our best friends Robin and Suzanne got married! Altough we are having the time of our lives, we are a bit sad because we are missing this great wedding and can not join them on this beautiful day. Robin and Suzanne, congratulations once again and all the best; many more happy and fabulous years together!

Being all up on the top we had a small break and enjoyed a beautiful sunrise before we went on to the not-so-popular Inca path to the Inca Bridge on the other site of the mountain Machu Picchu. The Incas used this path for their escape from enemies. In the past, the bridge was made out of reed (thatched) so that they could destroy it after crossing it. Nowadays, thick wooden "tree chunks" are used to show what it might have looked like. This bridge is not open anymore, because it is to small and to dangerous for the tourists. The last time when it was open for public, a tourist died because he/she lost his/her balance! Time for us to explore the path and the bridge. It was a beautiful walk along the cliffs with a unforgettable view! The path is really narrow and at some points, only one person at the time can walk on this path. We reached the bridge without any problems, only sometimes scary views down the cliffs!

The bridge (as you will see on the fotos) is build onto the cliff so, where are the persons who said that worlds deadliest road was in Bolivia? That one is 3 metres wide!? He probably did not visit this road!

Back we went to visit the rest of the Machu Picchu site. When we got back, it started to get busier and getting seriously crowded. While Jorgen was making a lot of foto's, Maria was paying attention to the lecture and the guides to absorb all information. At some point, the camera erased all todays fotos, so no more fotos from this morning! Jorgen got angry because this was not the first time that the camera had some problems - so he went back for to make new fotos while Maria continued the exploration of all archaeological wonders and listened to the guides who were passing by with their groups.

Most interesting of that is that all of them, well, most of them, were telling different stories and facts. Whereas one site was showing the important local the mountains for one, for the other is was the image of a Condor or the temple of the earth. This is possibly not as much reflecting the average quality of the guides, as one might say, but the still to be investigated site of the Incas and the urge for research regarding their cultural and technological developments.

Machu Picchu is really a special place, and although very touristy and to us sometimes a little overrated (we heard too many 'so fantastic' stories), it is an will be one of the most interesting places for the archaeological of the Incas and definitly worth paying a visit.Although it was a pity that we were not told before that recently the entrance to Machu Picchu Mountain needs to be registered with the ticket. Although being afraid of he heights, Maria would have loved to climb up there!


However, for the eager readers some more info from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Machu Picchu (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmatʃu ˈpitʃu], Quechua: Machu Pikchu [ˈmɑtʃu ˈpixtʃu], "Old Peak") is a pre-Columbian 15th-century Inca site located 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level. Machu Picchu is located in the Cusco Region of Peru, South America. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru, which is 80 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of Cusco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often referred to as the "Lost City of the Incas", it is perhaps the most familiar icon of the Inca World. The Incas started building the "estate" around 1400, but abandoned it as an official site for the Inca rulers a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Although known locally, it was unknown to the outside world before being brought to international attention in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. Since then, Machu Picchu has become an important tourist attraction. Most of the outlying buildings have been reconstructed in order to give tourists a better idea of what the structures originally looked like. By 1976, thirty percent of Machu Picchu had been restored. The restoration work continues to this day.

Since the site was never known to the Spanish during their conquest, it is highly significant as a relatively intact cultural site. Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll. Machu Picchu was built in the classical Inca style, with polished dry-stone walls. Its three primary structures are the Intihuatana (Hitching post of the Sun), the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows. These are located in what is known by archaeologists as the Sacred District of Machu Picchu. In September 2007, Peru and Yale University almost reached an agreement regarding the return of artifacts which Yale has held since Hiram Bingham removed them from Machu Picchu in the early 20th century. In November 2010, a Yale University representative agreed to return the artifacts to a Peruvian university.


In the early afternoon we were on our way back to Aguas Calientes, but this time not with the bus: we walked down all the way! It was a hard and not so easy downhill, as the step were not equal. It was good that we took the bus this morning, but downhill we reached it without problems. In Aguas Calientes we spent the rest of our afternoon at the artesanian market to buy little things. The day before, Maria and I were invited to visit a traditional dance "fiesta" form the local school. All different ages were performing another dance from different regions of Peru. It was beautiful and funny to see how they dance with so much enthusiasm, even the smallest ones! After this cuturally overwhelming fiesta, it is time to have some food and go to bed - after cheering to the newly wed couple: Robin and Suzanne!

Tomorrow we are taking the early Inca train and are heading back for Cusco.

We decided to go back directly to Cusco as we would like to get north as soon as possible, visiting our "amigos temporales" Raoul and Laura!
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