the classic picture postcard view of Machu Picchu
humans aren’t the only creatures that love this place
flowers also thrive in (and add to) the beauty of Machu Picchu
the Temple of the Sun
We spent an entire day exploring the wonders, the magic, the mysticism, the sacredness, and the sheer beauty of Machu Picchu. It was pure joy. The Incas clearly understood that location, location, location is everything. We decided to hike up to the site from the base camp village of Aguas Calientes. We were on the trail by 7am and it took us the better part of two (heart thumping) hours to get there … no chickens in this family. We were virtually alone on the trail, but this changed once we arrived to the top. There were plenty of people who had opted to take the multi-switched-backed road via bus. It was interesting to learn that very few people even knew of Machu Picchu until 1911, when an American historian (Hiram Bingham) was guided to it by locals. However, once you realize that it sits atop a remote mountain top in the middle of the Andes in a relatively obscure and inaccessible part of Peru, you can imagine it going unnoticed. (Even today, you can only get to the village of Aguas Calientes via train or by foot … the tour buses must have been shipped in by rail.) After getting to Machu Picchu and regaining our breath (only to have our breath re-taken away from us several times by what we saw), we spent roughly the next seven hours holding our jaws in place from gaping open. We had downloaded a copy of the site map from Lonely Planet onto our Kindle and we explored the whole place on our own self-guided tour. It was delightful and was so much better than being herded around in one of the many tour groups we saw (and tried to avoid). As always, the pictures do little to convey the awesomeness that we experienced. The first picture is taken from likely the most photographed vantage point. It’s easy to see why. We had no idea that we would see llamas (and their young offspring) as frequently as we did. The flowers and plants were also pretty remarkable. However, clearly the ruins were the best part. The family dwellings, the water infrastructure, the ceremonial baths, the astronomical structures, and the worship places were all unbelievable. The last picture is of the Temple of the Sun, the only round structure in the ruins that contains some of the finest stonework and was also used for astronomical purposes. What a wonderful day.