|  Category: Must-see Travel Destinations

After a few days enjoying Cusco and its surroundings, we were ready to see one of the world’s most impressive cultural sites: Machu Picchu. Early in the morning we took the backpacker’s train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, a small town, full of hotels and restaurants, and famous for its hot baths. We had planned to go to Machu Picchu the next day, so on this first day in town, we walked around the village and visited the baths. As my purpose was to sunbathe and not to have a swim, the mosquitoes found pleasure in my pale skin. A tip for all visitors: put on anti- repellent, and loads of it!!.

Machu Picchu

But my itching legs could not retain my excitement for our journey to Machu Picchu. The bus ride, uphill to a height of about 2.350 meters above sea level, takes about 30 minutes. It is recommendable to take the bus early in the morning, in order to arrive at the site as early as possible, around 6.00 or 6.30 am. As our official tour was going to start at around 8.30, we had some time to discover the place on our own. We decided to get the tickets for the hike to Huayna Picchu (“young peak” in quechua, as opposed to old peak / Machu Picchu), for which there are only a limited number (400) per day given out.

Apparently it is very rare to have a cloudless day at Machu Picchu, and also this day started very cloudy. A bit of a shame on one hand, yet on the other the mist only enforces the mysterious atmosphere of the place. It started raining a little bit as we started our guided tour through the ruins. “The Lost City of the Incas” was built around the year 1460. When the Spanish defeated the Incan Empire around 100 years later, the site was abandoned and forgotten for various centuries, until it was discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham. The exact functions are still not completely clear, but the site definitely had military and religious ones. Probably it was chosen as the estate of the Inca emperor because of its special location, in a mountain range above a valley.

The guide showed us the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the three windows. When you see the huge blocks which were used for the construction of these temples it is difficult  to imagine how the Incas were capable of transporting the limestone bricks to the mountain top. Truly amazing. We were also impressed by the “Condor stone” and the caves next to it which probably had some ritual meaning. The Condor is an important element in the Inca culture; in fact, Machu Picchu was built in the shape of a condor!.

At the end of the morning we walked towards the entrance of the Huayna Picchu trail to start the hike to the top of the mountain. This mountain was said to be the residence for the high priest, and every day he would walk to Machu Picchu to  announce the new day. The climb up is not difficult but quiet steep, and some parts can be very slippery, so we took our time and walked carefully. In a little bit over an hour we reached the top, which is about 360 meters higher than Machu Picchu.

Machu PicchuWhen we reached the top, the mist started disappearing slowly which allowed us to have a wonderful view over the mountains and of course over Machu Picchu. We climbed on top of some rocks, as high up as we could go, and enjoyed the silence and the wonderful sight. From this spot we could actually see the Condor-shape of  Machu Picchu!.

As the Huayna Picchu trail closes at 4:00 pm, we unfortunately had to start with the descent after a while. You should take into account that going down is a bit more difficult than climbing up, as the path is steep and it is more difficult to find support from the steel cables. It is also a bit more scary as you really notice how high you are…

After a long, exciting and quiet sportive day full of impressions, we took the bus back to Aguas Calientes in the afternoon, and the train back to Cusco later that evening. We finally had visited the must-see of Peru, one of the most important cultural sites of the world, and we were definitely impressed by it.

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4 Responses

  1. 1

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  2. 2

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