Walking Through Peruvian Clouds: Machu Picchu

“The sanctuary as lost for centuries because this ridge is in the most inaccessible corner of the most inaccessible section of the central Andes. No part of the highlands of Peru is better defended by natural bulwarks – a stupendous canyon whose rock is granite, and whose precipices are frequently 1,000 feet sheer, presenting difficulties which daunt the most ambition modern mountain climbers. Yet, here, in a remote part of the canyon, on this narrow ridge flanked by tremendous precipices, a highly civilized people, artistic, inventive, well organized, and capable of sustained endeavour, at some time in the distant past built themselves a sanctuary for the worship of the sun.”

Lost City of the Incas

We got to Machu Picchu at sunrise. The light had just started its crawl up the mountainsides and you get a sense of what it must have been like 300 years ago when the Inca populated this incredible city. Every moment, the light of the entire valley changed as the sun continued its way up. The Inca didn’t do anything on accident. Every rock was placed precisely and so too, the selection of this site would have in part been for this view.

Sunrise over Machu Picchu

We caught the bus from Agua Caliente in the dark. We left in the first round of transport and there was already a pretty long line. It moved quickly though. I highly recommend this. As you can see in the photos, it’s still possible to see patches without people. By noon, the day-trippers have arrived and then every inch is crawling.

 

If you enjoy hiking, be sure to plan a hike up Machu Picchu Mountain. Reservations needs to be done before your trip and there is a fee. We didn’t make it up this one and wish we had. The building of the ruins wasn’t finished as you can see from a rock quarry in the middle of the city.

View of Machu PIcchu Mountain and the local rock quarry.
View of Machu PIcchu Mountain and the local rock quarry.

The ancients world-wide are known as Astronomers in a surprising way. They seem to know things about the stars beyond the scope of their technology. The Ancient Andean people are no different. They are wildly aware of the cardinal directions, time of day, and are star gazers.

It is believed that after death, the soul goes to the lower world. From there, the Condor descends to retrieve it and takes it to the upper world (heaven). It’s no wonder then that the condor is so revered in Andean culture and that it would have a temple dedicated solely to this magic bird.

Huayna Picchu is the distinct mountain you see in all the ‘classic’ Machu Picchu photos. Similarly to Machu Picchu Mountain, you have to register to hike this peak ahead of time and there is a fee. A note of caution: the whole thing is stairs so if you have bad knees, you may want to sit this one out. But otherwise, get yourself up there! As I share in the next post, it’s well worth the sweat and quite likely, tears.

Huayna Picchu and the Sacred Plaza
Huayna Picchu and the Sacred Plaza

 

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