Machu Picchu

October 5, 2008 - 11:36 pm 1 Comment

As we got closer to Machu Picchu, the scenery got more and more majestic. I could tell by the cone-shaped, fuzzy green mountains, the orange moss-covered cliffs, and the vines draped over the river from the trees that we were going to see something special.

Urubumba River from the Train

The train stopped at Aguas Calientes, the small town that pretty much exists only as a base for Machu Picchu day trips. We got our paperwork, finances, and schedule sorted out so that we could maximize our time up at Machu Picchu. On our way out, the receptionist at our hotel said the only four English words I think she knew:

“Yes, tripods are OK.”

Statue of Pachacutec

The bus up to Machu Picchu went up the mountain through about 47 switchbacks. You get very high very quickly.

Waiting in line, people pushed and cut into an obviously single file line, the same way they’ve been doing when getting off any one of our flights this trip. How is pushing and shoving acceptable in any culture? There are easily more tourists here than anywhere else in Peru.

As I handed over my ticket for entry, the lady says I can’t take in my tripod. More than aggravated. Once inside, I would find people with large backpacks and walking sticks, both of which were explicitly forbidden at Machu Picchu. I even saw a woman with a tripod. Can we have a meeting about this?

Machu Picchu truly is pretty amazing. It’s actually one of those places that looks exactly the way you see it in photos. There is that famous shot from the top with Wayna Picchu (the name of the imposing mountain in the background) and the Machu Picchu ruins sprawled out in front of it. The fast-moving clouds constantly change the mood of the place. The things I didn’t expect were the llamas openly gracing on the terraces, the ferocious, swirling winds throwing dust in my face, and the swarms of midges trying to fly into my eyes, nose, and mouth.

Machu Picchu

Llama at Machu Picchu

Inside the Hut of the Caretaker of the Funerary Rock

Machu Picchu

Josh and I, each with our differing aerobic capacities, agreed to walk around on our own. Nice to wander around a place like that. When you start to explore, you begin to see the place in more unusual and interesting ways. Getting that unique perspective is one of the things that makes visiting famous places so interesting.

Inside Machu Picchu

Terraces of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is an amazing place today because it’s one of the few places the Spaniards didn’t discover and destroy when they were wiping out the Incas. Unfortunately, tourists HAVE found it and have surely been tearing it up since its discovery in 1911. Guys blow their whistles at you if you climb on the ruins, but that’s not enough. People are walking, touching, bumping, chipping, collecting, picking up rocks to use as a tripod because they weren’t allowed to bring one in… It’s only a matter of time before the place falls apart. I envision a time in the near future where a raised wooden walkway through the ruins is the only way to see Machu Picchu.

Last bus out of Machu Picchu was at 5:30pm, so you can’t really hang out until the sun sets.

Band in the Main Square

Tomorrow, I wake up BEFORE the crack of dawn (again) to climb Wayna Picchu. Machu Picchu is open to everyone, but the hike to Wayna Picchu is only open to a limited number of people each day, so you have to get up early if you want to do it. No regrets, right?

    One Response to “Machu Picchu”

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