The four day hike was complete and we assembled in our group, outside the lost Inca City of Machu Picchu in Peru. If you want to follow these posts in sequence then start at Inca Trail Day 1 – Part 1. In essence this is Day 4 – Part 4 – Machu Picchu, but I felt it an injustice to not include it as it’s own separate report such is the wonder of this wonder. This was definitely one of life’s better days. If you have been to Machu Picchu, you will know that. If you haven’t, it’s quite hard to understand the emotional and physical marvel that this place provides you with.
I feasted my eyes on Machu Picchu. It is as amazing as the photos portray it.
You cannot take your bags in with you. You cannot drink anything inside the gates. You cannot eat anything inside the gates. You cannot jump over the gates or get in for free. You wouldn’t want to do any of those anyway.
You can take as many photos and videos as you want. Of course that’s exactly what I did.
I wore my Santa Hat and my Northern Ireland football shirt. It felt nice to be there on Christmas Day. That made it more special to me.
Flying my Northern Ireland flag. Of all the places in the world my flag has been, Machu Picchu ranks as one of my favourites. A “travelling Northern Ireland flag” section of my website will appear at some point.
Arrival at the main entrance sign.
There are a few plaques near the actual entrance. I had already done my reading on it, and we also picked up a brochure at the passport stamp and ticketing office. They reckon the Ruins themselves date back to the 1400s, but one fact that is certain is that Hiram Bingham found Machu Picchu in 1911, I was there 99 years later.
Ticket. Stamped on Christmas Day!
Our Inca Trail included a guided tour once we got inside Machu Picchu. I think we had to pay a few Soles to leave our bag in.
The wonderful Sonja as ever would be our guide for the day.
The entrance, after scanning your ticket through. All part of the Machu Picchu routine and experience, even if this part does seem a bit touristy and commercial!
First proper glimpse of this wonder from inside the entrance.
I must also mention the weather, something which never bugs me when I travel as it is something we have no control over and I just take what weather I get, but on this particular day we had wind, mist/fog, sun and rain all in one. It was fantastic to experience the four seasons of Machu Picchu. Only seeing a bit of Christmas Day snow could possibly have made the day any better.
The mist and clouds around “Old Mountain” add to the mystery within.
When turned on her side, a woman’s face resembles the mountain scape in behind, including the much higher Wayna Picchu.
Everything about this place is stunning.
Our guided tour started at the bottom at the Royal Enclosures and worked it’s way up to the Astronomical Observatory. Don’t be fooled by any photos or videos you ever see of Mach Picchu. This city is massive. It had everything they needed in those days including water supply, food, shelter and views (essential in case of attack).
In one day you cannot possibly see every single part of the city and analyse it, so best just to take in what the tour tells you and decide what parts you really want to see. The entire south western part which is higher up and includes the Guardhouse was a part I didn’t even go into (however I had glanched down on it before entering the city).
The Royal Enclosures. The brick work design of these is far more detailed and superior than the other parts of the city. Close, tightly constructed bricks, well built would have meant this area was for the kings and queens of the city. Good for protection, shelter, views and warmth.
There is a lot of wildlife at Machu Picchu (on the Inca Trail I had already seen my fair share of insects, snakes (albeit dead ones), llamas, goats and birds.
A llama. There are more to be found, but actually I’m not an animal freak or lover and was more into the history, mystery and aura of the city rather than the wildlife. Some enthusiasts had their binoculars out during the four days.
More images from the Royal Enclosures.
Some decent photos of me inside the city of Machu Picchu! I wont apologise if these are repeat photos. It’s OK to do repeat photos when you’re talking about Machu Picchu.
Group shots were all taken near the top in the west agricultural sector (or at least over looking it).
With Sonja the guide, from Peru.
With Wei Lee, from Taiwan.
With the lads! Netherlands, Taiwan, Northern Ireland, Spain and Australia (with Indonesian heritage) were among our group. There were also the Argentinian guys, but on the Inca Trail section we split into 2 groups so they were at a different part of their tour.
Over the edge.
Some cracking views from near the top. I could simply bombard this page with photos, as I took hundreds, but I won’t. It should be enough to understand what Machu Picchu is really all about. All my photos are on my facebook page, you can add me here: Add me on Facebook
Quite how many people actually lived here is unknown, when it began is unknown. Why it was abandoned is unknown. Many questions remain unanswered in a similar way to England’s Stonehenge. Here’s a few questions I thought of on my visit:
1. Why did people stop living here? (invasion, death, famine, natural disaster, disease…)
2. When did people stop living here? (before Spanish invasion so they never found it?)
3. Why did they choose this place?
4. What did they call the city they lived in? (We all know it as “Machu Picchu” (Old Mountain) or as Hiram Bingham called it “The Lost City of The Incas”, but you can bet your life the locals had a different name for their home)
5. Why did nobody find it until 1911?
There is this interesting courtyard and temple section, containing various “can you work me outs?” including these basins which were either used as mirrors, for some religious reason or maybe just for storing water.
The temple of the three windows. Don’t touch the sacred stone.
A map of Machu Picchu.
After the guided tour we were free to walk around of our own accord. My Inca Trail ticket included my bus ride back to the lower nearby “city” of Aguas Calientes as well as my night train to Ollantaytambo from Aguas Calientes, and later still my bus from Ollantaytambo back to Cusco. I spent almost 2 hours walking round before heading down by a relaxing zig zag bus journey to Aguas Calientes (it took about 25 minutes). To be honest I would have walked if the bus hadn’t already been included in my ticket. It was Christmas Day of course!! SO I called into Church, picked up my photo from Day 1, phoned my family from a coin box and was ready to meet my fellow hikers for an afternoon lunch in Chaski Bar. Christmas Dinner would be Guinea Pig.
On a closing note, Machu Picchu is a special place. It is inspirational. It is one of the most memorable places I have ever been, and probably will ever be. I dedicate this report, and all the memories within my entire Inca Trail trip to my parents Joe Blair and Muriel Blair. Neither of them may ever visit Machu Picchu, or be interested enough to see it. But they bought the Inca Trail tour for me as a Christmas Present in 2010. Having lived for almost 32 years now, this is easily the best present I have ever received from anyone. Mum and Dad I hope you can enjoy the magic of Machu Picchu through my memories, videos and photos. Thanks again.
Where – Deepest Inca Valleys of Peru
What – Machu Picchu, a lost Inca City in the mountains, uninhabitated for centuries
Why – Nobody knows
Cost – Either cheat and get a bus up the hill and pay in, or do it like me and all the proper explorers by hiking for four days just to see it. Costs vary depending on time of year, package etc. My package included EVERYTHING except handing your bag in at the entrance. Expect to pay between $200 and $400 US Dollars depending on the package.
Company I used – Cusco Explorers, Calle Jorge Ochoa No. 241 Santiago, Cusco, Peru
My guides – Sonja. Juan Carlos and Jose Luis
E-mail – [email protected] or [email protected] or [email protected]
Beware of Scams and Fake Inca Trails: The Fake Inca Trail
THE STROKES – MACHU PICCHU:
JUST BEFORE ENTERING MACHU PICCHU:
ASTRONOMICAL PART OF MACHU PICCHU:
START OF MACHU PICCHU:
WAYNA PICCHU FROM MACHU PICCHU:
INSIDE MACHU PICCHU:
LOOKING INTO THE VALLEYS FROM MACHU PICCHU:
RAIN AT MACHU PICCHU:
RELAXING AT MACHU PICCHU
I have a facts booklet and leaflet, and you can get one at the entrance on the way in, but I thought I’d leave it to good old Wikipedia to encapsulate the meaning and information on Machu Picchu:
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. 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 AD 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.
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