Day 10, Machu Picchu

How do I write about one of the most amazing experience I’ll ever have, that we as a family will ever have together?  How do I describe what it is like to climb up one of the New Seven Wonders of the World?  It’s pretty awesome to think of it that way, a Wonder of the World.  How many of us can make claims to having seen one?  I know I’ll be lucky to see another one in my in my lifetime, that’s for sure.

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I had wanted to climb to the top of Huayna Picchu which is the mountain in the background of this photo.  Only about 400 people are allowed to climb per day and our guide told us that we would need to leave at 3AM to reserve our spot.  No one was up for such an early adventure.  Plus, Soso was a little young for an hour hike up a steep, narrow and at time precarious trail.

We took a bus at a more decent time around 9AM.  The bus climbed up the mountain on this windy road.
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There are two main areas in Machu Picchu, agricultural and urban.  The urban area contains several religious sites including the Temple of the Sun. Note how the architecture resembles the Qoricancha Sun Temple in Cusco?
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Under the temple was the Royal Tomb. I can’t help but remark again on the masonry work. Notice how the stones were carved to mold into the side of the mountain?
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Near the Temple are the Scared Baths also known as Ceremonial Baths and Ritual Fountains.  Similar in concept to the one found in Tambomachay in Cusco, here there are 16 baths, each one flowing into another.
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We headed over to the Sacred Plaza where the Temple of Three Windows is located. IMG_1243

One theory states that the sunlight through the windows would cast a shadow of the stepped stone in the center, creating the Inca “cross.”  The cross represents the four regions of the Inca Empire. By the way, our guide was camera-shy.
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In the center of the plaza was this large stone, that seem to have been in transition.  The Incas did not use wheels so how these massive stones were moved from the quarry let alone up the mountain is still unknown.
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A small climb up from the plaza is the only intact Intiwatana stone left in South America.  The English translation is “the hitching post of the sun.”  It is believed that Machu Picchu was used to study astronomy and  that Intiwatana stone helped to predict the solstices. Many people today believe that the stone has magnetic healing powers and we could see tourists putting their hands over the stone.
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This is known as the Temple of the Condor. It was hard to get the right angle for a photo. Can you see the wings?
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Our guide said these reflecting pools used for astronomical observations.
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The “trapezoid” doorway. Did I mention that the shape had structural significance? The trapezoid shape is more stable during earthquakes.
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Inside one of the buildings, possibly a residence.
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Finally, I think it is time for llamas, don’t you?
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For the record, the guide assured us that we could feed the llamas. I don’t normally feed “wild” animals, but Soso had so much fun.
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Whatchu looking at?
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You talkin’ to me?
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The guided tour was over after the llamas and we were on our own. We accidentally found the trail to the Inca Bridge. At the beginning of the trail was a guard who took down our names and the time we entered the trail. I guess the trail was isolated and narrow enough for precautions.
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D was tired so he decided to wait for us and took this picture of us taking off.
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The guard had told us that we could do it at a fast walk in 30 minutes. Oh, he was mistaken. We needed to take a break.  I think whole hike took an hour.
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We finally made it to the bridge. There are actually two bridges to Machu Picchu. One rope bridge is on the Inca trail. This one is known as the Trunk Bridge because they used to lay down trunks to cross and remove it to make Machu Picchu inaccessible to invaders.
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We made it back to the guard house. We headed back to the main plaza to take some more photos.

Here are a few photos to give you an idea of the height and steepness of Machu Picchu.

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The tiny hut way up on top of the mountain is the Guardian’s Hut and where the Inca Trail enters Machu Picchu. It is the highest point in Machu Picchu and the view down to the main plaza is supposed to be spectacular. We never made it to the top hut. By the time the tour was over the, trail up had gotten so crowded, it would have taken another hour to get up there. We were getting hungry and tired.

So, we took a picture of this hut, about half way up so we would at least have a photo of a restored hut.
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The steps up were usually steep like this. Machu Picchu is no place for anyone with vertigo.
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And like this.
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We managed to make it high enough to take some decent photos of the main plaza.
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From a lower vantage point.
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It was hard to stop taking pictures. I have ridiculous number of pictures with the same exact background at slightly different angles. It’s just that up there, everything looked so beautiful and spectacular and fabulous and you just kind of get click happy.
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A look down the mountain.
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A final look at the Huayna Picchu that I didn’t get to climb. If you click on the photo, you can actually zoom and see the terraces and buildings up on top. The whitish looking thing is a tarp covering one of the buildings.
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And we’re done. After 6 hours of climbing up and down Machu Picchu, we were more than ready to rest our weary feet and find some food. All except for Soso. Soso impressed me. She kept up with us the entire time. In fact she wanted to climb to the Guardian’s Hut and she was very disappointed when we told her it was time to leave.

I leave you with my final impression of Machu Picchu, a seemingly gigantic poinsettia at the entrance.
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2 thoughts on “Day 10, Machu Picchu

  1. Very nice travel pics! Macchu Picchu has always been one of the places I’d want to go to one day. Seeing your pictures makes me want to fly to Peru. NOW! =D

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