Published: February 26th 2012February 25th 2012
So as soon as I started to tell people that I was off to Peru, the first thing that most people asked me is 'are you going to Machu Picchu?' I have to admit that before sorting out this trip I had never heard of it, showing my ignorance but at least it is honest!
For those of you who are like me and did not know of Machu Picchu until now I will give you a brief oultine. It was 'discovered' in 1911 by a man named Hiram Bingham who was looking for the Lost City of the Incas, the place that they had disappeared to when the Spanish finally defeated them. The locals from the area had known about Machu Picchu for many years and they led him to it, and he then 'discovered' it for the World. Unfortunately for him, it was not the Lost City, this was later found deeper in the jungle.
Luckily for us though, he did bring Machu Picchu into the public domain. I will try my best to explain it to you and to show you it through photos but nothing can really explain the feeling of being
in it and being surrounded by it everywhere that you look.
To get to Machu Picchu you generally stay the night before in the town at the bottom of the mountain, Aguas Calientes. This town is named after the hot waters that run underneath of it. When we reached the town it was pouring with rain and after dropping off our bags at the hostel we made our way to the thermal baths and enjoyed a relaxing few hours in the warm waters in the middle of the trees, the beginning of the jungle. This experience was made even more enjoyable as it was pouring down with rain at the time, so we could sit in the hot baths and feel the cool rain on our heads.
To get to the top of the mountain you can either take a 20 minute bus or you can walk up, the walk takes about an hour if you are fit. We chose the bus option as it was 5.30 in the morning and none of us were really awake. For someone who is scared of heights the bus was not the best option as the road up there is scarily
close to the edge and as it is a single track for most of the route the bus often had to stop and reverse to let another bus pass. Walking may have been better for my nerves!
Machu Picchu is 900m lower than Cusco but you really do feel like you are on top of the world. As you reach the top and look around all that you can see are more mountains and clouds, not a hint of commercial or developed land anywhere, just trees, clouds and mountains. Once up there we spent the whole day trekking around the ruins as there is so much to see. We also had a tour guide for a few hours who explained the ruins to us and showed us where the living quarters, the temples and the observatories used to be. Archaelogists believe that it took 10,000 people to build the city and only 500 people lived there. On the mountain there are 3 quarries which were used to take the stone from to build the quarters, the sheer size of these stones and the manpower that must have gone into shaping and building with them is unimaginable. The city was
mainly inhabited by Priests, Astronomers and Farmers. The farmers were very important as they provided the food for the residents and for trade.
As well as the views there is also the beautiful air. It smells fresher and cleaner than any I have breathed before and it really relaxes you, making you forget the hours of climbing and walking that you have done around the site. There is also the wildlife as there are llamas wandering around the ruins, making the most of the plush grass. While we were there we had beautiful sunshine all day, which made the whole experience even more enjoyable. It also meant that I spent many a moment reapplying my sun block, which paid off as I was one of the few in the group that didn't make the descent nursing their sunburn!
There was the opportunity to climb up Huayna Picchu, another mountain, the taller one that you can see in the photos however I simply couldn't bring myself to do it, it really was too high and too scary for me! In places on Huayna Picchu there are no steps, only rocks wedged in the mountain and with a lack of
handrails I stayed on the serene slopes of the ruins instead, a wise decision methinks!
I will finish by saying if you ever get the chance to see this place, do it. It really was the most relaxing and breathtaking place I have ever been.
Speak to you soon, take care,
There are more photos below