A Travellerspoint blog

Machu Picchu

The Gold at the end of the Rainbow

sunny 28 °C

Four hundred blogs and counting.

In roughly 200,000 words, accompanied by 2,500 photos, we have taken you to 36 countries on 6 continents, and to celebrate our four hundredth blog entry we will show you one of the manmade wonders of the world – the great Inca city of Machu Picchu, perched eight thousand feet up in the Peruvian Andes.

Our journey begins in Cusco, but there is no road: only treacherous mountain paths trod long ago by Inca runners, or the snaking narrow gauge railway that follows the deep gorges carved by the tumbling Urubamba river as it plummets from the High Andes into Amazonia on its protracted passage to the Atlantic. We eschew the five day tortuous hike in favour of the train and arrive in the hotel-heavy riverside town of Aguas Calientes without a blister…
The dimly lit pre-dawn streets of Aguas Calientes are abuzz with expectant sightseers at 5am as we hustle for the first bus to Machu Picchu. Five hundred people beat us to the bus stop and we shuffle forward anxiously, hoping to reach the ancient ruins before they are obscured by throngs of camera clutchers. Thick clouds swirl in the sheer sided valleys and the towering mountains are merely mirages as our bus ascends the rock strewn road that precariously clings to the cliffs’ edges. Vertiginous drops into bottomless valleys are made less terrifying by the knowledge that the driver has made this trip a thousand times before, and in thirty minutes we reach the sky, but find only shadows…
Beneath us, we are told, is one of the greatest wonders of the world. There are temples, houses, streets and terraces built nearly six hundred years ago on a mountaintop by a lost civilization. We peer frantically into the fog – surely we will not be disappointed after such a long journey. And then the sun rises and pulls back the curtains on one of the most stunning sights in the world…
This is Machu Picchu – a city built in the clouds for reasons that may forever remain a mystery. However, the purpose of the various temples seems clear. There is the Condor Temple, built to deify the Andean bird that in Inca mythology ruled the sky where the great sun god, Inti, lived…
All of the temples of Machu Picchu were crafted from granite by highly skilled stonemasons using basic tools and these building blocks have stood more than five centuries without the aid of mortar and not a blade of grass can squeeze between them…
Lesser buildings like these dwellings may well have been to house the builders and inhabitants…
While these more roughly built terraces were for the production of food…
But, since the re-discovery of this ‘lost’ city by the American explorer Hiram Bingham in 1912, no one has explained with certainty why the Incas built this city in such a precarious place. Maybe, like us, they just loved the spectacular views…
Maybe, like us, they were moved to tears by the sight of their extraordinary city in the sky.

Posted by Hawkson 07:09 Archived in Peru

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Looking forward to having you to lunch when you are home.

by liz astill

What a grand finale! Can't get over the masonry. That one wall built atop the rock slab is amazing: plumb true and fit to contour, all without mortar.

by R and B

I sit in awe of your journey and the sights you have brought us.Thank you so much for taking me on this journey.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Your photos, as always, are incredible - who would not want to make this trek after seeing these images?

by millerburr

Thanks for the 400. Got me started at work many times and now starts my day in retirement. Machu Picchu is stunning. Photos brought back the memories of Sumiko and I there.

Looking forward to seeing you home.

by Tom

Awesome!Maybe they had help building it by visitors from another galaxy?

by K&T Venning

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