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Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu

June 24, 2014

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Full Machu Picchu Photo Gallery Here

From the small village of Ollantaytambo, we boarded the train for the two hour ride to Machu Picchu! The famous mountain top city of the Incas and one of the most recognizable and popular tourist attractions in the world. Machu Picchu, an Inca city abandoned and lost to the world was rediscovered and reintroduced to the world in 1911. The ruins were overgrown with jungle vegetation but were more or less intact. This is largely due to the fact that it was abandoned before the Spanish Conquistadors could learn about it and destroy it, and the fact that no one but locals had ever gone there since.

Early morning ride on a Perurail train to Machu Picchu.
Early morning ride on a Perurail train to Machu Picchu.

We boarded the train from Ollantaytambo at 6:10 in the morning and after a scenic one and a half hour ride arrived in the town of Aguas Calientes at the base of the mountain beneath Machu Picchu. The town of Aguas Calientes exists solely to service the tourists coming and going from the mountain and is a collection of restaurants, fancy hotels and hostels and a sea of tourist gift shops and of course the train station.

The town of Aquas Calientes at the base of the mountain beneath Machu Picchu.
The town of Aguas Calientes at the base of the mountain beneath Machu Picchu.

We purchased our tickets in town and boarded the bus that would take us the short 20 minute ride uphill to Machu Picchu.  Oftentimes it is wise to purchase a Machu Picchu entrance ticket in advance, as the site is limited to 2500 people per day.  We did not have any problems getting tickets the morning of, as we went on June 24th, the date of Cusco’s biggest festival, Inti Raymi.

From here its just a short 20 minute bus ride up the steep hill to Machu Picchu.
From here its just a short 20 minute bus ride up the steep hill to Machu Picchu.

Our first views of Machu Picchu were amazing.

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Machu Picchu Mountain

Our tickets included access to Machu Picchu Mountain, above the city (Opposite direction from where most pictures are taken). If you think of the popular view of Machu Picchu, the typical picture that you see everywhere, Machu Picchu Mountain would be behind the photographer. The dome shaped mountain looming over the city in all the photos is called Huayna Picchu.

The original Inca trail stone steps up Machu Picchu Mountain.
The original Inca trail stone steps up Machu Picchu Mountain.
Inca trail leading to the city, from the mountain.
Inca trail leading to the city, from the mountain.

We climbed up the original Inca trail complete with stone steps to the top of the mountain, and a great view from far above the city.

The view from Machu Picchu Mountain.
The view from Machu Picchu Mountain.

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Krista at the summit.
Krista at the summit.
The Inca Trail in the distance, as seen from the top of the mountain.  Its a four day walk to complete the entire trail.
The Inca Trail in the distance, as seen from the top of the mountain. Its a four day walk to complete the entire trail.

After returning from the top of the mountain we took a side trip around the cliff face of the mountain to the Inca Bridge. A small wooden bridge along one the trails leading to the city built right along a massive cliff face. The wooden planks of the bridge are removable, creating an easily defensible entry point for the city. Below the bridge is a cliff which plummets at least a thousand feet.

Its at least a 1000 foot drop down the cliff beneath the bridge built along the cliff.
Its at least a 1000 foot drop down the cliff beneath the bridge built along the cliff.
Krista defending the bridge.
Krista defending the bridge.

Back in the city we explored the ruins and all the different buildings and stonework.

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There are many great examples of the fine Inca stonework plainly visible and still intact throughout the entire city.  Including waterways built throughout to bring water into the city from springs on the mountain.  Many of which are still working today.

 

A water channel, still functioning.
A water channel, still functioning.

machu_picchu_water1machu_picchu_inca_stonework2Many of the stones are so tight you cannot fit a piece of paper between them.

Many of the stones are so tight you cannot fit a piece of paper between them.

Stone loops are common on many of the buildings.
Stone loops are common on many of the buildings.
There are many huge stones perfectly shaped and placed in building throughout the city.
There are many huge stones perfectly shaped and placed in building throughout the city.
Inca steps, carved into a massive stone block.
Inca steps, carved into a massive stone block.
I've seen this movie, poison darts shoot out of the holes if you step on the wrong stones. Nice try!
I’ve seen this movie, poison darts shoot out of the holes if you step on the wrong stones. Nice try!

There are several important buildings and sacred spots within the city, such as the Temple of the Sun,  The Intihuatana Stone and the Mirror Pools.

The Temple of the Sun, a rounded building built right over a solid granite tomb was the location of the Cult of the Sun and the tomb for royal mummies.  Several mummies were kept in the tombs below for worship.

The Temple of the Sun.
The Temple of the Sun.

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The royal tombs, built beneath the Temple of the Sun.
The royal tombs, built beneath the Temple of the Sun.

The Intihuatana Stone, Astronomical observations were extremely important to the Inca’s, the Intihuatana stone assisted in these observations.

The Intihuatana Stone.
The Intihuatana Stone.

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The Mirror Pools, the Inca’s built these wide shallow water pools to reflect the night sky, making observations of the stars easier.

These pools reflected the night sky, for easier observations of the stars.
These pools reflected the night sky, for easier observations of the stars.

Llamas have free reign in the ruins and are the primary lawn mowers, keeping the weeds and grass in check.

Llamas can be seen all over the ruins.
Llamas can be seen all over the ruins.
A llama climbing Inca steps to a higher level of the ruins, and hopefully some higher grass.
A llama climbing Inca steps to a higher level of the ruins, and hopefully some higher grass.
A view rarely shown, looking behind the city at Machu Picchu Mountain.
A view rarely shown, looking behind the city at Machu Picchu Mountain.

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After seeing the ruins, we decided to fore-go the bus ride down the hill and walked back to Aguas Calientes.  A little over an hour downhill.  There we had some dinner and hopped on our 6:45 pm train back to Ollantaytambo.

The walk back to town.
The walk back to town.

Machu Picchu – Costs

Getting there:  US $57.00 Per person, each way , for the train from Ollantaytambo to the town of Aguas Calientes (Town at the base of Machu Picchu.)
US $10.00 Per person, each way, for the short bus ride up the hill from Aguas Calientes (you can walk it but it will take a few hours or more, uphill.)
Entrance Fee :  US $50.00 Per person – (Includes access to trail up Machu Picchu Mountain – the viewpoint above Machu
Picchu. $45.00 without.)

Food/Drinks: US $13.00 For a coffee, US $10.00 for a can of soda… (Bring your own)