For many a visit to the Inca city of Machu Picchu is the long-anticipated highpoint of their trip in South America. In a spectacular location, it’s the best-known archaeological site on the continent, and possibly in the world. This awe-inspiring ancient city was never revealed to the conquering Spaniards and therefore was forgotten and preserved until the early part of the 20th century. Despite the great tourist influx, up to 3000 per day, the site manages to retain an air of grandeur and intrigue.
There is a great mystery surrounding machu picchu as there no definitive explanation for the citedal. With many palaces, plazas and temples built to the highest quality, historians suggest it to have been built as a ceremonial site, a military stronghold, or a mountain retreat for royalty. It's location, straddling the saddle of to major peaks in the Peruvian Andes, would suit all of the theories. Vertical Cliffs drop 600m to either side down to the turbulent Rio Urabamba, undoubtedly a harsh fate some would have experienced years gone by.
Machu Picchu appears to lie at the center of a network of related sites and trail,and many landmarks both man-made and mountainous appear to align with astronomical events like the solstice. The Inca had no written language, so they left no record of why they built the site or how they used it before it was abandoned in the early 16th century.
Landscape engineering skills are in strong evidence at Machu Picchu. The site’s buildings, walls, terraces, and ramps reclaim the steep mountainous terrain and make the city blend naturally into the rock escarpments on which it is situated. The 700-plus terraces preserved soil, promoted agriculture, and served as part of an extensive water distribution system that conserved water and limited erosion on the steep slopes.
The Inca’s achievements and skills are all the more impressive in respect of the knowledge they lacked. When Machu Picchu was built some 500 years ago they had no iron,steel, or wheels. Their tremendous effort apparently benefited relatively few people. S"ome experts maintain that fewer than a thousand individuals lived there.
In 1911 a Peruvian guide led Yale professor Hiram Bingham up a steep mountainside and into the history books as the first Western scholar to lay eyes on the “lost city” of Machu Picchu. While indigenous people knew of the site, Peru’s Spanish conquestadors never did. Thus, aiding Machu Picchu’s isolation, and preservation, over the centuries.
Today Machu Picchu is far from isolated. In fact it’s a must see for any visitor to Peru and its major draw. The extent of was not expected...
The salkantay trek was completed on day five with a lumbered 3 hour slog from hydroelectrico to aguas calientes, along the famous train track of the area. Ideally placed overlooking exciting whitewater in the valley below Machu Picchu, Aguas calientes otherwise known as a Machu pichu pueblo, is one big money sucking hole. It was developed for one sole purpose , rinsing every last penny out of tourists. You would be hard pressed to get to see Machu pichu for less than $150! Double that, if you do it the proper way and take the train in and out! Walking through the streets of the town it doesn't take long to have an oppurtunistic and persistent local up in your grill, selling you s***. In saying all this, the town is beautifully set above the river, surrounded by vertical, vegetation covered cliffs.
To be quite honest, our experience at Machu Picchu was a bit of a mixed bag. This possibly due to me putting it on a pedestal and having such high expectations. I had wanted to go to Machu Pichu for many years and seeing it on all of the brochures. Additionally, we had been secluded from the world for the previous 5 days, the contrast of being in a confined space with 1000s made it a little claustrophobic! We still had enough energy to explore the whole site, and enjoy the scale of it all and the beautiful scenery of the area.
The drive home was probably the most dangerous part of the week. 6 hours of narrow mountain road. As we approached a stretch of road that was notoriously bad for incidents, our driver made the religious crossing gesture with his hand. This didn't bode me with confidence. What came next was basically a single lane dirt road carved out of cliff with a sheer 100mt drop off the side! Quite a thrilling drive indeed.
An amazing week all round with scenery, history and adventure. If I could do it all again I would force myself up the 2000 steps at 5am, to enjoy the place with less tourists and less selfies.