After Cuzco and the Sacred Valley we headed to Aguas Calientes on our way to Machu Picchu.
The first bus up will leave at 5.30 am so as real early birds we’re standing in the same line as the rest of the tourists, who appeared to be early birds as well. It is possible to walk the one hour track through the bush up the mountain but because of my physical disability (as a result of mountain sickness) we don’t. We walk through security, meet our guide Jonathan and then there it finally is; Machu Picchu! Literally ‘the old mountain’. Ingenious, mysterious and breathtakingly beautiful. For a second, I cannot believe we are actually here. Standing on top of the famous Inca Empire ruin, watching over remnants of the old civilization.
The view is breathtaking. While it is still early in the morning, the sun rises over the mountains. Rays of light coming through soft clouds surrounding the mountains. Mystic all over. Clouds appear, cover the Inca village and disappear in a blink of an eye. The morning air is so fresh and clean that we have to sit down and only enjoy the view. I am wondering; how can this place be so perfectly beautiful?
Machu Picchu became part of the World Heritage List of UNESCO in 1983. The old city is situated 2,430 meter above sea level and is divided into three parts (agriculture, ceremonial and urban) that are built from bottom to top. The Inca civilization have chosen this particular mountain among all others because of the rock formation. Granite hardly contains cracks and is relatively simple to cultivate. However, the Inca’s still managed to have three generations working on the old city without finishing. The men left for war and left women and children behind.
Again I am so fascinated by ingenuity of this ancient civilization (read more about Inca and Nasca, for the moment only available in Dutch though). On the 21st of June the sun is positioned exactly in the V-formed mountain in front of Machu Picchu while shining precisely at a specific temple. On the same date a weirdly shaped rock happen to have a shadow with the form of lama’s head. Corners of this rock corresponding with latitudes as shown by the compass of a hypermodern Iphone. These people knew this ages ago and we are testing their knowledge with our technical gadgets.
Most beautiful part of Machu Picchu in my opinion are two small bassins filled with water. These “Espejos de Agua” (mirrors of water) were used to study the position of stars. On June 21st the suns covers half of the basins so that the Inca’s knew winter was making its entrance.
Three animals play a central role in the myths of the Inca civilization; snake (underworld), puma (our world) and the condor (heaven, afterlife). Inca’s sacrificed guinea pigs and lama’s at the bottom of a giant granite condor. They believed that their sould were transported to the afterlife by condors. After many hours at the old mountain (we did not want to leave) we went back to Aguas Calientes in order to take the train back to Ollantaytambo. A mini bus (including driver who had problems taking turns) will bring us back to Cuzco from where we will fly to Arequipa. Hasta luego!
El Tambo Machupicchu, booked via Booking.com (EUR 38,00 p/n)
Excursion (including train and bus):
Arranged by Niños Hotel in Cuzco. I have to say that organization-wise it was slightly vague and it cost us a lot but no further complaints and guide Jonathan was amazing (EUR 360 p/p)