Remember to CLICK on the images to enlarge them, especially the Panoramics, its worth it…
Machu Picchu is possibly the most famous icon of the Inca world. It is located 80 km away from Cusco, which was the political centre of the Inca world and is 2430m above sea level. Much like Antarctica, there are no superlatives to describe Machu Picchu when you see it for the first time. We arrived on the site at about 08:30 in the morning and were greeted by the most incredible view of….mist. Loads of thick mist. It was so thick that I wasn’t even sure where Machu Picchu was as the visibility was down to about 20 metres. Francis and I perched ourselves on a rock that supposedly overlooked the citadel and waited. As the mist began to lift, we caught glimpses of the ruins below us, but soon more mist would blow in and they would disappear ethereally again as soon as they had appeared. It seemed that we weren’t going to see anything for a while and we decided that if the mist hadn’t lifted by 10:00 we would move on to other areas of the site. The mist began to lift at about 9:55 and we were treated to an amazing display of nature. Fast moving and swirling mist lifted and revealed the magnificent beauty of the city that is Machu Picchu. Within minutes we had an incredible view of this wonder of the world and pretty soon I found myself just staring in awe at this amazing place.
The site itself is set on top of a mountain, it is a breathtaking setting that is very commanding. From the top of that mountain, the Incas had a view of all the surrounding peaks and Machu Picchu was at the centre of it. The sacred geometry that the Incas used to design the place and position it so precisely remains largely a mystery. Rocks are carved to millimeter precision and fit exactly together. The design is on purpose and not simply for aesthetics. It is believed that some of the patterns were used to prevent collapse during an earthquake. The structures look almost like a tetris game as the rocks are cut into different sizes and patterns, some as big as a car, others small stones the size of a mans hand make up the rocky puzzle. It remains a mystery how they managed to take these massive rocks up to the site as well as place them so carefully in place. The effect is incredible, the symmetry remarkable and the workmanship and beauty simply unlike anything I have ever seen before. There is even running water in some parts, the Incas had waterways and canals that fed certain parts of the settlement and you see this running throughout the place. There are also some very sacred areas that would have been used for rituals and sacrifices, the Incas would do human sacrifices from time to time. As I stood there, marveling at this masterpiece of architecture and design, I couldn’t help but think that some part of that place had run red with the blood of humans that had been offered up to the Inca gods.
We visited and walked the whole site and it is BIG. We spent over 6 hours there and we could have spent more, but were pretty tired and hungry by the time we left. We walked up to Intipunku or the Sun Gate and saw some very unique views of Machu Picchu. We then walked along the other side of the mountain to the Inca Bridge and looked at that. That walk was along a narrow path along the side of a cliff and it could be a little sheer at times!
All in all, Machu Picchu was one of the highlights of our trip so far, and certainly a highlight in Peru. I somehow think that we will return there someday, but until then, I will always remember how incredible it was to see one of the 7 wonders of the world first hand and realize just how breathtaking Machu Picchu really is!