Machu Picchu, Peru

Friday August 17, an early morning (6AM!) bus ride took us to the mountain-top site of Machu Picchu. We arrived early enough to catch photos of the ruins in the drifting morning fog – quite spectacular. Bill and I first hiked up to the guard house for a great view over the site that was once home to 600 Incas. The site was a “late” Inca construction, was never discovered by the invading Spaniards and was only “re-discovered” in 1911. It was built as a retreat for the last Inca ruler. About 60 per cent of the site is agricultural terraces. The west side drops off steeply to the Urubamba River and there are narrow terraces down this side. Although these terraces were used for farming their main purpose seems to be to stabilize that side of the site. Due to all the terracing the site has a large flat area at its center that forms the Central Plaza. There are various groups of building south and east of the plaza as well a temples west of it, all higher than the plaza. We walked SW from the site on one of the “Inca Roads” leading to the site. We walked away from the site on the road which was little more than a path clinging to the cliff, to the overlook of an Inca “drawbridge”. Here the cliff was so steep that a rock wall was built with the path on top. A gap was left and that was spanned by logs that could be easily removed to prevent access to Machu Picchu along that route.

Machu Picchu is now ranked as one of the New Seven Wonders of the world. It certainly seems so to us! It compares favorably with the ruined city of Pompeii in Italy, Chichen Itza (also on the New Seven Wonders list) in Mexico and Tikal in Guatemala. All are different and spectacular.

After spending seven hours exploring the site, and after we had seen almost all of it, we returned to the tourist facilities at the entrance. After sitting down to rest there, we realized that we were too tired to climb back up and into the site, so we returned to Aguas Calientes on the bus, found a nice dinner and returned to our hotel.