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Machu Picchu (Gabby)

October 25, 2010

 

First Rays on Machu Picchu

 

Machu Picchu

Alpaca in front of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Even if you’ve never been to Peru, you’ve probably heard of Machu Picchu. It was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham, an American explorer, in 1911. His journal of discovery is recounted in his book “Lost City of the Incas,” which I would highly recommend as both a historical guide and amusing personal history. Machu Picchu is a few hours outside of Cusco by train and is next to the town Aguas Calientes – a town that I belive has only sprung up as a result of tourism.

My good friend and colleague Bill Campbell is currently visiting me in Peru, so I decided to make the trek out to Machu Picchu again. We took the IncaRail train out to Aguas Calientes for a stay of two nights. Despite the fact that Machu Picchu is the only attraction, it is necessary to stay overnight to get the fully experience by hiking Wayna Picchu. Wayna Picchu is a peak adjacent to Machu Picchu that gives you the full view from a few hundred meters above the ancient city. Wayna Picchu is also home to a few ruins and causes one to marvel at the sheer physical strength of the Incas in carrying rocks straight up a mountain for a good 1000 feet.  In any case, only 400 people per day get to climb Wayna Picchu because of the small stone staircase that leads to the top. In order to be one of the lucky few, you have to get up at around 3:30am and stand at the bus stop until the first bus departs at 5:30am. I heard more than one Peruvian mutter “crazy gringos” under their breath as they sold us overpriced coffee.

The long wait and early hours are certainly worthwhile because climbing off the first or second bus gets you sweet light and views of the ruins without hoardes of tourists. After taking some of the shots below, we hiked Wayna Picchu at 7am and huffed and puffed our way up the 100 flight staircase until we reached the top. Sitting on the ancient ruins at the top gives you an almost 360 degree view of the surrounding peaks. It made me think that spending a whole life tucked away in the remote mountains wouldn’t be that bad.

 

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