What is Machu Picchu?
Machu pichu its considered one of the wonders of the modern world, an ancient city miraculously built by the Incas 8000 feet above sea level, a place which remained unrevealed to the Spanish conquistadors and to the entire world until the 20th century.
Was his discovery pure coincidence or the will of deities? The locals believe that Ukuku (the spirit of the mountains) have played an important role, leading the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham throughout the tick forest until he reached the ancient city.
After a 14.000 km journey from Abu dhabi to Peru, I am stepping on south american land ready to discover the most amazing place ever built by the man kind.
When to visit it?
The best time to visit Machu Picchu its in the dry season, from April to October. I didn’t know that when I planned my trip to Peru and I end up there in March.
Even thought its not the peak season, hundred people are queuing in front of the bus station in Aguas calientes waiting impatiently for the 20 minutes ride which will take us to the top, while others more adventurers are hiking the famous Inca trail (43 km), in a trip that last for days.
Wet season is about to cancel our plans
The day started quite bad since the beginning, with just few hours of sleep and a long trip from Cusco (2 hours by bus and another one by train), my friend fighting a nasty food poisoning, travel agents poorly organized and…a grey sky covered by tick clouds. Its the rainy season and since our arrival in Cusco we had to deal with the whimsical weather (rain in the morning and evenings, strong sun in the afternoon) and now it is about to ruin our visit.
Apparently, the large amount of rain from the past few days determined the rocks to fall out of the mountains, blocking the roads and even putting in danger the tourists life, reason why the trips to Machu Pichu were delayed for hours and even canceled.
How to book your trip
The whole trip was purchased in advance from a travel agency located in Cusco and it cost 220$ a lot more cheaper than other tour operators were trying to charge us and it included transportation to Aguas caliente, bus and entrance fee to Machu Pichu. Don’t let yourself fooled if you don’t find a decent price as you can easily organize your own trip with half of the price….Machu Picchu being just few Google clicks away.
The road to the sky
After 4 hours delay in the initial schedule we finally reach the top and we are now facing Machu Picchu and Huyana Picchu (the two beautiful mountains surrounding the ancient city), partially covered by clouds but nevertheless truly mesmerizing. I can’t believe my eyes, the image that used to be a dreamlike destination, a wallpaper or a famous profile picture is materializing right now in front of me. I am here, on top of the world, in the most beautiful place I ever been….the heaven of Incas!
Avoid the dangerous areas
I am stepping carefully on the slippery pavement, being aware that a wrong step might cost me the life. Just two years ago (2016) a German tourists had fallen to his death after he bypassed a security cordon in a failed attempt of taking an impressive picture in a prohibited area of the site.
The clouds are multiplying visibly, wrapping the magic land in a white, mystical veil and I can’t stop thinking how lucky were the Incas living here, so close to their Gods.
Who lived here?
The archaeological discoveries sustain the idea that Machu Picchu was used as royal estate for Pachacutec (one of the most important rulers) who was the one ordering the construction of the city. During his reign, Pachacutec would often visit Machu Picchu accompanied by his soldiers, servants and priests, reason why most of the bones found in the area belonged to men more than women.
The sky through inca’s eyes
Incas were not only skilled architects but also advanced astrologists, using this science to predict different alignments of the stars, necessary for religious purpose and agriculture. In this sense, two water mirrors and a Temple of the Sun have been discovered in Machu Picchu, being used by the Inca astronomers to track the movement of the constellations and planets on the sky.
How the Incas managed to built a complex city on top of a hill remains a mystery like anything else regarding the ancient civilization which is believed to be fallen from the stars straight to the Earth.
Walking towards the exit, I am trying to immortalize the breathtaking view in my memory for forever, well aware that this is a life time adventure, a magic city where I will probably never return.
Llamas love modern treats
Few llamas enjoying their lunch complete the magical scenery of a heavenly place, and seem to be undisturbed by the tourists presence. Even though are considered herbivores same like their bigger relatives, the camels, the cute animals are quite addicted to the snacks offered by the people (cookies, potatoes chips) and are ready to perform a real show in exchange of a delicious treat.
Talking about food, we decided to take a long lunch break in Aguas calientes before our departure. Curious to try the national food whenever I travel abroad , I am choosing the Llama (alpaca) steak from the menu, but my choice doesn’t prove to be so tasty as I expected.
**For more info about peruvian food and their house specialty (Llamas and Guinea pig) check my post below.
The small town of Aguas caliente is the departure point for Machu Picchu regardless if you choose to take the bus or to hike for few hours and like any touristic place tend to be overpriced. Make sure to ask about the service charge before you enter a restaurant as it can reach up to 25% (the highest I ever seen).
The hot springs are just around the corner (15minutes walk) and it will cost only 3$. Check the temperature of the water before you jump in…some pools are very hot while others are ice cold.