And now the highlight of our week-long trip to Cusco, what millions of people come to Peru to see, The Lost City of the Inca's. The Spanish never found it and finally abandoned about 1540, the jungle took it over until 1911, over 400 years. A man by the name of Hyrum Bingham (actually an inactive Mormon) was taken to the ruins by a local farmer on a cold and rainy day.
We stayed in Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu. It is a very small town in existence solely for the tourists, and there are no taxis or trucks. In fact, there is no road to Aguas Calientes. When the train arrives with supplies, hired hands have to transport everything by wheelbarrow up the hill . . . everything!
It was Friday morning, rising at 5:00 to be in the bus line by 5:30am for our ride up the mountain to see the sun rise at Machu Picchu. There are 24 buses that carry people up and down the mountain and there were already a few hundred people in line so we had to stand there for over an hour. Finally it was our turn. As we got closer to the archeological site, we could see it hugging the mountain in front of us, peeking out between the trees, and then we were there.
After passing through the ticket stile, there it was spread before us as the morning fog was lifting and the sun shining through. It was magnificent! After all the pictures we’ve seen, we weren’t ready for the true splendor, like seeing the Grand Canyon in person for the first time.
The Lost City of the Inca's
We spent the next few hours with our guide as he explained the significance of the different areas, and then by 11:00, we were left to explore on our own. We continued to explore all around, places we walked through too quickly or passed by altogether.
We enjoyed quiet time just sitting, pondering and feeling the special spirit there. There were so many people, but only a few of the most popular structures were really crowded. The park allows 2,500 visitors a day but it has exceeded that number in the last few years. Before I realized it, 2:00 had arrived and it was time to go back down the hill. In the picture above, you can hike both of the mountains. The most popular is Waynapicchu, the big mountain, and it takes about an hour. We took over 140 pictures so of course only the very best can be included here to share this special place.
Anthony Bourdain said it right, "It’s an irritating reality that many places and events defy description. The Grand Canyon and Machu Picchu, for instance, seem to demand silence, like a love affair you can never talk about. For a while after, you fumble for words, trying vainly to assemble a private narrative, an explanation, a comfortable way to frame where you’ve been and what’s happened. In the end, you’re just happy you were there, with your eyes open, and lived to see it.