06/29/2010 - 06/30/2010 65 °F
Tuesday June 29th
It was raining and cloudy when we woke-up and boarded the bus to enter Machu Picchu. When we arrived, after 15 minutes of switchback roads climbing up the mountainside from Hot Springs Town, clouds overtook this ancient city.
Machu Picchu is like nothing else in the entire world and the most famous and important destination of all of South America. It was discovered in 1911 and first researched by an American team of archaeologists from Yale for the next four years. Known also as the “Lost City of the Incas” it is the only significant Inca site that escaped devastation by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century. Sitting upon the top of a steep mountain, it is masked in mystery and intrigue. It was probably used in its prime as a ceremonial and agricultural center, and occupied by only the most important and powerful Incans.
My photographs barely capture the miraculous view of this ancient city with its stone labyrinthine like buildings and the massive Andean peaks hugging it from all sides. At 8,000 feet above sea level, Machu Picchu is unseen from the valleys below, allowing it to stay dormant for more than 4 centuries. Now more than 400,000 a year visit this amazing place. The entire city looks like a piece of art.
After our tour around the ruins, we climb to the lookout point above the city and explore the terraces that look down upon this unbelievable site. We wander around, take photos, and then sit on the edge of a terrace in the now warm sun (thank god) for almost two hours, soaking in all we can. It is just like I imagined it to be. I couldn’t be happier to be here.
Around 1pm, we try to make our way from the lookout point back down this higher ledge and into the city, to head back to Hot Springs Town, and get lost in the maze of Ica ruins.
After lunch, we relax- walking around HPT and gather with our group later for dinner and drinks. Then we take the train back to Ollantaytambo, and then a bus from there to Cusco (the craziest, most sickening ride of the entire trip). We arrive in Cusco dead tired at 11:15pm. The biggest day of all is over. We had waited so long and worked so hard to get here, and now the trip is coming to a close.