Sunday 22nd March was THE BIG ONE: Machu Picchu!
We boarded the train on time, and in lovely dappled sunlight…
Absolutely stunning train journey on the Vistadome through a valley surrounded by high mountains. When we arrived at Machu Picchu town we jumped on an expensive bus ($24!!!) up the mountain to the site.. Dan’s altitude tingle sensors going off!
Just the views from the bus were the best I have ever seen, let alone the astounding surprise at the top! It is going to be a job not to use too many exclamation marks here.
We walked into the site and Mum was fantastic getting up quite a steep set of large rock steps to a terrace, along which “the” view of the sprawling city was revealed to astonished gasps.
Machu Picchu is like nothing else you have seen on Earth. Steep agricultural terraces, buildings and temples, a central ceremonial space, a sun gate miles away along a winding mountain path… all at 2,500m and set amongst 360 degree green, forested mountains with views down to the brown Urubamba river tracing the curve of the valley below us (way, way, waaaaaay below us). And the weather was perfect – a little sunlight (not to hot), not too much cloud – we could see everything clearly.
Quite simply “knocks your socks off” (an English idiom we were trying to teach 2 Argentinians later). Particularly the highest Huayna Picchu temples and terraces, which were too scary for us to attempt but we saw others up there.
We spent most of the day trying to encourage our brains to actually process the existence of this marvel, sounding a little too much like Victor Meldrew.
We left Ma and Pa to wonder at the spectacle, whilst Dan, Jim and I went off for some hiking and climbing around the site. Great fun to walk around, spouting our amazement (which mostly consisted of the constant repetition of the questions “Why?” and “How?”) and our conjectures and theories. One of which was about the best construction – the ‘no cement / jigsaw / megalithic’ work.
There are four areas of it that we saw; three were temples right at the centre of the main site. The other was more rough, but extremely old and covered in lichen on the long path towards the Sun Gate. So, theorists, is this the oldest or newest construction – is it Incan or did the Incas find it and build on it / around it? There’s conflicting evidence. Sometimes its unfinished (Ollantay) – indicating its the latest. At all sites it is central – indicating its the oldest. At MP it is covered in lichen – oldest? At all sites it is for the most important buildings – guess that’s neutral.
… and this is one of the joys of Peru and the incredible Incan achievements. Whoever constructed these wonders, each defies understanding and will forever be a beguiling mystery to consume and fascinate us all.
“Isn’t this the most incredible thing you’ve ever seen?”
<pointing at self> “Oh, thanks Em…”
“Ah, sorry Jim… I don’t know why you aren’t classed as a World Wonder”
“I’m the 9th wonder”
“Yeah, we all wonder about you”
Tired, and a little sunburnt, we caught the bus back down just after lunchtime. At 4.15PM the train departed to return us to Ollantaytambo, eating our packed lunches that we hadn’t yet had a chance to scoff.
Jim and I were immediately asleep….. until we were treated to a traditional dance and fashion show by the staff!
Tired? Who’s Tired?
The. Most. Incredible. Day.
What else can you say about Machu Picchu?