Magnificent Machu Picchu

In my last post I told the tale of the Inca Trail, the 43 kilometre hike that took us from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu. It left off on a sour note, as the mighty ruins had not appeared from the ever-present cloud, and this had left our group irritable and tired after the hard slog up there.

Well things were soon to change. As we descended from the Sun Gate, down the winding path towards the famous site, some of the buildings started to take shape out of the mist…

To South America - Machu Picchu obscured by cloud

One thing I’d forgotten was that it was still very early in the morning, around 8 am, and there was still plenty of time for those clouds to clear (which they did). Good things come to those who wait…

Our guide took us down into the city and began a very interesting tour of the city that the Spanish conquistadors never found. Most people have seen pictures of Machu Picchu, whether it’s in travel brochures, on TV documentaries, or just from friends who’ve been. Well one thing you don’t get from a 2D image is the ‘how’ and ‘why’ behind it. Call me a geek, but this stuff fascinated me!

The Inca terracing that you can see in this picture isn’t just a pretty feature, it actually took a ridiculous amount of work to build. Each terrace has three layers of soil and required tons of fertile valley soil and rocks to be carried up the mountain to help crops grow. You can bet it was carried up on the backs of some tough workers.

To South America - Machu terracing

Inca’s always saved the best stonework for the houses and buildings of the chiefs and high priests. The stones are cut perfectly, and sit together with no mortar. An amazing feat! This round tower was built on a huge granite boulder but fits in like part of the moutain.

To South America - Round tower

It’s believed these little holes in the lower wall were spots to place icons and religious paraphernalia.

To South America - Stone walls

This room had a nice view through the doorway. No one really knows what the Inca’s used as doors, but my bet is it would be pretty chilly at night whatever it was.

To South America - Inca doorway

The view through this window was also pretty cool, but then pretty much everywhere I looked there were amazing views. Here are two shots out of windows…

To South America - Stone window view

To South America - EM Forster eat your heart out

One thing you don’t see on many photos of Machu Picchu is the big stone ‘scrapyard’ they had where they got most of their building material from. I guess the reason is it doesn’t look that pretty, you can see it here in the middle-right of the photo, looking scrappy.

To South America -  The 'scrapyard'

The high-ranking Inca corpses were stuffed in these wall cavities in the sitting position, much like me and Jemma here.

To South America - Dead Incas

Once the tour was finished, we were free to go up to the famous view point, and take that much captured view. The sun came out just at the right point to make the greens stand out nicely on this one. It really did take my breath away.

To South America - The overview


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