Machu Picchu in the Rainy Season

Machu Picchu in the rainy season

Machu Picchu in January

Machu Picchu is a well known and all-too-well traveled Inca destination high above the Urubamba River Valley in Peru.  During the 90 minute train ride from our base in Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu, the Urubamba River was in view most of the time.  It is the most turbulent, violent river with non-stop rapids I ever have seen.  So this deep valley is still being carved out by nature at a steady pace.

Visiting Machu Picchu

From my vantage point for the photo above there have likely been well over 400,000 other photographers peering through their lenses to capture the moment (100 photographers a day for the last 10 years).  Now of course the dreaded “selfie” has been added to the mix.  Carly Simon’s song from 1973 “You’re So Vain” pops into my mind when seeing the endless selfie takers.  Machu Picchu has had to add rules disallowing jumping into the air while taking photos as so many kids want to do now days.  Since Machu Picchu is a religious site, jumping and screaming was thankfully determined to be disrespectful.  My photograph above is not the composition which seemed best to me, but there were just too many people in the other view.  These are the drawbacks to visiting such popular destinations.  While I’ll certainly continue to visit these well known places around the world, the real joy in travel comes from finding some scenes more unique and personal.


The stairs climbed in the distance

The stairs climbed in the distance

Fortunately one still needs to climb stairs to view Machu Picchu.   My iPhone registered over 15,000 steps and 154 floors climbed during our visit.



It was dry during the entire morning while riding the train to Aguas Calientes where you board a bus to the site entrance.  It then started to rain.  Ah, so there is a reason the rivers are full and the hillsides look like a rain forest.


Roof peaks and mountain peaks

Roof peaks and mountain peaks


Sacrificial Stone

Sacrificial stone

Obviously we are left to only imagine what all went on here on the sacrificial stone.


For additional fees, other hikes are open to adventurous hikers.  Climbing the Citadel peak is one such option.


A overview of Machu Picchu


A Machu Picchu gate framing the citadel.

A Machu Picchu gate framing the Citadel.


Llamas of Machu Picchu

The llamas which get to live here seem to lead a pretty good life, as they are considered government employees.

For the other half of the party I was traveling with, the llamas were the highlight of the trip to Machu Picchu.


Lamas generally smile for the tourists

Llamas generally smile for the tourists


A mom and a baby llama.

A mom and a baby llama.  (iPhone photo)



The ear tag tells us this is Lucy

The ear tag tells us this is Lucy

The guides apparently forgot to tell the llama below to have a pleasant disposition at all times when around tourists.  Sure looks like those chompers could hurt.


Don’t come any closer

Passport Craziness

To get from our hotel in Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu 90 minutes away, we had to show our passports no fewer than six times.  Once we had to show them twice within 20 feet.  Those who think the US is too hard on immigrants likely have not visited many other countries.  For example, before we could even get boarding passes for our flight to New Zealand we had to show we had already purchased plane tickets out of that country.  The exit tickets had to be dated within 90 days of our arrival in New Zealand.


Coming soon in a future blog is one of those fun, more personal experiences I search for when traveling.  I eat a guinea pig for lunch.

23 thoughts on “Machu Picchu in the Rainy Season

  1. Fun to read your take on Machu Picchu. I went there in 1988 and hiked the Inca Trail, which was a real highlight for me. We even got to stay in the small hotel at the site so we could get up early and visit Machu Picchu before the tourist hordes arrived. We also river rafted the Urubamba but it was in April so the river was not so scary as what you describe. Your blog brought back great memories. Continue enjoying your travels and sharing your great photos!

  2. Great shots, especially considering that this place was probably swarming with tourists. That is something very insightful and valuable I’ve learned from you — the best imagery is off the beaten path, whether in terms of location, point of view, time, or circumstance.

    • Thanks for that Dave. At Machu Picchu I feel like I’m copying vs finding and creating my unique composition. One of my photos submitted for the ‘simplicity’ projection night was totally my own creation and that help makes it special to me. I think I called it ‘Orange You Glad.’

  3. My in laws have also done the Machu Picchu
    hike. Your photos captured the essence of the site. I love that they seem unique. The furry government employees made me smile.
    Thank you for taking us all along on your adventures!

  4. We were at Machu Picchu in early December 2008 and it was indeed a rainy time. There were plenty of tourists then as well (Ann and I among them), but probably not quite as many as today. I absolutely agree with your assessment of “passportitis!” Other countries are far tougher on immigration than the US. I didn’t eat an entire guinea pig, but I did taste the meat on a buffet in Cusco. A bit like chicken as I recall………….

    Looking forward to your blog from New Zealand. Queenstown was the highlight for me! Travel safely.

    • We like your phrase ‘passportitis’ and hope to use it in the future. Glad you are following along. FYI, NZ has had many problems and issues, so don’t get your hopes up for photos. We too really liked Queenstown.

  5. I have always been curious about Machu Picchu! Thank you for the excellent narrative and beautiful photos. Especially love the salt fields!

  6. Thank you! This brings back many memories o four past trips there. Looking forward to your next post! Properly prepared, “cuy” (guinea pig) is great! The drumsticks are kinda tiny, though.

  7. What a photogenic place it is. Enjoyed your photos. I hope you are enjoying yourself, looking forward to hearing about your New Zealand leg.

  8. I fear this bucket list item will never get checked…I want to make it a shamanic guided tour and a spiritual experience.

    • I had to read up on what a shamanic guided tour may include. I think you may be putting a lot of pressure on yourself to try and achieve such a level. We were happy just to get there and back. The towns along the way were equally enjoyable, if not more so.

  9. Thank You for braving the wet to share this with us. The clouds and rain made for a change of pace from many of the images I have seen from here.

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