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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.