Sunday, January 22, 2012

Machu Picchu


We got up at 5am to get up to Machu Picchu by about 6am. Buses go up and down the mountain every 5 minutes and it takes about 20mins. On the way up you see loads of people walking up Machu Picchu mountain. Seems odd to me cos the Inca trail walkers come in at a different spot so I don't know where they are coming from and why they don't just get the bus. It seems like a waste of effort walking up the mountain for an hour or whatever and tiring yourself out before you even get there. There is a lot of walking once you're in Machu Picchu. Plus you end up breathing in loads of dust from the roads. If you're thinking about doing this, don't. Just get the bus. It's a better use of your time.

This is the first stop that overlooks the residential part.

The group shot.

Then we walked along the Inca trail to the Inca bridge.

The bridge is two planks of wood. This is strategically placed cos Machu Picchu had an important military role. If enemies were coming, they would remove the planks.
This was a little bit scary looking down the mountain, but not as scary as the other side which you can't go on (path on right side of the photo).

The other side looks terrifying to me, about 1m wide path and a sheer drop. Basically its where the line of trees go in the middle of the photo. A lot of human sacrifices were made to the Inca gods building it, I'll bet.

Apparently, to stop the Spaniards finding Machu Picchu they had to destroy some of the Inca trail. That is a bit sad. 

Wow, an ancient Inca hydro power station! Kidding. It's recent.

Next up was a walk through the ruins.

I like this one with the llama in it.

This is a compass and the same as the southern cross constellation, so if you put a GPS on it, which some guy did as I took the photo, you'll see it's right. Again, amazed at how much the Incas worked out for themselves with no technology.

This is a worship stone, which follows the same lines if the mountain behind it. This meant they didn't have go up the mountain to worship it, they could do it here. Handy, and much less effort.

We were unable to climb Wayna Picchu (the mountain in the background of the first lot of pictures) cos they restrict the numbers to 400 and you have to get tickets in advance. We couldn't get them for today. Basically it gives you awesome views of Machu Picchu and there are some ruins up there too. So five of our group decided to hike up to the sun temple instead, which takes about the same amount of time--two hours. The view just got better and better as we ascended.

This big rock is about half way up. We think Marco said it was a burial site cos they did find a few mummies here at Machu Picchu.

Finally we got to the sun temple and we rewarded with spectacular views.

The white lines in this photo is the road the buses take. As you can see, there are more lower terraces visible in this side which you wouldn't see from Wayna Picchu. They are still finding them today, 100 years after discovery.

I think this mountain is actually higher than Wayna Picchu. Definitely higher than some of the mountains around us. And it's where you come in if you do the Inca trail, which is four days walking, three nights camping.

It started raining a bit so the walk down was a bit slippery (the path is stones). I managed to only fall over once though, which is pretty good. God I'm shit at walking on wet stones and pavers, even in Brisbane, I seem to slip a lot. It's general life skill fail really. Or maybe I need to stop wearing high heels at the time (at home, not here).

When we got down the bottom we got stuck behind a group of old people who needed walking assistance. This made me glad I came here when I'm still young (ish) and fit. My two days of Inca gym (thank you Marco) also helped. I could get up the stairs and the steep paths easily without too much loss of breath now that I've a aclimatised to the high altitudes. I'd love to do altitude training for the Bridge to Brisbane 10km. I bet I could beat David from work if I did that. Sadly, that's not til October so any benefits I may gain up here in processing oxygen more efficiently will be long gone by the time that fun run comes around. Bugger. 

If you want to come here, don't wait til you're a fat lazy bastard in need of a hip or knee replacement. You'll miss out on the best stuff cos there are some awesome walks on offer.

Finally we got past the old people and headed for the exit. On the way out we got our passports stamped! Apparently Machu Picchu is it's own country.

We got the bus back down the mountain. After lunch we boarded the train to Ollantaytambo and from there, a bus back to Cuzco. The train ride was still spectacular. On the two hour bus ride after we were treated to a selection of the 80s and early 90s finest easy living hits. My favourite was Lionel Richie's "Say you, say me".