Peru XI-An Adventure in the Land of the Incas                     More Machu Picchu      

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Early morning clouds hanging low over Machu Picchu

Early the next morning Tom and I were up, had breakfast at our hotel and then met up with our guide Cynthia where the tour buses were lining up to transport visitors up to Machu Picchu. Early morning certainly was not a deterrent to the masses awaiting and still arriving for their early start to see the ancient ruins. We had bus passes in hand and were soon whisked aboard a waiting bus that sped up the mountain side through a heavy cloud cover to our destination. 

Passing through the entrance gates and into the site, the clouds hanging heavily over the old stone buildings and terraces, the scene was somewhat eerie and mysterious. Cool and damp, one might have imagined ghost-like apparitions of Incas still living and actively involved around this phenomenal place. With the rising sun and warming air, the clouds veiling Machu Picchu slowly dissipated, revealing, once again the vibrant green grasses set off against the ruins of the intricate gray stonework.

What we were seeing was nothing like what greeted discoverer Hiram Bingham on July 24, 1911. Jungle vines and other vegetation had overtaken much of Machu Picchu since it’s abandonment in the 1600’s. A few Quechuan farm families had cleared some areas and were living there and growing crops, but otherwise the place was undisturbed over hundreds of years.

Here are some before and after photos that help show what the excavations have uncovered:




Machu Picchu 1915


Machu Picchu 1915 & now

The photos above I gleaned from the internet, as I was curious to see what Hiram Bingham saw over 100 years from today. I was delighted to find these two comparisons so that we all can better appreciate just how Mother Nature can reclaim her own when allowing the earth to reestablish itself undisturbed by mankind. It is incredible, the work that was required to clear and excavate Machu Picchu so that we, today, can witness more closely how this place used to appear.     

As though we had been seeing Machu Picchu through a sheer curtain, the morning sun melted away that cloudy veil revealing for us the intricate and massive citadel upon this mountain ridge. Upon the terraces, in addition to the many visitors, llamas contentedly grazed paying us never no mind. 

What had happened here at the height of the Inca civilization?

How were their lives?

What activities were they pursuing?

Can you picture people working out on the grounds and upon the terraces?

Or others carrying and laying stones, or thatching roofs?

Imagine also the celebrations and ceremonies that were also a part of this culture.

For the size of Machu Picchu (and the other Inca sites), the hustle and bustle of daily living had to have been a constant and very productive to sustain their civilization.

How many had looked out this window and greeted each day beholding the beauty before them as they looked out over the valley toward the distant peaks, up to the clouds, blue skies, the sun and the play of light and shadows streaming down?  

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   Both of us had purchased optional passes to hike up the mountain behind Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu (the mountain of DEATH). Amazingly, there are structures built on those sheer cliffs accessible on equally steep stairways. In planning our trip we were gung-ho to tackle the dizzying heights and treacherous paths up to that peak. However, after our tough hike the previous day on our one day Inca Trail trek TO Machu Picchu, we both were feeling that our energy stores were too depleted and our legs were too achy to even attempt that adventure. Alas, perhaps I will revisit Machu Picchu and then tackle Huayna Picchu another time.

As I have been looking through these photos, I regret that we did not spend the whole day exploring more knooks and crannies throughout Machu Picchu. I can see we might have found and experienced the whole site in even greater depth.

Be that as it may, we were back down to Aqua Calientes in time for lunch, but then had all afternoon to wait until our train left late in the afternoon for the trip back to Cusco.

Resting up and including shopping for souvenirs, we passed the time until boarding the train. It was a long, slow train ride, through the evening until after 9 p.m. when we arrived in Cusco. The long ride back was made more bearable as we were served dinner onboard and also entertained by the train staff with a performance and fashion show featuring very nice Alpaca wool clothing. While all the garments were quite elegant and fashionable, the prices were not in my budget.

After arriving back in Cusco, our guide picked us up at the train terminal and delivered us back at our hotel, Siete Ventanas, where we were eager to just hit the sack and get a good night’s sleep.

A full day ahead was ours to enjoy on our own, where we explored in and around the historic district. The slower pace and rest were good to have as we anticipated the next leg on our journey, this time deep into the cloud forest to the Manu National Park, a part of the renowned Amazon.

The change of pace and different environment of the upper jungle would reveal even more wonders for our discovery.

u © Donald E. Kline 2012