Machu Picchu !!

Machu Picchu Travel Blog

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Huanya Picchu, the peak in the background of your classic Machu Picchu photo
     Never had it been so easy to bounce out of bed at 4:30!  As we exited the bus just before 6:00 it was still quite dark.  We entered the park, hiked up the trail, and were greeted with a semi-foggy morning, so no spectacular sunrise, but all day to explore!
     We decided to assault Huayna Picchu first.  They require you to sign a log book as you start, and as you exit.  I guess if you are unaccounted for by 4:00, they come looking for you.  Last bus off the mountain was around 5:30.  The hike was not long distance wise.  We were told the record for reaching the summit was just over 15 minutes.  After an unremarkable beginning, the trail quickly became steeper.  Visualize climbing a series of stepladders.
The switchback road leading to Machu Picchu, as seen from the summit of Huayna Picchu.
  Very strenuous at 8500 feet.  A heavy steel cable functioned as a hand rail and with the trail wet in many places it served its purpose well.  After 45 minutes of exhaustive climbing, I was beginning to wonder I had lost my sanity .......... until I turned around!  The view below us of Machu Picchu from the backside as we neared the top of Huayna Picchu was breath-taking!!!  With renewed conviction we made it to the top in about an hour and ten minutes.  The final 25 feet or so required squeezing into a cave-like structure, then climbing a ladder through an opening in the boulders to the very top.  Only sufficient room for 5 or 6, so you could spend the day up there as others were patiently waiting.
Intihuatana, the "hitching post of the sun".

    The return trip was not as tough, however; just slow in places.  The steep "stepladders" we had ascended  now had to be negotiated coming down, but not facing the steps as we had done on the way up.  Imagine coming down a 10 foot step ladder, but with your body turned 180 degrees.  We were drenched with sweat when we finally signed out in the log book, but if I ever return I will climb to the peak again.
    The next several hours were spent roaming and exploring the park.  Intihuatana is an odd shaped monument of granite standing nearly six feet tall.  It's purpose is thought to mark the winter solstice.  Other theories contend it may have been a solar observatory to determine the best times for planting and harvesting crops.
Temple of the Three Windows.
  Nevertheless, it lines up quite well with the Sun Gate.
    Nearby on the Sacred Plaza is the Temple of the Three Windows.  Not far away is the Temple of the Sun whose only window also aligns with the Sun Gate.  Again, speculation abounds concerning the sun's path and the winter solstice, but no one is sure.
    With much reluctance I finally headed to the exit, but before departing l Iearned that the park office will stamp your passport!  That was pretty nice, considering the passport stamps from other countries are often not legible.
    That evening we boarded our train for the return to Cusco.  We were greeted with a very entertaining fashion show during the journey.  It apparently was quite a success since many sweaters and shawls were purchased.
   
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Huanya Picchu, the peak in the bac…
Huanya Picchu, the peak in the ba…
The switchback road leading to Mac…
The switchback road leading to Ma…
Intihuatana, the hitching post of…
Intihuatana, the "hitching post o…
Temple of the Three Windows.
Temple of the Three Windows.
The city gate.
The city gate.
Temple of the Sun, with sacrificia…
Temple of the Sun, with sacrifici…
Intihuatana sits atop these granit…
Intihuatana sits atop these grani…
Some of the many terraces used for…
Some of the many terraces used fo…
More terraces.
More terraces.
Plenty of terraces.
Plenty of terraces.
Llamas roamed freely, probably eli…
Llamas roamed freely, probably el…
Enough terraces already!
Enough terraces already!
No elevators, just take the stairs!
No elevators, just take the stairs!
Dont look down!
Don't look down!
Getting pretty steep.
Getting pretty steep.
So thats where all those stones c…
So that's where all those stones …
Another window.
Another window.
The easy part of the trail up Huay…
The easy part of the trail up Hua…
Temple of the Moon.
Temple of the Moon.
Not for those with vertigo.
Not for those with vertigo.
The final leg up Huayna Picchu.  N…
The final leg up Huayna Picchu. …
Piece of cake!!
Piece of cake!!
Machu Picchu Sights & Attractions review
Things to do at Machu Picchu
No trip to Machu Picchu is complete without hiking to the top of Huayna Picchu, the mountain in the background. Though fairly strenuous you will be r… read entire review
Machu Picchu
photo by: NazfromOz