|The day arrived of visiting Machu Picchu and an early start to catch the train up to the little town of Augus Calientes. A fantastic train ride which some say is as good as the Inca Trail. We eventually climbed out of Cusco after numerous zig zagging and traveled for the next three hours through the mountains of the Cusco region. We passed the odd Inca ruin before eventually arriving in the town at the top of the line. After exiting the station we somehow found our guide through the hoardes of people (even though it is low season, it's still packed).
A quick transfer to the bus was followed by a not so quick twisting journey up the hillside to MP.
By this point we could see the outlines of some ruins and Huayna Picchu in the distance but that classic view still eluded us. A rush job through the ticket office ensued and finally we could see the first building in front of us. It was only at this point we realised the great view would be left until later but that didn't matter Machu Picchu was in front of us. We were here.
Our guide who was excellent took us around for a good two and a half hours explaining as much as he could. MP does not have much written in the history books so information on the site is relatively limited but we certainly learnt a lot.
What a place. An absolute marvel to behold. Terraces, residential buildings, temples and green open space. This place is absolutely fantastic and myself and Anna were in awe as we walked around a true architectural gem. How they built this place up in the mountains with such skill totally eludes us. The stonework is mindboggling, walls interconnected by angled stone with no mortar holding it together. The positoning of certain features for the solstices such as the Three Windows and the so called 'sun dial' are just astouding. I could go on for hours but a good book will do a better job than me!
The guide finished our tour early afternoon which allowed us free time to explore. I was tempted to climb Huayna Picchu but the route closes early and the sound of thunder made me think it wasn't the best move. Instead we spent another hour walking around just taking MP in. After this we went up to the 'Hut of the Caretaker of the Funerary Rock' to take in MP for the classic shot.
Abolutely breathtaking. Thats all I can say. The site opened up before us and we just stared in amazement, with some local llama's. You have seen it in books, on the tv etc but being here was just unbelievable. What a picture!
I took off for a brisk walk up to Intipunku 'Sun Gate' which is near the end on the Inca Trail and where trekkers get their first glimpse of MP before heading back down to meet Anna and walk to the Inca bridge. After all this activity we returned to the hut sat down and watched the sun begin to set on a true wonder of the world Machu Picchu.
On the way back down to Aguas Calientes we talked to people about what we had just seen and got chatting to a Canadian diplomat who we met up with later and had dinner with. Definetly required as we had only eaten some croissants at 6 this morning. The highlight of the night was the local kids running riot in the street kicking a sewer pipe which then burst before posing for pictures.
What a day. This is what travelling is about. Loving it.
Day 299 complete