As I mentioned in a previous post, Machu Picchu has to be one of the coolest places I have ever visited. Of all the ruins I have seen it definitely comes out on top, nothing being quite as extravagant as this ever so popular site. Getting to the site however, turned out to be a rather freaky experience taking the back roads to avoid paying a large amount of money to take the train directly from Cuzco.
While it is a good option for those on a budget and without time to hike the route, it includes taking a mini van through small towns lined with banana trees and the weaving your way along a one lane dirt road following the Urubamba River, which drops to certain death. I really doubt that anyone has had an accident on there while on a tour, but thanks to me having a phobia of heights – yes I cried ziplining in Costa Rica it’s that bad – the trip up the mountain became far too exciting for my liking, hence overreaction with comments about certain death.
So, unaware of what was ahead, we took the minivan from Cuzco, passing through Urubamba and Ollantayambo, with just enough time to check out their ruins from afar and carried on along the winding roads of the valley until arriving at what I think was called Santa María. It was here that we begun our journey along the valley of death where I spent the whole time facing at the rock wall in denial that behind me there was just. thin. air. Obviously we survived so it’s safe to say that it wasn’t as bad as I thought and soon enough we arrived at the railway ready to head on up to Aguas Calientes.
Our plan was to stay the night in Aguas Calientes and head up to Machu Picchu
in the morning at about 4am to reach the top of the mountain by 7am when it opened. Walking up was more of a challenge than I expected however the pay off at the top was incredible. Incredibly cold that is until the sun came up but nonetheless the place was beyond belief.
Ancient ruins perched atop of a mountain with cliffs either side, made of perfectly cut rocks symbolising Inca gods, running water which still functions and some cool calm and collected llamas casually grazing around the ruins all seemed very unreal. Going early in the morning, while difficult, was definitely a good idea as the serenity was quickly broken by throngs of people and by 11am the ruins were covered in tourists. Despite the amount of people visiting every day, Machu Picchu still maintains it’s eerie magic which after a few hours of soaking up the scenery I said goodbye to and began the journey back down the hill.
Like I have already said many times, Machu Picchu is simply amazing, easily taking the top spot in my list of awesome ruins. There is just so much mystery that continues to surround the site, and while touristic and popular it hasn’t become the commercial metropolis that many other archeological sites have sadly turned into. I still marvel at how the Incas managed to build such a spectacular site let alone carry huge rocks up the side of that hill, especially when I was struggling with only a small backpack. I guess it’s safe to say that Machu Picchu is a place that seems to turn the impossible into possible, I would have been a terrible Inca and it is without a doubt worthy of it’s title as one of 7 Wonders of the World.