Friday, October 14th, 2022
This morning we checked out of our hotel early and boarded our bus to take us to the train station at Aguas Calientes Station.
We had assigned seats for the train ride which lasted about an hour and a half.
We arrived at Aguas Calientes the town that is considered the “Gateway to Machu Picchu”. Due to its remote location, it’s accessible to tourists only by train. After getting off the train we walked to our hotel to check in and drop off our backbacks and gather whatever we were going to take with us for our visit to Machu Picchu.
Peru is limiting the number of people visiting the site and therefore our tickets were good for the afternoon. Our group leader already had our entry tickets and our bus ticket that would take us up a winding road near the entrance of Machu Picchu.
The line for the mini bus up to the entrance of Machu Picchu was long but moved quickly.
The ride up the mountain to the entrance was slow with switchbacks and steep sides with no guardrails.
When we got off of the bus we went to the Tinkuy Restaurant. It was situated right at the entrance to Machu Picchu and it was the only restaurant there. All other restaurants were 40 minutes away in the valley of Aguas Calientes.
As we were eating lunch the clouds thickened and then the rain cut loose. It was really pouring. Luckily we still had time before our ticket was valid. We relaxed in the restaurant until it was time to go. Luckily we had our rain ponchos with us and when it was time to leave we put them on and got our trekking poles ready. It was still raining but not as hard as it was earlier. The path as we started hiking up was wet and therefore it was slick. You needed to be careful with your steps. We were worried that the cloud cover would be like the picture below and we wouldn’t see anything but the clouds when we got to the top!
We were lucky because the clouds started to clear around the site. Machu Picchu was located between two mountains in the Andes. It covered about 80,000 acres and had about 200 stone structures. It was built by the Inca people about 500 years ago. It was believed that the site was a retreat for Inca royalty. They came here and also it was believed that priests led ceremonies and that common people lived here too. Hiram Bingham was an American explorer who looked for Inca ruins. Locals brought him here in 1911. He was the first person to excavate it. He theorized it was a citadel.
Click through the pictures below to see a collection of photos of the Machu Picchu site.
As we were walking we saw chinchillas on some of the stones. They were native to the Andes mountains.
The Temple of 3 Windows represented each part of the world and was located in the religious sector of the site. They represented the underground, the heaven and the present. The windows also represented the rise of the sun which was an important event in everyday life of the Incas.
Agricultural terraces were used along the slopes of the mountains to give the Incas more land to cultivate. Without these terraces, the constant rains, the humidity and the steepness of the area would have triggered large landslides that would have destroyed the ruins of Machu Picchu.
The Roca Sagrada or Sacred rock was a monolith considered spiritually vital to the native Inca people and was set between two stone shelters. They say it resembled the shape of a guinea pig and others felt it represented the mountains behind it because its shape matched the profile of those mountains. Unfortunately, due to the cloud cover you can’t compare the two with our picture!
The Guardian House had a thatched roof and was a building used by soldiers who guarded two main entrances to Machu Picchu.
It was believed that the carved granite boulders that had a flat bottom were star mirrors. When filled with water it was believed that the Inca astronomer priests tracked the movement of the constellations and planets from the water reflections.
The “Stairway of Fountains” was a system of 16 fountains. The water cascaded from one to another. They were square chambers next to a staircase that demonstrated the hydraulic engineering of the Incas.
There was so much to see at Machu Picchu. It would definitely be a site to visit a second time.
After our visit we returned to the valley by the bus again and then walked to our hotel. We had some time to freshen up before we walked to a local restaurant for dinner.
Below was the view outside of our hotel room and the Vilcanota River.