WATCHING THE SUN RISE OVER MACHU PICCHU IS MAGIC! No matter how often it has been said … We both had very high expectations and were a bit afraid of finding something that was only “fashionable” and too well marketed. Well, Machu Picchu DID surpass all our expectations! This place just puts a spell on you. If you do it right!!!
We were at the gate at 06:00 o’clock, taking the 05:30 o’clock bus from Aguas Calientes, together with about 200 other people. Once inside, we immediately climbed up the stairs as fast as we could to get to THE place where the world famous postcard photo was taken. We stopped only to catch our breath and then suddenly there it was, just laying in front of us, untouched, quiet, nobody inside, only some lamas and alpacas leisurely grazing down at the grassy bottom.
The next 15 to 20 minutes we spent there were simply incredible. We were able to absorb the uniqueness of the place in total serenity, when we noticed that the sun was just peaking around the mountain top opposite, about to touch Wayna Picchu, the mountain behind, and the ruins. We patiently waited for the whole of Machu Picchu to be bathed in the early morning sun, covering it with a different color by the light. Unique, especially because the site was designed in a way that no building would cast a shade on another building!
What makes Mach Picchu so special is the scenery that surrounds it, lush green cone shaped mountains all around it and the river below. It is indeed one of the most beautiful places we have ever been.
Apart from this overwhelming first impression, we discovered that the “Lost City” of Machu Picchu is in an astonishing state, much better preserved than any other Inca ruins we have seen in the last four weeks. We just could not take our eyes off this unbelievable view for more than half an hour. Then it was time to let go and to climb down to the ruins, because by then the first groups had arrived with their guides talking away in all kinds of languages. The people who took the first buses like us were all individual travelers, who quietly marvelled.
Naturally we first explored the ceremonial section, because there you find the finest stone work, the highlight being the Intihuatana, a little pillar, which the Incas used to predict the solstices of the sun. The stonework you find in the residential and industrial sector is much less refined, although no less impressive.
After about an hour of exploring the ceremonial section of Machu Picchu, we decided it was time to climb Wayna Picchu, the world famous mountain “behind Machu Picchu”, before it was getting too hot. It is a one hour climb for averagely fit people as we are, but not that difficult because early morning the trail, basically stairs, is in the shade. Only four hundred people are allowed to climb each day, and at 10:00 am, right when we returned, the quota had been reached. You can only wonder what it must be like in July or August, the high season.
The view from the top is outstanding, especially since from above you can see the whole of Machu Picchu. It is only then when you realize that a large part of it consists of terraces and only a smaller part constitutes the temples, the residential and industrial part with its storages. From atop you can also see the last bit of the world famous Inca Trail with the Sun Gate!
Once we got back down into the archeological park of Mach Picchu, we had an extremely funny experience: some resident lamas, alpacas and vicunas of Machu Picchu went on a “tour through their city”. It was hilarious, them walking confidently and determined with their heads up past puzzled tourists. It seemed as if they knew exactly where they were going, leaving the tourists not knowing whether they should laugh, take photos or get out of their way quickly.
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