Yes, this is an honorary add on as the story concerns the 4 days walking in. The fifth day was a guided tour of Machu Picchu and, for 4 of the 9 of us, an added climb up Huayna Picchu. Unbelievably steep and high and overlooks Machu Picchu. 😊
Friday july 9
Our final day.
Up at 5, breakfast at 5.30 and caught the 6.30 bus up to Machu Picchu. Busy already. With most visitors starting at the top of the site our wonderful guide Disnada took us to the lower part.
The quality of stonework suggests a royal or religious purpose. Amazingly closely fitting stones, no mortar and able to withstand the many earthquakes in the area. Well, not totally true as some bits (not this) have partially succumbed to quakes in a fault underlying Machu Picchu.
And a strange crevice built in, for unknown reasons, no doubt religious given the associated stonework within and the use of the arkana (3 steps representing air-condor, earth-jaguar and below-snake).
A few of the standing stone houses have been reroofed, using local materials. Amazingly, they had two floors. Tough if, on a cold night, you lived in one with the outside (steep, rickety) ladder.
And a reflecting mirror, possibly of some assistance in astronominological work.
Machu Picchu is only the third place I’ve visited in which the site is as good as the picture postcards. Like the Taj Mahal and Angkor Wat, Macchu Picchu is very impressive and more so once you are there. A huge city built on a precarious mountain aside and among huge mountains. It’s in a direct line to Cusco. Phenomenal planning.
Disnada, as our guide for the site, talked a lot about why it was thought to be there and, its 1911 discovery by Hiram Bingham. And yes, the local version is sanitised and possibly behind the theories of current archaeologists. And that makes those tales interesting in themselves, what a nation says about its past. I love the pride of Peruvians in their history and the fact they’ve ‘rediscovered’ traditions and ceremonies once lost under the all encompassing and imposing rule of the Spanish and, the Catholic Church. Not the passive use of existing treasures I remember from Greece nor the haphazard and lackadaisical approaches of Nepal and India to their fabulous treasures. No, it’s not like that in Peru. Their approach is very persuasive.
Then, one of the best parts of the trip for the four of us who added it to our itineraries: Huayna Picchu, the huge mountain towering over the Machu Picchu site. Huge. Each of us wondered if it was going to be ok or not.
I had been checking it out as the tour progressed and was especially worried given it’s very steep, very narrow and very high. Yes, very steep, narrow and high. And I’m clumsy, not keen on heights and a bit of a cake. 😉
The climb was awesome! Hard but getting to the top was worth it.
(L to R: Jodie, Christina, Sam, Val)
Sam! On the edge. Braver than me….
We overlooked the place from which most of the classic photos you see of Machu Picchu are taken. Way down, over in the distance. We couldn’t see the other 5, way down in the distant Machu Picchu site but, they thought they saw us up there. And not only could we see the site but the astounding switchback road from there to Aguascalientes is obvious on the left of the archaeological site.
Once at the starting point again I was so happy I’d done it I almost cried. Wow. At my age to be able to get up and down (and to still have no muscle soreness) is pretty amazing. I am so chuffed. The 4 of us made a great team: 1 Brit, 1 American and 2 Aussies!
Our climb was easier because we had Disnada who’d been up many times before. For example, some more dangerous parts are one way and it helps having a guide. Coming down there is a naturally formed rock tunnel and it helps if you know about the bits hanging down within it and the steepness of the internal stairs.
Funny but, the hardest bit was the last section. After coming down the mountain you have to walk back up a steep section with high stairs to the checkin point. We signed in at 10.30 and out at 12.30. So about an hour up, time at the top and, a shorter time down.
Much easier climbing at Macu Picchu height above sea level than where we were a few days ago. Even possible to talk going up as well as down. Also easier as we were probably all a bit fitter after a few days of walking.
The climb up Huayna Picchu was an absolute highlight for me and I liked how our group of 4 worked together: we left packs and sticks in lockers at the bus stop and 2 of us carried just essentials up, mainly drinks. We shared various items and I was delighted to end up not carrying anything.
All good things end and we met the other 5 of our group down beside the entrance to the Macu Picchu site, and all caught a bus back to Aguascalientes.
At about 4pm we caught the train from Aguascalientes to Ollyantambo with 10,000 other tourists. Found our bus driver and headed back to Cusco. The driver had earlier picked up our stored luggage so we didn’t have to detour via the resort we stayed at nearly a week ago.
We were scheduled to stay in one hotel but plans had changed and we were at another Tierra Viva hotel. I had to share a room with Disnada. And yes, I spent half of it in the bathroom being intimate with the porcelain, very unwell. Luckily she is a deep sleeper!