There are very few words which can effectively describe Machu Picchu – but magical, mystical and ethereal are a beginning.
We took a bus from Aqua Calientes for about 30 minutes, up a rough, narrow road which has 13 hairpin turns. In many spots if you come across a bus going the opposite direction, one of you has to back up. On one bend in the road we came face to face – stopping with 20 feet to spare.
Once at the “control centre” we went through an orientation with Marco, our guide, about the logistics of what we would see. There are a number of “circuits” one can follow and these range from easy to difficult in terms of steepness. Thank goodness Marco chose the easy one. The amazing thing is that once you walk through the control centre – think PNE entrance gate, and travel maybe a hundred yards you are in the “middle” of the Machu Picchu village. I say middle because it falls away down the mountain to your right and goes up the mountain to your left as well as extending out in front of you. The elevation of Machu Picchu at this point is 7970 feet.
Our first day was somewhat overcast with periods of drizzle as well as having wispy bits of clouds drifting through the peaks of the surrounding mountains. It definitely felt surreal at times.
Marco took us on a two to two and a half hour tour, which was most informative, although there was so much information presented we all became overloaded and I’m not sure how much was actually absorbed.
The steps were quite steep in places.
This is a small example of the “quarry” where the stones for construction came from.
All of the construction were blocks of stone simply fitted together – no mortar was used.
After the official tour, we had lunch and carried on with a self-guided effort. In the background is Huayna Picchu, elevation 8835 feet.
There were several llamas roaming around the grounds, feeding freely.
This llama stood absolutely stock still for at least 15 minutes. It was as though he – or she was either on guard or surveying its domain.
Tomorrow we go for a hike.