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MACHU PICCHU IN BLACK AND WHITE, Inca Trail, Peru

Situated at 2,430m above sea level on a mountain above the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu was an estate of the Inca royalty.  Abandoned before or around the time of the Spanish Conquest, the lost city was not known to the Western world until 1911 when American Historian Hiram Bingham rediscovered Machu Picchu. Compared to the early 20th century when most buildings in the site lay in ruins, today many parts of Machu Picchu have been restored for everyone to admire.  Much research has been done over the past century, but according to the UNESCO, many of the mysteries remained resolved.

As UNESCO puts it, “the Inca City of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is the articulating centre of its surroundings, a masterpiece of art, urbanism, architecture and engineering of the Inca Civilization. The working of the mountain, at the foot of the Huaya Picchu, is the exceptional result of integration with its environment, the result from a gigantic effort as if it were an extension of nature.”  While we wandered around the site, we could truly witness the powerful integration of manmade architecture and natural landscape.  The stepped terraces, temple structure incorporated into natural rock formation, and the stone pyramid all reveal the same story of harmony between Machu Picchu and the natural world.  For us this feeling was very powerful, especially after we had firsthand experienced of the Andean landscape from our three days on the Inca Trail.

01Temple of the Sun

02Mummy vault (royal tombs) at Temple of the Sun

03Alternative entrance to the Temple of the Sun.

04Terrace of the Ceremonial Rock and Guardhouse at the top.

05Terrace of the Ceremonial Rock

06Stone quarry at Machu Picchu

07A viscacha on an Inca wall.

08Principle temple at Intiwatana Pyramid (damaged by earthquakes)

09View from Intiwatana Pyramid.

10Terraces at the side of Intiwatana Pyramid.

11East urban section

12Lane going up to upper section

13East urban section

14East urban section and the Huaya Picchu.

15Overview of Machu Picchu with llamas.

16Inca Bridge and original Inca Trail

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru

 

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MACHU PICCHU, Inca Trail, Peru

We validated our tickets and got a souvenir stamp onto our passport at the main entrance of Machu Picchu, then our guide Freddie led us into the site once again.  We walked past the Terrace of the Ceremonial Rock and sat down at a terrace where Freddie gave us a talk about Machu Picchu.  Then Freddie took us to the Temple of the Sun, where former Inca priests observed the sun, performed sacrifice rituals, and stored the royal mummies at the mausoleum.

Lastly, Freddie took us to the Main Temple and then Intiwatana Pyramid, a high point in Machu Picchu where the Incas studied and worshiped the stars.  After some last words on the Inca astronomy, Freddie and his assistant Miguel left us to freely wander around the ruins on our own.  They left for a restaurant at Aguas Calientes where the space was reserved for Peru Treks.  All members of our group, including our friends, dispersed all over Machu Picchu.  We decided to take a break at the entrance cafe before climbing up to the guardhouse once again to take a few more photos of Machu Picchu under the sun.  At the lookout, there was a few funny looking llamas grazing the lawn.  After a few minutes photographing the friendly llamas, we ventured further out for 15 minutes to see the Inca Bridge.

Back to the lookout, we saw another llama standing on a terrace behind a stone wall peeking at the passing tourists.  We slowly walked back to the main entrance and hopped on a bus for Aguas Calientes, where our friends, Freddie and the entire group waited for us at the restaurant reserved for Peru Treks.

01Main tourist entrance of Machu Picchu.

78330034More tourists arrived as bus loads of people were transported from the train station at Aguas Calientes below Machu Picchu.

78330035Terraces of the Ceremonial Rock and the surrounding mountains.

04Tourist in Machu Picchu.

05One of Freddie’s sessions explaining the history of the lost city.

06Temple of the Sun was built upon a natural rock, with the mausoleum situated underneath.

07Mummy vault (royal tomb) at Temple of the Sun

08Doorway to Temple of the Sun.

09Damage to the stonework of the Main Temple by occasional earthquakes.

10The Intihuatana stone on the top of Intiwatana Pyramid.

11Terraces on the side of Intiwatana Pyramid.

12View towards the Terraces of the Ceremonial Rock.

13Llama, Machu Picchu, Una Picchu and Huayna Picchu (mountains behind Machu Picchu).

15Urubamba River down at the valley bottom.

16The Inca Bridge and part of the original Inca Trail, 15 minutes walk from Machu Picchu.

17Curious llama peeking out from the ruins.

18Llama in the ruins.

14One last classic overview of Machu Picchu before we left the site.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


WINAY WAYNA TO MACHU PICCHU, Inca Trail, Peru

Last day of the Inca Trail. We got up super early and joined the queue marching towards Machu Picchu.  At 05:20 the gate of the final stretch of trail opened and we went in as a group to hike the final 5 km.  Despite a little wet, we hiked in a relatively quick pace and felt quite excited.  Our destination was Inti Punku (Sun Gate), where we were supposed to get a glimpse of early sunlight shining on the legendary lost city.  Though the night of heavy rain brought us another morning of mist, so that scene of golden Machu Picchu at dawn never happened for us.  At least it wasn’t raining when we arrived at Inti Punku.  We only stopped briefly for a drink, took a few pictures and continued our way marching towards Machu Picchu.

Before entering the legendary ruins, we stopped at the guard house to have a closer overview of Machu Picchu.  We stood at the Terraces of the Ceremonial Rock near the guard house and waited for the fog to lift.  Magically it did happen in front of our eyes.  We could see first the ruins and then later Huayna Picchu, the iconic mountain behind the lost city.  After some moments of excitement, we descended to the main entrance.  At the main entrance, we used the toilet, stored our day-pack, and had some morning snack before heading back in to Machu Picchu for a tour with our guide Freddie.  And then the dog appeared again, which had been mysteriously following our group since we left our first camp site two days ago.

01At 5am, we woke up to a grey sky of clouds and fog.

P1030118Clouds and fog was still present, but the fog seemed lifting a little by the time we reached Inti Punku (Sun Gate).

03Lush green mountains around Machu Picchu.

04Llamas and the Terraces of the Ceremonial Rock near the Guardhouse.

05From the guard house, Machu Picchu stood right below. We sat on one of the terraces to wait for the fog to lift.

06Our group among other trekkers waiting for Machu Picchu to emerge from the mist.

78330024Machu Picchu in the mist.

07Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu in the mist.

78330027Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu after some minutes of waiting.

08Entrance tickets into Machu Picchu.

10And here is the dog that had been mysteriously following our group since we left our first camp site two days ago.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru

 


WAYLLABAMBA TO PACAMAYO, Inca Trail, Peru

After spending the night at Wayllabamba, we began hiking after an early breakfast outside of our tents, where the staff of Peru Treks set up a long table and plates of pancakes.  After breakfast, one by one we picked up our day packs and left Wayllabamba behind.  We were told that the second day of Inca Trail would be the toughest, as we would reach the highest point of the entire trek, Warmiwanusqa or the Dead Woman’s Pass.  Before reaching the pass, we would need to go through four stages of uphill hike, with a total of about 1,100m of ascend in one morning.

Not sure when did we find ourselves followed by a friendly dog from Wayllabamba.  We went through the first stage of ascend without much troubles.  A 15-minute break with snacks and drinks was the reward after completing the first uphill hike.  The second stage of the ascend took us through a dense forest and hundreds of uneven steps, some of which belonged to the original Inca Trail where the Incas traveled hundreds of years ago.  The second stage of uphill hike ended at an open valley, where dense forest gave way to grasslands and alpine tundra.  A long table was already set up by our guides and porters at the valley, where we enjoyed our second breakfast of the day.  Soon we were on our way on the third stage of the uphill hike.  It was a nice walk through a highland valley, in the embrace of mountains and glaciers.  In the valley, a wild llama walked alongside us with its head up.

At the end of the valley, the last stage of ascend was made up of sloped path and steps leading all the way up to Warmiwanusqa (Dead Woman’s Pass).  At 4,200m, reaching the Dead Woman’s Pass has always been one of the the most daring feat of the Classic Inca Trail.  Luck was on our side.  It was clear, warm and sunny when we reached Dead Woman Pass, which is usually foggy and windy.  We were among the first ones in our trekking group arriving at the pass.  Fog approached Dead Woman Pass as we waited for our group.  After everyone arrived, Freddie led us up a rocky slope where each of us placed a piece of stone which we picked up from our camp site at Wayllabamba onto a large rock, forming a small vertical pile of stones. He and another porter took out a bottle of rum, and we held a small ritual paying respect to the “pachamama” (Mother Earth).

After the small sip of rum, one by one we descended the other side of Dead Woman Pass. It was a 600m downhill hike to our camp site at Pacamayo (Pakaymayu).  At the camp site, Freddie gathered all the cooks and porters and introduced them to us one by one.  It started raining after we arrived at Pacamayo, and the rain lasted all night.  We were just so lucky of not suffering from a drop of rain while we hiked.

5090385044_f268fa33eb_o_01Early morning breakfast at our camp site at Wayllabamba.

01Farewell to the sleepy village of Wayllabamba.

02We rested and snacked below an exotic tree.

04The second stage of ascend took us into dense forest.

05Steps were uneven throughout most of the second stage ascend.

07Second breakfast was awaiting us by the time we reached the open valley.

08A wild llama walked alongside our shoulders for a bit as we walked through the valley.

09Halfway up the last stage of ascend to Warmiwanusqa (Dead Woman’s Pass) took us face to face with splendid mountain scenery.

12Almost reaching the Warmiwanusqa (Dead Woman’s Pass).

14After 1,100m of ascend, we finally reached Warmiwanusqa (Dead Woman’s Pass) just after noontime.

15After some snacks and a sip of rum, our descend began at the other side of the Dead Woman’s Pass.

13It was a 600m descend to the campsite at Pakaymayu.

17At Pakaymayu, our guide Freddie (front right) introduced us to each of the fantastic cooks and porters.  Without their support, our trek would simply be impossible.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


VOLCANOES AND VICUNA, Pampa Cañahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru

The next morning, a tour minibus came to our hotel to pick us up for our prearranged two-day tour of the Colca Canyon.  Located about 100 miles from Arequipa, Colca Canyon is a popular tourist attraction for visitors of the colonial city.  Andean condors, highland wildlife, Inca farming terraces, extinct and dormant volcanoes, mountain scenery, Quechua and Aymara cultures, and a river valley over twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, the Colca Canyon has a lot to offer.

After picking up a dozen or so of fellow travelers from various hotels around Arequipa, our minibus left Arequipa and headed for the mountainous area of Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve.  At a midway lookout, we stopped for a short break to admire a group of vicuna under the shadow of mighty Misti Volcano.  Vicuna, the national animal of Peru, is one of the two wild South American camelids and the ancient ancestor of alpacas.  Wild vicuna produces some of the finest and most expensive wool in the world.  The sighting of wild vicunas under the Misti officially kicked off our visit to the Peruvian highlands.  Our minibus climbed up steadily from the elevation of about 2,300m to over 3,500 at a popular tourist service station at Patahuasi, where herbal tea such as coca or muna were served.  Outside the service station, vendors took up a concrete lot selling all kinds of souvenirs from handicrafts to knitted garments.

After the tea and souvenir break, our minibus continued to ascend the highlands above 4000m in elevation, passing by a number of scenic highland wetlands and reaching the highest pass of Patapampa at 4900m.  By then, many of us on the bus had shown symptoms of high altitude sickness, from stomachache to terrible headache.  At Patapampa, there was a brief stop where we could take in the magnificent mountain views in the embrace of a number of extinct volcanoes.  A few souvenir stalls and llamas stood by the lookout, awaiting for tourists like me who braved the high altitude sickness for a heroic feat of photographing ourselves of reaching a 4900m+ pass.  To avoid the danger of high altitude sickness due to our rapid ascend from Arequipa to Patapampa, the 4900m stop was very brief while our movements outside the bus were kept in slow motion.

After Patapampa, our bus gradually descended to the mountain valley of Chivay at 3600m.  Before reaching Chivay, we made a final stop at a lookout overlooking the valley.  We walked over to the cliff edge to photograph the scenery of Chivay in a distance.  Several Quechua vendors dressed in traditional clothing braved the scorching sun and fierce wind selling tourist souvenirs and traditional alpaca knitwear.

2Leaving Arequipa behind, our minibus ascended to the highlands of Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve.

1Much of the landscape is rough and covered by volcanic stone.

3The extinct volcanoes of the area reveal an active geological past. [Scanned positive slide]

4Wild vicunas roamed these lands under the shadow of Misti Volcano. [Scanned positive slide]

5Patahuasi has the only service stop between Arequipa and Chivay, and is a frequent tea stop for tour groups.

6Muna and colca teas are popular among tourists.

7Souvenir stalls adjacent to the service station at Patahuasi, with surreal rock formations in the backdrop.

8After Patahuasi, we ascended further up to the mountainous highlands.

9 Large area of the highlands is saturated with water. [Scanned positive slide]

10These mountain wetlands are home to unique highland animals such as Andean flamingos.

11While most of us were well aware of the dizziness and headache from the high altitude soon after leaving Patahuasi, our bus quietly arrived at the highest pass of our entire journey, Patapampa at 4900m above sea level.

13At Patapampa, we were greeted by several souvenir vendors…

12…as well as a few llamas dressed with funny looking decorations, and uncounted piles of stone cairns as roadside shrines to the Inca goddess Pachamama.

14Before reaching Chivay, we stopped at a lookout where several vendors were selling souvenirs and knitwear.

1From the lookout, the village of Chivay lies at the river valley further down the road. [Scanned positive slide]

 

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru