The Road To Machu Picchu: Day Four

The Road To Machu Picchu is a four-part series that chronicles my exploits travelling form Cusco, Peru to the mountain of Machu Picchu, an ancient site built by the Incas that is preserved and protected by the government of Peru and UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Also read Day One, Day Two, and Day Three.

My alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. My things were packed and my change of clothes waited for me on my backpack. My group met downstairs in the lobby at 5 and we walked for a few minutes in the darkness to the bus station where we, along with hundreds of other tourists, were to catch one of many buses up to Machu Picchu. The thought of hiking to the entrance came across no one’s mind that morning for obvious reasons.

The ride up the hillside was a calm and soothing one. Our bus made its way up the road that snaked up the hillside of Machu Picchu with dawn’s first light following close behind.

It was sunny and slightly warm when we disembarked at the top of the mountain near the entrance to the city. There was already a long ling of tourists when we arrived.

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The entrance to Machi Picchu
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Plaques commemorating Hiram Bingham who discovered the site and the indigenous families who lived on the site who aided Bingham

There are a number of large plaques mounted on the stone walls just past the modern entrance (the one you see pictured above) of the city of Machu Picchu that commemorate the area as a UNESCO heritage site as well as the exploits of Hiram Bingham III. Bingham learned about “lost” Incan cities while a lecturer at Yale and is credited with finding Machu Picchu in 1911 with the aid of families who lived in the area.

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More official plaques!
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Behind the facade of this innocent-looking tower lies….

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…Machu Picchu!!

Machu Picchu means “Old Mountain/Peak” in quechua. Bingham believed he discovered the so-called lost city of the Incas known as Machu Picchu. What he actually discovered was a royal city or residential palace used by a series of Incan kings, beginning with Inca Yupanqui (Pachacuti), as a resort or vacation home that was built high up on “old mountain.”

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Huayna Picchu

Directly across from Machu Picchu is Huayna Picchu, which means “Young Mountain/Peak.”

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“Breathtaking” is not a powerful enough adjective to describe this scene.
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My chest expanded in the high altitude
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How many stories are written on these stones?
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This was an aqueduct
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Step by step
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The Temple of the Sun

The Temple Of The Sun was where priests and rulers would pay tribute to the sun god Inti.

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The sun shines bright on my old Incan home
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Incan houses
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Doorway to the king’s quarters
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Learning about the Incas
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Temple of the Condor

It is believed that blood sacrifices of animals were made here at the Temple of the Condor. Blood would pool around the “neck” of the condor carved out of stone situated in the temple.

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Close-up of the condor
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The Three Doorways (Machu Picchu university)

The Group of Three Doorways sits across the Main Plaza/Square of Machu Picchu and was most likely used as a university or learning center for the Incan ruler’s male offspring.

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Huayna Picchu
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The Main Square
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A sundial
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The other side of Machu Picchu
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Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu
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The “postcard” shot
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I got that hat and boots for cheap!
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The entrance to Huayna Picchu

Pictured above is the entrance to Huayna Picchu (also spelled Wayna Picchu). Only a limited number of visitors are allowed each day as the area is smaller than Machu Picchu and the hike up is ridiculously steep and narrow. The Peruvian government and UNESCO even had to install lines of thick cable and rope to aid travelers during their climb.

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Machu Picchu as seen from Huayna Picchu
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The hike up to the top of Huayna Picchu is steep
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Oh so very steep
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Soooooo very steep

Huayna Picchu was home to the high priest. The Temple of the Moon and the Great Cavern are also situated on the mountain.

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Yes, I am very exhausted
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Nearly 14,000 ft. above sea level
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I’ll let this photo speak for itself
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The road very heavily traveled
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This guy is 81 and hiked it all the way up top!
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Sitting atop of the world of the Incas at over 14, 000 ft. above sea level

I made my way back down to Machu Picchu after that exhausting climb up to the highest peak of Huayna Picchu. I sat against a wall and rested my feet as Viracocha once again reminded us of his presence. There were no tears this time, however, only the loud screams of his thunder that boomed through the valley and sent families scrambling back to the safety of the bus depot at the entrance.

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My final view of Machu Picchu

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