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.
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.
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.
I spent a good portion of my time in Cusco, Peru admiring the work created by art students of the Escuela Superior Autonoma de Bellas Artes. My favorite piece was a large installation by Victor Salvatierra Laime, Oscar Alberto Llalla Cordova, Elio Pumasupa Solano, and Mario Gamarra Valdez. The piece illustrates the famous battle at Cusco between the Incas and the Chankas.
The Chankas was a indigenous tribe in Peru primarily located in the Andahuaylas (modern-day Apurimac) region and consisted of two separate tribes: the Hanan Chankas and the Uran Chankas.
In 1438, Hanan Chanka leader Anccu Hualloc led an army of 40, 000 strong, including warriors from the Ayamarca tribe, and invaded the city of Cusco. Incan prince Cusi Yupanqui led the resistance with allies from the Canas tribe and regained control of Cusco. The battle led to the formation of the Incan empire, known in Quecha as Tawantinsuyu, by Yupanqui who became Pachacutec.