Better Than I Expected

Trip Start Mar 08, 2005
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Trip End Mar 29, 2005


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Flag of Peru  ,
Friday, March 18, 2005

There are a lot of places that once you've seen enough pictures or film footage of, you feel as though you've experienced the area. Machu Picchu does not fall into that category.

It's definitely touristy, and for Peru it's extremely expensive. And there are entirely too many people speaking English. 1,000 people a day visit Machu Picchu, mostly westerners. You can forget that you're abroad. But just for a moment. Once you start exploring your surroundings, all of those distractions seem to disappear.

The outside world has only known about Machu Picchu since 1911. The Incan city is in phenomenal condition because the Spaniards never knew it existed. This saved them the trouble of conquering and dismantling it.

It sits on a small plateau at 2400 meters above sea level. It is surrounded by towering peaks and narrow valleys. A river carves through the valley below, barely visible from the city. The mountain Huayna Picchu provides a dazzling backdrop, jutting up just behind the ruins. Actually, this is futile. My words don't do it justice. I'll post plenty of pictures.

We spent two days exploring the ruins and the hikes around Machu Picchu. We hiked over to an ancient Incan bridge that defies time, physics, and rational thought. We also hiked over to the Sungate, but the morning clouds obstructed our view of the city. However, our hike to the top of Huayna Picchu easily made up for any earlier disappointments.

The peak climbs up to 2700 meters and provides a panoramic, 360 degree view of the mountains, valleys, and ruins. It's the most beautiful view I've ever had. And most visitors don't scale the broken trail and stairs to the top. For a great deal of the hike you're on a 3 feet wide path with slippery rock on one side and a dizzying plummet on the other. It's the kind of thing that would never exist in the States because you couldn't sign enough waivers to protect the park from litigation.

The hike was slow going. When you did cross someone coming down you were forced into a very intimate grind with the person passing you. It was a constant challenge of whether to offer the stranger your anterior or posterior. I felt violated on either occasion, and not in the good way.

The climb was so exhilarating, the view so stunning and awe inspiring, that when we finally reached the top of this amazing mountain - Beverley decided to vomit. Fantastic.

We took some great photos and had a thrilling couple of days. So I'll let the photographs tell the rest of the story.

And consider this an invitation. Everyone needs to see this place. In person.
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