My Journey Back In Time: Machu Picchu
As the train makes its way along the river and the steep hills gave way to little bits of sky a new discovery is fast approaching. Hanging off the train, making my parents wonder if I was going to arrive in one piece at our destination. Rolling through small villages and seeing the Indians of Peru dressed in their colorful clothes one can see the rich textures that make up the country of Peru. The train comes to our stop and we disembark, as I look up the mountainside I see nothing except green trees. My parents and I board a bus to finish our journey that will lead us to the start of another. The narrow road winds to the top, the fog is thick and little can be seen. Our tour guide Oscar tells us to have a little bit to eat and in an hour the fog will have burned off. An hour later just as Oscar had promised the fog lifted and we were told it was time. As we walked along a narrow path some remnants of what had once been part of an ancient place came into view. What lay ahead over a crest took my breath away. A beautiful day, with the sun shinning and out in front of me laid Machu Picchu. It is a sight I will never forget even some 30 years later.
~Fun note: If you ever get a chance to see the movie "Secret of the Incas" the young Indian playing the flute at the beginning was Oscar our guide when he was a young man.
History and Guide Books for Machu Picchu
Hiram Bingham and the Lost City of the Incas
A young man that was a mountaineer, discoverer, and a historian first laid his eyes on Machu Picchu on July 29, 1911. Hiram Bingham was well educated and well traveled, he had seen the Inca ruins in Cuzco but longed to find the last citadel of the Incas, the Vilcabamba. It is said that when the Spanish got a little too close for comfort in 1537 the last of the Inca army retreated into the thick Amazonian rain forest. Four centuries later Bingham would be standing at their last refugee hidden all these years in the thick forest of the Andes.
As you walk around one cannot help but notice the precise stonework, and how beautiful the setting is. It spreads out before you and one wonders what it was like to live surrounded by such beauty. It was also a good choice for the Incas because of its natural defenses, hidden from the world and from the Spaniards. Alpaca wonder the grounds along with the tourist that have come here to marvel at the scene nary. One can imagine what it was like for Hiram Bingham when he first discovered the forgotten city of the Incas.
When Bingham had arrived to Machu Picchu the jungle had claimed it as its own and would take workers some time to clear away the vegetation. High above the Urubamba River at the elevation of 8000 clearing away the vegetation and making the road up took many months of labor. Bingham theorized that this site was the birthplace of the Incan "Virgins of the Suns" which housed woman priestesses. Other researchers disagree that Machu Picchu was a getaway for the Inca elite and was one of the estates belonging to emperor Pachacti who had it built in the mid fifteenth century. Also some have claimed that the site was picked to build this great estate based on its alignment with significant astronomical events sacred to the Incas. This also is key to other great ancient cities, landmarks in other parts of the world, which is another story all in itself. Orion constellation may be one of the key elements in this ancient site just like others such as the Pyramids of Giza. What ever its purpose it is an ancient site of great magnificence and a must see during ones life.
Purchase tickets before arriving at the ruins. Purchase in Cuzco or in Aguas Calientes in advance since it is limited on the number of people allowed.
Sanctuary Lodge Hotel
Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge
This would be the ideal place to stay if you want to take full advantage of this wonderful place. This hotel is the only place to stay, which is adjacent to Machu Picchu. The grounds of this hotel are beautiful and the views from the restaurant will make dinner a memorable evening.
If you are not staying here you can still enjoy a buffet lunch while visiting the ruins.
Other Luxury Hotels located down the mountain from the ruin in Aguas Calientes:
Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel
Mid Range Hotels:
La Cabana Hostal
Rupa Wasi Eco Lodge
Hostal Machu Picchu
Terrazas del Inca
One can stay at a hotel in Cuzco and Ollantaytambo both have train service to Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes).
Map of the Area
The train stops in Aguas Calientes and from there you can take a bus to the top.
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