Did you know that Hiram Bingham, a Yale professor, accidentally found Machu Picchu in 1911? He was actually looking for another lost Incan city when he found it. Not only was it a city strictly for the noble people of the Incan civilization, but it was a religious center and an astronomical observatory. On the two equinoxes every year, the Intihuatana stone casts no shadow, indicating the equinox.
I had no idea what to expect when I got to Machu Picchu, and I think it was probably best because it surpassed my expectations so much, I’m still in shock.
If you read my last blog post, you know we were still sick and totally exhausted from the Salkantay Trek. We decided it would be most prudent to take the bus from Aguas Calientes to the archeological site, because we wanted to enjoy our time there! The first bus leaves at 5:30am, and we arrived to the bus stop at 3:50am. Y’all, I’m not exaggerating here. We were probably #201 and #202 in line. When the busses finally arrived, we were on bus #7 to go up, if that gives you any indication how many people were there. If you decide to visit Machu Picchu and take the bus, GET THERE EARLY. I was very happy with our decision to take the bus, because the first people to arrive to the front gate after hiking still were behind all the people who took the bus, and I would have been sorely disappointed if I had done all that work to not be first in line.
The gates opened at 6, and we made our way to one of the many viewing places. Here, we were able to watch the sun peak over the eastern mountains and illuminate the lost city, and our tour guide began telling us more about the history and culture of the site. We were guided through the remains of temples, houses, walkways, markets, and gardens, each with an enchanting story or purpose behind it. For example, the temple of the Sun was the only structure that was 100% original, and it was absolutely phenomenal to see the intricate masonry that had lasted for centuries. Underneath the Temple of the Sun was a tomb, where they found a body neatly facing towards the east to watch the sunrise each morning. Another example is the Temple of the Three Windows, where they believed the Incans practice human and animal sacrifices (I tried to verify this online, but for now I’m sticking to what our tour guide told us!). The majesty of the area, the signficance of the site, and the thousands of people that inhabited the walls within which we were standing was a feeling I will never forget.
All in all, it was an incredible day and 100% worth the trek. I really cannot describe the beauty of Machu Picchu in words, and not even pictures do it justice, but it’s the best I can do. If you ever get a chance to visit this site, do it. You won’t regret it.