For nearly 400 years while the Spaniards in their ‘great’ conquest of South America, Machu Picchu lay buried beneath the growth of the jungle high on a mountain top just 50 miles or so from the great city of Cusco. Perhaps lost. Perhaps forgotten. But Machu Picchu and much of the Inca history may be lost forever. For while they were very good at stonework, terracing, agriculture, calendaring and the like, jotting down their history wasn’t a strong point.
Machu Picchu was rediscovered by an American historian Hiram Bingham in 1911. While it’s the most famous of all Inca ruins, it is as noted the least understood. As I rode the train along the mighty Rio Urubamba through the Sacred Valley to this mountain top wonder, I had no idea what to expect. Perhaps better stated, my expectations were set for me. I’d seen 100’s photos of the site in history books, tourists pamphlets, motorcycle travelers websites and more. I knew it was perhaps the most dramatic archaeologic site in the world with its Andean setting, raging river and remote location. But nothing really could prepare me for my visit after taking a 30 minute bus-ride from the sleep touristy Agua Calientes at the end of the train line.
Only approved tourist buses can make the climb to Machu Picchu so it was decided to leave my motorcycle safe in Cusco rather than tempt the “bad” people who prey on the tourists making their mecca to this magical and mythical place. I was part of a cattle call type of tour, so I took every moment to escape and just stare in wonder at the hundreds of terraces, marvel at the stone work and imagine the Inca elite practicing their rituals and celebrating their festivals high in the clouds. Even though it’s the rainy season I was blessed with great weather today. Just enough clouds to keep the high altitude sun from wreaking havoc on my scalp but providing adequate lighting to make for an interesting morning and afternoon of photography.
Many people come to Peru to visit this site by taking a 4 day trek along the Inca Trail. For me and my race to get to Ushuaia before winter sets its nasty dose of weather not favorable to motorcycle travelers, I decided to take the day to ponder, meditate and shoot pictures while capturing a bit of the history, layout and architecture of Machu Picchu. For tomorrow I look forward to making my way towards Puno and Bolivia.