A day trip to an old mountain
07.05.2010 - 07.05.2010 18 °C
When I say a day trip I mean a day trip. It started at 3.00am and ended at 11.30 pm but it was worth every minute.
Its a long journey from Cusco to Machu Picchu. It took the Incas 7 days on foot and at the moment because of landslides caused by heavy rains it takes nearly as long. The train that normally runs from Cusco can only start from a small station about two hours away by coach. So it was we caught a small mini bus at 4.00am to catch the 7.30 am train.
The line has been badly effected and many parts of the track had been washed away completely only weeks before we arrived. It was obvious that superhuman effort had been put into restoring the destroyed sections but also that there is still alot of work to do. This was evidenced by how quite the train went as we crossed some sections where there we were feet from sheer drops into a raging river that runs beside the track. In one short section workmen were still putting the track together and the train virtually stopped and then inched its way across the moving and swaying rail!
It took a good fifteen minutes to extract the seat from our bottoms because we had been gripping so tightly!
Machu Picchu is iconic and as breathtaking as all the films and photographs lead you to believe it will be. So much so that both of us, for the first hour, felt the visit was a little bit surreal. There we were sat on the walls of this place that felt so familiar but that we had never visited before. The classic view over the ruins just didn't seem real and yet we were taking the self same photos from the same angle that we had seen so many times before.
We had a guide and I'm glad we did as he dispelled some of the myths around the place. I won't bore you with the facts because there are so many good books and websites devoted to Machu Picchu and I couldn't do it justice. Save to say that one thing I hadn't appreciated was that it was built as late as the sixteenth century and only occupied for about 80 years by approximately 500 people.
Words fail me in describing the place. Even the fellow tourists who were wandering around in there hundreds couldn't spoil the atmosphere of a place surrounded by giant mountains and thick jungle. In fact the other visitors probably gave some idea as to what it looked like when it was populated by 500 people.
Another aspect to the city was the Inca trails that led to it. We took a short walk along one of them to the Inca Bridge. It is truely incredible how the Incas managed to build these paths into sheer rock faces. Walking along them was enough to give you vertigo. How the Inca managed to herd Lama and carry goods along them I have no idea.