After a long train ride down an incredibly scenic and spectacular section of the Sacred Valley, we arrived at Agua Calientes, the end of the train ride and the town giving access to Machu Picchu, which is a vertical mile closer to sea level than Cuzco and almost tropical in its vegetation. Here is Shirley peeking out of our hotel, the night before our bus ride up to the famous ruins.
Machu Picchu is high above the Valley, which at this point is hemmed in by huge cliffs.
The road up to Machu Picchu from the valley
You have all seen photos of Machu Picchu, which was not destroyed by the Spaniards because it was deliberately abandoned by the Incas and the ways to it obscured. It was known to only a few people before its rediscovery by an American professor and adventurer in 1912. From photos of it I have seen from 1923 it is clear that the site has been greatly cleaned up and partially restored. This was our first view of the city.
There are six paths leading to the place, one coming up this steep ascent. You might be able to make out a bit of the path, more like a ladder than a path at this point:
At the side of the city there are terraces, originally for growing food. The city is at the top of incredibly steep cliffs!
Here is the gate to the city.
Of course a lot of the buildings were residences, like these, though the roofs are long gone.
The waterworks, bringing water from mountain springs into the city and putting it into places like this, still work perfectly 500 years after their construction.
This shows a gateway building, and also some llamas who are permanent residents here.
Shirley had some fun getting close to this rabbit-like animal that also lives here.
I took a hike up a trail to the Sun Gate, the spot from which hikers on the Inca Trail first get their look at Machu Picchu. You can see the city off in the distance.
and the Sun Gate, with happy hikers resting in the sun.
Back down again to the city
Getting ready to leave...
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