The “Old Mountain”

After our lazy day in Cusco it’s time to go to the ‘Old Mountain’. Our bus picked us up at the hotel to take us back to Ollantaytambo, once there we would need to board a train to our next destination. For this being such such a small town the station was very busy with a train leaving every 20-30 minutes.

Our train would take us to small Pueblo located at the access point to our destination, this town is Aguas Calientes. This train followed the river Urubamba down the valley for about 2 hours. As we followed the river you could see remnants left over from the Incan Empire. This river is part of the headwaters of the Amazon river.

As you can see Aguas Calientes is commonly known as the town or Pueblo of Machu Picchu (The “Old Mountain” in Quechua). Once we had checked into our hotel, we set off to explore this small town which is built upon a hillside.

Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca Citadel, located in the Eastern Cordillera of southern Peru, on a 2,430-metre (7,970 ft) mountain ridge. It is located in the Cusco Region, Urumbama Province, Machupiccu District, above the Sacred Valley, which is 80 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of Cuzco. The Urumbamba River flows past it, cutting through the Cordillera and creating a canyon with a tropical mountain climate.
Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was constructed as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often mistakenly referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas”, it is the most familiar icon of Inca civilization. The Incas built the estate around 1450 but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish conquest. Although known locally, it was not known to the Spanish during the colonial period and remained unknown to the outside world until American historian Hiram Bingham brought it to international attention in 1911.
Machu Picchu was built in the classical Inca style, with polished dry-stone walls. Its three primary structures are the Inthuatana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows. Most of the outlying buildings have been reconstructed in order to give tourists a better idea of how they originally appeared. By 1976, 30% of Machu Picchu had been restored and restoration continues.
Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historic Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll. (Wikipedia)

Our guide informed us that Machu Picchu was never discovered by the Spaniards as the Inca King had the trail to Machu Picchu from Ollantaytambo destroyed. Machu Picchu was a work in progress and was never finished due to the Spanish invasion.

As we strolled along, we found a place that sold local draft beer.

This place was located right next to the river, which was flowing vigorously down the rapids.

We checked out the menu here for dinner but after seeing them place bowls of uneaten corn (which was provided with the beer) back on the shelf ready to be served again, we decided against this.

We took a different route back towards the hotel and found a couple of sculptures that provided more info on the history of the Inca (which means king).

Next morning it was up and out early after breakfast to catch our bus at 7:30am. This bus ride was about a half hour ride up the mountain on switchbacks to the ruins.

Machu Picchu in all it’s glory!

While we waited for the mist/clouds to clear our guide took us along the Inca Trail that leads away from Machu Picchu. The Inca’s had around 40,000kms of trails throughout their empire which stretched from Ecuador in the north to Argentina in the south. We arrived at the Inca Gate, which is locked and was a busy spot due to the mist. This is as far as you can go on the Inca Trail due to the state of the Inca Bridge.

Even the Llamas were waiting for the mist to clear.

The Inca Bridge.

On the way back the mist was starting to clear in the valley.

It was starting to clear-up here also as we walked back towards the ruins.

Our guide then took us into the ruins to explain various items throughout.

Our Guide Odilio (Odi) Puelles.

We had an option to walk up the mountain behind Machu Picchu but declined due to the constant mist, we were not sure we would have the view we wanted. Although there were people who took the chance.

These channels carved into the stones ran through the ruins, this was the Inca’s fresh water supply from the mountain springs and are still flowing to this day.

The Cylindrical Stones are to fasten the roof on.

This is the Sun Gate, used on the Summer Solstice (located at the top of the mountain on the other side of the ruins), there is a trail to trek up there if you are inclined, we were not.

This Rock depicts the mountain behind it, which we never had a chance to see due to the clouds.
Looking back up towards our starting point.

The following photo’s, are provided with the complements of our Guide Odilio Puelles. Thanks Odi for guiding us through the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu and for all the information you imparted to us, I am not sure we will remember it all, but you did keep us all interested.

From the Sun Gate, looking towards Machu Picchu, switchbacks in the foreground.
A young wild bear near the Sun Gate.

The shaped rock with the mountains behind.
The obligatory selfie.
Our tour group, rear right to left: Thomas (IRL), Robert (UK), Elaine (UK), David (UK), Lisa (IRL), Helen (Norway)
Front row, right to left: Alex (AUS), Stewart, Martha (Norway), Catherine, Dragoon (Norway).

There was so much to see, I could have added whole bunch more photos with comments, but alas I think this gives you a good idea what’s there.

From here, we all travelled back to Cusco for our final night there. Next morning we caught a 10am flight back to Lima for a couple of days.

Next: Some Old Lines

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