Machu Picchu

Who wouldn’t want to see an ancient Inca temple?  We know Machu Picchu from popularity but what is it really?

Machu Picchu – A lost city of the Inca – but we found it!

So What is Machu Picchu?

Over a hundred years ago in 1911, Hiram Bingham, an intrepid explorer from Yale University stumbled on what he thought was the Lost City of the Inca.  Today it is called Machu Picchu, a UNESCO world heritage (1983) and was named one of the 7 wonders of the modern world in 2007.

Bingham made two more trips to the site and removed many artefacts that were taken back to his Alma Mater. Yale University agreed to return many of the artefacts in 2012 and they are now on display in Cusco.

Ironically Bingham did find the original Lost City of the Inca, Vilcabamba, but he dismissed its importance and focused on the Machu Picchu find.  In 1964, another explorer, Gene Savoy confirmed that Vilacamba was the last stronghold of the independent Inca rulers who waged a years-long battle against Spanish conquistadors. source

The Train Station

The entry point into Machu Picchu from Cusco starts with a car ride to Ollyantambo, at least during the rainy season when we visited. The train extends to the village of Poroy in the drier season. Ollyantambo is a transit point for the train and we did not stay very long which is unfortunate. It turns out that it was one of the last of the capitals of the Inca empire during the fight against the Spanish. I’d like to visit again in the future to do some exploring.

Waiting for the train
Inca Rail
A comfortable ride

Aguas Caliente

Also known as Machu Picchu Puebla, the town is situated in a valley surrounded by picturesque views of the mountains and on the banks of the swollen meandering river Urubamba. My initial thoughts of the town is that it is a Mecca for backpackers, filled with cheap hostels and lots of bars and restaurants competing for your last dollar. Although we found a good hostel with nice bones the perks were lacking – like more than bread for breakfast.

Interesting carvings throughout Aguas Caliente
Bridges over the river
Great View
View looking down into the River
Wandering about the town
Entrance to Aguas Caliente

The Trail to Machu Picchu

The bus ride from Aguas Caliente to Machu Picchu is best summed up with the word – absurd.  It is probably the most expensive bus ride we never took as the prices were shocking and we knew that you can walk. The walk is not easy, it is long, up hill, and requires some fortitude. We all walk fairly quickly and we took about two hours to make the trek. The views were worth it; although I will put one advantage on the bus – you could spend more energy on getting to the Sun Gate as we ran out of time during our visit.

Walking in the rain to the hiking trail entrance
Our ponchos from Vietnam are coming in handy



Great View
At the bridge to cross the river

On the trail and the rain stopped

Frequent breaks as we go higher and higher
Ben conquers the trail
Clouds all over

The old guy with the beard has to take a break – Obi Wan isn’t as young as he used to be
Imagine building a temple on the top of this mountain
A great view of the River below
Break number 475 and counting …
Ben is a trooper
A hard slog up the mountain
Always time for a photo
Walk, walk, walk …
An inspiring view
Hannah is the first to the top

The City of Machu Picchu

Once we arrived at the top of the trail we were meshed in with the ‘bus people’ who took the easy route. There were options for a bathroom break, food, and hiring a tour guide. We moved on and went through the entrance to see the most famous city in Peru.

First view of the city
In the clouds
How would you like this as your morning view?
Hannah with her future house
The city
Windows in the walls
A view of the terraces
Rebuilt house
View of the Mountain
The terraces of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu
Colleen at the top of the mountains


Emma enjoying the sun


The residences of Machu Picchu


Closeup of the Mountain
High point of Machu Picchu


Main buildings
Another shot of main buildings
Beautiful shot of the terraces down the mountain

The Sun Gate

We followed the signs and headed further up the mountain to get a better view. A trail sign indicated the Sun Gate so we started walking … it was long … and spoiler … we ran out of time. We made it to one of the intermediate stops. A young couple from the Netherlands passed us and told us it was at least 40 minutes to the Sun Gate. But they smelled like weed so I didn’t trust their judgement. In hindsight they were right about the distance.

The trail to the Sun Gate

Following the trail
Llamas enjoy an afternoon snack
Looking back to Machu Picchu
Taking a break on the walk
A moment of reflection
The girls pause for a photograph
You know its a good view when you walk in the clouds
Near the first gate
At the first gate
The first gate
A place to rest

Praying to the Gods
Discovering Machu Picchu
The walk back from the Sun Gate
The narrow walk
Entering the City
The valley below
The super expensive hotel
Amazing view of the City
Somebody is hungry

Entering the City

We returned from the Sun Gate and entered the city proper. The walls have a cut line which was made as a barrier for earthquakes according to one of the guides.

Entering the Main Gate to the City
Enjoying the View
The narrow street
Where is the Playstation?
Cut rocks, no mortar, fitted together
Another shot of the valley
The main area of Machu Picchu – Tourist gridlock
Moving with the crowd
Enjoying the city with the terraces
Close-up of the village
The village facing the mountains
The gate into the main entrance
Looking up from the city to the top of the mountain
Walls with windows that are blocked off
Taking a photo through the window
Morning view with coffee
The hill above us
The view of the city and the terraces
View of the City
An appreciation of the walls holding the city together
The houses of Machu Picchu
I wish we had morning coffee here!
View looking towards the top of the hill
Shows just how steep and high we are
Good view of the valley below
The best type of lawnmower – adds free fertilizer as well
Another view looking up the hill
View of Machu Picchu from the left hand side
The clouds are starting to lift as it gets sunny
The valley behind Machu Picchu – note the power lines
The terraces were used for farming – but were not enough to feed all the inhabitants
Another view of the terraces under the mountain
A great view of the mountains
The terraces up the mountain
The terraces down the mountain
A bigger view of the terraces up the mountain
Paradise in another age
Powerlines in the mountains
A view from the plateau of the houses of Machu Picchu and the terraces in the distance
Reconstructed walls with windows – no mortar and fitted stones
Looking at the mountain in the distance
Three doors
The valley
The walls of the city
Our tour guide

The Walk Home

After we finished the fantastic visit to Machu Picchu it was time to head back to Aguas Caliente – which meant a walk down the hill. Normally going down a hill is easier than going up – but I am not convinced that was the case for this trip. At the bottom we enjoyed a couple of cold drinks (beer for me) at a local restaurant before heading back to our room and a very deep sleep.



4 Replies to “Machu Picchu”

  1. Well, that has to be one of the best posts that you have done. I like the mix of info, pics and vidoes placed strategically where they coorespond to the pics. I could feel your pain as you journeyed up the hill. Well done all of you! I would have taken the bus. If I had hiked you would have had to carry a dead weight back down. I liked the view for morning coffe so long as a machine got me there. I do love the 21st centuray.

    Ben loved the hair! (Ben conquers the trail).
    Rob, why is your beard that much better than mine? Oh yea…trimming…. LOL You are truly the bearded one!
    Love the pics. I am going to put some them on my computer at work.

    Happy Birthday Hannah! Enjoy the day.
    PS: Don’t buy the house. Needs too much work! Crisp says hello. He misses you!

    1. Hi Don,

      Thanks for the comments! The walk made the beer that much better and we were proud that everyone made it up the hill!

      Ben’s hair was the result of refusing to get a haircut after his shaved head experience in Cambodia. Fortunately, we all had haircuts in Quito that were awesome.

      This beard thing is getting itchy as the days progress. It’ll probably be gone in another month.

      Hannah was happy to get your salutations – first thing she asked – Did he spell my name right? Fortunately we were able to say “YES” and the second thing she wanted to know was “how is Crisp?” which you answered.

      Trust all is well in rain / snow / freeze / thaw Ottawa

  2. Amazing amazing amazing……I have seen pictures before but the video of you walking up says it all… as with Don I may have opted for the bus to go up.. but i would have definitely walked down…. not to mention my fear of heights… some of those trails look like they could be very dangerous should it rain…( does it rain much up there in the clouds)? Please keep the videos coming … they add that little extra to the pictures

    1. Hey Tammy!

      I’m not sure how we missed this comment. Better late than never, right?

      It was amazing. I think even Ben thought so.

      I can’t say I would have wanted to walk up again the next day though I strongly recommend a second day in Machu Picchu. I can’t say I read anything about that but it certainly needed more time. All of the expense was getting there. An extra day would have been ideal despite the bus ride that we may have been more likely to take.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *