Though a straight line appears to be the shortest distance between 2 points, life has a way of confounding geography. Often it is the dalliances and the detours that define us. There are no maps to guide our most important searches; we must rely on hope, chance, intuition and a willingness to be surprised.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Machu Picchu


The magic of Machu Picchu is in the location - Tikal in Guatemala, for example, is larger, taller and older, while the staggering complexity of the architecture is shared by any number of Incan sites that we had visited in the week before - but what a location.

Perched (never before has the word been so apt) on a mountain top, the whole site looks as if it might at any moment avalanche down either side of the mountain into the valley below. And that´s almost certainly what will happen one day. Even as more and more sections are being uncovered and restored (only 40% of the site is thought to have been discovered to date), a large portion of the middle of the site is being closed off for fear that the footsteps of 3,000 daily visitors are causing the ruins to quite literally split in two across the back of the mountain.

Luckily for us there were far fewer than 3,000 bodies there as Christmas is firmly in the low season for Machu Picchu. And when the low season rains started in the afternoon, the site emptied even further. This was truly a blessing as I got some fantastic photos.

Left - much of the site looks exactly as it would have done when abandoned in the 16th century - only the straw roofs are gone, long rotted away.

Right - even with all the technology available today, we cannot replicate the precision and accuracy of the Inca´s architecture.

The highlight of Machu Picchu for me was climbing Wayna Picchu, the adjacent peak that rises even higher than the ruins themselves. My friend Adrienne and I climbed the very same steps installed by the Incas for the purposes of rituals and sacrifices. Steps made treacherous by the rain which must have put off other visitors, because once at the top we had 30 magical minutes to ourselves in what must be one of the most incredible spots in the world.
The top of the Inca world. A truly unbelievable place.





For many visitors to Machu Picchu, the journey there is as much of an experience as the site, Machu Picchu being the last stop on the classic Inca Trail. Having hitched another route through the Andes (see below), our group took the train to Machu with the posher, non-hiking visitors. And it´s a train journey never to be forgotten - not content with offering us unbelievable views of the Andes through the train´s panoramic windows - Peru Rail´s staff put on a display of traditional dancing, and an alpaca-dominated fashion show, using the aisle of the train as a catwalk.














5 comments:

Tom H-C said...

Hi Mate,

Looking absolutely fantastic - continue to be quite jelous....

Tom

stuart said...

I'm not believing that first photo wasn't forcefully set up. The RSPCL will be investigating.

stuart said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Graeme said...

You would have thought that with the advent of barriers at many UK stations,(even Ayr!) Scotrail/South West trains staff would now have the time to treat us to displays of Scottish Country dancing/Morris Dancing, however I have yet to see any. I will be writing to the Rail Passenger Advisory Committee demanding to know why...

Calum said...

ah yes, those llamas are strange beasts. dont think animal rights are quite the same in S America, though perhaps the RSPCA has international juresdiction...?

Thank goodness Scotail doesnt, cant imagine how dull the journey would be if Scotrail got their hands on the franchise...