Today we really got to see Peru and I think it’s the most beautiful country I have ever been to, or maybe tied with Brazil! It’s just so different. We had been looking forward to seeing Machu Picchu because Dad did the Inca Trail charity trek about 6 years ago and we wanted to see where he had been. After seeing the steep landscape and pathways, rather him than me!
We left the hotel at 5.30am and headed to the bus station in town. The hotel staff had made us a snack box each so we went off with our little brown paper bags like school children! The bus journey took 2 hours and we arrived at the train station in Ollantaytambo about 8am. There are no roads connecting Machu Picchu to Cusco so the only way in is by train or by foot.
The train journey was spectacular, the tracks run alongside the Vilcanota river and our seats were on the best side of the train. The river was ferocious and the rapids were the highest class, it looked like it would be really fun to raft on but also quite dangerous. The train meandered through the towering green mountains following the river all the way. We had not really seen mountains so beautiful before, it’s hard to explain how amazing the scenery was.
We arrived in Aguas Calientes (the closest town) and got on another coach for 25 minutes up the mountain to Machu Picchu. We met our tour guide and walked up a set of steps to the start of the tour, the view was breathtaking. We didn’t know much about Machu Picchu before today other than it was created by the Inca Empire about 500 years ago and many of the ruins remained. The Incas did not have a written language therefore nobody knows exactly what the town on Machu Picchu was for. Some say it was a retreat where richer people would go to relax, some say it was a small village inhabited by about 800 people, but nobody knows for sure.
The ruins of the town are perched on the very top of Machu Picchu which translates to “Old Mountain”, it is still a mystery (rather like Stone Henge) as to how they got the rocks and soil up there with only the Inca Trail to get in and out. We walked around the old town, went in some of the houses and saw the old temples that they used to worship their Gods.
In the 1500’s when the Spanish invaded, the Incas are thought to have abandoned the town. Historians believe it is unlikely that the Spanish found the town on Machu Picchu otherwise they would have destroyed it and stolen all the materials like they did in Cusco. It was not until 1911 that an American historian called Hiram Bingham discovered the lost city underneath the jungle and it was turned into a tourist attraction.
The tour lasted about 3 hours and it was definitely a high point of our travelling so far. Peru has so much history, culture, beauty, and alpacas! I just love it here. The weather kept changing from rain to sun but it just added to the experience of being up in the mountains in the magical land of the Incas.