Day 5: Machu Picchu

At 4.30 am we dragged our weary bodies from the comfy bed and made our way through the streets of Aguas Caliente. Two became three and then five as others popped out of nearby alleys to join us on our journey to Machu Picchu.  Then they all turned right towards the bus station- those cheating bastards.

On we went, reaching the first checkpoint around 5.15. Filled with excitement we took our first steps, pictured below. That smile had been wiped from my face by the 1000th step. Maybe those cheating bastards had the right idea after all.

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The first glimpse of Machu Picchu really is breathtaking. It was kept secret from the Spaniards when they invaded and it wasn’t until the early 1900s when American Hiram Bingham was sponsored by National Geographic that the site was cleared of overgrown vegetation.  Bingham took a heap of artifacts back to the US with him and it wasn’t until recently that Peru managed to get at least half of it back.

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The architecture is incredibly impressive, however the Incas never kept written records so a lot of the information provided appears to be educated guesses. As time wore on more and more people eager to explore the grounds arrived. I can’t imagine what high season must be like.

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After our two hour guided tour we mozied about, or should I say clambered up and down more stairs. Every now and then we’d pick a spot to people watch. My gosh some people take a photo of every pose they can possibly think of, and then some. And for one break we llama watched- they’re far more entertaining than you’d think.

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Back in Aguas Caliente we wandered about the handicraft market and watched some kids play soccer, or should I say futbol.  For such a touristy town it has quite a nice vibe and the lack of cars is a welcome change from Cusco. Speaking of which, after a train and car ride we were back where we started and ready for sleep.

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