Saturday, November 7, 2009

Peru: Machu Picchu Day 2

Our first day at Machu Picchu was a Saturday and there were quite a few people. I didn't actually mind that since it gives you a sense of what the site would have looked like when it was still inhabited with thousands of residents. However, I specifically planned that our second day would be a Sunday. There are far fewer people at Machu Picchu on Sunday because it is the big market day at Pisaq in the Sacred Valley and most tour groups go to that. There were shorter lines for bag check, bathrooms and food and much more peaceful in the ruins.

The first thing we did that day was to head up past the agricultural terraces to hike to the Sun Gate. The Sun Gate sits in a notch of Machu Picchu mountain and is a tambo and guard post along the Inca Trail.

The path is good and there is little actual climbing so it's a good one for kids, but you still ascend quite a way and it takes a couple of hours one way if you take it easy. It does afford you excellent views of Machu Picchu, Wayna Picchu, the winding bus road and the Urubamba river.

There are quarries along the way and another tambo en route. You'll find yourself walking over the green serpentine rock that is found in the area. Polished pieces of Machu Picchu serpentine are for sale all over Peru.

Resting at a tambo along the way

sheer cliff face with bromeliads near the Sun Gate

at Sun Gate

resting and enjoying the view

Machu Picchu in the background

hiking back down

a little flying

Once we were back down the mountain, we headed to the main gate for some cheese empanadas that I had packed in my checked backpack. Afterward we went to the "pyramid" which has the Temple of the Sun on top.

The story goes the sun gets tied down to this "hitching post" carved into the rock. There's more to it than that. Various points line up with the sun on solstice.

We spent the afternoon just wandering around the site visiting places we hadn't seen the day before and just generally enjoying the experience.

We lounged for a while on the grassy ceremonial lawn and watched the llamas graze and chase each other.

Next time I'll have a brief post about our last day in Aguas Calientes.

Copyright 2009 text and photos. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Those are some great photos! Wonderful! Thanks for sharing =)