There is a name that is sure to appear on most travelers’ wish lists or bucket lists, “Machupicchu”. “Machupicchu” which until we reached was only considered one of the seven wonders of the world, opened up before us to an amazing view of historical wonders and structures. It was also the answer to the question of why “Machu Picchu” is such a fascination for travelers.
Our plane takes off from Lima, Peru, and prepares to land. Looking out the window of a low-flying plane. A distant view of an ancient city built according to the slope of the earth, amid towering green mountains with clouds billowing over them. “CUSCO” is the cultural capital of Peru.
It was from here that the kings of the famous “INCA” empire, which once stretched from the Andes mountains in South America to the ocean on the other side, which included the present-day countries of Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru, ruled from here. We flew into a land inhabited by a vast population that amazed the world with its self-sufficiency and incredible advances in agriculture and construction.
It must be because of the 11,000-foot altitude that the airport’s outer entrance is lined with shops selling “Altitude Sickness” capsules and cocoa drinks, and tourist companies and taxis to grab people. Having arrived in Bolivia from a higher altitude than this, we now have no problem with Altitude.
We had to go to Ollantaytambo. I had prepared a route map to see the remains of the Inca Empire in Cuzco and on the way to Ollantay, so I talked to the taxi driver about the possibility of going there, and finally confirmed the price of 50 US dollars for a 6-hour trip. The vehicle first stopped at a square, in the middle of which was a huge statue standing on a horse with arms. Pachcutec, the great emperor of the Inca Empire. It was during his time that the Inca Empire reached its golden age. It is believed that he started the construction of Machu Picchu… Traditional Women dressed in Peruvian costumes walk around selling textiles and handicrafts. After wandering around there for a while, we continued our journey.
Farm fields lie on both sides of the road. Valleys are full of plants and flowers. Green mountains on all four sides. Everywhere you look, the beautiful beauty of nature. The landscape that crosses Switzerland. On the way, I stopped at one or two places and took pictures. After about 2 hours of travel, we reached ‘Murray Terrace’.
At first, we thought it would be a theater complex similar to the ancient Greek / Roman model due to its huge size and circular terrace. but what surprised us was the description that it was an “agricultural laboratory” built by the “Incas” in the 1400s-1500s for their agricultural purposes!
I walked from the top of the terrace and reached the bottom. Due to the size of the terrace, it took some time to reach the bottom. It is made of circular tiers about 2 meters high, and the soil for each tier is brought from different parts of the country. Big stones, small stones on top, and soil on top of that. It is built with a drainage system so that even in the heaviest rains, not a single floor is submerged in water. It is believed that the “Incas” used this laboratory to test which crops were suitable for cultivation according to the soil, altitude, and climate of each region.
Each of the buildings of the Incas is still a wonder for historians and researchers… From there we will return to the still useful terraced farm called “Chenchilos”, visit the surrounding buildings and arrive at the hotel in Ollanta in the evening. Tomorrow morning our journey to Machu Picchu will begin.
We reached Olanta train station around 9 am. It was only a 5-minute walk from the hotel to the train station. We booked PERU RAIL – EXPEDITION TRAIN. This train service goes to the station “Aguas Calientes”, a small village below the Machu Picchu mountains. There are only two ways to go from Ollanta to Machu Picchu.
1. An ancient 4-day trek through the mountains built and used by the Incas. (This is the world’s number one hiking trail called the Inca Trail. This trek is strictly controlled by the Peruvian government and must be booked months in advance. Only 200 travelers are allowed per day.)
2. This railroad was built by the Peruvian government for tourism. As the road is more than half through the forest, there is not much to see on either side. On the left side is the river named “Urubamba”. The rail is built along the river bank. It took more than an hour and a half to reach the “Aguas Calientes” station. The way out of the station is through the souvenir shops. “Aguas Calientes” is a very small village. Just walking distance to everywhere. The tourist business is everywhere. There are souvenir shops, hotels, and restaurants on both sides of the roads. The hotel we booked was right next door. After going there and leaving the luggage, I went straight outside and reached the Machu Picchu bus ticket counter. Took bus tickets for that day and the next day from Q.
As it is afternoon, the bus is less crowded. 10 minutes by bus from QV. It is a 30-minute bus ride to the entrance of Machu Picchu. (If you skip the bus journey, the next option is to take about two hours and walk up the mountain. Many people have seen this journey from the bus in the middle of the journey) – The bus stopped in front of the gate. It’s only 12 o’clock. We have tickets for afternoon entry. When I went to the counter with it, the authorized tour guide told me that it was unnecessary. There is a huge line of guides right next door and we finally managed to get a private tour guide for $40 and get in. It is quite busy. The way up is paved steps. It is also an ancient Inca structure. After climbing for about 20-30 minutes, we started to see the wonder carved in stone in the middle of the mountains.
“Machu Picchu” is a great wonder of the world that still remains unclear about what it was built for or how it was built. The reason why they overcame such extremes and built it in such a way that no one else could reach it is a matter of dispute even today. Even when the Spanish conquest of the 1500s destroyed the Inca Empire and wiped the structures from history, Machu Picchu remained undiscovered. Until Hiram Bingham, an American history teacher, discovered it again in 1911 and brought it to the world.
Machu Picchu is built in the middle of steep mountains. Not to be damaged by rain or age. From the bottom of the mountain, terraces are built in many levels and the main structure is at the top. The construction of the floors is amazing. The lower floors are constructed to support the weight/pressure of the upper floors. Each floor has a drainage system that does not stagnate during rain. About 600 such terraces protect Machu Picchu from collapse.
We went down to the main hall. Each wall is constructed using stones of various sizes and shapes cut and polished with 100% precision. Apart from the square shape, the stones are cut in various shapes and the construction is interlocked. These stones come in various sizes and weigh up to 50 tons. Nothing like lime was used to bind the stones together. Due to the fineness of the construction and finishing, the blade cannot even cut between the joints of the stones. This product is called “ashlar”. Peru is a land of frequent earthquakes. But Machu Picchu’s walls and base are built to withstand these earthquakes. Even when the new-generation buildings in the valley collapsed in previous earthquakes, Machu Picchu was not seriously damaged.
This people, who had no writing or script of their own, were unimaginably ahead of the ancient cultures of the world in their methods of construction and agricultural hygiene. How stones weighing up to 50 tons were transported to the top of the mountain for machi pichu construction without wheels/tires or even load-carrying animals like elephants or horses is a question that still puzzles historical researchers.
Many of the terraces they built for agriculture are still being used in many parts of Peru. The Incas were a completely self-sufficient culture. Agriculture was important. There was no trade or relationship with other countries or within the country. Even within the country, there were no commercial establishments or markets. This meant that each family produced/found their own food and everything else.By the 15th century, the Inca Empire had become the largest economy in South America, with agricultural products, textiles, and gold. The Inca system functioned without a system of currency.
(Instead of money, historians assume that each gave their labor time to the country, and in return gave them the resources they needed.
It took about three hours to cover the whole area. Our guide was telling us in detail about each part and the construction. All are buildings of various sizes and shapes. All the windows are made in “Trapezoid” shape. Some walls are built with a downward slope and some with an upward slope. The finishing of the stones is immense. It is estimated that more than 500 people lived here. Because of the greenery on the terrace, “llamas” can be seen grazing on the grass in many places.
After the guide service ended, we walked up to the famous photo point. There is a rush to take photos and selfies. Jumping up and taking pictures is not allowed. This is a precaution to prevent the terraces from collapsing due to age.
After that we reached the top. Now Machupicchu and the mountain on which it stands are fully visible. We spent there until visiting hours ended at 5 pm. On the way back, there was less traffic and I was able to take some good pictures. After coming back down and getting the famous Machu Picchu stamp on the passport, we took a bus to our hotel at the foothills.
We reached the bus station again at 4.30 the next morning. The purpose is to climb the mountain located in Machupichu. There is a lot of traffic and a queue to get on the bus. As the ticket was taken the day before, I was able to get on the bus after 5 o’clock. The bus brought us back to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Machupichu gate opens at 6 o’clock. The hiking gate to the top of the mountain is located above the entrance. There are mainly two hiking options in Machu Picchu.
1. Huaynapicchu (Hyanapicchu/ Wyanapicchu Mountain)
2. Machu Picchu Mountains (Mountana Machu Picchu)
1. “Wyanapicchu Mountain” is the mountain behind Machu Picchu in the picture of Machu Picchu. From the bottom of the mountain to the top, hiking is done through steps made of rocks. This is a road built by the Incas in the past. There are no safety fences or other means of support on this dangerously steep route. Only 400 people are allowed to enter in two shifts a day. Entry for the trek can be obtained only after signing and signing that we are fully responsible for the journey. Although it is such a dangerous trek, there is a huge queue of tourists to do haiku here. Tickets are available only if booked 3-4 months in advance. Good physical fitness and courage are mandatory for this trip.
2. “Mountana Machu Picchu” is the mountain where Machu Picchu is located. The height is much higher than Wyanapicchu Mountain. But hiking here is relatively easy compared to Wyanapicchu as the rock steps are wider and there are less steep climbs.
1. We have taken the ticket to hike “Mountana Machu Picchu”. As soon as the gate opened at 6 o’clock, he climbed up and reached the top of Machu Picchu. Waiting for the sunrise. Due to the cover of snow, the sunrise could not be seen clearly. Walked up again and reached the hiking gate. From the short queue, he reached in front of the guard and gave the ticket. Another guard who was standing inside stopped our call and told us the danger of taking the children with us. He said that the stones are broken in many places on the steps that can barely go for two people and it is very dangerous, and because there are no safety fences, it is very dangerous to go with a child. This one haiku is the purpose of the journey itself.
This one hike is the purpose of the journey itself. We stood aside and thought about what to do. Finally, I made the decision to go hiking and they both stay at Machu Picchu. He went to the guard again and gave the ticket. That’s when the Sun Gate. Two more hikes, the Inca Bridge, can be done there. The guard says they have relatively safe routes. When we learned that the Sun Gate Hike offers a beautiful distant view of Machu Picchu. The Sun Gate hike is fixed. We started walking towards the Sun Gate through a jungle path with steps made of rocks. This is the road built by the Incas to Machu Picchu years ago.
It is still there without much damage. All these paths, called the Inca Trail, are built with stones from the bottom and are very solidly built with steps so as not to break in the rain. Construction is done by locking the stones as described above. We are amazed at the technology and progress of their construction industry when we know that these roads that they built more than 35,000 km through the forests and mountains throughout their empire are still standing without any damage. Probably the largest stone structure in the world.
We reached Sun Gate in about an hour and a half. If you look down you will see the breathtaking view of Machu Picchu below the clouds in the distance. This is the entrance to Machu Picchu. This is where the Incas controlled access to Machu Picchu. It is here that we arrive on the morning of the fourth day of the four-day journey from Ollanta to Machu Picchu. On the way up, we saw many travelers doing the 4-day Inca Trail. After spending about an hour there, we started our return journey.
By the time we got back to the valley, it was time for our train. By train straight to Ollanta and from there by taxi to Casco; After staying the night in Casco we will start our next journey via Lima the next morning. To Mexico in search of historical remains of the Mayan culture, one of the most ancient cultures in the world.
We did not need a visa in Peru. Because since last year, Peru has granted an on-arrival visa to Indian citizens who have a visa in any of the American, British and Schengen countries, (this visa should be valid for six months from the day of arrival in Peru) and there is no visa charge. The immigration officer scanned our passport photo page and American visa page and asked how long we would be in Peru. Then the entry stamp was put on the passport. Peru’s visa is very easy to get for those who do not have the above visa.
Apply through the Peruvian Embassy in India and get the visa within a week. A passport with one-year validity, flight ticket to and from Peru, hotel booking in Peru, a description of the places to visit in Peru, NOC from the company you work for, and a bank statement detailing your finances will get the visa within 3-4 days. The visa fee is INR 2250.
Food, accommodation and travel are generally very cheap in Peru, but travel to Machu Picchu is a bit more expensive. The nearest airport is Cusco.
There are few international flights to Casco. Lima is the main airport. There are flights from most countries. There are many flights from Lima to Casco. The rater is also very low. From Cusco you can go to “OLLANTAYTAMBO” by bus or taxi. The bus fare is very low at 4 US dollars. It will take more than 2 hours to reach “OLLANTAYTAMBO”.
From OLLANTAYTAMBO to Machu Picchu there are only two ways mentioned above. Don’t forget to book months in advance if you want to go on the four-day Inca Trail. Then there is the train service. The service is operated by two companies namely INCA RAIL and PERU RAIL. Book tickets to and from Machu Picchu in advance. If it is at least 110 US dollars. Tickets sell out earlier in the season and are more expensive. The train is only as far as Aguas Calientes, the valley of Machu Picchu. From there you can walk up the mountain for 2 hours. Or you can use the bus service. A round-trip bus ticket costs US$24.
Due to the rush of visitors, entry to Machu Picchu has now been reduced to two slots. Morning (6-12) and Afternoon (12-5). Each slot has a maximum of 2000 tickets. You can enter twice with the ticket within the above-mentioned time.
If you book directly from the Peruvian government website (http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe) you can get an entry ticket for 48 US dollars. If you are doing any of the Wyanapicchu Mountain / Mountana Machu Picchu hikes described above with Machu Picchu, you can get a combo ticket at a price of 65 US dollars.
Wyanapicchu Mountain tickets are all sold out at least 3 months in advance. So it is better to book all the tickets well in advance. The season is from May to September. The traffic and hotel rates will be high but the weather will be clear. There will be little rain in March and April but the rates will be low.