So far this expedition has been unbelievable to say the absolute least. I’ve longed to travel to and explore Peru since I was five years old and National Geographic has given me the opportunity to fulfill that dream. This country is drop-dead gorgeous and amazing. It has been so breathtaking to explore Lima, Sacred Valley, Cusco, and now Machu Picchu.
There are no words to describe the feeling of walking on the same stones the Incas trekked nearly 600 years in the past. Now I see why the “Lost City of the Incas” was recently dubbed one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I still can’t believe we just saw this breathtaking “city in the clouds.”
This morning, after packing our bags, shooting group photos, and checking out of the Inkaterra Hotel, we all grabbed our seats on a bus, slipped on our motion sickness bands or took motion sickness medicine and anxiously peered out the windows as we zig-zagged on 14 switchbacks up the mountain.
Once we finally reached the peak of the mountain, we gathered at the gate of the path that leads to Machu Picchu and all sprayed on the thick layer of sunscreen and foul smelling bug spray.
The few of us who used the restroom back at the hotel were lucky… very lucky. The bathrooms were hilarious. In order to use the restroom, you had to pay one sol (the Peruvian currency) and then you received a receipt for using the restroom. Then if it couldn’t get any funnier, you had to snatch toilet paper in front of everyone behind you in the line, before you entered the restroom. Quite an interesting system, huh? After surviving the crazy bathroom systems, we were on the path around the precipice of the mountain and anxious to see Machu Picchu.
As we rounded the last bend and our hearts throbbed hard in our chests with the suspense of knowing the ancient city lay straight ahead, our tour guide decided to torment us. He told us to hold hands and close our eyes until we stood on the ledge overlooking Machu Picchu. When we were all finally gathered and after a few agonizing moments of silence, he finally yelled, “Open your eyes!”
I think that at that moment, when we all saw the magnificent ruins of this ancient city surrounded by countless peaks of the Andes Mountains, our jaws dropped in perfect unison. The site was unbelievable. There are no words to describe how beautiful Machu Picchu is. As we trekked down to the heart of the ruins, we were absolutely speechless and probably took pictures of each and every moss covered stone.
Our wonderful tour guide, mister Edgar, a native Peruvian himself told us amazing stories about Machu Picchu and the people who once lived there. He described the construction of the wonderful city in great detail telling us that it took 80-100 years for the Incas to build Machu Picchu, after the great emperor, Pachucutiee, ordered his men to begin construction.
It took more than 60 thousand Incas to lay the foundations of the great city we see today and were never fully completed the construction of this beautiful city. Machu Picchu is an artwork-a masterpiece–but incomplete.
And although there are countless marvels of Machu Picchu, it story does have its share of sadness. Machu Picchu, after all of the Inca’s hard work, was only inhabited for 30 years.Mister Edgar told us that when the Spanish Conquistadors invaded Peru, with Francisco Pizzaro at the lead, the Incas fled Machu Picchu and abandoned this beautiful “city in the clouds” forever.
Now Machu Picchu is ranked proudly as one of the seven wonders of the world attracts thousands of tourists around the world and is privileged by the people living here in Peru. It truly is a spectacular site and to be given the opportunity to see it with my own eyes… well there are no words.
P.S. Mister Edgar also showed us that there is a face in the mountains that soar high in the clouds above the ancient city of Machu Picchu. He showed us that if you take a picture of Machu Picchu and turn it sideways, a face of a man appears amidst the mountains. Could it be the spirit of the Incas watching over the beautiful city?