Tag archives for Machu Picchu
Hey, everyone! It’s McKenna again, with one last blog about a memorable moment in Peru. I’d like to take you back to “The City in the Clouds” for a quick visit to a special spot nestled in a narrow notch on a mountaintop overlooking Machu Picchu.
After exploring and shooting pictures for hours in the marvelous ruins of “The Lost City of the Incas,” and after eating a quick buffet lunch at the Machu Picchu restaurant, many members of the expedition, including myself, decided to take on the challenge of a 45 minute hike about a mile up the Inca Trail, a long, twisting, ancient stone path made and used by the Incas. Our destination? The Incan Sun Gate.
The length of the trail we traversed curves up the side of the mountain and overlooks the grand city of Machu Picchu. It was an amazing experience. We had to keep reminding ourselves that we were walking on the same stones the Incas used to trek. But, overall, the trek wasn’t all that easy.
The stones of the trail are jagged and serrated, and one misstep at certain places could have caused us to tumble down the steep precipice of the soaring mountain. YIKES! At 8,000 plus feet in the sky, it was sometimes tough to get the oxygen we needed to climb without breathing pretty hard at times. And, being ever so high in the sky, we had to be on guard to avoid getting sunburned. We were told that, at that height, even if it doesn’t feel like you are getting sun, if you aren’t careful to wear sunscreen or cover up, you are likely to get sunburned–even on the tops of your hands!
Out of the numerous, beautiful hotels we resided at over the course of the expedition, although it is hard to choose a favorite, I think we all utterly enjoyed spending the night at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, a private, mountainside reserve in Aguas Calientes, a small village that sits right alongside the train tracks and the Vilcanota River. (Up against gigantic towering mountains, it is almost as if Aguas Calientes is a tiny toy town!)
Nestled cozily at the foot of jungle-blanketed mountains, not only was it an absolutely stunning inn, complete with beautiful outdoor plazas and stone-covered walkways, profuse and teeming with a vibrant array of delicate, blossoming flowers and native Peruvian decorations, but the Inkaterra was also a great educator–one that taught us all a meaningful lesson.
The rooms made us feel like we were lodging in a small, quaint cottage – a bungalow, really. The doors were made of tall, dark timber, and ivory-colored walls surrounded them. To our surprise, there were no doorknobs or key-card slots on the doors. There was a huge iron keyhole, though. We were each given a large metal ring with a single, old-fashioned key hanging from it to unlock our timber doors so that we could step inside our rooms.
The ceilings of the rooms were ashen, with coffee-colored timber rods and beams stretching across from wall to wall, like in a little cabin (they called the rooms “casitas”). Blanketing the beds were soft white sheets and a brightly checkered throw. A welcoming, comfortable set of brown chairs and a short wooden table sat in the corner by two tall windows overlooking the exquisite scenery of the hotel. The bathrooms were small and modest, consisting of a short sink, toilet, and crammed–but luxurious–shower.
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“All Aboard!” There it was! The Vistadome–a long strand of painted blue metal sitting heavily on the tracks at the Ollanta Station, waiting zealously for us to climb aboard, eager to carry us from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, a small village at the foot of Machu Picchu.
Never in my life had I ever ridden on a train before, so getting to ride one in Peru was an absolute thrill! Our train twisted for more than an hour on a snake-like railroad track up the side of a mountain and revealed to us a stunning panoramic of the Peruvian countryside.
Photo by Grace K
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Along with the other Hands-On Explorer Challenge winners during our expedition to South America, I experienced some of the most beautiful, most amazing wonders of the breathtaking country of Peru. But, four days into the trip, something happened to me that took me away from the planned expedition itinerary and the team, and lead me to a unique adventure of a very different kind. My explorations took me to the grand cities of Lima and Cusco, the beautiful landscapes and countrysides of Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, and the wondrous and lush Amazon rain forest–but I also had the unexpected and vivid opportunity to experience first-hand what it is like to be a patient in a Peruvian hospital.
Hola, everyone! My name is Sharon Andrews, and I am one of the teachers who went on the National Geographic Hands-On Explorer trip to Peru. Wow! What a fantastic trip it was! All of our days and evenings were filled with new sights, sounds, flavors, and adventures! The Peruvians were very happy that we were visiting and were anxious to show us their country. We had so many exciting adventures on our trip that I could write volumes, but I will summarize the trip according to Peru’s three geographic areas: the dry coast, the highlands, and rain forest.
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The whole Amazon forest has been the most amazing thing I have ever experienced in my life. One thing that really thrilled me though was the canopy tower. After a muddy hike through the jungle, we reached a rickety (well, it looked rickety) metal tower that seemed to stretch on forever and ever up into the sky.
Around and around we went up the winding metal stairs. Only after I was
convinced the metal structure never ended, we were at the top. For a
moment, I didn’t dare breathe. Stretching out below me was an endless
expanse of wonderful trees.
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.
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Allillanchu! That is Quechua for hello. Quechua is the native language of the Incas before the Spaniards arrived in 1532.
We had a nice breakfast at the Libertador Hotel. I had watermelon with sugar and prickly pear cactus root. It tasted like the white part of watermelon, but it was red and had tons of seeds. We have been trying many different foods that you don’t eat in America. For example, they served alpaca, llama, and guinea pig. (I didn’t try the guinea pig because they are pets in America.) Another thing that was quite interesting was that Lijah let me try a little calamari (or octopus). It tasted like fish and was purple with tentacles.
After breakfast we boarded the bus and we drove through the Andes making a few stops along the way. We took pictures and stopped at the marketplace in a small village. The market was filled with people in colorful costumes who were there for a weaving contest. I bought a woven camera strap and an alpaca breeder mask. The mask is part of a costume that people wear in the dance to get the season off to a good start. Most of the masks are white with a cross and a stripe on the forehead. But there are many different types of these masks. They have cool colors, horns, beards, and faces. If you look at one from far away they look like a ski mask or socks with many colors.
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Peru has been extremely incredible! On the sixth day in Peru I still have not done anything that I did not love. We’ve seen quite an assortment of animals since we came to Peru.
Being in Cusco, we had a day of travels to get to our destination, Machu Picchu. On a photo stop, we were confronted by two woolly alpacas. They had the softest light poofy fur, though it was very matted. The funny thing about them was they couldn’t stop sniffing your face. They would shove their noses right into yours, and if you’re lucky (or unlucky, depending on how your look at it!), they would lick you. I’d never seen anything like it!
Hi, this is Pete. Today, the fifth day of our journey, we took a hike to the ancient Incan ruins of Sacsayhuaman. The hike was much harder than most because of the lack of oxygen in the air. But the hike was worth it when we reached the top and saw the breathtaking structure. It was a myriad of boulders upon boulders. The largest ones were at the bottom to create a stronger support. The largest of the boulders were around 18 tall. It was a wonder that men could transport such mammoth rocks.
Even more impressive was the way in which these boulders were carved.
Each boulder was carved expertly to fit perfectly with adjacent
boulders. Every wall looked like a jigsaw puzzle, without any spaces
between pieces. It is amazing that such perfection could be created
over 600 years ago. We later learned that the area of Sacsayhuaman was
called Puma City and was made to look like a Puma. Every structure was
made to look like a specific part of the Puma.
The Incan civilization was so powerful and advanced that their history is almost addicting. I cannot wait to go to the Citadel of Machu Picchu to see more wonders of the Incan Empire.