And of course - Machu Picchu!

Above the Inca city of Machu Picchu

I heard one phrase repeatedly when I told people I was going to Peru and would visit Machu Picchu.

The phrase? .

Bucket list.

I guess that's not too surprising considering that Machu Picchu is considered one of the seven modern wonders of the world. 

But I do not have a bucket list, so that wasn't why I wanted to visit this world famous site.

Instead Kristen and I wanted to see this world heritage site because of the history, the engineering marvels, and maybe especially, because of the beauty.

I love hills and mountains, and soaring peaks naturally turn my heart to praise to the One True and Living God who created all things.

Often, even in my southern Indiana hills, this refrain runs through my head:

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth." (Psalm 121:1,2)

How sweet that while in Peru my regular Psalm reading 
took me to a number with references to mountains!
 (I've put some in the captions on the pics that follow.)

The city of Machu Picchu sits in a saddle between two mountain tops: Machu Picchu Mountain and Wayna P icchu (also known as Huyana Picchu.)

Wayna Picchu is on the right.

For the Lord is a great God
And a great King above all gods,
 In whose hand are the depths of the earth,
The peaks of the mountains are His also. 
(Ps. 95:3,4)
Visitors to Machu Picchu have three options when they buy tickets: Machu Picchu alone, MP and a museum, or MP and Wayna Picchu. Only four hundred visitors each day are allowed access to Wayna Picchu, and because we bought our tickets a couple of months earlier, we were able to snag these tickets.

OK, first a couple of realities about Machu Picchu:
1. There are no restroom facilities once you pass through the entrance gates. And the one by the gate is a pay toilet.

2. Food is not allowed inside Machu Picchu. (We cheated. I decided the officials would rather me carefully eat my sandwich than pass out, which, while climbing at high altitude, seemed like a distinct possibility.)

3. You won't find many signs explaining you what you are seeing, and those that are around are in Spanish. (Duh!)

Let the mountains sing together for joy (Psalm 98:8b)

Wayna Picchu Mountain

Upon arriving at the entrance gates, we made our way to the back of the city to find the entrance to Wayna Picchu mountain.

Entrance to Waynapicchu

Ready or not, our upward trek is about to begin.

We followed an Inca trail which was mostly stairs. 
When the going became treacherous, steel cables provided  support.

The trail is like climbing stairs for 1180 feet. At an altitude of nearly 8000ft.
My heart had a hard time keeping up, so we'd climb a short way, stop, climb, stop.
It was kind of embarrassing. But we kept making progress.
The young people on the trail (they are almost all very young!)  offered kind encouragements to this grandma.

Kristen near the top of Wayna Picchu

Om top of Wayna Picchu

The City Itself

Archaeological dig in the main plaza

Terraces hold the city tightly to the mountainside

Type of sun dial or solar calendar or something

The round building is a temple of the sun

Llamas and alpacas roam everywhere. These babies were super cute.

Engineering Marvels

As a wife, daughter, and sister of builders, and mother of an engineer, the architectural and engineering aspects of Machu Picchu fascinated me. And someone else is dating a civil engineer who deals with site development and water issues, so she found those things pretty cool, too!

The left side of the stair is a drainage way
The Incas were superb hydraulic engineers, 
planning the city with access to a spring 
and then building a canal to strategically direct the water.
All over the site you'll find water runoff routes,
often directed towards watering a garden.

This stairway has numerous fountains like this one which brought fresh water to the city. 
The fountains had spouts designed to fill water jugs.

Inca bridge which was originally a drawbridge

The End - Finally!

Visiting Machu Picchu involves lots and lots of climbing, even if you skip Wayna Picchu. My Fitbit told me I'd climbed the equivalent of 186 flights. (That's after I subtracted the 120 false flights it recorded from the jarring bus ride up to Machu Picchu!)

But we weren't quite done. Kristen and I decided to take the stairs down the mountain rather than ride that crazy bus again. No, the ride wasn't really that bad. But we thought it would be fun to take the ancient trail down. And it was.

This map shows the route from Aguas Calietes, the town at the bottom of Machu Picchu, up to the site itself. The bus route is in blue and the hiking trail is in green. We were glad we hadn't wasted our hiking legs by walking up in the morning, but taking the Inca stairs down through the forest in the late afternoon was a very enjoyable experience!

And with that, I'm ready to stop posting about Peru. Kristen and I have been home a month now, and both agree it was an absolutely wonderful trip, and we're so thankful we were able to take it!

I'll leave you with one final mountain shot, taken from the top of Wayna Picchu.

Psalm 97: 5,6
The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the Lord,
At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
 The heavens declare His righteousness,
And all the peoples have seen His glory.


Kristen Wegener said…
Thanks for putting up with your crazy daughter and traveling the world! I am so glad we were able to go. =) Love you mom!

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