After camping for the first time forever in my life (I’ve never camped before 😅 ), and at the foot of the great Machu Picchu, the next morning we went back up to to Machu Picchu with our guide to explore this fascinating piece of history in detail. We walked a short distance back into nearby Aguas Calientes and queued up with all the other tourists who arrived by train to take the bus ride. The bus ride takes about 25 minutes zig zagging 6km up the mountain.
Historians and archaeologists believes that Machu Picchu was built some time around the 14th century at the height of the Incan Empire. The Incan’s built many of these sites high up in the mountain retreating further away from the Spanish who were invading Peru around that time. The Spaniards were not accustomed to the mountainous regions so they didn’t get as far up the mountain as Machu Picchu and the other Incan sites we passed by during our trek. Therefore these gems were fortunately left undestroyed by the Spaniards allowing us to visit after all these years.
Machu Picchu was was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983, and received 1.4 million visitors in 2016, peaking to 5000 people per day in the summer months. This is double the visitors recommended by UNESCO and puts immense pressure on this historical site. UNESCO threatened to add Machu Picchu to the list of world heritage sites in danger unless the Peruvian government started to control the flow of tourists. In July this year, the Peruvian government implemented a new entry system. There will be two entry sessions a day, a morning one that starts at 0600 to noon limited to 3267 visitors, and an afternoon one that ends at 1730 limited to 2673 entrants. Although the new system distributes the visitors more evenly, in reality it actually increases the total number of visitors to nearly 6000 per day!
Machu Picchu is at 2430m ASL, and sits on a ridge between two two mountains. It is 32592 hectares big, to put it in perspective, one international rugby field is slightly over 1 hectare.
The site is built entirely out of stones some weighing up to 50 tons. There are about 200 structures on the site, and they are divided into an urban versus agricultural area, and an upper and lower town. It is clear that a lot of thought and planning was put into building this city by the Incans. All this is incredible as during the Inca period, there was no written language, no wheels (the boulders were transported either by man or llamas), no iron or steel (hence no strong durable tools to cut the stones), yet they managed to plan and build such a sophisticated city high up in the mountain that has lasted so many years.
Machu Picchu has around 700 terraces, when I first saw them I can only think of one word “Wow!!” These terraces serves two purposes. First, these stepped agricultural system enables different types of crops to be grown at different levels depending on how much sunlight and water is needed. Second, they prevent landslide. There is a well designed underground drainage system beneath the terraces that is still in use today. The terraces and the drainage system helps to stabilise the soil preventing landslide. Incredible, right?
As part of our trek and guided tour, we got a free T-shirt as a memorabilia. It has the route of our trek on the back, which came in really handy when I was writing this post! And here’s us doing the promotional photo shot for the company. Happy to oblige as we had such a great experience!
This concludes my Trekking Machu Picchu series. Thanks for reading, I hope you have enjoyed the virtual tour as much as I did actually going there. If you missed my previous posts you can read them here : Trekking Machu Picchu and Trekking Machu Picchu – we arrived at last!!.
感謝您閱讀馬丘比丘之旅系列，希望你喜歡這個虛擬之旅。如果你錯過了我以前的帖子，你可以查看這里 : 秘魯馬丘比丘和 終於到達秘魯馬丘比丘!!。