Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hiking the gringo trail

My friend "Juan" decided to come along with me for my trip to Cuzco and Machu Picchu (he had never been to either). I think he experienced a bit of culture shock though being essentially the only Peruvian. Really the high-season tourists were almost as much of a spectacle as the ruins themselves.

We woke up at 3 am (yet another rediculous wakeup call) to go wait in line for the first bus to the ruins (at 5:30). There were already nearly 100 people in line when we showed up, so we ended up actually catching the third bus, which ended up being fine. Only the first 400 visitors are permitted to hike up the nearby peak of huaynapicchu, which overlooks the main ruins and has its own structures around its peak as well as access to the temple of the moon.

Is there really any point in putting up a picture? Everybody has seen machu picchu photos. At least this one is from a different angle (from the summit of huaynapicchu) than the cliche and includes a bit more of the surrounding topography. The views from the entire area into the surrounding peaks, a few of which are capped by glaciers, are absurd and require some sort of 360 degree camera lens to capture.

No matter where you walk around the site you are invariably ascending or descending a pretty irresponsible grade. After hiking up to Huaynapicchu, down to the temple of the moon, up to la puerta del sol (the sun gate) and then all the way back to Aguas Calientes we were pretty beat (my legs are still sore). So I didn´t really have much energy to check out the catherdrals, churches or museums in Cuzco, but these aren´t really my forte anyway.

Here´s the Plaza de Armas though, which makes for a nice photograph. If you can believe it, this was later in the day when it was less packed with tourists and yet it still looks pretty full.

Wasting no time, I hopped a night bus down to Puerto Maldonado. I´m not going into the Manu Biosphere, but another spot that should be just about as good, way cheaper and way more accessible. Last chance to see harpy eagle or contract some incurable amazonian illness.

Lake Titicaca will have to wait for my next trip I guess.


BobDad said...

I was wondering what on earth you have been up to since the last entry of plannedly unplanned adventures. I still wonder, since all of a sudden you are at Machu Pichu but will find out soon. Cuzco Saturday, Lima Sunday, NYC Monday wow!

Scott said...

Puerto Maldonado Friday