Inca Ruins (March 1-5)   1 comment

Inca Ruins

Arriving in Cuzco, Peru, after a brief layover at Lake Titicaca, we begin our exploration of the ruins from the once vast Inca empire. They were the strongest and largest group in South America, until the Spanish came and put a molly-woppin on them.

Starting in the area surrounding Cuzco we first came to the site of Saqsaywaman (pronounced: sexy woman, means: satisfied eagle) with it´s tall walls of gigantic stones. The entire area, which is only 20% of it´s original size, is covered in bright green grass with tall gray stone structures arranged on a hillside overlooking the city. Llamas, or alpacas, graze on the terraced hills that make up the main structures. We are impressed at the time and man-power it took to move the large stones to the hill they now rest on. Moving on we came to Qénqo. This is another ruin near the city, not quite impressive as Saqsaywaman, but interesting none the less. It is a large rock formation, with stone structures built up around it. All throughout there are passageways  carved through it´s heart, the main passage has a couple of chairs that seem to have grown out of the ground, made of solid rock.

Moving on, into the Sacred Valley, we travel down winding roads and through an area that looks very similar to Tuscany. Farther along we wind into a steep valley with tall mountains into the town of Ollantaytambo. The town itself is a great example of Inca city planning, and has been inhabited continuously for over 700 years. The stone streets line the valley floor flanked by small moats for run-off rain water. On the hills surrounding the city there are multiple structures perched overlooking the city. Climbing toward the ruins the steep path forks. To the right, a series of houses and squared off stone walls, to the left a large three-tiered building still very much intact only missing it´s thached roof. After reaching this building and looking down with a great view of the valley we wonder how often the former inhabitants made this trip up to their dwellings.

That night, after considerable delays due to mud-slides, we take a train up to the town of Agua Calientas where we catch a bus to the pinnacle of Inca ingenuity – Machu Picchu. The mountains in this area are even steeper than those in Ollantaytambo giving them the look of karst peaks. After a long road of switch backs we arrive at the cloud veiled entrance to Machu Picchu. Sitting at 2,430 meters it is easy to see why this place was never discovered by the conquistadors. It was built around 1450 at the height of the Inca empire, abandoned about 100 years later due to the conquistadors and discovered in 1911, considered the most complete and best preserved ruins in the western hemisphere.

When we arrived everything was veiled in cloud cover giving it an eerie feeling and the thought that we were alone on the mountain top. For the first hour we didn´t see many other tourists at all. We walked down trails feeling like we were the first ones in hundreds of years. At one vantage point called the House of the keeper of the Funerary Rock we saw the former city mapped out below us. Although the fog hindered our ability to take good photos it enhanced the feeling of adventure.

As we walked along the path ways through the city we would turn corners and see whole new sections open up before us. The grass was a bright green and sat in stark contrast to the gray stone work or buildings, temples and terraces covering the mountain. This is truly a marvel of engineering and man´s ability to create. We sat for a long time at the Funerary Hut pondering the reasons of Cloud City. Why was it built? More interestingly, how was it built? More intriguingly, why was it forgotten after the invasion of the conquistadors for hundreds of years? Finally, where was Lando Calrissian? Regardless, it is truly an amazing site.

(Saqusaywaman)

(Qénqo)

(Odd looking dogs)

(Ollantaytambo)

(Machu Picchu)

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Posted March 17, 2012 by Magan and Brenden in Peru, South America

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One response to “Inca Ruins (March 1-5)

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  1. I feel like I am on a National Geo excursion. These pictures are great, and I really appreciate the expert commentary.

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