Friday, April 24, 2020

Visiting Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu (By Jet Lagged Jaff)

My Visit to Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu
Modern Day Machu Picchu. Image: Chelsea Cook, Pexels
One of history's most famous archaeological sites is that of Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan city built on the side of Huayna Picchu Mountain, located in present day Peru. In January, our friend JetLaggedJaff was able to visit this amazing world heritage site, and share his thoughts on visiting. Take it away!



Before I discuss my visit to this magnificent civilization, I want to give a little basic history behind it.
As some of you may know, Machu Picchu was built back in the 15th century and eventually abandoned in the 16th century. Machu Picchu was used as a royal estate built by the Incan Emperor Pachacuti. Construction of Machu Picchu began in the 14th century, after the Incans defeated the Chanca people in the territory. It was built as a refuge for the Incan aristocrats. 

Located nearly 8000' above sea level, mountainous weather and fog are common climactic elements.
There is no known reason why the Incan citadel was abandoned.  Historians suggest that a number of outbreaks caused the fall of the Incan people, eventually causing it to be abandoned. In 1572, the last of its rulers came to an end. Historians also suggest that political campaigns done by the conquistadores caused it to fall and be abandoned. Aside from these hypotheses, there is no clear evidence why this amazing civilization became abandoned. At this point, there are only theories with no hard evidence.

How does one get to Machu Picchu? 

So first, I flew into Cusco, Peru. Then, you have to transfer to a train to Aguas Calientes. If you are going around their summer time, you will be using a bi-modal (bus/train) service. There are only 2 train companies tourists can choose from, and have very limited schedules; they are PeruRail and IncaRail. 
Since I went in their summer time, I took a bimodal service through IncaRail to Aguas Calientes and spent the night there. I took a bus from Cusco to Ollatantaytambo, which was about 2 hours, and then transferred to a train to Aguas Calientes which took another 2 hours.  Overall, I enjoyed my experience on the IncaRail and it was overall, an amazing experience. There was drink and snack service, the people on the train along with the staff were very polite, and the views on the Andes mountains were breathtaking. 

Pictures and words can only do so much, eventually you need to visit these places yourself!
From Aguas Calientes, you can either hike up the mountain where Machu Picchu is, which takes about 2 hours, or you can take a 30 minute bus ride. I ended up taking a bus up to Machu Picchu so that I could maximize my time. Machu Picchu only allows you to visit for a certain amount of time, so that the flow of tourists is constantly running, and to prevent overcrowding. 

Image of the Machu Picchu trail map via The Only Peru Guide
Machu Picchu was like stepping into a piece of history and seeing firsthand how the Incan civilization lived and operated. You can see the different houses that people lived in, the different temples that are present in Machu Picchu, the farming terraces, and the many llamas and alpacas that were roaming around Machu Picchu, and let me tell you, there were a lot. It was an amazing experience and you won’t regret ever going there. If you make a trip to South America, this amazing landmark is a must!

After I visited Machu Picchu, I then journeyed to the mountain of  Huayna Picchu to begin my hike to the very top!

While Machu Picchu sits at just under 8000', Huayna Pichu reaches a maximum height of nearly 9000 feet!
Before I discuss my visit to Huayna Picchu, I want to give a little basic history behind it. 

Huayna Picchu is the mountain that rises over Machu Picchu. It was home to the high priest and local virgins at the top of the mountain, with colonies built along the track to the top and descending onto the bottom. Every day before sunrise, a small group of people, along with the high priest would descend down into Machu Picchu to signal the beginning of a new day. 

It was also the look out point for Machu Picchu in case of any threats from the surrounding tribes. Thanks to Huayna Picchu, Machu Picchu was always prepared for any potential invasions. 

You can see nearly everything from the top of the site.
I got the chance to climb Huayna Picchu. It was an amazing, but very challenging experience. It was my first time mountain climbing and it was definitely exhausting! Was it worth it? Yes! When you get to the top of the mountain, which takes about two to three hours to ascend, you get beautiful views of Machu Picchu and of the Andes Mountains. 



Once I reached the top, I did not want to come down, it was such a thrilling experience! Do I recommend doing this? Yes, but with proper preparation. Before visiting, I suggest training for it by running, climbing, or hiking. While you don’t have to be in top physical condition, some preparation will definitely pay off in the long run. Before climbing, I recommend stretching, warming up, and bringing lots of water. Trust me, it will make the climb that much easier, but it still will be challenging. Lastly, pack some good running shoes or hiking boots. 


Overall, visiting these places was an experience I will never forget! I went to Peru for one week, and planning the Machu and Huayna Picchu parts of the trip was probably the most time consuming, but it was definitely worth visiting at least once in your lifetime. Once the travel restrictions have been listed, maybe you can visit this wonderful place yourself. If you want to know more about how you can also be prepared for your travel, read one of my latest blogs on common fears that people have when traveling and how you can conquer them. 

Thank you for reading and for your support and this is Jet Lagged Jaff taking off until next time! Goodbye for now! If you need any travel tips or support, please send me a message on Facebook through the Jet Lagged Jaff page or at jaff@ptkycreative.com. 
Also, please check out my travel blog! I regularly post once every one to two weeks on different travel tips and destinations that I recommend.

Further reading: Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time (eBay) (Amazon)

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