Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean

Visiting Machu Picchu, One of our many dreams

Visiting Machu Picchu, One of our many dreams

Foggy sky over Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru.

Bob and I managed to get aboard the first bus of the day from Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu.  The 20-minute bus ride up the switchbacks of the dirt road had us clinging to our seats whenever we rounded the sharp corners.  The other option for getting to Machu Picchu is to hike up the mountain, but it is supposed to be a pretty long and very tough climb.  We preferred to use that time to explore the ruins at the top.

 Machu Picchu, in Urubamba Province, Peru.

Machu Picchu stands in the midst of a tropical mountain forest in the Andes Mountains.  Built for the Inca Emperor Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui (1438-71), the role of this ancient city still remains a mystery.  It was abandoned by the Inca rulers during the Spanish Conquest.  The site was rediscovered by American explorer Hiram Bingham in July, 1911. Machu Picchu, today, is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is a magnificent place to visit!

Bob and Jean at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

In the early morning hours, Bob and I took time for a quick mugshot as the clouds blew across the mountain tops of Machu Picchu.

View through the main stone gate at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

This defensive main gate entrance to Machu Picchu frames a view of Huayna Picchu in the background.

Tower of the Sun buildings at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

Tower of the Sun at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

The most important building at Machu Picchu is the “Tower of the Sun”.  This structure was built on top of a large granite rock that projects from the mountain.  The stonework is amazing!  Somehow, the Inca stone masons figured out a means to cut and then fit together granite blocks to form a building without using mortar….and it has remained solid and stable for centuries!

Tower of the Sun building at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

The “Tower of the Sun” is built around a natural rock feature that is inside the tower’s walls.  The building features a trapezoidal window.

Trapezoidal window in the Tower of the Sun building at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

The trapezoidal window may have permitted observation of the mid-winter solstice.

Agricultural Zone at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

Historians are unsure as to the use of each of the areas within the ruins, but this hillside, above the “Tower of the Sun”, was believed to be an Agricultural Zone.  The whole area of the settlement was built upon solid granite, with bedrock frequently utilized as the foundation for the buildings.  The stonework gives evidence of exceptional masonry skills, and the monolithic size of boulders moved into place for certain purposes certainly shows the Inca to be very hard-working and creative.

Restored roofed building at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

To give visitors some semblance of the original Inca village, the roof has been restored on one of the buildings beside the “Tower of the Sun”.

Agricultural zone and stone buildings at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

Near the agricultural zone are more “storage” buildings that have had their roofs restored. The incredible amount of work that was done to create this high-altitude sanctuary is mind-boggling.

Stone walls and buildings at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

We were told by our guide that tons and tons of boulders, then gravel, then sand and finally earth were carried up to this mountaintop from the river at the bottom of the valley via the impossibly steep and narrow Inca Trail.  The purpose of so much rock and soil was to build up and flatten out this plateau.

View of terraces and buildings at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

To prevent erosion at the sides of the plateau, terraces were constructed, each shored up with stone walls that were also reinforced with soil.

Astronomical observatory building at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

The “Astronomical Observatory” sits high above the “Tower of the Sun” and can be seen on the top left of this photograph with people standing next to it.

The Intihuatana or Hitching Post at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

In the “Temple of the Three Windows” is one of the few remaining stones that is sacred to the sun-god Inli.  This stone is called either “The Hitching Post”, the “Sukhanka Stone”, or the “Intihuatana”.  This huge stone sundial was carved out of natural rock, and it is believed that it was used to indicate equinoxes and lunar movements.

The Temple of the Condor building at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

Here you see the “Temple of the Condor”.  Many anthropologists believe the shape and position of the two large rocks replicate the shape of a Condor.  Each represents one of the condor’s wings spread in flight.  The Condor was an important symbol in the Inca civilization.  It stood for fertility, and also, with the movement of its wings, the gathering of clouds to produce rain.

The Temple of the Condor at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

The Condor’s head and beak were carved into the ground below the wing formations. Condors remain the largest birds in the Andes, and like in the times of the Inca, they are still revered by many in South America.

Chinchilla sleeping among the stones at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

Nestled amongst the rocks of “The Temple of the Condor” were numerous Chinchillas sleeping away the day.  Chinchillas got their name from the Chincha Indians of Peru. Chinchilla means “Little Chinta”.  When the Inca conquered the Chincha people, they forbade the Chincha people to wear clothing made from Chinchilla fur.  The fur of the Chinchilla was declared the fur of Inca Royalty and could only be worn by Inca of Royal birth.

Chinchilla among the stones at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

We were able to get quite close to this Chinchilla near the Royal enclosure, but not close enough to touch his velvety fur.

Llamas grazing at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

Beyond seeing Chinchillas, Bob and I also were in very close proximity to the numerous Llamas that graze at Machu Picchu.

Bob beside a Llama at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

According to scientists in France and Peru, Llamas have played a key role in the agricultural world of places like Machu Picchu.

Jean beside a Llama on a walkway at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

Modern-day research shows that the Inca used llama dung as fertilizer, a key component that helped the Inca develop their massive, widespread agricultural base.

Today, the purpose of the Llamas is to keep the grass clipped and most certainly fertilized in and around the ruins.

Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

There are two mountains at Machu Picchu, the tallest one on the right is called Huayna Picchu, the smaller one on the left is called Huchuy Picchu.  On our first day at Machu Picchu, we thought we would try to climb the tallest mountain, Huayna Picchu.  Arriving at the control gates at the foot of that mountain at 1:30 p.m., we learned that hikers must commence the climb starting no later than 1 o’clock.  So, we decided to return and climb Huayna Picchu the following day.

Huchuy Picchu mountain at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

Bob and I then headed over to climb the small mountain of Huchuy Picchu (8,133 feet/2,479 meters).  As we would soon learn, even this supposed little mountain was a fairly big challenge particularly with our legs still tired from the previous day’s hike on the Inca Trail.  The climb was worth it, rewarding us with a wonderful view from our mountaintop perch of Machu Picchu below.

People climb up Huchuy Picchu mountain at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

One obstacle, as we climbed up Huchuy Picchu, was a massive boulder.  The provision of a thick knotted rope enabled us to pull ourselves up and over the vertical obstruction like these two young ladies behind us.

Jean and Bob a top Huchuy Picchu mountain at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

After a very short climb, Bob and I made it to the top of Huchuy Picchu, seen here with Machu Picchu in the background.  Only later, when we returned to the base, would we meet a person who had just caught a highly poisonous snake on this same mountain – while we were up there!  The lessons from our hike the day before, on the Inca Trail, had not even been considered as we pulled ourselves up through the rocks and plants of Huchuy Picchu.  Lady luck had shone on us once again on the “Little Mountain”.

Jean standing a top Huchuy Picchu at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

As we stood on the top of the little mountain, Huchuy Picchu, with the larger mountain of Huayna Picchu in the background, Bob and I firmed up our plans to return the next day and undertake the 90-minute climb to its peak.

The top of Huayna Picchu mountain at Machu Picchu, Urubamba Province, Peru

Climbing to the top of Huayna Picchu would not be an easy undertaking.  It would involve ladders, tunnels, and sheer dropoffs into nothingness, plus I have a fear of heights.  I could hardly wait to put myself to the test.

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Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean

3 comments

  • this actually helped me with a project . but wonderfully made 🙂

  • “The site was rediscovered by American explorer Hiram Bingham in July, 1911”. Statements such as this taken from your text above always amuse me and irk me more than a little. The site was not rediscovered. It happened that a white man came across it. It was well known to the indigenous people of the area and didn’t need to be “rediscovered” by anyone.

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