Thursday, March 22, 2012

Machu Picchu, Peru

 Yay, Ex-Travel-Ganzer, its always great to see Peru, a beautifull country in South America continent. Always amazing, always wonderfull and always extraordinary without any hesitate. Some of you may ever heard the ancient city of Babylonia, roght now, we are going to see the ancient city in Peru, Let me intriduce you the fenomenal and famous Macchu Picchu (You know what, i love the name, a very easy listening name, i just remember the name of cartoon character “Pikacchu”). I love to visit this place and i also believe that you too.
Machu Picchu, Peru
 Machu Picchu in the Andes Mountains is one of the worlds most renown ancient cities. Machu Picchu (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmatʃu ˈpitʃu], Quechua: Machu Pikchu [ˈmɑtʃu ˈpixtʃu], "Old Peak") is a pre-Columbian 15th-century Inca site located 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level. Machu Picchu is located in the Cusco Region of Peru, South America. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru, which is 80 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of Cusco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often referred to as the "Lost City of the Incas", it is perhaps the most familiar icon of the Inca World. Machu Picchu, was built more than 500 years ago, and is Peru's most famous tourist attraction and also a U.N. World Heritage site. The place attracts more than 500,000 foreign visitors a year and a large tourist industry with hotels and travel agencies has grown around it. 
Machu Picchu was built around 1450, at the height of the Inca Empire. It was abandoned just over 100 years later, in 1572, as a belated result of the Spanish Conquest. It is possible that most of its inhabitants died from smallpox introduced by travelers before the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the area. The latter had notes of a place called Piccho, although there is no record of the Spanish having visited the remote city. The types of sacred rocks defaced by the conquistadors in other locations are untouched at Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu, Peru
 Since the site was never known to the Spanish during their conquest, it is highly significant as a relatively intact cultural site. Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll.
Machu Picchu is tangible evidence of the urban Inca Empire at the peak of its power and achievement—a citadel of cut stone fit together without mortar so tightly that its cracks still can’t be penetrated by a knife blade.
Machu Picchu, Peru
 The complex of palaces and plazas, temples and homes may have been built as a ceremonial site, a military stronghold, or a retreat for ruling elites—its dramatic location is certainly well suited for any of those purposes. The ruins lie on a high ridge, surrounded on three sides by the windy, turbulent Urubamba River some 2,000 feet (610 meters) below.
Machu Picchu bears, with Cuzco and the other archaeological sites of the valley of the Urubamba (Ollantautaybo, Runcuracay, Sayacmarca, Phuyupamarca, Huiñay Huayna, Intipucu, etc.) a unique testimony to the Inca civilization. Cuzco and the old villages still retain traces of land occupation from the Inca Empire to preserve, in a more global manner, an archaeological heritage which has become susceptible to the effects of urbanization. Furthermore, Macchu Picchu is an outstanding example of man's interaction with his natural environment.
Machu Picchu, Peru
 Standing 2,430 m above sea level, in the midst of a tropical mountain forest in an extraordinarily beautiful setting, Machu Picchu was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height. Its giant walls, terraces and ramps seem as if they have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments. The natural setting, on the eastern slopes of the Andes, encompasses the upper Amazon basin with its rich diversity of flora and fauna.
Machu Picchu covers 32,500 ha in some of the scenically most attractive mountainous territory of the Peruvian Andes. As the last stronghold of the Incas and of superb architectural and archaeological importance, Machu Picchu is one of the most important cultural sites in Latin America; the stonework of the site remains as one of the world's great examples of the use of a natural raw material to provide outstanding architecture which is totally appropriate to the surroundings. The surrounding valleys have been cultivated continuously for well over 1,000 years, providing one of the world's greatest examples of a productive man-land relationship; the people living around Machu Picchu continue a way of life which closely resembles that of their Inca ancestors, being based on potatoes, maize and llamas. Machu Picchu also provides a secure habitat for several endangered species, notably the spectacled bear, one of the most interesting species in the area. Others animals include: dwarf brocket, the otter, long-tailed weasel, pampas cat and the vulnerable ocelot, boa, the Andean cock of the rock, and the Andean condor.
Machu Picchu, Peru
 The natural vegetation is of humid and very humid lower montane forest of the subtropical region, mainly with genera and ferns of the Cyathea and palms.
Set on the vertiginous site of a granite mountain sculpted by erosion and dominating a meander in the Rio Urubamba, Machu Picchu is a world renowned archaeological site. The construction of this amazing city, set out according to a very rigorous plan, comprises one of the most spectacular creations of the Inca Empire. It appears to date from the period of the two great Incas, Pachacutec Inca Yupanqui (1438-71) and Tupac Inca Yupanqui (1472-93). The function of this city situated at least 100 km from the capital, Cuzco, has not been formulated which are not verifiable given the absence of written documentation and sufficiently explicit material evidence.
Without making a judgement as to their purpose, several quite individual quarters may be noted in the ruins of Machu Picchu: a quarter 'of the Farmers' near the colossal terraces whose slopes were cultivated and transformed into hanging gardens; an 'industrial' quarter; a 'royal' quarter and a 'religious' quarter. Inca architecture reveals itself here in all of its force with the titanic earthen works which multiplied the platforms, levelled the rocky relief, constructed ramps and stairways and literally sculpted the mountain whose cyclopean constructions appear to be a prolongation of nature.
Because of the beautifullness, the ancientness, the amazingness, the uniqueness (what else, please add by yourself, i dont have any else words to describe this site, too “beaumazing” for me). Unesco has protected this heritage site from the devil hands and from the cruelness of civilization. Unesco listed this site because few criterion such as follow:
Human creative genius
i. to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
Testimony to cultural tradition
iii. to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;
Natural phenomena or beauty
vii. to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
Significant ecological and biological processes
ix. to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals.
The ruins of Machu Picchu are divided into two main sections known as the Urban and Agricultural Sectors, divided by a wall. The Agricultural Sector is further subdivided into Upper and Lower sectors, while the Urban Sector is split into East and West sectors, separated by wide plazas.
The central buildings of Machu Picchu use the classical Inca architectural style of polished dry-stone walls of regular shape. The Incas were masters of this technique, called ashlar, in which blocks of stone are cut to fit together tightly without mortar. Many junctions in the central city are so perfect that it is said not even a blade of grass fits between the stones.
Machu Picchu, Peru
 Some Inca buildings were constructed using mortar, but by Inca standards this was quick, shoddy construction, and was not used in the building of important structures. Peru is a highly seismic land, and mortar-free construction was more earthquake-resistant than using mortar. The stones of the dry-stone walls built by the Incas can move slightly and resettle without the walls collapsing.
Inca walls had numerous design details that helped protect them against collapsing in an earthquake. Doors and windows are trapezoidal and tilt inward from bottom to top; corners usually are rounded; inside corners often incline slightly into the rooms; and "L"-shaped blocks often were used to tie outside corners of the structure together. These walls do not rise straight from bottom to top, but are offset slightly from row to row.
Machu Picchu, Peru
 The Incas never used the wheel in any practical manner. Its use in toys demonstrates that the principle was well-known to them, although it was not applied in their engineering. The lack of strong draft animals, as well as steep terrain and dense vegetation issues, may have rendered the wheel impractical. How they moved and placed the enormous blocks of stones remains a mystery, although the general belief is that they used hundreds of men to push the stones up inclined planes. A few of the stones still have knobs on them that could have been used to lever them into position; it is believed that after the stones were placed, the Incas would have sanded the knobs away, but a few were overlooked.
The space is composed of 140 structures or features, including temples, sanctuaries, parks, and residences that include houses with thatched roofs. There are more than one hundred flights of stone steps — often completely carved from a single block of granite — and numerous water fountains. These were interconnected by channels and water-drains perforated in the rock that were designed for the original irrigation system. Evidence suggests that the irrigation system was used to carry water from a holy spring to each of the houses in turn.
According to archaeologists, the urban sector of Machu Picchu was divided into three great districts: the Sacred District, the Popular District to the south, and the District of the Priests and the Nobility.
Machu Picchu, Peru
 Located in the first zone are the primary archaeological treasures: the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun and the Room of the Three Windows. These were dedicated to Inti, their sun god and greatest deity.
The Popular District, or Residential District, is the place where the lower-class people lived. It includes storage buildings and simple houses.
The royalty area, a sector for the nobility, is a group of houses located in rows over a slope; the residence of the Amautas (wise persons) was characterized by its reddish walls, and the zone of the Ñustas (princesses) had trapezoid-shaped rooms. The Monumental Mausoleum is a carved statue with a vaulted interior and carved drawings. It was used for rites or sacrifices.
As part of their road system, the Incas built a road to the Machu Picchu region. Today, tens of thousands of tourists walk the Inca Trail to visit Machu Picchu each year. They acclimate at Cusco before starting on the two- to four-day journey on foot from the Urubamba valley, walking up through the Andes mountain range to the isolated city.
The people of Machu Picchu were connected to long-distance trade, as shown by non-local artifacts found at the site. As an example, Bingham found unmodified obsidian nodules at the entrance gateway. In the 1970s, Burger and Asaro determined that these obsidian samples were from the Titicaca or Chivay obsidian source, and that the samples from Machu Picchu showed long-distance transport of this obsidian type in pre-Hispanic Peru. 
Machu Picchu, Peru
 The Guardhouse is a three-sided building, with one of its long sides opening onto the Terrace of the Ceremonial Rock. The three-sided style of Inca architecture is known as the wayrona style. And one thing to see and is very hard to be forget it is Intihuatana Stone. The Intihuatana stone is one of many ritual stones in South America. These stones are arranged to point directly at the sun during the winter solstice. The name of the stone (coined perhaps by Bingham) is derived from the Quechua language: inti means 'sun', and wata- is the verb root 'to tie, hitch (up)' ('huata-' is simply a Spanish spelling). The Quechua -na suffix derives nouns for tools or places. Hence inti watana is literally an instrument or place to 'tie up the sun', often expressed in English as "The Hitching Post of the Sun". The Inca believed the stone held the sun in its place along its annual path in the sky. The stone is situated at 13°9'48" S. At midday on November 11 and January 30 the sun stands almost above the pillar, casting no shadow at all. On June 21 the stone is casting the longest shadow on his southern side and on December 21 a much shorter one on his northern side. Researchers believe that it was built as an astronomic clock or calendar.
Scholars are still striving to uncover clues to the mysteries hidden here high in the eastern slopes of the Andes, covered with tropical forests of the upper Amazon Basin. Machu Picchu appears to lie at the center of a network of related sites and trails—and many landmarks both man-made and mountainous appear to align with astronomical events like the solstice sunset. The Inca had no written language, so they left no record of why they built the site or how they used it before it was abandoned in the early 16th century.
Machu Picchu, Peru
 Landscape engineering skills are in strong evidence at Machu Picchu. The site’s buildings, walls, terraces, and ramps reclaim the steep mountainous terrain and make the city blend naturally into the rock escarpments on which it is situated. The 700-plus terraces preserved soil, promoted agriculture, and served as part of an extensive water-distribution system that conserved water and limited erosion on the steep slopes.
The Inca’s achievements and skills are all the more impressive in light of the knowledge they lacked. When Machu Picchu was built some 500 years ago the Inca had no iron, no steel, and no wheels. Their tremendous effort apparently benefited relatively few people—some experts maintain that fewer than a thousand individuals lived here.
Today Machu Picchu is far from isolated. In fact it’s a must-see for any visitor to Peru and the draw that compels many to travel to that nation. Machu Picchu’s management challenge is preservation of the site while making it accessible to all those who hope to experience an incredible part of Inca history.

 How To Get To Machu Picchu
            If you are coming from outside Peru, certainly you are going to Jorge Chavez International airport, which is the only International Airport at Peru.  It is located in Callao, 10 km (6 miles) from Downtown Lima.
As I mentioned above to reach Machu Picchu you have to be Cusco first. So how you can reach Cusco from Lima!. you can use airplane or bus.
You can reach usco by flight. Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport at Cusco becomes very busy specially during high season. Dozens of flights from Lima , Arequipa and Juliaca ( a city next to Puno) land here everyday. So if you are in Lima, Arequipa and Puno, you may fly to Cusco. There is no airport in Puno, but there is an airport at Juliaca which is only 45 minutes away from Puno by road,
Machu Picchu, Peru

There are mainly 4 companies operating domestic flights between Lima and Cuzco as you see in the table below. They have multiple flights in the same day, so you can enjoy flexibility in choosing flights. LanPeru provides better service, more reliable, specially with timetable. But LanPeru is little more expensive than the other operators ($300- $400.00 return tickets from Lima to Cusco). You can choose Aero Condor, this one is cheapest in this line (around $150.00 return tickets (Lima-Cusco)). Airfare varies with time. Please check there website to get updated information.
You can reach Cusco by Bus too. It is cheaper than planes. But it will take you around 18 hours(!). There are few companies like - Cruz del Sur and Ormeno which operate buses between Lima and Cusco. Recently they started premium service, known as Imperial Service, which are more expensive than the regular buses but still very cheaper than airway. Premium services are really good, they even have toilets in the bus. Seats are really comfortable here. English speaking guide, video, sandwich and a lot more are provided in imperial or royal service.
Right now you can buy a Imperial Service ticket between Lima and Cusco for $57.00.  Fare for regular service is $ 46.00. With paying extra $ 11.00 you can enjoy real comfort. I will strongly recommend imperial service, if you have to travel by bus.
From Cusco to Machu Pichu. You can continue your travel by use Train or road. Once you reach Cusco, you need to take train to reach Machu Picchu. Distance between Cusco and Machu Picchu is 112 Kilometers. You can reach Machu Picchu by train, bus or even by helicopter. Usually travelers reach Machu Picchu by trains. There is no direct road service between Cusco and Machu Picchu. But you can reach Ollantaytambo by bus or taxi, which is in between Cusco and Machu Picchu. From Ollantaytambo you will get plenty of trains to reach Machu Picchu. Helicopter service is not common in this route. And certainly it is more expensive. This service had been suspended in near past. Recently Peruvian government approved this service again. Heli-Cusco is now operating a 16 passenger helicopter service from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. Read my Cusco to Machu Picchu page to get detail information on Cusco-Machu Picchu route.
You can reach Machu Picchu by train in around three and a half hours. Train leaves at every day morning from Cusco and comes back at evening the same day. Peru rail is the only company who operates the trains in Peru. They provide three different types of trains to Machu Picchu. You can choose Backpackers, Vistadome or Hiram Bingham express. Price of the trains depend on the service they provide. Check my page on the timetable and ticket fare of the trains.
Once you reach destination by one of  the train mentioned above, you need a bus ride. Yes, the trains will not take you directly to Machu Picchu. Actually train will take you Aguas Calientes town only. From this city Machu Picchu ruins is only two kilometer. It takes around twenty minutes to reach Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes. But this short journey is really enjoyable as the buses pass through zigzag and winding way through the mountain. On the way the scenic beauty is great to enjoy.
Actually there is no direct road from Cusco to  Machu Picchu. But still there is an alternative way to reach Machu Picchu, which is a combination of train and bus. You can go to Ollantaytambo by local bus or by taxi, if you want you may stay there a night. There is a famous ruin in Ollantaytambo, you can enjoy your time there. Ollantaytambo is directly connected to Machu Picchu by train. Usually it takes around 5 hours to reach Machu Picchu from Cusco, if you choose this route. Also you can save some money if you use this route. Read my Cusco to Machu Picchu page for detail.   


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