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Friday, 10 August 2007

The Spiritual Experience of Machu Picchu - Page 2

Written by Thomas Lera and Sandra Fitzgerald
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At the end of the 15th century, the secluded Inca citadel of Machu Picchu was a vibrant city still being carved into the Andean peaks flanking the Urubamba River canyon. Over 200 buildings already provided housing, temples and storage facilities for the city's 1,200 residents. Vast tracts of land had been terraced for farming. Within just 27 years, more than half of Machu Picchu’s Incan population became infected with small pox and died. The citadel fell into disuse, and, quickly enveloped in dense vegetation, became motionless, frozen in time.

 

Such surprises abound around every corner at Machu Picchu, including three-dimensional sculptures carved into the rock in odd places, and water still flowing through ancient cisterns and stone channels. After hours of exploring we sat on a wall high along the edge of the city. Gazing down at this astounding group of residences and temples, we were awestruck by Machu Picchu’s magic. Speech was superfluous. Even the many tour groups which had trooped in and out during the day had done nothing to spoil the place for us. For a few precious moments, meandering down ancient trails, forgetting about the existence of buses, trains, cars and the world outside, we could feel the deep pride, reverence and spiritual devotion of the ancient Incans – and it had nothing to do with altitude!

machu picchu

 

Just before sunset, we boarded the bus back to our hotel, in silence. A young boy raced us to the tourist village of Agua Calientes, swiftly moving down ancient stone steps and unseen trails. He taunted us at various turns and switchbacks by waving, then ducking back into the bush, only to appear again at another turn. He won the “race” as the switchback road was much longer than the steep trail he had navigated.

The next morning rain drenched the village, washing away all evidence of our visit. The mountain top cradling the ruins was shrouded in impenetrable clouds, and Machu Picchu was once again hidden as if it never existed. Its impact on us, however, would never be lost.


How To Get There:

From Cusco, the 3 ½ hour journey on PeruRail is highlighted by wonderful mountain vistas and the beautiful Urubamba River. which runs through the Sacred Valley of the Andes. On arrival in the town of Aguas Calientes, hop on a bus to traverse the last two kilometers up the mountain to the entrance. Trains leave at 6:00 AM and 3:30 PM; fare for a round trip ticket is $73 per person.

Where To Stay:

Aguas Calientes offers a wide range of lodgings, from the low-budget to the luxurious. We stayed at the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, now the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel. Located in the cloud forest in the heart of the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary, its 85-bungalow style cottage rooms are designed to give you the feeling of an Andean village woven throughout miles of trails. The “village” is complete with waterfalls and a cloud forest garden with over 375 different orchids, 175 species of birds and 125 varieties of butterflies.

hotel

The hotel was an eco-traveler’s paradise, complementing the spiritual experience of Machu Picchu. There are a variety of rooms available, from the simple to the sumptuous, with corresponding costs. Our room was a welcome oasis, with its large natural stone shower area and large working fireplace – both of which took the slight chill off the night an relaxed our tired muscle into a blissful nights’ sleep. Visit www.inkaterra.com for information.

© Thomas Lera and Sandra Fitzgerald

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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