Friday, December 11, 2015

Peruvian Highlands - Machu Picchu Day 1

A continuing saga of my June 2015 Peru Adventure:

Using Aguas Calentes (see Aguas Calientes) as a base camp for two days on the Machu Picchu mountain, we prepared for Day 1 at the Citadel.  Following is a brief pictorial of the highlights at the Citadel on our first day at the famous ruins.

After a good night's sleep and an enjoyable breakfast of eggs, meats, cheeses, and fruits, our trio collected our box lunches provided by the hotel and headed to the bus station.  Although we did not get on the earliest bus heading to the Machu Picchu citadel departing at 0530, we did catch the 0630 bus and arrived at the Visitor's Center by 0700.

Since we held tickets to climb Huayna Picchu at 10:00, three hours were left for ruins exploration before we needed to queue up near the Sacred Rock.

To orient the photos to the layout of the citadel, below is Moon's map of Machu Picchu.  On our exploration of the site, we used this map as guide to find our way around the ruins.
After passing through the turnstiles, a short walk led to the main Visitor's Entrance.  Rather than follow that path into the ruins, we made a hard left up the hill along a winding trail.  That trail led to the terraces overlooking the Caretaker's Hut.
First glimpse of ruins
Caretaker's Hut looking to Huayna Picchu

Caretaker's Hut from terrace below
First look at the Machu Picchu Citadel
before it is enveloped in sunshine
Machu Picchu Citadel
Citadel clinging to the saddle between two mountains
Main Gate entrance from Inca Trail
Descending down towards the Main Square
Sacred Square.  Notice two different styles of stone work.
Caretaker's Hut in background seen from Main Square
with quarry in foreground.

Intihuatana under ever vigilant watch.
First ever abstract art work?
Main Square with huts near Sacred Rock
 at base of Huayna Picchu
Sacred Rock
With 1000 approaching, it was time to make our way over to the Sacred Rock to queue up for the assault on Huayna Picchu.  Only 400 climbers per day are allowed to scale the mountain in 2 x 200 person groups.  After giving the climb a valiant effort, the combination of the altitude and steepness of the climb proved too much for my wife (Nancy).  Nancy turned back just before the steepest and most treacherous part of the ascent.  In addition to narrow, rocky pathways and steep pitches and traverses, the trail included scaling ladders and passing through a very tight tunnel.  To negotiate the tunnel, I had to take off my backpack and push it ahead of me.

Ascent begins
View of Machu Picchu from the ascent of Huayna Picchu
More climbing with Store House
 at top of photo
View of valley far below
View of Machu Picchu from above on Huayna Picchu

The tunnel looms ahead.
Photo Op of climbers emerging from tunnel
Still more climbing to do
Time for a breather from my perch
Placard just below the summit
View of the Store House from above
Descending is as challenging as the ascent.
Descending backwards on all fours!
Back at the Main Square
for a quick bite of lunch and a rest
Walking along foot path
with Temple of Sun (rounded building) in background.
Feeling a bit fatigued by mid-afternoon, we headed back to the Visitor's Center to catch the shuttle bus back down to Aguas Calientes.  The plan for the next day spent at the Citadel was a hike to Inti Punku (The Sun Gate), a hike to the Incan Drawbridge, and a final stroll around the citadel ruins.


  1. Looks fantastic, i'm very jealous!!!

  2. Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos...I'm jealous too!

    1. It is a long journey but well worth the effort.

  3. Fantastic photos Jonathan, looks like an amazing site to visit!

    1. Amazing place to visit, for sure! Photos really do not impart the impact of the experience.

  4. This must surely be bone of the most unique sites in the world. The views from Huyanna Picchu are amazing. I had a momentary start at the placard. 2,693 feet; that's nothing! Of course, that METERS, so 8,835 feet. I've skied at those altitudes in Utah, and you definitely noticed the decreased oxygen tension in the air with even mild exertion. Good on you for successfully completing the ascent, Jon!

    1. Top (literally) place to visit and I he views from the peak are, indeed, amazing. Cusco is even higher at about 11,300 feet. Nancy experienced altitude sickness on our last few days in Cusco but medication lessened the effects quickly. High altitude did not seem to bother me.

  5. Fantastic photos - wonderful. I couldn't handle the heights at all, so I'll enjoy your visit on a proxy basis! Dumb cluck that I am, it only dawned on me after reading the post that it is Summer in Peru - now that is humbling.

    From a fitness standpoint, that is an impressive and demanding achievement, even for a cyclist, so well done. Have a great trip.

    1. Glad you enjoy the photos! The Peru trip occurred back in June 2015 so I have been back for about six months.

      Cycling does help but altitude sickness can strike anyone. Luckily, not me.

  6. Ah yes more stunning pictures to make us all green with envy Jonathan!:-)


    1. Machu Picchu is stunning and well worth the effort and expense to get there. We have thoughts of returning already.

  7. Brilliant, your a lucky man Jonathan well done!!!

  8. Wow! I dare not show this to her indoors, otherwise she will book the flights tomorrow!

    1. Mark, this is the perfect excuse to share the photos straight away!

  9. Great pictures Jonathan. I was chatting to my sister in law this weekend who visited the citadel a few months ago and they took the camping along the way route which I think was over three days. She also mentioned the fun of dealing with the altitude.

    Thanks for sharing - great stuff

    1. Jonathan! Glad you enjoyed the photos! When we planned the trip, the thought of trekking the Inca Trail was considered but was shelved. An adventure to share for another time.


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