South America
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Machu Picchu, The Land of the Incas

Machu Picchu (Old Peak) is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. We decided not to do the Inca trail so instead we traveled from Cuzco to Aquas Calientes, the foot of the mountain where Machu Picchu lies. Aquas Calientes is a beautiful town at the edge of Willkanuta River surrounded by tall mountains and green forests. Aquas Calientes If you came all the way here to see Machu Picchu, you also have to climb Huayna Picchu (Young Peak), a nearby peak that provides amazing views of the ruins on Machu Picchu. Access to Huayna is limited to 400 people per day and entry is allowed on a first come first serve basis. We woke up at 5:30 in the morning to get on one of the first shuttles going to the entry point to the peaks. The light of day was just coming out and the peaks were covered in fog. The place looked mystical which seemed  appropriate since some of the rooms in the complex at Machu Pichhu are believed to have been used for religious ceremonies. Machu Picchu The ascent of Huayna is intense to say the least. We were hiking a steep mountain, at high altitude on a trail hanging at the edge of the mountain with no railing to stop us from plummeting to our death. On top of that, it was hard to stay focused on the climb because the views from Huayna are absolutely spectacular. The climb is challenging even for the more fit however some of our ascending companions were on the older side and some were lugging young children. No one could be accused of being “athletic”. At any moment I expected to see someone tumbling to their death. We were huffing and puffing our way up amazed that the Peruvian authorities would let anybody climb this peak without guidance or supervision. The peak narrows towards the top like a pyramid and the plateau is a small standing ground covered with big rocks but the ascent was absolutely worth it. Slowly the fog lifted and the sun came out. We could see snowy mountains in the distance, the ruins on Machu Picchu and we could even hear the sound of the Willkanuta River. I could understand why the Incas wanted to call this place home. On our way down we walked among the beautiful ruins at Machu Pichu and imagined how life would’ve been thousands of years before. Little is known about the complex but I was amazed at the human effort that’s gone into building these structures. The Incas were skilled masons and buildings from that time are still standing while more recent ones have been destroyed by earthquakes. Terasses were built on the side of the cliff to accommodate crops of corn and cocoa. Lamas were busy mowing the grass. This place is truly idyllic.

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