Sunday, October 21, 2012

Machu Picchu - Peru

A photograph of Machu Picchu in Peru
Machu Picchu - Peru

Visiting the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu was one of the main motivations behind our recent visit to Peru. We opted to get there via the 4 day Inca trail, which starts close to the town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley of the Incas and ends in Machu Picchu, as opposed to taking the bus up from Aguas Calientes, the town at the foot of the mountain ridge.  We started hiking at around 5.30am on the last day and got to the Sun Gate, in time to watch the first rays of sun lighting up Machu Picchu.

More photographs inside.

A photograph of Machu Picchu in Peru
 Machu Picchu - Peru

Most of the construction work that the Incas completed at Machu Picchu is not obvious. The city sits on a narrow ridge between the Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu mountains. As a result, the Incas had to build terraces to protect the city from landslides and soil erosion. The terraces themselves were constructed with layers of rocks, pebbles, gravel, sand and top soil which controlled the speed at which water was absorbed so that they could be used for agricultural purposes.

A photograph of Machu Picchu in Peru
Machu Picchu - Peru

The location of the city was selected because of its position in relation to the sacred mountains in the area and, although the site of the city is not the most suitable from a geographic point of view, it's very inaccessibility offered a number of advantages in terms of security. Machu Picchu offers commanding views of the two valleys of the Urubamba River, it has an impassable mountain at its back and there are only two routes, which can be cut off easily, that lead to Machu Picchu. The Spanish never discovered the city and, as a result, the site is even more significant as a cultural site which remains intact and unspoiled to this day.

A photograph of Machu Picchu in Peru
Machu Picchu - Peru

The city was built in 1400's by an Inca emperor named Pachacutec who was known for his military and architectural skills. Surprisingly, Machu Picchu was abandoned within 100 years of its construction as a result of the Spanish invasion. The Incas chose to move further away from Cusco to the city of Vilcabamba.

A photograph of Machu Picchu in Peru
 Machu Picchu - Peru

Although Hiram Bingham has been credited with "discovering" Machu Picchu in 1911, the locals in the area always knew it existed. Hiram Bingham was actually led to the ancient city by a 11 year old boy, rather than stumbling upon it on his own. For some reason the local people's knowledge was not recognised and Bingham has gone down in history as the man who discovered the "Lost City of the Incas". He is said to have collected 47 boxes of artifacts from the city and from tombs in the area on his expeditions. Our guide told us that only 12 of those boxes actually made it back to Harvard. I guess the rest were sold off to private collectors.

A photograph of Machu Picchu in Peru
Machu Picchu - Peru

I could have spent days photographing Machu Picchu. We got to the Sun Gate just before the sun started hitting the ruins. Although the light was great at this time, Machu Picchu was still about 45-60 minutes hike away - by the time we got to the city, the early morning sunlight had given way to strong sun which was not great for photography. There were more delays after we reached Machu Picchu as we had to go down to the office to register. This again took a lot of time and it was about 11.00am when we got back up to the ruins. As the city is spread out over a large area, getting around takes a bit of time and you lose out on the light. If I go back to photograph Machu Picchu I would actually try and get on one of the first buses to the site.

A photograph of Machu Picchu in Peru
Machu Picchu - Peru

Since I had hiked the Inca Trail for 4 days prior to getting to Machu Picchu, I left the tripod behind. I would definitely take it with me (if I go back there again) to take panoramic photographs. All the photographs on this post were taken with the Canon 24-105mm lens and the Canon 5D Mark III.

A photograph of Machu Picchu in Peru
Machu Picchu - Peru

A photograph of Machu Picchu in Peru
Machu Picchu - Peru

Machu Picchu - Peru








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