On the 5th day of our Inca Trail hike we woke up at 3am, had a (relatively) light breakfast and hiked to Aguas Caliente to catch a bus up to Machu Picchu. Our guide, Javier, took us around the site explaining what we were seeing for a couple hours before leaving us to explore by ourselves.
I enjoyed learning about the Inca and especially their engineering prowess and dogged determination to build. The Incas fascination with astronomy, particularly marking the summer and winter solstices. The levels of quality of stonework throughout the site and how that can be used to tell a temple or a palace from more pedestrian building. The numerous temples, the sun temple which was used to set the Incan calendar, the temple of the condor used for burial rites, the temple of the wind, temple of the water, temple of the earth (Pachamama). The extensive use of terraces for food production and as a retaining wall to support the city. The aqueducts and fountains that provided water for the inhabitants and the lack of a need for irrigation due to the way the terraces had been constructed in layers of sand and gravel to manage the water for the crops. The reflection pools used to map the night sky. The sacred rock which looks like something out of a Star Trek battle.
As the day continued to mid morning the next wave of tourists arrived and we found the main attractions getting very busy. We took a walk out to Inca Bridge. It was at this point I realised the Inca did not believe in hand rails. Thinking back, most of the ruins have areas with narrow stairways and a long way down.
It was only approaching lunchtime but we had already been awake for 9 hours. We checked the map and mentally ticked off that everywhere had been visited, did a final pass of the llamas and caught the bus back to Aguas Caliente for our journey back to Cusco. We had Picchu'd the Machu. Now to find a shower...