UNESCO Heritage Site: Machu Picchu

It has been named one of new seven wonders of the world.  This sacred Incan site was built at the height of the Incan Empire around 1450. Estimates are that it took between 50 to 100 years to build. Since there is no written Incan language, all “facts” about Machu Picchu are deductions based on painstaking work by archeologists, anthropologists and sociologists.

The Incan name of what we call Machu Picchu is not known. Current name is the mountain it was built on. It was constructed by the Incas as a religious complex for approximately 600 people, maybe 200 priests and 400 workers using rocks to quarry and cut the rocks.

The most common pictures of the site only show about 25% of the total project. It in fact has another 75% of land all the up and down the mountain is terraced farms which go all the way down to the river and all the way up to neighboring mountains. This was because they had to farm all their own food due to the remoteness. .
The famous Inca trail dead ends at Machu Picchu. This wonder was carved and quarried out of the granite mountain it stands on.

It was abandoned in approximately 1572 when the Spanish invaded the Incan Empire. .
The Incas destroyed part of the Incan trail leading to Machu Picchu in order to hide this holy site from the Spanish. It worked. The jungle grew over and hid it until an American explorer, Hiram Bingham was told about the site by a local farmer in July 1911 and it was “discovered”. .
Bingham took many artifacts to Yale University for further study.
Machu Picchu has been restored from the 450 years of damage by the jungle, but not reconstructed. This is preservation.

To keep damage to a minimum, only 3500 people a day are allowed to access it and many sections are visible but roped off to protect them. The site stands at 2430 metres or 7970 ft. Truly a wonder.

Peru at the beautiful Inca city ruins of Pisaq in the Sacred Valley. This is an example of the terraced farming practiced by the Incas. The closer to the river the terraces are, they grow crops that require warmer weather. Up higher they grew crops that needed a colder climate. Without the Incas, we wouldn’t have potatoes, corn or quinoa. Brilliant. Not too far from Macchu Picchu. The incredible mountain views from the ruins with the beautiful Inca terrace farms in view. Spectacular. Elevation is 9752 feet (2972 metres) in the Cusco region. Situated on the Urubamba River.

The beautiful Hoatzin from the Peruvian Amazon is in full flight.  It is the size of a pheasant. It has a lot of different bird calls. The babies have a claws on one of their wings to climb back into the tree. When they are adults the claws on the wings fall off. The bird can swim too.

Flying from Lima, Peru to the Peruvian Amazon city of Iquitos, Peru was amazing seeing the Nanay River winding through the Amazon rain forests in the shape of an Anaconda snake. The light reflected in the river was beautiful and a sign of great things to come. Iquitos has a population of about 600,000 people and is the largest city in the world that can only be reached by air or boat.

Chile

After the one hour charter plane flight from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales and two hour bus ride, we arrived at Torres del Paine National park in Chile. It has one of the most unusual mountain ranges with towers of granite and are multi-colored. The mountains are about 9000 feet high from sea level to the top. The weather was incredibly windy with gusts of 100 km which made it interesting to walk up hills and take pictures at times. This is truly spectacular and worth the trip. Notice the incredible cloud formation above the mountains. Looks like Old Man Winter. The beautiful blue in the water is due to glacial runoff and minerals.

Cape Horn

The mighty Cape Horn which is part of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago and is the southern most land point in the world other than Antarctica. Approximately -55 latitude. 800 kilometers to Antarctica.

It is the junction of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Takes about two days to get to Antarctica from here. Due to extremely rough weather, this point has been the graveyard of many sailors and ships.

Quite a sight to see. Apparently weather this good is rare. The captain of the cruise ship came very close and then turned the ship so the other side of the mountain could see as well.

Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)

Beautiful colony of King Penguins in Bluff Cove, Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas). The tour takes you a short bus ride then a 4X4 Range Rover travels through peat bogs and rocky terrain to the penguin rookery at the shore. There are about 30 King Penguins and hundreds of Gentoo penguins. You are allowed to get very close. Just fantastic