Sunday, August 31, 2014

Machupicchu

Is it worth it?  When people ask about the costs involved in getting to Machupicchu, they are often surprised at how expensive the trip is.  Not including airfare to Peru, a conservative estimate of the cost for our 4-day trip from Lima would be about $1,000 per person, with about half of that just covering the two-day costs of getting to Machupicchu from and back to Cusco.  (Transportation & tours through the sacred valley, train fare, bus tickets, entrance fees, hotels, tour guides, & food.)  By contrast, the entire previous week's activities for all three of us probably cost just over $1,000 total.  Peruvian websites were unreliable and difficult to navigate, and discerning the actual processes of getting around was very confusing.  Having Javier (from Moroni Tours) help us with transportation arrangements was a necessity.  And while I normally don't like to hire tour guides, this was also required in order to understand and appreciate the wonders of the Sacred Valley and the Inca civilization.  But if the truth be told, isn't it the challenging access to such a remote and mystical part of the world that creates the allure to be there?!  The payoff? . . . hopefully, this post along with the several previous ones will help you judge for yourself!

Stamping passports, stopping at scenic overlook, meeting our guide, and posing for pictures at the famous photo site. "Ladies and Gentlemen, [to the three of us] let me tell you about my ancestors . . . "


Observing the guardhouse, main gate, and agricultural terraces with irrigation and drainage canals.


The temple sector, including the curved Temple of the Sun, the Main Temple, and the Temple of the Three Windows.


Stone quarry where the rocks for building were cut and shaped, and views of the back side of  Machupicchu peak.


The mound of the astronomical observatory and sun dial.



An outdoor agricultural lab, endangered chinchillas, and huts for the Inca farmers.


Examples of royal residences and Inca homes.

 

Temple of the Condor with the ground rock forming it's head/beak and the large stones behind creating the wings.
Theoretically, sacrifices took place on the ground stone where blood would run down the condor's beak.



A few more miscellaneous photos.



Our experiences in Peru were both precious and priceless!  As I travel and see the world from perspectives that are exciting and new to me, I am overcome with awe at the splendor of God's creations.  And I am inspired by the works of His children - each of whom has been endowed with His desire and ability to construct, to beautify, to create and to build.  As I reflect on this unbelievable two-week experience in Peru, I am reminded of the words of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Happiness, Your Heritage, October 2008 General Conference):

"The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before."

From unique geoglyphs in desert sands, to sanctuaries on remote mountain peaks, to beautiful smiles on Peruvian faces, I see a reflection of divinity in all that has been created - and it is worth it!

“Progress, and improve upon and make beautiful everything around you. Cultivate the earth, and cultivate your minds. Build cities, adorn your habitations, make gardens, orchards, and vineyards, and render the earth so pleasant that when you look upon your labors you may do so with pleasure, and that angels may delight to come and visit your beautiful locations. In the mean time continually seek to adorn your minds with all the graces of the Spirit of Christ.” (Brigham Young, Deseret News, Aug. 8, 1860, 177.)











Thursday, August 28, 2014

Huaynapicchu

The impressive tall mountain usually seen as a backdrop to most photos taken of Machupicchu is called Huayna (Wayna) picchu.  The strenuous one-hour hike to it's peak is limited to two groups of 200 hikers per day, and must be reserved well in advance.  We were fortunate to be able to secure tickets for the 7:00 - 8:00 a.m. time slot on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.  Arising around 5:00 a.m., we walked to a neighboring hotel for a breakfast buffet and then lined up for the first (6:00 a.m.) bus to the entrance of Machupicchu.  The 20-minutes ride zigzags up the face of the mountain on narrow dirt roads.  How the bus drivers manage to pass each other with such ease on this treacherous road was unbelievable! The road can be seen well from Huaynapicchu.  When the bus came to a stop, we joined the queue to enter sanctuary and then hurriedly made our way across the site.  Here are some of our first views of the surroundings.  Amazing!


I had done a lot of research about the hike up Huaynapicchu because I have a fear of heights in some situations and I worried about altitude sickness.  So many people made this hike seem terrifying and difficult.  Maybe it is because of our hiking experiences in Korea which are quite similar in many respects, but we didn't feel too fearful or challenged at any stage of the hike.  The experience was one I will treasure forever!  The weather was perfect - crisp and cool in the morning with clear sunny skies all day long.  I did break a sweat climbing Huaynapicchu, but that was due to effort, not weather.  I was happy to see one solitary cloud drift in front of the mountain shortly before our hike began.  As you can see, the climb was intense and exhilarating, and the views absolutely spectacular!



At the peak, Bob climbed atop the highest boulder, and for the first time in his life experienced a moment of acrophobia.  There wasn't much room up there, and hikers were not far behind us, so we began our descent.  The trail takes you to a large slick rock which you slide down and then it wraps around the peak where there are some beautiful ruins and stunning views of the river and valley below.  Shortly thereafter you join the same path that led to the top, and reverse your way down the mountain.  In many ways, the descent was more difficult than the climb.  I scooted on my seat down one long stretch of very narrow steps.

 
 
 
 

video

What an amazing hike!