Machu Picchu
The experience of hiking the Inca Trail as a means to approach Machu Picchu seemed to be a rite of passage to us. The terrible weather and the arduous hiking meant that we had something more personal invested in reaching our goal. The route the trail takes is not the most direct path possible and the terrain it passes through is of little or no farming or economic value. The value of the trail seems to me to be the trip itself. The high passes bring the traveler high into the sacred mountains and the difficult terrain begins to block out all other concerns as you focus on reaching the destination.
 Machu Picchu is sited similarly to many other significant religious sites, sitting on a ridge in the saddle between a major peak of the range and a smaller sacred peak, in this case the mountain Machu Picchu (9,678 ft) and Wayna Picchu (8,999 ft).

1. Intiwatana

2. Temple of the Three Windows

3. Temple of the Condor

4. Temple of the Sun

See a Quicktime VR from the Intiwatana area. See a Quicktime VR from the main plaza.

The terraces to the southeast of the main plaza define an agricultural sector which may have been used to grow special sacred crops such as maize or coca. The main plaza area is framed by an area of more utilitarian huts on the east and a higher point with several religious sites to the west. Immediately to the south of the plaza was a more elaborate royal sector. It included several baths and temples. 


At the far northern end of the complex a large flat rock has been shaped to the outline of the peaks and ridges behind it. 




Machu Picchu 2


Machu Picchu 4