Global High School is no stranger to early morning wake up calls and our Tuesday morning visit to Machu Picchu was no exception. The alarm clocks rang early at 4:15 am and an excited group of staff and students met in the hotel lobby for breakfast at 4:30 am ready to depart at 4:45 am. It was raining…but we were undeterred. 7 souls purchased rain ponchos with hoods and off we went.
We did the first part of the hike, in the pitch black, dodging puddles by the light of our cell phones, all together down to the bus station where some of us decided that a bus ride up was in order. The rest of us set out to climb the many (sorry, we didn’t count them, trying too hard to breathe) steps to the entrance pavilion. We later learned it was 1772 steps. One of our students who speaks Spanish overheard our guide remarking to another guide that he had a really fast group.
The views on the way up were spectacular. The sun was rising, the sky gradually lightened, the rain stopped and the mist began to lift. WOW is the only appropriate description.
At the summit, we joined back into one big group and headed in to begin to learn about this magnificent Incan citadel. Thanks, Peru Travel for sharing the interesting facts below.
- Machu Picchu is an Incan city surrounded by temples, terraces and water channels, built on a mountaintop. It was built largely with huge blocks of stone joined to each other without any mortar. Today it has been designated cultural heritage of humanity in recognition of its political, religious and administrative importance during the age of the Incas.
- Machu Picchu means Old Mountain, taking its name from the location of the Incan citadel.
- According to historians, the architectural complex was built in the 15th century, approximately, by the Inca Pachacutec.
- Machu Picchu was linked to the entire Inca Empire via the Qhapaq Nan, the famous roads of the Incas (which we have since learned all meet in the main square of Cusco, once called the “Navel of the World”
- The Citadel is divided into two areas: the agricultural area consisting of the terraces, and the urban section, which served administrative purposes
- Machu Picchu sits at 2430 metres above sea level, approximately 400 metres higher than Aguas Calientes where we started our climb
However, we were not finished climbing. It was on to the Sun Gate for the best views and, naturally, the best Instagram pictures. On the way up we met travellers finishing the 4 day, 3-night hike in. Suffice to say that, based on their comments, we were really glad that we had opted for the 2 day Adventure Tour.
More exploration of the site followed until we met back at our hotel at 1pm for the train and bus ride back to Cusco. The entertainment on the train was a surprise; costumed performers dancing followed by a fashion show helped the train ride speed by. A relatively short time later we were checking into our lovely hotel and heading out for a traditional Peruvian dinner. Yax tried alpaca and pronounced it tasty. Others were more conservative and had local trout or steak.
The amazing Peruvian hospitality was a fitting ending to what students are calling “the best day in the history of Global High School”. We all agree that while we have seen incredible sights over the course of this year, nothing (not even the Colosseum or the Acropolis) compares to Machu Picchu. Maybe it was all the hard work we had to do to get there, maybe it was the setting, maybe it is the fact that we are beginning to realize that this magnificent adventure is nearly over. No matter the reason…WOW!