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Machu Picchu

Bird's-Eye View of Machu Picchu
To celebrate my husband's 40th birthday, I planned a trip to Peru for the two of us, scheduling our itinerary so we would spend the day of his actual birthday at the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu. I wanted him to always be able to remember exactly what he was doing on his 40th birthday.

They only allow a limited number of people per day to hike to the top of the Wayna Picchu mountain overlooking the ruins, so we rushed to be the first two in so we could have some time at the summit to take in the view before crowds arrived. We succeeded and reached the summit before anyone else, giving us about 20 minutes alone to enjoy the amazing view of the magical Machu Picchu ruins.

The weather started out with heavy rain but, luckily, the rain stopped and the clouds parted as soon as we reached the top of Wayna Picchu, allowing for ideal views. The weather was perfect for the rest of the day. I think my husband and I both will remember for years to come exactly where we were on the morning he turned 40. Machu Picchu from above is not a sight I'll soon forget.
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Beautiful Machu Picchu
To celebrate my husband's 40th birthday, I planned a trip to Peru for the two of us, culminating in a visit to the magical Machu Picchu. As I rounded the bend and got my first view of the amazing ruins I could see immediately why it was named one of the Official New 7 Wonders of the World in 2007.

The Incan emperor Pachacuti built Machu Picchu in the 15th century halfway up the Andean Plateau 8,000 feet above sea level, and researchers believe the Incas abandoned the city because of a smallpox outbreak. Machu Picchu remained abandoned and hidden for over three centuries until Hiram Bingham discovered it 1911. I can't imagine what he must have thought the first time he laid eyes on the jaw-dropping ruins.

A trip to the amazing Machu Picchu is a must on any trip to Peru.
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A Triangle Within a Triangle
Wandering around the amazing Machu Picchu, wondering how the Incans in the 15th century could have built something so amazing in such a remote location, I noticed three alpacas below me forming a triangle around a large rock that also looked like a triangle. I loved the triangle within a triangle and had to take a picture.

Machu Picchu is a must-see on any trip to Peru, with fascinating history and a postcard-perfect view around every corner.
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Step Into Nothing
On a misty morning wandering through Machu Picchu with my husband, a patchwork of fog covered the ruins, adding to the already-dramatic setting and making the ruins even more mystical and enchanting. It had rained hard in the morning but luckily the rain had cleared out, leaving behind a beautiful cloud forest in the valley below Machu Picchu. Although there were stairs leading down at the end of this walkway, it looked as if you would walk right out into nothing but the clouds if you kept walking.

Machu Picchu is unlike anything I've ever experienced, and I knew as soon as I saw it why it was named one of the New 7 Wonders of the World in 2007.
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One of the most interesting things about the amazing Machu Picchu is the almost 700 terraces that run throughout the ruins. The Incans who built Machu Picchu in the 15th century didn't have a written language, hadn't yet discovered iron or steel, and didn't know about the wheel, but they were sophisticated enough engineers to know that they needed terracing to support their new city.

The terracing was porous and allowed water from the region's heavy rains to drain from the city while also providing a place for agriculture so Machu Picchu's residents could sustain themselves.

On any trip to Peru the magnificent Machu Picchu is a must.
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View from the Sun Gate
When visiting the amazing Machu Picchu, a short walk up to the Sun Gate allows for a spectacular view of the ruins. Machu Picchu looks different from every perspective, so the more vantage points you can view it from the better.

Hikers taking the Inca Trail to get to Machu Picchu enter the ruins through the Sun Gate. I can only imagine what they must think when they turn the corner and first lay eyes on the jaw-dropping ruins.
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The Sentinel
One of the things that surprised me when wandering through the amazing Machu Picchu was the alpacas grazing in the ruins. Naively, for some reason I hadn't expected to find them at 8,000 feet up on the Andean Plateau, much less munching grass at one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

I had to laugh at this proud guy, who seemed to be taking his guard duty very seriously.
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One of the things that surprised me about the amazing Machu Picchu was the large number of alpacas roaming through the ruins. They were very used to people and kids enjoyed petting them, despite their rain-soaked coats that didn't smell so great.

It was funny to see alpacas casually munching grass at Machu Picchu, completely unaware of the rich history and jaw-dropping scenery around them that people come from all over the world to see.
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Misty Machu Picchu
The Incan emperor Pachacuti built the amazing Machu Picchu in the 15th century. The Incans abandoned the city shortly after building it, in all likelihood because of a smallpox outbreak, and it remained hidden and unknown for three centuries until 1911 when Hiram Bingham discovered it.

Machu Picchu's architecture is unique and incredibly well-built. The Incan builders hand carved the stones they used for the city's buildings so carefully that even today, 500 years later, not even a thin piece of paper will fit between them. They're still standing not because they're held together with mortar - the Incans didn't use mortar - but because of the superior quality of their stone carving and craftsmanship.

On the morning my husband and I visited Machu Picchu to celebrate his 40th birthday, it rained hard in the morning but luckily stopped as quickly as it started, leaving behind a thin mist that shrouded the ruins in drama and mystery.
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Wayna Picchu In the Mist
On our visit to the amazing Machu Picchu, it rained hard in the morning but luckily stopped as quickly as it had started, shrouding the ruins and mountains with a thin layer of mist. The effect was dramatic - Wayna Picchu in particular took on a whole new drama as it loomed over the ruins.

On any trip to Peru, a trip to the jaw-dropping, one-of-a-kind Machu Picchu is a must. As soon as I laid eyes on the ruins for the first time I immediately could see why they were named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.
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An Incan Emperor's Estate
After a four day hike in almost constant rain, we finally reached the 15th-century, pre-Columbian Inca site located 7,970 ft above sea level. When you hike in along the Inca Trail, you arrive at Machu Picchu before the hordes of tourist in their buses so you have the whole place to yourself for a few hours (and the other thirty or so hikers). It was truly magical to see the sun rise over Incan emperor Pachacuti former estate.
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Huayna Picchu
The ruins of Machu Picchu are super cool, and it's unintuitive to climb even higher if you hiked for four days on the Inca Trail to get here, but the technically steep climb up Huayna Picchu is well worth the effort. Its the rhino horn shaped peak over intrepid explorer Morgan Paar's left shoulder (pictured) and it gives you amazing views.
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The South American Backpacker's Rite of Passage
Arriving at Machu Picchu, whether having survived the Inca Trail or having arrived by train from Cusco, feels like the great turning point in any South American backpacking adventure. It is one of the sites in South America that every tourist tries to see and is famous the world over, and for a good reason. If you have the time to spend a few days getting there but the Inca Trail is booked or you're more interested in a less travelled route, try hiking Salkantay mountain or participating in an Inca Jungle trek, where you'll spend time biking downhill, ziplining, and rafting in addition to hiking through the gorgeous Andes on your way to the famous Incan ruins. If you still have the energy by the time you're made it to Aguas Calientes, the tourist town at the base of the ruins, try climbing the approximately 2,000 steps up in the early morning to catch that first bit of sunlight and soak in the reward of daybreak amid peaks of the Andes.
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The Present Day Residents Machu Picchu
In going to Machu Picchu, everyone talks about the beauty of the Andes, the spectacular trek they may have taken on the way there, and of course the magic in the ruins themselves. What often gets left out is the fact that Machu Picchu is currently the home of a small group of Llamas who wander around the park and are entirely welcoming to the tourist masses. Go ahead and get a little close - these Andean creatures will only make you more certain of the beauty in the ruins themselves and how spectacular it is to walk through an ancient city with local company.
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Day 3 of the Incan Trail hike
On day 3 we watched the most amazing sunrise! The guides woke us at 5am and served coffee on the top of the mountain... it was the most incredible, non forgettable morning in my life.
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Machu Picchu
The purpose of Macchu Picchu will always remain a mystery. It is probably a religious and spiritual site. It is the work of man echoing the work of nature. The Inca trail leading up to Machu Picchu ( it takes four days of camping out in the Andes if you want to do it) was built to always face the snow capped mountains because that is what they worshipped. The architectural style is sacred geography. For me, if God isn’t at Machu Picchu, he isn’t anywhere.

for more info
read Things I Learned From the Incas In Peru

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Local Resident
While I was taking photos at Machu Picchu, this llama stepped right in my pathway, briefly glanced at me, then nearly pushed me out of its way as it continued up the path in my direction. Fortunately I was able to get a few shots off before it went on its merry way.
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