I choose this UNESCO World Heritage Culture Site because I had the opportunity to explore the ruins of this once lost city. With its beautiful mountainous setting, it was built by the Inca civilization and is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. This site holds a mystery, yet tells a story of an ancient culture, rich in knowledge, architectural understanding and creativity. It also amazed me how well they lived in synch with the environment.
Rich in culture, the Inca civilization had many beliefs. Their religious practices included worshiping gods and in burial, the wealthy were often wrapped in tapestries. The Incas also recognized two social classes. These classes were the upper, which in included the emperor and the priests, and the lower, which included the farmers and servants.
The Inca’s ability to master the stone still puzzles and fascinates many. Without mortar, the stones were cut and shaped with amazing precision. A great artistic example of this work is the twelve angle stone. This stone has flawless angles and fits perfectly into the surrounding stones.
At Machu Picchu, the Incas used the land for living and as agricultural terraces. The land was owned by the emperor, and farmed by the common people. The terraces also provided protection from hillside erosion and had sophisticated drainage systems.
An absolute masterpiece of architecture and a unique testimony to the Inca civilization
In 2011, I spent four days hiking through the Peruvian Andes. En route to Machu Picchu, literal translation meaning the “old peak”, we hiked the Lares Trek. Traveling of the beaten path, we meandered through stunning valleys and breath-taking landscapes before continuing on to Machu Picchu.
In the Sacred Valley, we passed through and camped between small remote villages. We learned about the people, their beliefs, natural habitats and way of life. As we continued our trek, we climbed the Pachacutec Pass (the highest pass in our trek) and summited at 4282m (14048 ft.).
On the fourth day, we continued our journey and travelled by bus and train to Machu Picchu. Once there, I was struck by the beauty and amazed by the architectural depth and detail.
Today, much of the villages surrounding Machu Picchu still hold strong to Inca traditions. In these areas, you can see that the reflection of their ancestral past is still practiced through language, art, textiles and farming.
Quechu, spoken by the Inca civilization, is still spoken by many in these remote settlements. We were fortunate to have a wonderful guide (Roger) who spoke the language and was able to converse with the locals. We were intrigued as they shared with us stories about their tradition, adventures and way of life.
Farming is a way of life for most locals living in remote villages in the Peruvian Andes. From miles away, you can see fields of corn, potato as well as farmers tending their herds of alpacas and llamas.
Textiles play an important part in Peruvian culture and represent a tradition passed down from generations. The brightly woven textiles are intricately designed and have patterns that represent their historical past.
Here are a few photos from my journey hiking through the Peruvian Andes (Lares Trek) and at Machu Picchu. These photos are an understatement of the beauty of the land and the indigenous people that inhabit it.