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The original world nomad "Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance." - Confucius.

Macchu Picchu

PERU | Saturday, 27 February 1999 | Views [3298]

Soaking in the hot springs, surrounded by the soaring peaks of the Andes, with Machu Picchu shrouded in cloud and gentle rain falling on may face, I contemplate that we very nearly didn't come. Tourist sites with their naieve Americans and loud, arrogant, cigarette puffing Europeans, usually destroy the atmosphere of the very places they came to see.

But tourism in Cuzco had dried to a trickle as the rains that washed away our route to the Amazon also removed part of the train track, precariously perched on the side of a mountain, that links Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Now the only access was by foot or helicopter.

Followed by a gaggle of other mostly young budget travellers, the fourteen kilometres along the remaining train track with the raging river just a few metres away was actually a more appropriate entrance to the mountains of the Inca.

As early morning clouds gently rise, Machu Picchu reveals itself in all its ancient splendour. Perched on a narrow ridge that drops away on both sides, what most photographs of the place can't show you is the raging rivers at the base of those cliffs or the towering peaks that rise up on the other side and surround the site.

Even for the most jaded traveller, the atmosphere is simply stupendous.

The ruins are larger than they look, with terraces, temples, astronomical observatories and irrigation. many of the buildings are constructed from huge granite blocks carves with such precision you couldn't fit a hair between. The ingenuity is extraordinary let alone the skills of the builders in getting them up here and manoeuvring them into place.

As we left the site by bus down the steep and winding track, a tiny boy mischievously dresses as an Inca shouts "Goooodbye!" and races off, short-cuts every hairpin to shout it again as the bus crawls past until, inevitably at the bottom he boarded the bus, to loud applause for some hard earned cash.

The ingenuity of the indigenous people obviously hasn't faded.

Tags: hot springs, people, ruins, temple


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