Places Which Haunt My Dreams: Machu Picchu


Machu Picchu illustration

I designed the website for Orient Express Holidays years ago, and spent many a happy afternoon gazing at photos of exotic and luxurious resorts. Much as I would have loved to arrive in Venice on the Orient Express, the place which really captured my imagination was always Machu Picchu.

The idea of this abandoned Inca city high in the clouds made me yearn to travel and I’d still love to see it for real one day. I’m slightly skeptical of travelling half way around the world with the aim of just seeing one thing though, what if I turned up and it was shrouded in thick fog and all I could see was llama poo and millions of other tourists in pac-a-macs..? Is it better to keep this one thing as a dream? Should I stick to just drawing pictures of it?

Machu Picchu in the fog

Above: See what I mean? I hope the fog cleared for this person after they took this photo otherwise they wouldn’t have really got to enjoy the full spendour of the place!

Then again, just look at that vista below. It’s got to be worth a try hasn’t it?

Panorama of Machu Picchu

The thing is, Machu Picchu is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. So much so that the World Heritage Fund have serious concers about how much damage all these tourists are doing to the place itself. So how come all the photos I’ve found of it are empty? How do I get to wander around by myself and take idyllic photos too?

OK, it’s still on the bucket list.

Here are things I know, and don’t know about Machu Picchu. Feel free to chip in at any point:

  • Machu Picchu means tall peak and was built by the Incas in around 1450.
  • It was inhabited for around 100 years but I’m not sure why it was abandoned (something to do with Spanish Conquistadors maybe..?)
  • The city was mostly forgotten about except by people local to the area until the American explorer and treasure-hunter Hiram Bingham III re-disovered it (with their help) in 1912.
  • Some people believe that the city was created by aliens, but the Peruvians are understandably rather peeved by this and say their Inca ancestors were more than capable of building such a city without having alien assistance.
  • I have no explaination for why Hiram Bingham (pictured below standing outside his tent at Machu Picchu in 1912) wore those funny bandages around the bottom half of his legs. Was this simply the fashion at the time, or was it to stop spiders climbing up his trouserlegs?

Hiram Bingham III at Machu Picchu

Photo source and copyright: 1, 2, 3 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.


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