We arrived to Machu Picchu as do most people, by train to Aguas Calientes and then a shuttle bus from town up the switchbacks. The bus leaves you not far from the entrance gate of Machu Picchu and right in front of the hotel we stayed at. You can walk up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes and I saw more people than I expected doing so. The shuttle bus only costs $19US for a return ticket and it takes about 30 minutes.
Some things aren't as impressive when you see them in person, like Manneken Pis or Camelot (it's only a model), but Machu Picchu certainly impresses. The Spanish did not destroy this Inca site, only the jungle and that left all the pieces behind, just not in their proper places. Whereas all the other Inca sites we had already seen had been broken up and taken away for Cathedrals or homes.
Machu Picchu is split up into sections, an Urban section and an agricultural section.
When you first arrive most folks are taken to the terrace below the Guardhouse where you can get sweeping views of the whole site like these. The city wall and dry moat in the foreground separated the urban and agricultural sections.
The Urban section is broken down into groups of buildings called Conjuntos. From the quality of the stonework you can tell how important the dwellers/user of the structures would have been.
A collection of photos from the Eastern Urban section, these structures are more rustic, though there are some well made walls of course facing the rich part of town.
The Inca brought in water from a spring through a small canal 2500 feet long and delivered it to 16 fountains.
Intipunku, The Sun Gate
If you look close you can see the Sun Gate in the notch in the photo below.
After returning to the hotel and having breakfast we had time to go back to Machu Picchu one last time, but we had tired of all the steps and decided to spend some time in Aguas Calientes. After cruising the souvenir stands for awhile we waited for the train and caught the Peru Rail Vistadome 204 train at 1:37PM back to Ollantaytambo. From there we were driven back to Cusco.
Sunday, July 12, 2015
Our Delfin II Amazon Cruise was scheduled to depart from Nauta an hour and a half drive from Iquitos, but the exceedingly high water level changed our embarkation point to be Iquitos itself.
We landed in Iquitos early evening and had to wait on the plane about 20 minutes for the rains to subside before we could exit the plane and run across the tarmac in the heavy drizzle to the Airport Terminal. We were met by the team from the Delfin II and after all the luggage turned up we were driven down to the dock. The trip took about 30 minutes and the traffic was made up of mainly TukTuks, those 3 wheeled conveyances, it seemed like chaos. I felt like we were on The Amazing Race, the day had been a holiday and there were still celebrations going on and some roads were closed. Once at the dock we were taken across to the Delfin II by the skiffs, had a welcome drink, a short briefing and had a late dinner. That evening sleep was constantly interrupted by the boat hitting some submerged object, the engines being cut and then the whole process starting all over again as we headed up the Amazon River. The total elevation change of the Amazon from Iquitos to the mouth is not very great. The web says "the elevational gradient of the Amazon is very low. Iquitos, Peru is some 3,600 km (2,250 miles) from the Atlantic, yet the river-level at low-water season is only about 100 m (a bit more than 300') above sea-level" So says Project Amazonas.
The next morning we were told we would be approaching the beginning of the Amazon proper at 10AM, where the Rio Ucayali and Rio Marañón meet. It wasn't that impressive of a sight, but we were given a drink to celebrate and the main guide made a Toast "Arriba, abajo, al centro, pa' dentro" The glass held up, then out front, then down and then you drank. In my head I was saying "Eins, zwei, drei, g'suffa".
Some photos of The Delfin II
Each day we had a morning and an afternoon skiff ride exploring side channels, temporary lakes and small rivers. While the Delfin II was on the move, the skiffs where held out of the water. I was told that the 3 skiffs each used 35 gallons of gasoline over the course of our 5 day cruise.
These are some of the watercraft we passed on our cruise.
Here are some riverside views
We also visited Puerto Miguel, a fairly large village which had a shop where local women sold handicrafts. All the tourists show up there.