Angela lead our group outside of the station to wait for the exclusive bus for the Hiram Bingham passengers which would take them up to Machu Picchu. Our bus finally arrived and we were off to Machu Picchu. Buses going up to Machu Picchu take roughly 30 min to make the climb up the mountain using switchbacks roads carved into the mountainside. The choreography between the bus driver going up and the bus driver going down is just amazing and skillful. It is fascinating how the bus drivers can coordinate and drive around each other so gracefully with nothing but a radio which screech what to me makes absolutely no sense at all what is being broadcasted between the bus drivers.
After what could be for many a scary and motion sickness inducing bus ride up to the entrance of Machu Picchu, we got off the bus and Angela handed us off to Hector, who is another tour guide working for Hiram Bingham. At the entrance, everyone presented their tickets, which Angela distributed earlier, along with their passports. After tickets were scanned and passports checked, our group proceeded in Machu Picchu with Hector.
Hector lead us up to the “Sweet Spot” to take pictures of Machu Picchu. This is the same view seen on most postcards and brochures that show Machu Picchu. Hector took the time to thoroughly explain all of the important parts of the citadel during our nearly four our walking tour of the whole Machu Picchu complex. Our group consisted, of a couple from Australia and my parents and myself so there was absolutely no feeling of being rushed or getting lost in a big group. You do not have to take the tour of Machu Picchu when you arrive on the Hiram Bingham but can take it later in the day or on a different day. The other passengers who were on the Hiram Bingham Train with us chose to do the tour at another time.
Along the way, Hector explained the differences between buildings with the perfectly carved stones vs the buildings with the rough stones. Only important buildings such as temples, and housing for members of the Inca ruling class and royalty were built with the smooth perfect stone walls, and everything else were built with imperfect rough stones. After learning of the two different building styles, it was quite easy to distinguish between important buildings vs less important ones.
We eventually arrived at the Temple Of The Sun, which was a temple to the Inca Sun God Inti. You can tell from the stonework that this was a important temple to the Inca’s. After bunch of picture taking and lots of historical explanation about the Temple Of The Sun, we proceeded with Hector further into the heart of the Machu Picchu.
As one can see in the picture above, this area of the Machu Picchu was for the common people of Inca society to live and work in. The stones are rough, large and are filled in between with dirt filler vs the buildings with big perfectly carved granite slabs seen earlier. Also, the peak on the left is Huayna Picchu, which while is not visible in the picture above, has another Inca city up on the peak. The steps to get up to Huayna Picchu are steep and dangerous. Access to Huayna Picchu is limited to certain number of people per day through a fixed number of permits issued per day. Hector explained that he also leads groups up to Huayna Picchu and that it is not for everyone.
After one last look at Machu Picchu, and about 10 more pictures of my parents and myself in the city, we said our good byes to the mighty citadel of the Inca’s and followed Hector out of the Machu Picchu complex. Our small group followed Hector to the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, where we still had about 15 minutes left to use the facilities and just relax before afternoon tea is to be served. After our visit to Machu Picchu, my parents and I were able to checkoff another “must visit” place off of our list.