Machu Picchu is Quechua - the language of the Incas and still spoken in Peru today - for old mountain. It is overlooked by Wayna (sometimes spelt Huayna) Picchu, which is Quechua for young mountain. When booking the Inca Trail, we were given the option of spending a little bit more to climb Wayna Picchu once we were at Machu Picchu on our last day of the trail and a quick search on the internet suggested it was worth it for getting a different perspective on the site.
Just before going on the Inca Trail, I had read in the
Guardian, that an Aussie and a Kiwi tourist had been arrested after streaking
through Machu Picchu.
We therefore kept a close eye on the Aussie couple in our
group, but while Alex did get his legs out once or twice, that was as far as it went and they successfully
managed to stay clothed. The authorities at Machu Picchu are taking this
incident very seriously though, hence the appearance of the following sign at
the front gate.
I'd love to hear that conversation with the embassy!
There are also other rules and regulations to be followed
while in Machu Picchu. The ticket explains that there should be no loud
shouting or whooping, but we also found that jumping photos are also not
allowed. This was the best we could manage (please don't tell anyone), before being told about this rule.
After 3 long days of walking and a very early
start on the fourth, the “champions team” - as we were very aptly named by our guide, Valentin from Alpaca Expeditions - were a very close second
through the sun gate to arrive at Machu Picchu at around 6 in the morning.
The sight greeting us was as beautiful as I had imagined. There
was mist hanging over the mountains below us and it was drizzling, but we could
still see the whole site before us. And if anything the mist added to the view and made it seem even more surreal that we were finally there!.
getting itself known as being a bit of a foodie destination and as well as the
Alpaca steaks that James enjoyed along the way, this also means that there are
an increasing number of (varying quality) vegetarian restaurants.
We ate very well in Lima. Following the recommendations of
Neverending Voyage and Indefinite Adventure, we made a beeline for Almazen,
where we enjoyed sampling a range of different types of potatoes, cooked in
multiple ways with delicious sauces, as well as imaginatively stuffed tomatoes
and a yummy stuffed pancake.
Arequipa is a ‘jumping off’ point for lots of hiking and adventure activities, including trekking into the Colca Canyon, which was thought to be the deepest canyon in the world at 3,400 metres, until its neighbour the Cotahusi Canyon was found to be 135 metres deeper.
There are lots of
companies in Arequipa offering tours into the Colca Canyon, but having read up on
it, I could see that there was a very doable round trip into the
Canyon (with a night at the bottom at the ‘Oasis’) that we could
do on our own. And generally we like to try and do things by ourselves where
we can, particularly where the route looked as straight forward as
this one did.
Arriving from the desert of Nazca to Arequipa was a breath
of fresh air. The high altitude means that although its warm in the day, it
never gets too hot and in the evening we started to remember what cold felt
like (but only just). So it was perfect for wandering around and soaking in the
The city’s colonial buildings are built of sillar, a white volcanic
material, which has led to Arequipa being nick-named ‘The White City’.