Machu Picchu, Peru

"A few buses waited for the tourists at Puenta Ruinas. They went up an unpaved six-kilometer path, winding along the steep mountainside. The lost city of the Incas was slowly revealed, the ruins spread out on the top like a decomposed carcass of a giant guanaco. This was once the exclusive abode of the Inca nobility and priests. The train in the valley below became smaller and smaller, a baby serpent caught in a brief encounter with the sun. It was hard to comprehend why such an isolated site was chosen for this settlement - the flattish top of a steep mountain, surrounded by deep green valleys and then more mountains - a mysterious, disquieting place. Eastwards, inside the inhospitable Amazon rainforest, more spectacular ruins, as yet unexcavated, are believed to exist. Terrace farming supplied food to this community of one thousand elite who lived by the solar calendar for centuries, until the Spaniards ended it all. The Inca civilization of twelve million people, built upon formidable organizing prowess and administrative efficiency, which extended from Colombia to northern Chile and which achieved the rare and enviable feat of providing sustenance to all its members, succumbed to the craft and cunning of 180 semi-literate Spanish swordsmen with a reputation for savagery and love of gold. Hard to comprehend? The Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa has offered an explanation ..." (read more)

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The train in the valley below the ruins

Machu Picchu station



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