A Bird’s-Eye View of Machu Picchu
– The obligatory photo in Machu Picchu is the one showing the Inca city with a tall mountain in the background. That tall mountain is Huayna Picchu, where I was standing when I made this photo. If you hike Huayna Picchu, this is one view you will have of Machu Picchu. The Outside magazine lists the Huayna Picchu hike as one of the 20 most dangerous hikes in the world. One reason given for such distinction is the famous Death Steps one has to take going down from Huayna Picchu. Well, in reality the hike is not that dangerous — we think! — and just moderate in difficulty level.
Only 400 people are allowed to hike Huayna Picchu every day, and you have to book the hike months in advance. The first 200 people go in between 7-8 AM and the second group between 10-11 AM. Once you’re in, you can stay as long as you want. The hike to the top, where the Temple of the Moon is located, takes approximately one hour and fifteen minutes, depending on how many stops you take to catch your breath and marvel at the scenery beneath you. The hike is short (a little over a mile), but you climb 1,180 ft (360 m). It’s very steep! Sometimes there are ropes or cables to assist in the ascent, but for the most part, it’s just step after step. If it is wet, the hike is closed. The stones can be very slippery when wet. Right before you reach the top, there is a very narrow tunnel the Incas built in order to prevent its enemies from reaching the temple easily. Only one person can go through at a time, and I seriously doubt an obese person would go be able to go through it. About the Death Steps, there are no ropes or cables to assist you. You have to be careful stepping down on those irregular stones. To add to the thrill, you constantly have a view of Machu Picchu 1,180 ft (360 m) down below! The sensation you have is that if you fell, you’d went up down in Machu Picchu.
Besides seeing Machu Picchu in its entirety, on the left-hand side of this shot you can also the treacherous bus route taken from Águas Calientes to Machu Picchu. I was more scared of that then the hike itself. The buses go fast up hill and inevitably run into buses coming down the mountain. They stop and negotiate who goes first because for the most part there’s only one lane. The scariest part is when the bus you’re in has to back up. I didn’t want to look at that maneuver, and we 2-3 of those on the way up!
Taken: 29 June, 2015
Focal length: 3.58mm
Location: 13° 9.4108′ 0″ S 72° 32.7663′ 0″ W
Shutter speed: 1/800s