The train leaves early and travels alongside the Urumbaba river. As we descended into the part of the valley that is the entrance to Machu Pichu, the area became humid and tropical. Large bromeliads hang from the trees. There are glimpses of orchids and many plants we don’t know. “Isn’t that a ..? ”
Arrival in Aguas Calientes is a little frantic. We rushed from the station to the line of buses. We pass stands and shops lining up their authentic Inca wares – made in China.
The 8 km bus drive up to the entrance of the site is windey wonderful. On arrival, we disembarked and joined the line for the entrance. It was the early morning shift but already the throngs were gathering. Up a few steps and…oh my.
The air was fresh, the sun strong and warming.
Much has been written about Machu Pichu. Later, reading about the place, I came upon a piece of speculation that fascinated me. It is possible that Machu Pichu was built, occupied and then abandoned in a time span of just 100 years. New findings from current archaeological digs are producing new information. There is much more to learn.
The first plants we saw were growing out of the walls and terraces.
“Of all the species of Begonia known, this is, I think, the finest. With the habit of Saxifraga ciliata, immense flowers of a vivid vermilion cinnabar-red, that no colorist can reproduce.”
The begonia combines well with young Alpaca.
Visitors to Machu Pichu are kept in order. There is a one-way system of trails with guards at junctions making sure you don’t transgress. It makes for efficiency of sightseeing as well as minimizing damage from the millions of feet that trample.
Around a corner, a marvel, a wonder.
The turquoise puya has six -foot high flowering stems with turquoise-emerald flowers with bright orange anthers. The common name of the species is misleading, a number of Puya have turquoise flowers. Much later, in Chile, I had extensive conversations about Puya.
But how wonderful for the Inca to build such a wonderful backdrop for this incredible plant.
and there is this,
some orchidaceous loveliness.
After many hours of exploring the area, it was time to descend to catch the train back to Ollantaytambo. There are two ways of doing this, by bus or by walking 4 -5 kms downs a steep stone-stepped path. We chose the path.
The steps are dislocating but you do see a wonderful number of plants such as Alnus jorullensis, Juglans neotropica, Podocarpus glomeratus, and Buddleja incana , as well as many bromeliads and orchids. You can enjoy the flora while smiling at but secretly hating the young people who are climbing UP the steps.