For anyone whose childhood was shaped by fantasy and hours being lost in books, Machu Picchu is fantasy become reality. Being there was as if I were in Shangri La, or if one is more of a movie buff, seeing the 1937 movie adaptation, "Lost Horizon".

When telling people I was going to Peru, the first question always was "Are you going to Machu Picchu"? For all the people on my tour, that was the pinnacle of the trip and while pictures do it some sense of justice, the physical magnificence is nothing more than breathtaking and awe inspiring, along with the recurring question of "how the heck did they do this?". 

It was built by the Inca and much of what we believe about it is simply theory. It housed only 800 carefully monitored people (only the the hoi polloi of the civilization).  Religious, residential and astronomical buildings abound.
Let's get something straight....there is no Inca civilization, it's Quechuan (the Indian culture) and there was only one Inca at a time... El Jefe, the Big Kahuna, Numero Uno.  In total, there were only 14 or 15 Inca over the course of the culture.    
A little background;  Machu Picchu was "discovered" in 1911 by the Yale professor Hiram Bingham, meaning he met a Quechuan man who lived "up there" and so took the professor to see where he and his family lived.  Of course it was deliberately built in a place completely inaccessible unless one knew where it was and how to get there.  Those Indians knew what the white man would do when they found it, destroy it as the Spanish had done with other Quechuan locations. So it was kept a secret for over 400 years and lived amid rumors and forgotten stories of greatness. 

 It's covered in clouds a lot as the peaks surrounding it are 12 to 14,000 feet with glaciers on the tops of some mountain peaks.  One never knows when it wil rain.  It's a bit like the fog rolling into San Francisco on a summer afternoon, it just pushes through and over the hills very quickly.  But it was warm the two days I was there and relatively sunny. 

The train into the town on the Urubamba River called Aguas Callientes (yes it has hot springs) is the only method of transportation.  There are only three trains daily in and three out.  The average Peruvian can not afford to go see the remains of their indigenous culture (I Iearned that talking to a university graduate shopgirl at a jewelry store in Cusco). Not only is the train fare more than the average working person can afford, but the entrance fee into Machu Picchi is $25.  So they must be content with pictures. 

One can walk the Inca trail into Machu Picchu over a period of 4-5 days Our tour guide said unless you are in REALLY good shape, it's terribly hard and some people give up crying and need to be cajoled into sticking it out.  Now the government has regulated the number of tourists allowed to do this and they must be accompanied by a professional guide.

All I can say is I burst into tears upon seeing it.                     Photos