Sunday April 2, 2017

Our five busy days in the high Peruvian Andes have gone by in a blur! And the fatigue we’ve all been feeling (caused by the altitude and oxygen-starved ‘thin air’) has made these jam-packed days even more of a blur!

A week ago we got picked up early and dropped off at the Ollantaytambo railway station – where seats were booked on the panoramic Vistadome train that took us along the Sacred Valley to the mountain-town of Aguas Calientes, nestled beneath the spectacular ruins of Machu Picchu.

We then travelled a further 30 minutes by coach up a zig-zaggy road (I counted 12 hairpin bends!) to the top of the ruins – where a guided tour gave us some idea of what the Inca’s Holy City must have looked like 550 years ago.

The Inca Empire was at its peak in the 1400s AD, and Machu Picchu was begun probably around 1450. Perched some 2400 metres above sea level, in lush jungle along the flanks of two hills, the place was a bustling hive of activity. Constructed mostly in stone, with walls tilted slightly inwards to protect against earthquakes, and timbered roofs thatched with ichu or straw, it was an extraordinary example of architecture and engineering. But now it’s a silent shell. Narrow alleyways wind amongst empty homes, vacant town squares, official buildings, circular towers and agricultural terraces. A graveyard, a governor’s mansion, a sacred sundial, several worship sites and a still-functioning irrigation/drainage system all hint at lives long gone.

So what happened?

Well, some 100 or so years after work was started, as the finishing touches were just being made to the main temple … disaster struck. And Machu Picchu was abandoned!

Nobody knows why. Best guesses put the mystery down to a killer disease, or the arrival on the coast of the invading Spanish. All we can tell for sure is that the entire population vanished. And no-one lived here again till an American explorer by the name of Hiram Bingham stumbled across the overgrown ruins, cleared away the jungle growth and uncovered this wonder in 1911.

Unforgettable? Without a doubt!

COMING UP: It’s lush and green, misty and well-watered, and it’s home to a brilliant array of tiny colourful birds. They call it the ‘cloud forest’ … and there’s no way we could leave this amazing mountain-zone without a look-see. Bring your camera …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If you’d like to read earlier chapters in this Travel Blog, just click on ‘PREVIOUS’ or ‘OLDER POSTS’ – either at the start or finish of this entry. If you want to receive future Mad Midlife Travel Blogs in your INBOX, just sign-up (top-right) for your free Email Subscription! And if you’d like to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on the little speech bubble at the top of this entry, and add your comments! (Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and keep it brief.)

This entry was posted in 2017 South America by John Cooney. Bookmark the permalink.

About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!


  1. Hi Coons.
    Good to know the history. News to me 👍
    Intriguing to know what actually happened aye.
    Thanks for sharing. Love n hugZ from us Kerkys.

  2. Hi Robyn & John. Looks as though you guys are having a fab tour. Enjoy. Take care & we’ll see you soon back in NZ. Steve & Pauline Pedersen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s