Machu Picchu has been on my bucket list since before the term “bucket list” even came into common usage. In fact, it’s been on my list since I was young. I come to cross out this list when I visited this mystical15th-century World Heritage site last April 2015.
These ancient ruins are situated in one of the most magnificent spots in the world, tucked away in the deep forests and spiky mountains of the Peru’s Andes. One thing is certain – Machu Picchu will take your breath away.
No one knows for sure why or by whom Machu Picchu was built, or even when. But most archaeologists believe it was built in the mid-15th Century, as an estate for the Inca emperor called Pachacuti. Why was it built in this isolated location? Some experts believe it had to do with religious reasons, or the positions of the sun.
When you stand in “The Lost City of the Incas,” and see for yourself how far away from the rest of civilization it is – and was – it’s not hard to understand how it got that name…or how it lay undiscovered for so many centuries. Somehow, though, the Spanish apparently managed to find this hidden city. Archaeologists believe it was abandoned around 1572, probably as a result of the Spanish Conquest.
If you visit Peru, it’s inevitable. You will run into a llama. Maybe not physically actually run into, as in collide with, but you will certainly see plenty of them.
According to the Citadel ranger, there are about 120 llamas roaming in the place, all female but one lucky male mating all the female.
There are dozens of llamas roaming in and around the ruins. Don’t be afraid to get close to them, they are friendly and used to be around people, so feel free to pet them and snap a few pictures with them.
Although they are cute, snuggly looking and incredibly used to humans, llamas are known to spit, charge and even bite if they feel threatened. So don’t get too close, and be on a look out for backward ear flipping as you will be in for some llama-spit.
Llamas and tourists hike Machu Picchu together!
They are everywhere, hiking side-by-side with visitors, sometimes blocking paths and standing around looking pensive. They have pretty much have the run of the place.
It can also have some nasty habits, like spitting in your eye or kicking you if you get too close to its hind legs.
Llamas roam free at Machu Picchu, which creates a bevy of great photo opportunities. You’ve never been so appropriately photobombed by a llama.
Speaking of llamas, High in the Andes Mountains, llamas have been helping people carry their wares for thousands of years. The llama (pronounced “yama”), is a member of the camel family, and is one of the oldest domesticated animals. Their thick coats of wool and honed survival instincts enable them to thrive in one of the most extreme climates on earth.Selectively bred for gentleness, for over five thousand years, a well trained llama will eagerly follow adults and children alike.
There is something that captured my hearts about this place. It was really mesmerizing and mystical, something that your everyday ruins can’t compete with. A truly incredible experience.