Qenko, ruins outside of Cuzco*. The carved rock you see there is shaped so that on the Winter Solstice, June 21st, the shadow of the rock resembles a panther. Behind the rock is a tunnel containing a sacrificial altar.
Here is our guide pointing out the start of an archiological dig near Sacsayhuaman. Extensive ruins have already been excavated near Cuzco, but as much as 75% of the area remains unexcavated (and therefore under ground).
Sacsayhuaman. Some of the stones used to build this fortress are bigger than a Cadillac Escalade. The Inca cut them to fit precisely together and moved them into place using ropes and manpower. Some stones took years to cut and move. They all (still) fit so together so tightly that you cannot insert the blade of a knife between them.
The start of the Inca Trail (for us, at least), kilometer 82. The trail to Ollyantaytambo was pretty, but also short and much easier than we had expected. Mischa was just getting over the flu and while I am in better shape than some people, I am not a front of the pack hiker. However, we smoked everyone (with the exception of Larry) and had to wait at the lunch stop for over an hour that night.
This image should give you some appreciation for how much gear and food the porters carry. I have more to say about the porters and what they do. However, the summary version of it is that they work incredibly hard and they can run circles around all of us (even Larry) and they are very kind when we complain about all our gringo ailments. Amazing. (And yes, those peope in front with the itty bitty backpacks are us).
The prettiest part of the hike on day three of the Inca Trail. It was on this section of trail that Mischa and I (still smoking everyone) decided that the Inca Trail is not all that difficult and that we are ready to try Kilimanjaro next year. We were either hallucinating on coca or in much better shape than the rest of our party, but the gauntlet has been officially been thrown down, and so next year, Tanzania.
Taken from the sungate... and pretty much like every other picture of MP available. But hey, it was taken with my camera. By me. Mischa and I took our pics and walked directly down through the ruins in order to climb Waynapicchu, the larger mountain there in the background. (The smaller one is Machu Picchu proper). Waynapicchu took about 40 minutes to climb, but offered stunning views of MP, which I would have been happy to photograph if I were not just the tiniest, teeniest, remotest and insignificant (nearly) bit still afraid of heights. It was ok to sit on the summit and look down, all right, but flinging my hand over with the camera didn't seem all that important to me at the time.
Ok, so I did try, but not hard enough to take a really good picture.
After that, we headed down to Aguas Calientes and waited for the train.
Yes, I'll post more about the ruins and I may put some more photos up too. Right now, however, I have to try to persuade my nephew Liam upstairs to take a nap. He learned to cast with a fly rod this morning, and I believe he also peed off the side of the boat on that excursion, so, um, he's had a splendid day so far and needs to rest, as I feel pretty sure he'll be fishing and peeing again later this evening. Poor kid has it rough.
* the Spanish spelled it Cusco, and the Inka didn't spell it at all because they spoke Quechua. The Quechuanized (no, that's not a word) spelling is Cuzco.