Land of the Incas
For three weeks we traveled in the footsteps of the Incas. For the first eight days we walked from the Incan "sister site" Choquequirao on to Machu Picchu itself, following the Vilcabamba range up its high passes and down into the shadows of its valleys. We saw few creatures, save our arriero and his two beasts of burden. We climbed, slowly, to our highest altitude to date - 14,800ft, our arriero skipping gaily ahead of us. Frequently Anjuli was terrified of falling off the world (or our 1ft wide path). Yet we walked - well, sometimes Anjuli crawled and cried - marveling at those courageous, innovative Incans and the f*ckers who massacred them.
There is no masonry that can challenge that of the Incan empire. From the colossal rocks that fit just so to the thousands of miles of stone roads, Incans were masters of their craft.
Yet what really impressed us was not Machu Picchu or the brilliance of the Incan agricultural system or how much Incans accomplished without a writing system. It wasn’t textiles or gold or even how fantastically they were slain by swords and disease. For us, it was how they expanded and yet how they lived - not on top of and in spite of - but within their surroundings. Their deep respect of the natural world was profound. That's the real wonder and ultimately our real loss.
Go now if you can. These paths are crumbling under the machinery of progress. Our favorite sites were Moray (pictured here), Ollantaytambo, and Pisac.