Worldly Wonders: Machu Picchu

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I still can’t believe I had the opportunity to visit one of the world wonders last year. Trekking to Machu Picchu was an experience I will carry in my heart for the rest of my life, and I encourage anyone who is interested in going here to visit.

Most people know Machu Picchu as one of the wonders of the world, but many people (my former self included) are not aware of what Machu Picchu exactly is. Is it an ancient fortress? A place of worship? There are a lot of mysteries surrounding it. While its exact purpose is unknown, I want to share with you what I learned about Machu Picchu’s origin during my visit there.

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The term “Machu Picchu” literally means “Old Peak” and refers to the mountain where these Incan ruins are built – it is not the name of the ruins themselves. The actual name of the ruins has been lost to history. The Incas built Machu Picchu around 1450 and for a long time it remained completely hidden from the rest of the world.

We do know that one of the reasons it was built was as a place for Incan leaders to go twice a year (during the summer and winter solstice) to connect with their ancestors. It is said that the Inca Trail was built intentionally high up in the mountains so the leaders could be close to the Gods during their pilgrimage. Once they arrived, they would drink Ayahuasca (a hallucinogen) and “speak” with their ancestors. Many of the structures we see today also align with astrological features in the night sky which leads many to believe it may have been used to study astrology.

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Machu Picchu was abandoned about 100 years after it was built when the Spaniards officially conquered the Incan people. However, the Incas were able to keep Machu Picchu hidden from them which is why it remained undiscovered for so many years . In 1911, an American named Hiram Bingham rediscovered Machu Picchu by accident. He was led to the ruins by a local boy from a nearby village. Guides on the Inca Trail today endearingly refer to him as the first “guide” to Machu Picchu.  

Since 1911, Machu Picchu has been restored and cleared of the brush that had overtaken many of the structures. Interestingly, much of Machu Picchu is covered by brush today and is slowly being excavated.

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Machu Picchu is rumored to have a strong, otherworldly energy. And while I’m not sure if that is entirely true, I felt things along the Inca Trail I have never felt before. Hiking to this mysterious wonder made me feel stronger and more connected to nature. It helped me realize how insignificant material belongings are (when I got home I donated half the clothes in my closet!) It was definitely a spiritual, emotional and physical journey for me. So whatever the “Truth” behind Machu Picchu is, I know it helped change a small part of me.

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If you are interested in learning more about what it is like to complete this trek, you can read my post about it here. Below is a video of scenes from my trek

Would you ever want to visit Machu Picchu?

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Erin founded the Wonderlost Travel blog in February of 2015 after her experience of studying abroad in Europe. Erin has had the opportunity to travel throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and parts of South America and Asia. She enjoys writing about and photographing her travel experiences in order to inspire others to get out and follow their travel dreams. She has collaborated with tourism departments, restaurants, and other travel bloggers to share reviews and travel advice with readers in over 100 countries. Erin has a passion for traveling the world to experience other cultures and explore nature!

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