I had to think a little for this challenge but then I remembered this photo from Machu Picchu. The photo is taken from the trail on the way to the Sun Gate which is the portal along the Inca Trail leading down into the ruins of the ancient city which you can see in the distance in the center of the photo. The “zigzag” comes in with the unpaved bus trail (in the lower center of the photo) which leads to Machu Picchu from the small town of Aquas Calientes in the valley below.
Its not really a monument in the normal sense but Machu Picchu is definitely an incredible testament to the ancient Incan civilization. It is awe inspiring in its scope as well as its surroundings. It was definitely a privilege to be there. This is a photo from one of the upper slopes of the ruins showing the thatched hut that looks over the entire complex.
A friend of mine recently got back from a trip to South America and to Machu Picchu. That got my looking at some of my earliest photos I took there after I switched to using a DSLR instead of a point and shot. It also got me looking at how I processed (or didn’t process) some of those photos and I redid a few just for kicks. This is a photo of one of the shacks just inside the entrance to Machu Picchu – a popular place to meet up with others in your group. We were up there on a cloudy/rainy morning and I liked the view of the shack as you looked back out into the mountain valleys with only the peaks visible through the clouds. Its nice to go back every now and then to revisit those great memories – and rediscover some decent photos.
If a PATH well taken is measured by its continued use over time, or by the traffic that has gone that way, then this is truly a prodigious path. The photo actually shows two paths: The one along the lefthand side of the photo, built upon the terraced hillside, is the final portion of the Inca Trail leading from “the Sun Gate” down into Machu Picchu (which can be seen almost in the center of the photo). Who can guess at the numbers of people (ancient and recent) who have travelled the path to this magical place?
The second one is the serpentine path coming up from the small town of Aguas Caliente to Machu Picchu. This is the current bus path that most tourists take to the monument. It is an exciting ride, especially in bad weather, and it literally keeps you on the edge of your seat. Either path leads to the mysterious and mystical city. Either one is well worth taking if you get the chance…..
I can’t believe I’ve made numerous posts from our South America trip and not done one on the iconic animals of the Andes – the Llamas, the Alpacas, and the lesser known Vicuna! It didn’t take long to meet a few of these guys once we arrived in Cusco – there were several of them being paraded around town for us tourists. While I took the obligatory pics, hopefully the ones in this post are more spontaneous (if only a little) than those “canned” shots. The above is as close as I came to a self portrait on this trip – if you look closely, there I am – literally sticky a camera in this poor Llama’s eye….actually I was a few yards away and using a telephoto – but it still may be the only surviving photo of me from South America.
The next one is a close up of a Vicuna – a much smaller animal than the llama and owner of the “highest quality natural fiber” on earth. I’m sure you will agree that these amazingly attractive animals not only dress well but are incredibly cute in their own right.
The last photos are ones that have been taken a million times – but I couldn’t figure out how NOT to take them. The first is a shot of the Llamas at Machu Picchu asserting their “right of way” with the tourists. It was always a delightful feeling having to back off for one of these guys coming up the stairs.
The third day we were at Machu Picchu started with a misty rain engulfing the mysterious city. While it didn’t offer the splendid vistas that the ruins and mountains normally present, it created a somber and dramatic feel to the place that we were privileged to experience. This first image here is one of my favorite from our 3 days. It is taken looking back at one of the first structures you encounter as you enter the site. The clouds on the mountains revealed, for just a moment, symmetrical “notches” in the surrounding hills. That image, plus the huddled visitors in the shack, created a scene I hadn’t seen in other photographs of the area and one that appealed to me in its simplicity and tone.
A second thing that struck me as I walked around in the drizzle was that the details of both the ruins and the people were obscurred just enough to render “ghosts” of images making it even easier to imagine the spirits of the ancient culture that still inhabit this shrine….
Lastly, it was impossible not to notice the magical transformation of the ruins and their surrounding vegetation by the weather. Every bush, flower, or weed was covered by the mist yielding another opportunity to marvel at the artistry that is nature.
This is from a few weeks ago during our trip to South America. We got up the mountain early to watch the ruins emerge. It is an incredible experience and one we would recommend to all.