Typical Cusco street

Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage site, one of the seven ancient world wonders, and an architectural marvel.

Before the advancement of modern-day technology, an ancient civilization was able to build a massive summer palace for their Inka (king) in the peaks of the Peruvian Andes. Even though Machu Picchu has become overthrown by tourists in the last few decades, it is still a must-see place!

To say building Machu Picchu is an incredible feat would be an understatement. Not only did they build this massive stone palace, they also hand-cut every single stone in it. Then they carried these stones up hundreds of meters in steep, harsh terrain.

After they got all the building materials together, the Inca Quechua people hand-carved every individual stone together to fit together perfectly. You cannot even fit a credit card between most of them.

Walking around this site was hard to grasp how far ahead the Quechua people were of their time. During this modern day, we have sent men to the moon and are on the cusp of even further space exploration.

After further consideration, I am convinced that if the Inca Quechuan people had the modern materials that we have now back then, they would likely have made it to Mars already.

The story of how the Quechuan people came together is just as admirable.

Before the Inca Empire, there were several smaller tribes scattered across the Andean mountains. There were often warring tribes that fought for land or property.

A particular docile but incredibly innovative tribe figured out that eventually, they would be the victims of hostility. The leaders of this brainy tribe set out to make a pact with one of the most violent tribes in the area.

Somehow, they were successful and eventually became a powerhouse. The “scientists” were left alone to their studies and the war faction set out to conquer every other tribe around. This is how the Inca Quechua people became a thriving metropolis.

They set up Cusco as their capital. Then they eventually built Machu Picchu as a summer temple to be closer to their sun god. The Quechua Inca (King) would stay in Machu Picchu during the summer to oversee rituals. The government employed “runners” to carry messages back and forth from Cusco to Machu Picchu every day.

Eventually, the civilization collapsed and left behind Machu Picchu after colonial Spaniards started ransacking Cusco.

Quechuan culture is alive and well in Cusco. Their descendants are still the hard-working Andean people that they once were. The tourism industry is carried on their shoulders. Literally.

Today the Quechua Incan people make money running businesses in Cusco, selling trinkets to strangers, and carrying massive backpacks up and down the Inka Trail. It always impresses me seeing such small people carrying twice their weight up steep mountainsides.

This is outside the train station in Agua Calientes. It is the bordering town that services anyone hoping to go to Machu Picchu. ⠀ ______⠀ Not a lot of people know that you have to take a train to this place, stay a night, then go to Machu Picchu. There is not a lot going on in this small tourist town so do not stay more than one or two nights. ⠀ _______⠀ Have you ever been to this little town? Tag me in them @adventurous_beard or hashtag #adventurousbeard ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ @visitperu @peru @peruhop ⠀ . ⠀ . ⠀ . ⠀ #peru #aguascalientes #passionpassport #mountains #backpacking #backpackers #slcphotographer #globetrotter #digitalnomad #sonyalpha #travel #travelphotography #bucketlist #instatravel #travelgram #travelawesome #bestintravel #trainstation #wanderlust #mustvisit #sonya6000 #lifewelltraveled #instagood #photooftheday #VisitPeru #Perú #natgeo #nationalgeographic #travelperu

A post shared by Adventurous Beard (@adventurous_beard) on

I wanted my readers to have a pretense of the Quechuan culture before I wrote about my time I spent in Aguas Calientes.

I enjoyed my time in this tourist town as much as any other tourist town. To be able to give you guys some context of Peruvian Quechuans, you needed to know about their past.

If you are planning on hiking in Aguas Calientes, make sure you get travel insurance. There are so many people that get altitude sickness, food poisoning, or a multitude of other sicknesses from the varying temperatures in this climate.

Check out my page on why you should get travel insurance. It contains a lot of information about why it is so important to get it.

Fun fact: the Peruvian highland people are NOT called “Incans”. They were a group of Quechua people that dominated Peru and were ruled by an Inca, which translates to “King”. This is why western culture calls them “Incans” instead of Quechua.

My next post about South America will shed some light on how to get to Machu Picchu. I will also talk about what to do when you get there! Until then, here is my adventure through Peru up until now:

  1. Lima
  2. Ballestas Islas
  3. Arequipa
  4. Sand Dunes of Huacachina
  5. Cusco

Also, here is a sneak peek of the train ride to Aguas Calientes!