I couldn't care less about Machu Picchu. Should I see it anyway?

I’m headed to Peru for three months this summer to take a course and do research for my master’s degree. My class will be ending in Cuzco on July 14th, and since I told my PI that I’d be in Lima on July 18th, I have a couple days to travel around southern Peru. Most of my classmates are heading to Machu Picchu first thing, and a couple of them are going to Lake Titicaca. Since I probably only have time to do one, I’m planning on doing the Titicaca thing (hee hee… Titicaca). :slight_smile:

However, everyone I’ve talked to that has been to Machu Picchu says it’s a once-in-a-lifetime, can’t-miss place. For the life of me, though, I can’t really see the attraction. I’m not doing the Inca Trail thing, so I won’t have the experience of seeing the sun rise over the ruins, which is supposedly the most amazing part of it. I’ve seen a bajillion pictures of the place and I’ve read all about its significance, and I’m just not getting excited about it.

Could any of you travelers convince me one way or the other?

How sad…you get to go and I don’t.

If it doesn’t interest you, it doesn’t interest you. Go do something that does interest you. No big whoop.

I’m sure there’s bound to be something good on TV!

I spent a month in Peru a few years ago, and I really enjoyed Machu Picchu. We didn’t hike the Inca trail, just took the train, but I thought it was well worth it. If you go, be sure to climb up Huayna Picchu (sp?), the peak overlooking Machu Picchu. There’s stairs, so it’s steep but fairly quick.

Cuzco was also our favorite city, for what it’s worth. Beautiful and fun to walk around.

I’m not hugely interested in it either, but If I were in your position, I’d go. Maybe seeing it for real will be different than looking at pictures, and when are you going to get another chance to check it out?

I vote with Miller. (Although I probably have more interest in seeing Machu Picchu than he is expressing).

My mother (and possibly other members of our family) was kind of blah about seeing the Grand Canyon when we were intending to be in Southern Utah, only an hour or two away. We’d seen pictures, how great could it be? Well, it was awesome in person far beyond any words that the pictures could convey. She’ll never regret having been to see it.

You may be the say way.

If you are genuinely too busy, and choose to spend time at Lake Titicaca or other places that seem to appeal to you more (and you don’t see Machu Picchu), great, more power to you. But if you have a good opportunity, don’t skip it because you’ve seen pictures and they didn’t impress you. Being there is likely to be an entirely different experience.

And if you go, and you aren’t impressed, you will honestly be able to say "Yeah, I’ve been there. It didn’t do anything for me. I liked X better. " At least you will know that it isn’t to your taste.

I’d say go if the alternative is sitting around kicking at pebbles, but if the other option is something less high-profile that actually engages you, go for that instead. When I look back on travel experiences, I remember the experiences that, while maybe not significant to anyone else, were most meaningful to me, not the ones I went to check off on a must-see list.

If you were in Kansas and said you weren’t interested in seeing Machu Picchu, I’d said don’t go, but if you are already in Peru, you should take the opportunity to see it. I did one day of the Inca trail and then on to the ruins. If you get there at the end of the day it is less crowded and very cool. Also try the Guinea Pig, it’s disgusting but the portions are generous.

Do what you’re interested in. If you kick yourself 30 years from now for not going, oh well, that’s life. But I see no point in forcing yourself to go just because you think you ought to.

I never went to Peru, and in alll likehood never will, so my comment is completely uninformd, but :

If I was going to Peru, and could only see either the Titicaca or the Machu Picchu, I too would pick the Titicaca. So, I’m not sure why you should choose the one that appeals to you the less (especially if it doesn’t appeal to you at all) on the basis that most other people are more fascinated by the Machu Picchu. As a previous poster put it, it’s not like you’re going to be “sitting around kicking at pebbles” instead.

Given that the Peruvian government is pretty much letting the place get run into the ground by tourists, it may very well be a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

My husband and I did the Incan trail in 2000. I had bronchitis and was pretty miserable the whole time, but that’s another story. I would say that yes, it looks like the pictures. The actual structure isn’t really vast, like the grand canyon, so I am not sure that is a good analogy but it is much prettier and more interesting than lake Titicaca. I would recomend Machu Picchu because of the Andes, which are really worth seeing. The sense of being in a truly isolated place (with a few hundred other tourists :stuck_out_tongue: ) is kind of awesome. Lake Titicaca, when I was there, was dirty and smelled bad and just not that interesting. Maybe we missed something.

If you only can do one or the other then do the one that appeals to you.

OTOH, anecdote from the distant past. In Spain it is customary for college students to go on a “passing the Equator” trip before the class gets split by specialty. We chose Greece. I was part of a group of 12 that got rapidly nicknamed “the stone people” because we zoomed rapidly onto the nearest museum or big ruin. Our first day in Crete we went to Knossos; next day to Faestus and to the village built near the cave where St John wrote his Gospel (I don’t remember the name). Another group, the first thing they did was drive 300km (of lousy road) to go to the beach. Beach? Heck, we got beaches at home and it’s the same sea, we don’t need to go to Greece to see sand! Anyway; the last day in Crete they didn’t know what to do and decided to give up and go see Knossos like we’d been badgering them to.

They found it amazing. One of them had been in the “Letters” track in high school, so unlike everybody else (“pure sciences” or “applied sciences” tracks) he’d actually studied Art History.

:smack: :rolleyes:

No kidding, Sherlock… what, you thought “lifesize figures” meant “small enough to fit into a postcard”?
Reality is bigger than postcards. So if you have time to do both - you may find it worth your while.

Did you have sex there?


This is the one place on the planet that calls to me. So much so that if I were to believe in reincarnation, I would think I had once lived there.

Someday, I’ll get there.

From your OP it’s a tough recommendation to make, I mean if it ain’t your bag then it ain’t your bag.

Having been there though, having hiked the Inca trail for several days and camped on the edge of a steep precipice with an unobstructed twilight and morning view of the city, I honestly can’t imagine anyone visiting the place and not being moved by the experience.

You’re constantly imagining what it would have been like to have been an inhabitant. How you would have dealt with the arival of the Spanish. Wondering at the grusomeness of the sacrifices and whether you’d someday be a victim yourself. Marvelling at the stonework, some of which is so fine that there’s still entire walls where even a thin dime can find no purchase… err… make that a knifeblade. Your views of the Urabamba snaking below are breathtaking. It is one of those special, rare places on Earth where you absolutely feel a presence, a tangible magical quality in the surroundings.

Machu Picchu was man’s attempt to create heaven, and dang if they didn’t succeed.

You may have seen pictures and read about Machu Picchu, but neither come anywhere close to actually being there. The sense of awe that I had while I was there would be hard to describe. You may not want to spend a few days hiking and camping on the Inca trail, but it is beautiful and there are many sites and sights along the way.
I must say that the best glass of orange juice that I have ever had was in the town of Auga Calientes at the base of the mountain Machu Picchu is on. The hot springs there are great. You sit in pools along side the Urubamba river looking down the most incredible valley.
Of course you may not want to go, but I think it would be a huge mistake to be that close and not take advantage and go.

I think a chance to do something few other get to (even just to gloat) should not be passed up.

A few years back, I said we should drive up the highway to NYC for the heck of it, and my wife and a buddy joined me. They insisted on making a trip to the Statue of Liberty.

I’d been there, and told them it really, really was not work all the time and effort, but they insisted. Well, after waiting in line, taking the boat, waiting in line again, climbing confining, dark stairs while in a line and then passing a few scratched-up Plexiglas “windows” smaller than a human head - still standing in line - they agreed it was a dull, wasted trip.

But, they said, at least they could say they did it and were there.

I’d look at Machu Picchu the same way if I were you, but with a hell of a much better view.

Personally, if I were in better health and had the time and money I’d love to see it.

I think I’d go to see it. I was just watching a HC show about hiram bingham and the discovery of macchu picchu. is there any hard data about who really lived there-was the town self-sufficient? i gather that is was abandoned shortly after the spanish came. i suspect that it was so remote that very few people wanted to live there. and, being at high altitude, it was a pretty cold place.m The effort that went into building the place must have been spectacular-i’m guessing it was constructed over centuries. strange that the local people didn’t move in-was there any supertitions about the place? i know many of the US southwestern indian people will never enter the abandined cliff dwellings-they believe those places to be evil. So why wouldn’t a poor Andean peasant live in a nice place like macchu Picchu?