Yes, the ruins at Machu Picchu are probably the premier tourist attraction in all of South America, followed by Iguazu Falls between Argentina and Brazil.
There were only two problems with my visit there on September 25:
- It was raining
- I could only see apart of the ruins because I was terrible of the irregular stone steps (without guard rails) that connected the different levels, of which there were many. Also, because of the rain, they were slippery.
See the picture below for a view of some of the steps.
I could see myself taking a step the wrong way and tumbling down a couple thousand feet into the Valley of the Urubamba. So excuse me if I was petrified for much of the three hours I spent at the ruins.
In a way, I anticipated the possibility that Machu Picchu was not going to be the be-all and end-all of my trip: There was so much else going on, not only with regard to the ancient Incas, but to the numerous indigenous cultures (Quechua, Aymara, and Collagua, among others) and the spectacular churches—about which more anon. I made the reservation for the ruins in June, not knowing what the weather would be like.
Did I like Machu Picchu? For sure! It was in a phenomenal setting, with spectacular views along two ranges of the Andes. Was it the highlight of my vacation? By no means. In the weeks to come, you will understand why.