A Disappointing Drawbridge

Peru – December 2007

Once you’re done exploring the ruins of Machu Picchu, you have several options. The most popular is to climb Huayna Picchu, the dome shaped mountain behind the ruins in the classic Machu Picchu photo, but it’s not an easy climb and requires a permit, which sells out quickly. Alternatively, you can climb Machu Picchu Mountain, which doesn’t require a permit and offers the classic view with Huayna Picchu in the background. You could also hike to the Sun Gate, which is how those who hiked the Inca Trail enter the site. Or, you can do what I did, and head to the Inca Drawbridge.

Someone coming from that direction tells me it is only five to ten minutes to reach it. After twenty minutes of walking a slippery path along the edge of a steep canyon wall, I consult my Lonely Planet guide to find that it is “under a half-hour’s walk.” Another five or so minutes and I finally reach the bridge. It’s a narrow opening into the location and it’s a rather busy viewpoint, so I have to wait for a few people to exit before entering.

Lonely Planet also notes that “you’ll have to be content with photographing the bridge from a distance, as someone crossed the bridge some years ago and tragically fell to their death.” What they leave out is that, after walking thirty minutes, it’s a rather disappointing payoff. Essentially, it’s a gap in a narrow path covered by some planks of wood. I know the Inca’s were incredible engineers, but I have a sneaking suspicion that’s not the original wood. I’m also not sure where the “draw” in the drawbridge title comes from, as those planks seem rather stationary.

So that I haven’t walked all this way for nothing, I snap a few photos and then ask one of the others there if they can take my photo with the bridge in the background. I want to both prove I made the effort and provide a sense of scale for this underwhelming site.

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