For Carter Boyle, Duke University graduate, Machu Picchu remains one of his favorite places in the world. Its history, its people, and religious beliefs are enough to command respect from every single person that sets foot on its sacred paths.

This ancient citadel that sits atop a hill above the Sacred Valley of the Andes Mountains was built by the Incans in the 15th century for, as many believe, Inca Emperor Pachacuti. About a century later, the citadel was abandoned. Discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, an American historian, Machu Picchu today remains one of the most sacred ruins on the planet, visited by tourists every year.

Carter Boyle, Duke alumnus, shares the ancient city’s features that to him, highlight its magnificence.

Magnificence of Machu Picchu

1. The Temple of the Sun

The Temple of the Sun is a semi-circular structure that partially surrounds a large boulder. Its windows offer visitors a magnificent view of the Sacred Valley below. But what’s even more magnificent and fascinating about it is that during the summer solstice, the sun’s rays pass through the temple window and hits the boulder at just the right spot and angle to connect it to the tip of the mountain nearest it. This alignment is truly a sight to behold, Carter Boyle, Duke University graduate shares enthusiastically.

2. The alpaca

Believe it or not, people don’t only come for the sacred ruins of Machu Picchu; they also come for the alpacas. These adorable wooly creatures look like smaller versions of the llama, and they live on the highlands that surround Machu Picchu. It is believed that the Incans used the alpaca’s wool for their clothing. Apart from the alpaca, says Carter Boyle, Duke alum, the highlands surrounding the citadel are also home to more than 400 bird species, which is why it’s also a top destination for birdwatchers.

3. Funerary Rock Hut

Considered one of the best features of Machu Picchu photo-wise, the Funerary Rock Hut served as a mummification place for Incan nobility. If you happen to visit the place by day’s end, you’d be presented with a scene that will surely make your visit even more memorable and unique: the sight of alpacas and llamas entering the citadel from nearby terraces to graze on the grass.

4. The Inca Trail

The Inca Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails in the world. This 45 km. trail starts at the Sacred Valley – Urubamba River and ends at the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. Carter Boyle says that the hike generally takes about three to five days so it’s best to get yourself physically and mentally prepared prior to your trip.

These are but a few of Carter’s favorite things about Machu Picchu. He admits that there’s more to the sacred ruins than what he’s shared here and he actually feels he didn’t do it justice. Have you been to Machu Picchu? What was it like for you? Please do share! Carter would love to hear about your visit. Please feel free to get in touch with him through this page.

For more posts from Carter Boyle, from Duke University to college sports (especially March Madness) and more, stay tuned to this site.

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