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Life on the Edge: The Floating Stairs of Peru

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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-02-10 03:31 PM
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Life on the Edge: The Floating Stairs of Peru
Life on the Edge: The Floating Stairs of Peru

Photo: pasto911
The Incas, masterful builders and architects, were fascinated by stairs: their temples looked like giant staircases, farming was done through an elaborate terrace system, they were masters at climbing the steep and narrow Inca trail and invented the floating stairs. Imagine a steep wall with just a few slabs sticking out, stair-like, no handrail of course. Would you trust them, let alone brave them swift and nimbly like the Incas, given the long fall down?

The famous floating Inca stairs:

Photo: via travelpod
For many, their highlight of a trip to Peru and Machu Picchu in particular is the steep climb up Huayna Picchu, the mountain that overlooks the Lost City
of the Incas. Though the climb is steep and often dangerous, the views are worth it: The peak is about 2,720 m (8,920 ft) above sea level and 360 m (1,180 ft) higher than Machu Picchu
. The Urubamba River that bends around it adds to the scenic quality.

Machu Picchu with Huayna Picchu in the background:

Photo: Christophe Meneboeuf
The Sacred Valley, not far from Machu Picchu, has its fair share of floating steps:

Photo: via travelpod
During Inca times, the high priest and his helpers who lived on Huayna Picchu would walk down the steep trail to Machu Picchu before sunrise to signal the coming of the new day. Today, the walk is restricted to 400 visitors per day to avoid crowding on the narrow trail and the peak. For an average fit person, the ascent takes about one hour and includes a steep rock staircase throughout and a narrow tunnel that needs to be braved on all fours towards the end. Then its down again. Heres one description:

The descent down to the great cave has a few ladders involved including one that's at the bottom of a very narrow cliffside staircase that may be overly frightening for some people. The great cave is quite a bit lower in altitude than the entrance to the Huayna Picchu path so after reaching the great cave, there is another long, tiring ascent.

Scenic yet scary:
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bluedigger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-07-10 06:24 PM
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1. Very cool - and scary!
The first photo is crazy, but maybe it is the perspective. I wouldn't be hanging out posing. :scared:
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-10-10 09:10 PM
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2. Can't imagine wanting to stand there without a rope to hang on to, and not even then.
It's hard to imagine an entire community living at that unbelievable height. I'll bet they didn't get a lot of company dropping by, claiming they just happened to be in the neighborhood.
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