Embark on the journey back in time down the Inca trail to the city of Machu Picchu. Built around 1450 and abandoned 100 years later, Machu Picchu lay forgotten until 1911 when Hiram Bingham brought attention to this treasure and it was soon thereafter declared a world heritage site. It recently received a title change to be included as one of the New 7 Wonders of the world. The Machu Picchu ruins are 7970ft above sea level on a ridge in the Umbra Valley in Peru, meaning that altitude sickness can be problematic for some. The buildings are constructed in dry stone wall, and are created so flawlessly that in some places the stones are so well constructed that not even a knife can pass through the crevices. Current perspectives on history and prevalence of Machu Picchu indicate that it was a country resort for elite Incans, with no more then 700 people living their at one time.
The Tapati Festival of Easter Island is an experience that peers into a remote culture with traditions such as chanting, dancing, parades, customary body decoration, and spear fishing competitions, all originating from a civilization that was one of the youngest inhabited territories on earth. Easter Island also known as Rapa Nui, is a Polynesian island that lies off the coast of Chile, and is one of the worlds most isolated populated islands on earth. Theory has it, that at its peak, the Rapanui people found themselves trapped in an environment that was unable to sustain their population and a rapid crash in their civilization followed.
There are several sites on Easter Island to check out, one of the most popular is Rano Raraku which is at the base of the volcanic crater. What many people don’t know about these Moai statues is that this was not their intended resting place. Rather they were abandoned scattered about before being moved to traditional platforms called “ahu” where they would be placed to over look ceremonial areas and villages, with their backs to the sea. Another popular site is Ahu Akivi, which unlike other sites is found inland and features statues with red scoria headdress’s known as Pukao, carved from red lava rock.
Time ceases to move at Angkor Wat as you step out of modern civilization into an early 12th-century temple complex in the central Cambodian jungle. In fact, the jungle is actually growing in the Angkor Wat Temples—literally! Tree roots and branches are growing through, on top and inside the temples, making for a scene of culture and nature intertwined.
An Angkor Wat tour by tuk tuk allows you swift access to other temples, bringing you deeper into ageless obscurity. Many visitors begin their day at Angkor Thom crossing over a primitive bridge and under an impressive carved entry gate. Spanning over 9 km² Angkor Thom launches visitors off to its several temples and ruins with the Bayon Temple. The persistent carvings of King Jayavarman VII during meditation make the Bayon Temple feel almost familiar. With over 200 faces placed on top of all the temple’s towers in every direction, they were believed to ward off evil. Other interesting sites within Angkor Thom are the lines of elephants along the the Terrace of Elephants, as well as the Baphoun Temple.
Be sure to have your Angkor guide take you to Ta Prohm, as it has self-evidently emerged as one of Angkor’s best temples to visit. Ta Prohm’s popularity is drawn from is untouched nature. Unlike other temples in and around Angkor Siem Reap, at Ta Prohm has been infiltrated by the jungle not only within, but on top or and around it. It’s rugged nature makes you feel like a proper explorer, no matter how many others have gone before.
Step back into a time of lost cities and mystical pasts when you visit Petra. This surreal city is housed in southwestern Jordan, in a valley amongst mountains that run from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Discovered in 1812 by a Swiss traveler, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, Petra was later declared a World Heritage site in 1985. The history of Petra is somewhat ill-defined, passed from its original creators 6th century Nabataean Arabs , down through to Romans and later to Crusaders, it was eventually left to locals.
Some of the most remarkable achievements in human history stand in preservation on the Plateau of Giza, by Cairo in Egypt. The Great Pyramids of Egypt, built over 4,500 years ago, continues to astound the amazement of all who visit. The Pyramids of Giza are the most famous of ancient Egyptian monuments. This series of necropolises served the elite Royal Egyptians during the 4th Dynasty, approximately late 3rd millennium BCE.
How the Egyptians actually built the Pyramids with large stone blocks, and managed the extensive labour force to build them, is still largely unknown today. It’s widely believed that a majority of this labour force came from the farming community after the Nile River had flooded, rendering the farmland completely underwater. Many noted archeologists and engineers have offered some theories on this matter through demonstrating how heavy blocks of stone can be maneuvered and transported into place with special ramps and sledges.
Not all of the pyramids in Egypt have survived the years in a preserved state. There are just over a hundred pyramids known to still be recognizable as such in Egypt. Although the main understanding of the pyramid is as a mausoleum for deceased kings and queens of the time, they are also understood to be culturally significant to ancient Egyptian belief as stairways into heaven.