Must-See Monday: Machu Picchu, Peru

  I don't remember much about my 8th grade Spanish class, but I do have a distinct memory of my first day. I remember being upset that my assigned seat was across the room from my best friend. However, this disappointment was disrupted when I found myself beside a poster of what seemed to be a mystical land of peaks, valleys, and the deepest green one could imagine. I was sure this place didn't really exist, but wanted to be sure so I interrupted Senora Mendoza's role taking and asked what this picture was. "Machu Picchu. It's in Peru." Machu Picchu. It has never left my mind. I still have yet to visit this South American Never Never Land, but it is on the top of my must-see list. Ten Facts about Machu Picchu 1. Machu Picchu is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. 2. The ancient city rests 7,000 feet above sea level in between the Andean Mountains and above the Urabamba Valley. 3. The ancient Incan city was discovered in 1911 and deemed the "Lost Cities." 4. 80% of the skeletal remains found within Machu Picchu's Royal Tomb were women. 5. Like all Incan villages, there must be a sacred stone dedicated to the site before it's built. Machu Picchu's Sacred Rock has a sign-in at the Gatekeeper's shack for hikers to prove their one-hour trek to the Huayna Picchu (little peak). 6. The Inca's precision with cutting and placing rocks is the sole reason their architecture has withstood earthquakes and lasted centuries. 7. The Funerary Rock Hut is the best vantage point for views of Machu Picchu and parts of the Inca Trail. 8. Every day, llamas and alpacas enter Machu Picchu to graze on its grass and keep it maintained. 9. Machu Picchu's Intiwatana, or "hitching post of the sun," is the only religious rock pillar of its kind that was not destroyed by the Spanish conquerers. 10. Machu Picchu is home to over 420 bird species - one of the largest, most diverse in the world. Okay, I'm off to REI to get some new hiking gear! Who's coming? -Lauren Want more Machu Picchu facts? Go here.