Some say it is sacred. Some marvel at the clever architecture crafted in harmony with nature. Some fall head over heels in love with its stunning location up and away in the Andes. None are left unsatiated. Touted as the Lost City of the Incas, the enigmatic Machu Picchu, feels like a journey to the other side of the world. Abandoned by its Incan creators, deserted for over 400 years under the cover of bushes and trees, and rediscovered in 1911, Machu Picchu is a lost city no more, attracting droves of tourists as if to make up for lost time.
Certain incidents are beyond human rationalization. Machu Picchu had also been home to accidents and mysteries that piqued the public fancy and accidents that left them all flabbergasted ever since its discovery in 1911. Events so extreme and incredibly implausible that you begin to doubt the records. From unexplained to missing cases, murders to creepy paranormal activities, given below is a list of some of the most shocking incidents in Machu Picchu that have left the world speechless.
15. Fatal Selfie
Machu Picchu abounds with tales of foolish and fatal selfies, the recent one being of a German tourist, Oliver Park. He was enjoying a vacation in his dream destination, when he had a sudden urge to click a mid-air leap photo in the stunning backdrop of mountains, staircases, ridges and terraces. Mr. Park might not have even imagined such a dramatic end to his life. He slipped and fell as he posed, probably trying to balance the equipment as well as himself. Apparently he had requested a couple of other tourists to click him. Alarmed at his foolhardy attempt to pull off this stunt near the edge, they refused. Finally one man complied and this accident happened. No doubt, it would have been a spectacular image to flaunt. He might have bagged thousands of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ on social media. He would have been regarded as a hero who fearlessly put himself on the brink of death for that daring photograph. Alas for these envy-evoking plans, he was pushed over the edge by Machu Picchu (literally).
14. Catchpole’s Narrow Escape From Death
Machu Picchu has also been known to be merciful, exacerbated by the story of an astonishing escape right from the clutches of death. Barbara Catchpole, aged 60 and co-owner of the global favourite Elegant Resorts, escaped miraculously with minor bruises and scratches after a 640 feet fall down a mountain, past Winay Wayna. An exceedingly precarious Inca ruin, Winay Wayna is well-known for its captivating vistas. The name can be roughly translated as ‘Eternal Youth’ or ‘Growing Young’. Barbara certainly proved to be one of those ‘forever young at heart’. A team of 18 rescue workers had to hack away through dense rainforest in pitch-black darkness for over two hours to reach her and carry her to safety. Guess, Winay Wayna, had chosen to reward her unwavering iron will to survive.
13. Death Via Zip Line
Sometimes death can be an oblivious clown. It delights in making an appearance at times most inappropriate and unexpected, as if to dare us mere mortals to question its decisions and powers. When one looks death in the face, and they attempt to escape it, some are successful and some are not. However, death always has the last laugh. How would you react when you hear of a man, who has faced near-death situations and escaped them narrowly and admirably, only to meet his end in an accident? A young Israeli tourist named Guetta, who was released from military service, plunged to a heartbreaking demise in a zip line mishap in the Andes Mountain. Isn’t it bizarre that he walked from a seemingly deathtrap to a breezy adventure, where death itself was lying in wait? One thing is clear. Destiny doesn’t allow anyone or anything to stand in its way.
12. Why Streaking Is Outlawed
It’s not all death tolls and gory at the tantalizing Inca trails. There is something about the exquisite charm and mysticism about this place that brings out the wildness in you. Can you believe that someone actually set off the trend of ‘baring it all’ in Machu Picchu? We are talking about a country as conservative as Peru here. The lost city might have survived centuries of invasions, natural disasters and travellers. But this is something that has shocked and outraged Peru.
Sometime in 2013, a couple suddenly got it into their heads to streak across fields and stairs. Though they were detained and images were deleted by the police, the video already went viral on social media. And the rest, as they say, is history. The incident inspired a bit too many. It did gain them more than two-minute fame and many more followed in their footsteps. Obviously the locals were far from amused. And the government had to come down hard on such miscreants, putting a stop to this trend. They also issued warning notices, banning nude show, citing it disrespectful to the local culture and disturbing to other tourists. The Cusco Regional Director of Culture, Ricardo Ruiz Caro, has declared a sharp rise in scrutiny to put a stop to such unfortunate incidents that blemish their cultural heritage.
11. Mysterious Death Of A Banker
When an English banker, Colin Murphy’s corpse was found near the river and not far from the Inca trail, it seemed pretty conclusive that he like many others before him stumbled to the river during the trek and drowned; until it was revealed in post-mortem report that he was hacked brutally on the head. The accident supposedly happened when Mr. Murphy went on a walk by himself. But his travel buddy, who he had known for years, swore that Murphy would have never gone anywhere on his own like that. Now who had planned a homicide so elaborate in a place as historic and exquisite with cloud forests and gushing waters on the side? And why? Was it a heat of the moment defense or was it planned during the trip? Did the murderer know the victim beforehand? Or did something happen between them during the trek? Too many unanswered questions! It remains an unsolved mystery to date.
10. Yet Another Fatal Selfie
It is especially sad when a young life is snatched away unexpectedly that too while holidaying. Kim Jongyeob was an avid traveller, who lost his life while trekking in Machu Picchu at the age of 28. He was standing precariously on the edge of the imposing Gocta falls, trying to shoot a selfie. Despite numerous past incidents and warnings, some thrill-seekers simply cannot resist spicing it up a little. Sad! He slipped on a wet rock and fell 1600 feet down. Even though professional rescue teams had set to work immediately, it was too much to hope that he would survive the fall. They managed to recover his body though. It was cremated and sent back to his hometown.
9. Lightning Nearly Killed Tourists
Lightning and thunderstorms are part and parcel of Machu Picchu shocks. Maria Kirina Mendez Hernandez and the local guide, Salas, who accompanied her suffered great injuries after they were struck by a bolt of lightning while trekking. Maria crashed face first into a wall with such force that she broke her front teeth. Salas was tossed into the air and the fall resulted in some heavy bruising. The rescue team representative said that it was not common for victims to survive Machu Picchu’s crazy thunderstorms. Incidentally, a Russian tourist got stuck by a lightning a few years ago and was immediately killed. But what got people’s attention was this incident happened four days after the Hollywood star, Demi Moore visited the same spot. Talk about priorities!
8. Mudslide Leaves Thousands Stranded
Sometimes Machu Picchu gives its visitors a double dose of adventure and it’s not always pleasant. A perilous mudslide in 2010 forced the authorities to seal the Inca trail, trapping thousands of tourists in nearby villages. Of course not all of them could be catered to as per their whims and fancies. In short, it was total mayhem. Food, shelter and water were scarce until the Government could repair roads, railway tracks wiped out by mudslides and the furious Urubamba River. A classic ‘castaway’ experience in large groups! Stranded in the town with less than 3500 inhabitants, they certainly strained the availability of resources there. Some had to eat from shared containers, sleep in the open and were totally pissed about it. How they must have cursed the futility of humungous bank balance at the time! It took days for the authorities to get them out of there.
7. When Vengeance Lives Beyond Death
When a country’s government closes off certain places due to paranormal activities, it is something to ponder about, right? A few miles from Cusco’s celebrated Plaza de Armas stands a forsaken three-storey dwelling with a dark tale associated with it. The story goes that the deluded and jealous lord of the house beat his lover to death, some 70 years ago. Ever since, the house was haunted by this tormented spirit. A large family later occupied it. But they were found dead one morning with no reason or explanation (like the Riddles’ deaths in the Harry Potter series). There was absolutely no mark on any of them. The autopsy report held nothing but an incredulous tone. What caused all of them to drop dead in identical fashion? It remains an unsolved mystery just as the spine-chilling wails and noises emanating from the house.
6. It’s Dreadfully Creepy Inside
Natives are scared to even go near this infamously haunted house on Saphi Street in Cusco, let alone enter it. Those daring souls who have managed to get inside were unable to stay for long because something in there caused extreme disquiet and irrational fear in their hearts. A particularly dark incident occurred here in 2013. A Chile native, Ramon Castillo, has allegedly conducted a ritual of human sacrifice of his three year old from his house. This was because according to him, the child manifested dangerous Antichrist traits. When police probed into this, following a missing report by the neighbors, he fled from his native country to Peru and took refuge in this house. He reportedly took his life, probably getting tangled in the web of madness and evil aura in the house. Locals believe the dark spirit of the house itself must have driven him to desperation and suicide as a punishment for his ghastly sins.
5. Too Many Ghost Sightings To Ignore
The ancient Gran Hotel Bolivar certainly has some renowned names in its guestlist. An edifice as grand as it comes, it has achieved some notoriety as well, thanks to a generous number of supernatural residents who amuse themselves by scaring the staff and boarders witless. Apparently a white-cloaked figure had chased a woman up and down the lodge in the middle of a night once. Another story that gets retold to this day is about this lady, who worked here, beaten to death by her husband in the most grisly manner and turned into a bloodthirsty spirit. Her thirst for revenge and antics she used to get up to are legendary. Indeed, this hotel has witnessed one too many freak accidental deaths, murders and suicides. And there have been too many eyewitness and experiential accounts for it to be scoffed off completely.
4. The Burial Chamber Curse
Tales of deadly curses were commonplace with ancient civilizations and their immeasurable wealth. And the Inca were no exception. When David Crespy, a French tourist, stumbled across a veiled door at the end of a building in Machu Picchu voyage, he never envisaged that his testimony would intrigue the explorer, Thierry Jamin and lead to a series of shocking discoveries. This door was oddly similar to tombs discovered by Mr. Jamin before. The secret space cleverly veiled behind the walls, were constructed in the 15th century. There are plenty of reasons and proofs to deduce that it probably houses the burial chamber of Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, the formidable Inca leader for whom Machu Picchu was originally built and abandoned. It is also believed to house incredible treasures worthy of fantasies in Blyton books, but with layers of curses on it. Sadly, the Peruvian government put a stop to the excavation before any major breakthrough could be made.
3. The UFO Sightings Explained
When one spots something bizarre suddenly appearing in the sky, his thoughts naturally stray towards extraterrestrials and spaceships; probably due to the prospect of name and fame associated with such unique experiences. There have been a slew of UFO sightings reported in Machu Picchu in 2011 and people were beyond thrilled. But much to everyone’s shock, it turned out to be just high-flying balloons from Google’s Project Loon, a routing system that facilitates internet access to rural populace. An ultra-fast connection is transferred from the plains to a balloon, which then acts as the center of a network that can reach far-flung areas. Needless to say, the revelation caused quite a stir and even more disappointment. On a positive note, this project is making good progress and will soon become a reality for its targeted users.
2. Machu Picchu Was Only For Virgins
Temple of the Moon is gloomy and baffling filled with grottos, niches and inscrutable porticos, with some marvelous masonry, entailing engraved thrones and figurines. Archeologists have unearthed hundreds of bodies preserved in this site, seven feet underground. They found no less than 33 bodies near this shrine alone and judging by existing proof, it is clear that all of them were non-virgins (including a pregnant woman or two). This shocking discovery explains how they ensured only ‘Virgins of the Sun’ are accepted and allowed to survive in Incan Civilization. How they determined whether the victims were virgins or not is best left to imagination.
1. Blind Man Conquers Inca Trail
Machu Picchu has also been witness to indomitable human spirit and true grit. A Colorado native, Dan Berlin, completed the entire Inca Hike in record time of 13 hours. It is hazardous enough for those who are not visually impaired. And he cannot see. Isn’t it amazing? Mr. Berlin’s Machu Picchu adventure will indeed inspire countless people who consider themselves impaired and weak. Dan was a victim of a rare genetic condition called as cone-rod dystrophy in which one gradually loses eyesight. He was not this happy-go-lucky traveller since always. He battled depression that stemmed from this condition for years. Eventually he decided enough was enough and started training as a marathoner. He is involved in numerous philanthropic activities and travels a lot, refusing to put a limit or expiry date to his dreams. Seeing is experiencing, he says. Let’s hope his life is a message for everyone who has fallen to claim life back with unrivaled gusto.