Soundscape: Machu Picchu

Perched high above Machu Picchu, on a terrace overlooking the ancient city, I sat and listened to the sounds of the day. The time was around 2:30 PM, and the sun was shining bright across a cloudless sky. The surrounding mountains looked as mighty as ever, towering high on the horizon. Each seemed to have its own personality and story. I envisioned the Incans that transcended the Andes mountains and created a secure society at the gateway between the desert and the jungle of the amazon.


Before I really focused on the soundscape, I took some time to appreciate the spectacular view. Growing up I never thought I would have the chance to visit Machu Picchu, and there I was sitting next to grazing llamas looking out over the cloud city itself. Talk about breathtaking. I feel truly blessed to have had such a wonderful experience in Peru, but going to this special place took it to the next level.

In the first 15 seconds of my soundscape a fly went by. The only fly I had seen or heard the whole time in Peru strangely enough. It reminded me of a book I loved as a child that is called, you guessed it, A Fly Went By. I highly recommend it.The sound of the Perurail train sighed heavily and the siren song echoed about the mountains. This sound served as a reminder of why the Machu Picchu tourism town of Aguascalientes and the huge daily visitation to the site are both made possible. The train is the only was to get to Machu Picchu other than walking, so I saw the abrasive train horn as a blessing, for I wouldn’t be sitting atop the ancient city without that connection.

I listened on and the most powerful sound besides the train was the grazing of four llamas within 20 feet of my location. This was my favorite sound because they are such beautiful creatures and so friendly because they are always around people. Listening to them graze was the most serene and peaceful experience. Their presence made me happy and I was glad they didn’t mind to dearly that I was sitting on a prime patch of grass.

Around the bend I would hear the river getting narrower and louder, hitting against more boulders and moving swifter through the limited space. I heard the hydroelectric dam when we were walking to the Incan bridge, but I couldn’t quite hear it where I was sitting. Nonetheless I knew it was there and I knew that it was there solely because of the river’s immense power in that stretch of water.

Another thing I heard that was very consistent was the sound of footsteps trading a stone path above the terrace I was sitting on. The different languages I heard being spoken was amazing. I heard English (Australians, New zealanders British and Americans mainly), Spanish, German, Danish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and others I wasn’t so sure of. The power of Machu Picchu to draw so many people in was truly amazing.

This soundscape was so great because of the stunning landscape and breathtaking views. The sounds I heard were very real, and they all had a great effect of my day because they led me to truly grasp and appreciate what I wonderful place I was located.


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