History of Machu Picchu

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Archaeological evidence uncovered around the site suggests that the area was first used for agricultural purposes back in 760 B.C.

Machu Picchu Historical Photo

The war of Vilcambamba Pachacutec in 1440 established the first settlement at the site. It was called the Tahuantinsuyo Empire which was later followed by the formation of the government of Manco Capac.

It is thought that Machu Picchu was first inhabited by 300-1000 inhabitants, who were of the highest class or “Llactas”.

The valleys around these areas were important for their agricultural contribution, however after death of the Emperor Pachacutec, it lost its importance, with the establishment of new sites like Ollaytantambo and Vilcambamba. The building of these new sites by his successors, in more accessible terrain made Machu Picchu less appealing.

From 1527 to 1532, two brothers Huáscar and Atahualpa fought against each other in a civil war over the Inca Empire. Their father, Inca Huayna Capac had given each brother a section of the empire to manage, one in Huáscar in Cuzco and Atahualpa in Quito. When Huayna Capac and his heir, Ninan Cuyuchi, died somewhere between 1525 and 1527, the two brothers Atahualpa and Huáscar went to war over who should rule.  The population who had come to live in the Machu Picchu area from rural or remote locations left after the war ended to return to where they came from. Later another brother, Manco Inca was sent into exile in Vilcambamba, and Machu Picchu was deserted.

Antonio Raimondi was an Italian geographer and scientist from Milan who visited Machu Picchu in 1851. In 1867 Augusto Berns arrived to mine the site.

Hiram Bingham re-discovered the ruins in 1911. He documented and publicised his “discovery”.

Photo of Hiram BinghamPhoto of Hiram Bingham

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Facts About Machu Picchu To Outsmart Your Tour Guide

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Outsmart your guide at Machu Picchu

Peru has so many ancient ruins, villages imbued with an infusion of ancient and modern Incan tradition, mixed with a melting pot of Colonial and pre- Spanish Peruvian culture. 

Of all the Peru landmarks, Machu Picchu (which in the Quechua native language, means “Old Peak” or “Old Mountain.”) is the one categorised as both one of the best known and also most mysterious of the ancient Inca sites. Call it cliche to label it the jewel of Peru’s crown or it’s most famous contribution to the 7th wonders of the world, but Machu Picchu has remained in the limelight since it’s discovery by Hiram Bingham in 1911. It stands at 2,400 meters above sea level and it’s precise stone construction is spread along a narrow and uneven mountain vista, tucked up against a 400m sheer cliff, overlooking the Urubamba Valley and River. The whole city was hidden (and thus saved) from marauding conquistadores for centuries and its high remote location makes if feel like it is floating on a sheet of mist.

Local guides will tell of legends withed down from Inca ancestors, archaeologists will give you another perspective all adding to the sites enigmatic status, but it’s actually quite hard to put your finger on the reasons why this citadel in the clouds is just so fascinating.

Many of the discoveries in and around Machu Picchu have led to more questions than answers around it’s true purpose. The more discoveries made it seems, the wider the variety of possibilities.

Rather than give you a list of dates, numbers and scientific facts, this page is going to offer you a treat, so you can wow your guides and make them think you’ve been on a crash course of anthropology and/or Incan philosophy!

I probably don’t need to tell you that Machu Picchu’s walls, caves and buildings are widely adorned with intricate carvings in the citadel, boasting carefully selected cave entrances, strange altars, 600 impressively engineered terraces, a 1km long aqueduct and exquisitely engineered buildings. Quizzical llama lawnmowers help to keep the grass around the buildings all beautifully manicured, showing off their best features. It is indeed a sensory feast for 21st century eyes staring firsthand at structures built by Incan hands more than a thousand years ago!

Did you also know that the positioning of the buildings are no accident. Inca people were master astrologers, the milky way had particular significance, and they arranged structures within the citadel to align with the cosmos or rising of the sun at specific times of year?

Standing amongst these features, everyone marvels at the masterful engineering the ancient Incan builders managed to achieve way back in the mid 14th century. You may find yourself getting lost in stories told by local legends if you walk through the various buildings with a local guide (like our Cynthia Valledares). When you also understand the significance of the structures around you from a spiritual and ritualistic point of view – it is not at all difficult for ones mind to be blown!

The technique used to build the structure is called called “ashlar”, this means that stones that are precisely cut to fit together without any mortar. This method is so precise that not even a credit card can slide between stones. Peru has experienced hundreds of years of seismic activity, yet the stones the Inca’s crafted stand strong, mostly undamaged by natures powerful forces.

Some of the most interesting architectural features of Machu Picchu are all closely huddled together over it’s total area of 32,592 hectares, an assortment of structures, each with an archaeological and spiritual back story that would make even Indiana Jones proud!

Sacred Rock

Looking out over the central plaza to the far end of Machu Picchu , we find the Sacred Rock, something you will notice in almost every Inca village. The Inca practiced placing a sacred stone in close proximity to the building site and this was dedicated to the site itself, which adds to the intrigue of the site; what did this mean to these people, and what daily practices took place right here where you stand, some say they can still feel the energy of these people and the land they revered so much.The Sacred Stone of Machu Picchu was carefully placed at the base of Huayna Picchu (or little peak), a place from which it’s possible to ascend right up to the summit, for a magnificent view down the valley. After your hour-long hike to the top of the peak, you can choose to stop off on the way back down at the Gatekeeper’s shack for a signed memoir, verifying you have conquered the steep climb up Huayna Picchu. The rock, resembling the shape of the top of the mountains behind it is a shrine where the Incas carried out special rituals and pachamamas (offerings to the earth).

The Sacred Rock is a powerful symbol in Machu Picchu, and is recognised as being a spiritual area for meditation and absorbing positive energies.

Many visitors like to include Temple of The Moon cave, another enigmatic structure situated approximately 1280 feet or 390 m below the summit of Huayna Picchu facing North. This is less than an hours walk from Sacred Rock, and will reward you with not only grand Inca structures to marvel over, but also spectacular views down the valley.

Central Plaza

Temple of the three windows, Machu Picchu, Peru

The Central Plaza of Machu Picchu is laid out with rows of many roofless stone structures embedded among steep terraces, facing outward for a grand view of Huayna Picchu. The lush green grass colour in the middle of the plaza can be likened to an island sitting amongst the rest of the Inca stone buildings that make up Machu Picchu. It’s an enticing and inviting spot amongst the buildings for Llamas and other grazing animals to frequent for a tasty meal. The Central Plaza’s grassy field also provides separation from the Sacred Plaza and Intiwatana to the residential areas on the farther side of the complex.

One of the buildings bordering the plaza is the Temple of the Three Windows. From this standpoint we look out to see a pretty view out on to the green central field, if we carry on from here, a flight of stairs at the back of the Sacred Plaza takes us back down to the Central Plaza.

At the very lowest end of the Central Plaza we find what is known as the Prison Group, this is essentially a network of cells, passageways, and niches extending both underground and up to the plateau above. Right in the center of this group of structures, we find the Temple of the Condor, some visitors and locals call this the main attraction because of its attention seeking condor carved in stone right above a rock pile. Behind this striking carved condor head, is a doorway leading to a tiny underground cell.

Temple of the Condor

Temple Of The Condor

The Temple of the Condor in Machu Picchu has to be one of the highlights (although you will find it difficult to choose one) of your exploration of these Inca ruins. It is an exquisite example of Inca stonemasonry. The Inca took a natural rock formation shaped by the elements millions of years ago, and skillfully shaped it into the outspread wings of a condor in flight. The Condor represented spirit and higher levels of consciousness, so the Inca considered the Condor to be of elevated importance in the animal, and spirit kingdom.

On the floor of the Condor temple you can see a rock carved in the shape of the condor’s head and neck feathers, this section of the rock makes up the figure of a three-dimensional bird. Historians speculate that the Inca used the head of the condor here as a sacrificial altar. Underneath this is a small cave that used to contain a mummy, the hierarchal importance of which perplexed archaeologists like many other mummified remains found in this area. Behind the temple, is situated a prison complex. The prison comprised of many human-sized niches and an underground maze of dark dingy dungeons. The close proximation of the alleged sacrificial temple and the prison structures conjures up visions of how the Inca may have used them for sacrifice or other rituals. Similar Inca prison sites, record events outlining the handling of an accused citizen… word has it that the prisoners would be shackled into these niches for up to 3 days to await their fate. The jury could nominate their death for such simple sins as laziness, lust, or more in line with Victorian punishments, theft.

Funerary Rock Hut

Funerary Rock Hut

If you are a photographic enthusiast, you will want to take a small hike to Machu Picchu’s Funerary Rock Hut. It’s believed this location was the place where Inca nobility were mummified, and like many places chosen for overseers to rest, the vantage point from the hut offers a dramatic view over the whole complex.

Every day herds of Alpacas and Llamas arrive via the terraces near the Funerary Rock Hut to graze leisurely on the grass. These furry manicurists keep the lawns short, neat and tidy for our benefit whilst filling their stomachs with rich green grass. From this position we look out towards the start of the Inca Trail, in contrast to many of the skinny mountainous trails in the region, it is easy to see because the Inca Trail is a well developed wider road that connects the Cusco region directly with Machu Picchu.

The hike up the long sturdy stairs that lead to the Funerary Rock Hut will give your muscles a good workout, but the rewards at the end of this short but relatively steep hike are worth every drop of sweat. The views from this viewpoint will stay in your memory along with many snapshots of your unforgettable trip to Machu Picchu.

From this point we take a detour back down the stairs to arrive at the Royal Tomb.

Royal Tomb

Royal Tomb Machu Picchu

Walking down and to the left descending a long set of stairs, we approach the Royal Tomb. This cave-esque area of Machu Picchu is decorated with ceremonial niches and adjacent to the Temple of the Sun is a carefully carved Inca cross. The cross design resembles steps, and represents the three levels of existence in the Inca world. The first step, symbolised by the snake, is representative of the underworld or of death. The second step represents the present, or human life, symbolised by the jaguar. The highest step represents the celestial or spiritual plane of the gods, and is symbolised by the condor.

This revered site has been the focus of numerous mummy excavations. Over 100 skeletal remains have been discovered here, 80% of which were women. For this and several other factual reasons, historians surmised that the area was inhabited primarily by Inca high priests and an elite selection of chosen women.

Immediately to the left of the royal tomb lies a series of 16 ceremonial baths, cleverly linked together via a skilfully engineered viaduct. At the top of this system we find the watershed hut, which passes beside the rock quarry emerging at the Sacred Plaza.

Intiwatana

Intiwatana Hitching Post Of The Sun

The Intiwatana at Machu Picchu, is referred to by Inca and modern people as the “hitching post of the sun”. One of Machu Picchu’s primary functions was that of astronomical observatory. It is a carved rock pillar with construction planned to orient towards the four cardinal points. As accomplished astronomers the Inca used the angles of the pillar to accurately predict the solstices. The sun was an integral part of the Inca way of life and greatly influenced agriculture which supported the life of the whole community. The Inca considered the Sun the supreme natural god and during the winter solstice on June 21, it is said that the high priest would rope a golden disc to the Intiwatana, to symbolically catch the sun, returning it back to earth, thus ensuring another bountiful season of crops.

Sadly the Intiwatana is the only structure of its kind left standing by the Spanish conquerors, who went on a aggressive campaign to wipe out all structural references to Inca religion. Many visitors report that Machu Picchu feels like one of Earth’s magnetic focal points, it emanates a mystical quality and carries an inherent spiritual or metaphysical power.

When you’re sitting on the edge of heaven, perched high above the valley at the Sacred Plaza looking down at the Urubamba River below, it’s hard to deny the etherial sense this place is embued with. Turn around behind you, and absorb the genius of the ancient builders who created these stone plaza and temple structures, framed magnificently in the background by the spectacular mountain peaks of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu to the left and right. How could you not be moved and humbled by this experience?

Huayna Picchu

The big little mountain that everyone forgets. Huayna Picchu is like a jewel in the crown of Machu Picchu. Standing at  2,720 metres (8,930 feet), it towers above and behind the citadel of Machu Picchu.  Only 400 people are allowed daily to climb Huayna Picchu in 2 groups – first departing at 7.00AM second at 10.00Am. The steep (both hands and feet needed) climb winds up the side of the rock faces and through a tunnel. It takes about 1.5-2 hours up and about 45 minutes to 1 hour down. For many people climbing Huayna Picchu is one of the highlights when visiting Machu Picchu.  The view from the top highlights how the structures and terraces below are built on seemingly impossible places like they are almost glued to the mountain side. You are in for a breathtakingly beautiful panorama of the site of Machu Picchu below, but also the snowcapped mountains and grand valleys beyond.

Machu Picchu is divided in two parts

Hanan and Urin according with the Inca tradition. This essentially means upper and lower, or heaven and earth.  The upper realm = included the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars, the planets, and constellations (milky way in particular) and was called hanan pacha (in Quechua). The hanan pacha was inhabited Inti, the masculine sun god, and Mama Killa, the feminine moon goddess. The lower realm is where earth spirits reside, or the people who inhabit the earthly realms. 

 Popular Trails Leading To Machu Picchu

Ancient Inca rulers forged trails and communication systems through this region over 18,600 miles long, paving mountain tracks, building runners and swing bridges from straw ropes. Most of these structure still exist today, and it’s quite astounding to think that the well worn steps you are walking on when traversing the Inca or Lares trails were hand constructed by Inca stonemasons so very long ago.

The most popular trails leading to Machu Picchu are the Lares Trail and the Inca Trail. There is also the Salkantay trek, but the two most raved about journeys by far are the Lares and Inca trail. The Lares takes you through many more villages, without the same level of foot traffic you may encounter on the Inca Trail. You can also opt for cycle and kayak options, where you can visit a small village on Lake Titicaca’s reed islands and hang with the locals. Experiences like these are magical, they add a few more days to your adventure, but you’ll leave with a whole new sense of the meaning of immersion in another uniquely Peruvian culture. Check out this comparison between the Inca Trail vs. Lares Trails or take a look at our Jaguar trip which gives you the option of visiting these places and many more.

Inca Trail Hike to Machu Picchu

A trip to Machu Picchu along the Inca trail is the epitome of a spiritual and wondrous experience to one of the worlds most fascinating ancient wonders of the world. An unforgettable experience is not something you have to ‘try’ to achieve when visiting Machu Picchu – you’ll be taken on a journey of curiosity and wonder in all directions.

Facebook Review:

Noel Carroll reviewed Active Adventures – 5 star – 29 July ·

Jaguar trip to Peru. Great guides, accommodations, activities, food. Absolutely the best adventure I have had, and I have been blessed with quite a few. Would definitely consider another one. Hiking the Inca trail on this trip was the hardest and most rewarding thing I have done.

Other pages that may be of interest:

Best Time To Trek Machu Picchu | Machu Picchu Tours |4 Day Machu Picchu Trek 

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The Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: A Photographic Journey

It was around the early 2000’s when we started exploring the notion of running our style of adventure trips in Peru. One of the old hands at Active, Phil Boorman, had already spent years in Costa Rica surfing and teaching, as well as guiding groups overland through South America. So, combining his local knowledge with our team’s experience guiding adventure tours in New Zealand, Active Adventures South America was born.

One of the signature itineraries, which has stood the test of time proving to be popular year in, year out, is the Ultimate Peru Adventure ‘Jaguar’ trip. Over the past 15 or so years thousands of guests have shared this 14-day experience with us, exploring Peru on foot, by bike and in a kayak. Of course, one of the bucket list destinations in Peru is Machu Picchu, and the Classic Inca Trail is the favoured way to reach this ancient citadel. The trail is well worn, which adds to the appeal, as hikers seek to follow in the footsteps of ancient Inca.

If you’re considering hiking the Classic Inca Trail yourself, don’t sit back and put it off! Lock in your spot, as hiking permits are limited and always sell out. Once you’ve got your spot secured, sit back, relax and enjoy our photo journey to Machu Picchu (and do a little hiking training to get in shape, if you’re not already!) All the photos you’ll see here are from our guests, taken during their ‘Jaguar’ trip.

The Journey to Machu Picchu begins in Cuzco

Having spent a couple of nights in Cuzco already and having hiked and biked in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, you’ll be nicely acclimatised and ready to hike! Topped up with any last minute hiking supplies, your group will leave town to make your way back through the Sacred Valley of the Incas to the start of the trail at Piscachuca.

Cusco
Photo credit: Summer Zimmer ‘Jaguar’, April 2009

Your hike begins at Piscacucho, or Kilometre 82

Eager and bristling with anticipation, there’s time for a fresh-faced group photo before the hiking begins. You’ll notice all the wooden hiking poles – those are available at the trail head, and widely used due to the ban on modern hiking poles with sharp points (as they degrade the historic track). You’ll hike through a few little villages, dip down into shaded river valleys and take in  your first views of the huge peaks that will emerge even more as you hike further.

Classic Inca Trail
Photo credit: Jen Cha ‘Jaguar’, November 2008

The trail winds its way up as you head towards Dead Woman’s Pass (4,400 metres or 14,435 feet)

Along the hike you’ll be rewarded with contrasting environments, as you gain altitude towards Dead Woman’s Pass. You’ll leave the shaded canopy of the forest and follow the winding trail up through a beautiful mountain pass with stunning panoramic views. There’s plenty of celebration as you reach the top. You’ll have worked up a thirst and will find yourself adding the layers of clothing back as breeze whips over the pass here! A short hike down the other side to Pacaymayo means a hot cup of coca tea, lunch and a chance to rest up for the remainder of the day and take in the views!

Hiking on the Classic Inca Trail
Photo credit: Stan Jacobsen ‘Jaguar’, September 2014

Time for a rest and a chance to take in views of the Rio Cusichaca

Above the tree line at Pacaymayo, you’ll want to have your sunscreen handy and plenty of water at your side. During the main season, from May to September the days are dry and sunny, ideal for hiking!

Resting on the Classic Inca Trail
Photo credit: Jane Marek ‘Jaguar’, June 2009

Along the way, admire the cobbled steps and Inca bridges, built over 500 years ago

After a cup of tea or coffee brought to your tent, you’ll be ready for the hike to Wiñay Wayna – the 3rd and last campsite on the trip. This is where you’ll enter the eastern side of the ranges that descend to the Amazon basin. There are several fascinating Inca fortresses to explore as you descend down into the cloud forest. And even the trail itself offers plenty of incredible glimpses into Inca craftsmanship, such as this bridge. There’s a sense of anticipation at Wiñay Wayna camp, as the Sun Gate and Machu Picchu are only a matter of hours away – it’s an early start the following morning!

Inca bridge
Photo credit: Mandy Gatesman ‘Jaguar’, May 2010

Arriving at the Sun Gate…

After a hearty breakfast, you’ll hike in the dawn light towards the Sun Gate. Intipunku is from the Quechua language; ‘inti’ meaning sun and ‘punku’ meaning door, hence  ‘Sun Door’ or  ‘Sun Gate’ as it’s often called.

Intipunku
Photo credit: Carrie Lehtonen ‘Jaguar’, October 2013

… For your first glimpse of Machu Picchu, as the fog lifts

At this spot, as the fog lifts, you’ll get your first view of Machu Picchu – it’s a surreal moment and a fantastic reward for your efforts. When Machu Picchu reveals itself, it’s an incredible sight. Even our long term guides who have hiked the trail dozens of times still get a rush every time they see it.

Views of Machu Picchu
Photo credit: Rochelle Coleman ‘Jaguar’, July 2010

The day warms by the time you arrive at the ancient citadel

Once you arrive at Machu Picchu, you’ll be joined by a local guide who’ll show you around the ancient city. As you arrived early (before the visitors from Machu Picchu town below), you’ll have plenty of time to explore the many passageways and stone structures.

Triumphant at Machu Picchu
Photo credit: Marian Walrath ‘Jaguar’, April 2013

Huge smiles for a picture perfect postcard!

A trip to Machu Picchu would not be complete without a group photo!

Group celebrating at Machu Picchu
Photo credit: Rebecca Washlow ‘Jaguar’, July 2016

Explore Aguas Calientes (now known as Machu Picchu town) after hiking the Classic Inca Trail

After three nights camping on the trail, it’s a welcome treat to return back to civilisation. Here you’ll have time to pick up any souvenirs and have a look around before we board a scenic train ride back to Cuzco.

Machu Picchu Town
Photo credit: Kristy Woodward ‘Jaguar’. March 2011

Top 10 Guest Photos 2015

Photo competitions. They’re not necessarily a good thing for an organisation like us to run, because there can only ever be one winner, and we leave hundreds of other people disappointed. But we can’t help ourselves, can we? That’s because it’s just too damn hard to take bad photos on our trips and we’re naturally compelled to share them with everyone. And what’s life without friendly competition amongst family and peers?!

But rather than showcase just the one winner, here’s the top 10, in no particular order, all taken by you guys on our trips in 2015. What a year it was!

We’ll tell you who the winner is also – don’t worry.

1. Aoraki Mt Cook & Lake Pukaki, ‘Rimu’ – Allen Cameron

Aoraki Mt Cook

This is a scene our guides never tire of seeing, no matter how many times they visit the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. There’s always the butterflies that flutter in your stomach as this landscape greets you. As you get closer, the waters of Lake Pukaki become more radiant and the slopes of Aoraki Mount Cook and the surrounding hills become more dramatic. After passing Lake Pukaki you’ll delve deeper into the National Park and get the chance to hike onto Mueller Ridge, where you’ll experience the most mind blowing mountain views in New Zealand.

2. Hiking Siberia Valley, ‘Tui’ – Bob Secor

Hiking Siberia Valley

You step out of the aircraft that has just dropped you into arguably New Zealand’s most isolated and dramatic wilderness area, and there’s just one way out from there; on foot. The plane takes off again and you realise it’s just you, your fellow hikers and the native birds accompanying you through this area of untouched beauty. Not a bad way to spend a couple of days. Well… technically you’ll get to take a jet boat ride down the Wilkin River as well, so it’s not just hiking!

3. Sand Boarding Te Pouahi Reserve, ‘Kauri’ – Bonnie Mullin

Sand Boarding

Sometimes it’s important to just be a kid again. And what better way than taking an old body board (not intended for anything other than use on the water, but hey – it’s fun!) and sliding down a huge sand dune and getting completely covered in sand? It can’t all be too civilised can it?

4. Swimming with a Turtle, ‘Tortuga’ – Charlotte Sherman

Swimming with a Turtle

If you don’t swim or at least see a turtle when you join us on our ‘Tortuga’ trip in the Galapagos Islands, then there will certainly be something wrong with the space/time continuum and we’ll have to look into getting into another business. Here’s the reason why we called the trip the ‘Tortuga’ – they’re everywhere and you never get sick of seeing them, especially in crystal clear water!

5. House on the Svelte, Patagonia, ‘Condor’ – Dennis Wilson

House on the Svelte

Patagonia has many faces, yes there’s the enormous granite peaks and glaciers of Torres Del Paine and Glaciares National Park, fiords and picture perfect lakes. There’s also the windswept plains dotted with grazing cattle and traditional “Gaucho” farm houses (now with solar power!). You find yourself wondering if you’ve stepped into a time machine.

6. Immaculate Forest Walk, Nelson Lakes National Park, ‘Rimu’ – Donal Rafferty

Immaculate Forest Walk

Can you see the hobbit in the trees in this shot? Well, there is no hobbit but you’ll be forgiven for expecting some sort of ancient creature to walk across the trail as you’re hiking in Nelson Lakes National Park. So no hobbits here, but you’ll probably be greeted by a South Island Robin – one of our most inquisitive native birds. They often peck at the ground you’ve walked on as they know your hiking boots may have opened up some soil for worms!

Skip straight to New Zealand Hiking Tours

7. Machu Picchu Selfie, ‘Jaguar’ – Jen Risser

Machu Picchu Selfie

Check out how happy Jen Risser is, after hiking for 3 days on the Inca Trail to get to Machu Picchu. We arrive at Machu Picchu super early in the morning before the sun comes up and get ahead of the numerous people who visit the site every day, but when the sun does come out, it shines directly down on the site all day – it’s an incredibly refreshing place to be. The other thing we’ve noticed about this photo is that it’s a reminder of how much of a big job it’d be to mow those lawns, just look at em!

8. Milford Sound Kayaking, ‘Rimu’ – Jim Lane

Milford Sound Kayaking

Believe it or not, photos like this are EXTREMELY rare. Not because it has captured a truly perfect moment in time for Jim and his son Ben Lane, in the world’s most spectacular fiord, but because it’s captured a person in a double sea kayak who isn’t engaged in an argument with their fellow paddler… For that reason, this photo is our winner! Who needs flat horizons anyway…

9. Blue Duck in Repose, ‘Manuka’ – Joyce Barbour

Blue Duck in Repose

Our native Whio (Blue Duck) are known here in New Zealand as the “whitewater duck”, as when they’re spotted, they are often seen riding the rapids in our streams and rivers. They are also extremely rare. Contrary to how it appears in this photo, they do actually have heads, and two legs.

10. Hiking Amongst Giants, ‘AST’ – Marjorie Pilli

Hiking Amongst Giants

Almost there! In this shot, you’re only about 30 minutes from arriving at the Annapurna Sanctuary – a spectacular alpine amphitheatre that has to be seen to be believed. That’s our guide DK in the picture, pointing out the surrounding peaks but clearly not holding the attention of the other guy in the photo. It’s OK – we’re working on his presentation skills… ?