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The Big Trip. Stephen, Laura, James and Sinead head for an epic adventure: 17 weeks in South America 8 weeks in New Zealand 2 weeks in Fiji 11 weeks in Australia 14 weeks in South East Asia.

Ascending Machu Picchu

PERU | Tuesday, 21 July 2009 | Views [2397]

Friday morning we left Bolivia behind and boarded a bus for Cusco. We were delighted to get going after being held up by the strikes. We arrived at the Point Hostel Cusco late in the evening. Next day we explored the city. Cusco is a colonial city built on Inca ruins. It is one of the nicest cities we had visited in a long time, full of Spanish style buildings, plazas and cobbled streets. It is quite the opposite of anywhere we had visited in Bolivia. We spent the next few days browsing the markets and feeding Laura’s new found addiction to coffee. We visited the Inca Museum and Saints Domingo's convent.

Hundreds of times each day we said "No Gracias" as the many street traders constantly bugged the hell out of us selling art and jewellery and everything else you could think of including drugs... James said he would love a t-shirt that said "no gracias". Sinead found him the t-shirt in the Irish bar Paddy O’Flaherty’s. He was delighted when she surprised him with it.

Tuesday we headed on a two day Sacred Valley and Macchu Piccu tour. First stop on the tour was Pisac Market. Here we bought some art and alpaca wool jumpers. Next we visited the ruins on top of the mountain overlooking the town. Then we visited Ollantaytambo ruins. These ruins were far more impressive than Pisac's. We had coffee in a charity coffee shop in town while awaiting the train for Aguas Calientas. And guess what... along the way the train broke down for an hour and a half. When we finally reached our destination we hit the cot straight away.

We got up at four next morning and headed straight for the bus station. We got up at this crazy hour so we could get to Machu Picchu in time to get a ticket to climb Waynu Picch (Waynu Picchu is the tall rock peak behind Macchu Picchu in the pic above). There are only four hundred people given tickets to climb Waynu Picchu each day and these tickets are handed out first thing and there a lot of competition for the tickets. Even starting this early we only managed the eleventh bus up the mountain. We headed straight away to get the tickets. Luckily we managed to get tickets 378 - 381. Sinead and James were lucky, they skipped the queue and got away with it...  next we headed up the hill to get a good view point to watch the sun rise at 7am and it was pretty cool.

Next up we went to meet our tour guide. The tour lasted two hours. He showed us Inca engineering that lasted 600 years and then pointed out the hydro electric dam in the valley below that was wiped out by a land slide. He got a laugh from us all. After the tour we headed for Wayna Picchu to start the ascent to the top. We had to hike down from Machu Picchu before starting up Wayna Picchu. The climb up was almost vertical.

The  stone steps, there since Inca times, were small, slippery and sometimes very high. We had to squeeze through caves and climb wooden ladders to reach the very top. It was a tough climb but we made it in an hour. The views were magnificent. Below were the ruins on Machu Picchu. All around were mountains. The valley below was carpeted in jungle. Very cool. (Check out the photos.) At the top stone buildings precariously cling to the side of the mountain. God only knows how they were built there. The descent was quite tough. The narrow steps were difficult to navigate. After we got back down and had a bit of a rest myself and James went to check out some of the ruins we hadn't done on the earlier tour. The girls sat it out on a terrace soaking in the sun. Later in the afternoon after a long day in Machu Picchu we headed back to Agaus Calientas for food and to catch the train back to Cusco. Thankfully there were no breakdowns this time.

Next day James lay in bed with what we hoped was not the swine flu. He lay in bed wearing all his clothes shivering away. He had to keep it quiet from our eight other room mates. He didn't want men in white coats taking him away for quarantine. Next day we boarded a bus for Arequipa. Two hours into the journey and you'll  never guess what happened... OUR BUS BROKE DOWN. A replacement bus took three hours to arrive. Our bad luck had struck again. What the hell is it with us and public transport in South America?

Tags: cusco, machu picchu, peru, sacred valley



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