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Sometimes things happen.


PERU | Sunday, 30 September 2007 | Views [786] | Comments [2]

Grime, insect bites and a scratched elbow are what I have to show for the last 4 days. Luckily, I had a lot of fun acquiring all those things.

Last Wednesday, all four of us healthy, we began our second guided tour this trip: the Machu Picchu jungle tour. It was only in Lima that we realized how difficult it is to get hold of tickets for the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (you have to book 2-3 months in advance, for example) and had to opt for an alternative way of reaching the most hyped site in South America. This alternative tour began with a bus tour past Ollantaytambo to a road seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Here, mountainbikes were loaded off the roof of the bus and we set off on a downhill ride that lasted about 5 or 6 hours. After a while, the road started getting extremely bumpy and tiring for fingers, wrists and arms, but it was one of the most fun things I've ever done and the sense of freedom was immense. That is, until my bike - the rear brake of which barely worked - toppled over and I was flung onto the ground. Hence the scratched elbow. However, I got to use a guide's bike instead and was soon careening down again (when I wasn't stopping to re-attach my chain). That night was spent at a gas station-cum-hostel with a shower that gave us electric shocks whenever we touched the knob.

The next day, our very Japanese-acting guide, Ray, took us on a very varied trek; first through a kind of jungly path, then onto one of the many Inca trails that can be found running from Colombia to the bottom of Peru, and finally on rocks along a river. Walking along the river was the most interesting, partly because we could see evidence of the destruction that El Niño caused in '97 and partly because I happen to like jumping on rocks. The trek couldn't have ended in a better way; in a hot spring in the middle of nowhere. It was a bit weird since the pools and the area around them were still being constructed, but the water was clear and the bottom was all small rocks, and very different compared to the place in Baños.

In the morning of the third day we walked along train tracks through jungly vegetation and parrots all the way to Aguas Calientes, which is the town next to Machu Picchu mountain. The four of us had great fun balancing on the tracks, making train and animal noises from different countries and creating train crashes. Presumably, the rest of the tour group thought we were being extremely annoying. After lunch in Aguas Calientes, we were supposed to climb a mountain next to Machu Picchu, but as it had been raining and could have been slippery, it was cancelled, and we could spend the afternoon doing what we liked. In Alex' and my case, that involved jumping around on more rocks in the river.

This morning, Ray woke us up at 4 a.m. and half an hour later we started making our way to Machu Picchu. This was the most taxing part of the tour as the path was steep and Ray suddenly decided to make us climb really fast. Hard as it was, it was definitely worth coming to Machu Picchu before it was too crowded with tourists (the sunrise unfortunately wasn't too spectacular as it was a little cloudy). As soon as we got into the area, Charles, Alex, Monica, a guy in our group named Danny and I sped to the other side of the site in order to get tickets to climb Waynapicchu, which is the mountain in front of Machu Picchu. When we got there, we were told that they wouldn't open for another hour so we sped back (while taking lots of pictures of a non-tourist-ridden Machu Picchu) to our group, getting lost in the labyrinthian buildings and running up lots of stairs. Ray began his tour of the area and when it was time for a break we ran back to the entrance to Waynapicchu again, only to be told that we couldn't get tickets, finish the tour with Ray and then come back and climb like we had been told we could. We whined and stomped around for a bit, doubled back to get to our group before the tour continued, were told by some guards that we had to take the long way back because Machu Picchu was suddenly a one-way mountain, ran up some more stairs and joined the group again. Rather sweaty and tired by this time, I might add. When Ray finished his tour, we weren't sure if we were going to do the whole Waynapicchu thing after all the times we'd been rejected, but Charles, Danny and I decided to go for it, and it was definitely worth it. It was a long and pretty steep climb, but the view of Machu Picchu was amazing and sitting on the highest rock of a mountain made us feel pretty great too. On the way down again we stopped at an Inca terrace and took a siesta.

Back at Machu Picchu, our group were nowhere to be found, so the three of us started down the path back to Aguas Calientes. On the way we came upon a modern and mini-version of a Chaski, or an Inca messenger, who ran down the steps to greet the bus going down with other tourists every time it passed on the big road. He was wearing some kind of traditional clothing and sandals, but he was extremely fast running down those stairs. We decided to see if we could keep up with him, and it worked for about half or a third of the way down. None of us had ever run down stairs that fast, nor down such uneven stairs, but a lot of fun it was. We were all very impressed with the 12 year old who did this every weekend.

A huge beer and an ice cream each later, we boarded the train back to Cuzco and here we are now, at 22:57, still unshowered and disgusting, but very content.

Tags: Mountains




Hej! Jag är Monicas mamma, det är så roligt att läsa om ert äventyr, bilderna är så fina.
Jag var i Machu Picchu 1997 och jag blev påmind av era bilder hur pass vackert det är där.
Ta hand om er.

  Marta Caris Oct 4, 2007 4:50 AM


Mami, du ar saaa gullig. Besitoss

  Moni Oct 6, 2007 12:45 AM

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