The walk: http://picasaweb.google.com/gstace/MachuPichu?authkey=Gv1sRgCJrDosvl4Za4QQ
Machu Pichu: http://picasaweb.google.com/gstace/CaminoDeLasIncas?authkey=Gv1sRgCNzWna7h9NzhLA
Flying into Cuzco, the city was instantly much better than Lima. The traffic, pollution and constant fog made Lima not exactly grow on me. The flight into Cuzco was exciting (though not cheap courtesy of Gringo pricing by LAN) as it landed between a big set of mountains.
We settled into the hotel and planned our trip for Machu Pichu before spending some time drinking pisco sours in a great bar by the main square.
The first day of the tour we met in the centre of Cuzco with our group companions, the friendly Victorians Tom and Morgan
. After a breakfast on the outskirts of Cuzco before a stunning 4 hour drive up to a pass where we started our bike ride. Whilst it was sunny heading up the pass, coming down was in the clouds and cold to say the least. The choice of downhill bikes over regular mountain bikes was questionable, as it was a surfaced road for most of the way initially and the second half of the ride on a dirt road didn't need a downhill bike. We started the ride at 4.2km and an hour later at about 3km height had to stop as they were building the next section of paved road. After a 30 min lift in the support car, we started the next downhill and made it to the destination of the day, Santa Marta at about 1.2km height, by about 2.30pm.Unfortunately the support car got bogged and took 2 hours to get down to us, by which time I left for white water rafting. It was a gorgeous canyon and lots of water. That said, though it was consistently fast and with small rapids, there were few rapids that made it to grade 3. As I was in a large boat, we rarely got close to falling in though other boats had more of a scare. That evening got the first long sleep in a while.
The second day we started off walking along a road by the side of the river, passing the ghost town of the place we stayed that was destroyed in floods about 12 years ago. A few people still lived in the town, and we had some chicha drink in one of those houses still left fully standing. We then did a steep ascent up to a resting spot where we tried on different locals clothing and sampled some of the local products like coffee and cocoa
. Then we joined one of the many Inca trails that led to Machu Pichu along a steep canyon path that was quite narrow. The was talk of taking the lower route but due to recent rains took the road into the next town, Santa Teresa. This place was quite remote but amazingly had phone reception and a night club, which was danced away till the whee hours of the morning.
Third day we went zip lining (flying fox) near by. It was great fun, with 6 runs, each about 400m long and starting with a drop of over 100m into the valley. The walk that day was very stunning, as we ended up basically circling around Machu Pichu on the valley floor next to the train tracks. The lunch was at a trout farm, in a tranquil setting before walking in the light rain to Aguas Caliente. The hotel was set right on the river and was very relaxing to fall asleep to the sounds of the roaring water.
The fourth day we climbed up to Machu Pichu. Rog and Sara left at 4.30am and Tom and I at 4.55am from the hotel. Tom and I quickly strolled down to the start of the stairs of climb up, and then ran up. I am sure Tom did it in about 23 min, and I did it in 32 min, which am certainly happy with given the backpack and the fact the ruins are at about 2.5km high. The ruins were spectacular to say the least! The guide we were assigned shifted us to another guide who turned out to be the worst guide I have ever had, he didn't say anything of use, didn't know anything and his English was frustrating to listen to
. The one hour tour was fortunately offset later in the day with a trip to the museum whee we learned more in 10 seconds than an hour with the guide. We had a morning coffee whilst waiting for the rain to stop, and then checked out the Inca bridge, a stunning path on the other side of the ruins that once led to a path that crossed a sheer vertical face. Then we walked up to the Sun temple and had lunch up there with a great side view of Machu Pichu. Tom and I ran down whilst the others were on the bus, and once we got going we flew down, making it to the bottom in 12 min, which was twice as fast as the bus heading down. Good to get the feeling of running downhill again! We were lucky with the rain, visiting the museum whilst it rained again. Then an early dinner / late lunch, onto the train, which had a strange fashion and culture show on it, and a group taxi back to Cuzco. Rog and I went to a pub to upload pictures and Rog went home early, where I met a random American / Peruvian and went on to party till the small hours with him