. It was built to be a resting spot for Incas using the trail heading to Macchu Picchu. It was very interesting to see our first ruin and our guide explained a lot about their religious practices, and daily living. We are starting to get an idea of what life was like for the Incas. Then it was back to the trail. About 45 minutes into the hike it started to drizzle so we whipped on our ponchos and looked like ghosts in the mist. The trail is really well made and its hard to comprehend that the Incas cut these trails all those years ago and they are still In great shape. Obviously the Peru government invests in their upkeep but the original design and production is a marvel. We wound our way up and up into the mountains stopping to admire the beautiful flora along the way. There is an indigenous cluster of orchids that grows in these mountains that is just stunning. Our guide also told us stories about the flowers and animals that make up the Inca myths. So much fun. After around two and a half hours of walking we stopped under a rock shelter for lunch. The rain had got increasingly harder as we walked so it was great to have a stop, eat some sarmies and pull on our warm jackets. We sat with a few other hikers in the shelter and enjoyed some chatting. Then the ponchos went back on and we hit the trail again. Our next destination was Winawayna. Winawayna was also a settlement on the route to Macchi Picchu. Like all the Incas, the people here were farmers who carved steps into the mountainside on which to plant their crops. The result is an amazing scene as you come around the mountain and see these huge areas of terraced steps. We wandered around the ruins and our guide showed us the water system and how it was probably used for cleansing before making offerings etc. The Incas had a very strong religion and believed that all aspects of nature were connected. They used the stars, the sun and moon to predict seasons and the best times to plant, harvest and so on. It was amazing to see the rooms and structures of the temples that made up the village
. From Winawayna we had another two hours to Macchu Picchu so we pressed on. We walked across the most beautiful waterfalls and just thoroughly enjoyed the trail and being in the heart of nature. After an hour and twenty minutes we climbed a step flight of stairs and arrived at the Sun Gate. This was the final check point for anyone entering Macchu Picchu in the days of the Incas. It is a very narrow stone opening on the top of the mountain which, when the sun shines through it at on the solstice, allows the rays to create a spotlight on the Temple of the Sun in Macchu Picchu, indicating the change of season. So amazing. It was also a great lookout for the guards and enemies would have found it difficult to get through here having to climb the steps and enter through the narrow entrance. The Sun Gate usually offers Trekkers the first panoramic view of Macchu Picchu city but unfortunately it was very cloudy and we only saw a tiny part of the city so we decided to head down. It was a forty minute walk down to the city and we got more and more excited with each step. As if God heard our wishes, just as we got to the bottom, the clouds parted, the rain stopped and the sun came out and we had the most exquisite site of Macchu Picchu city. Wow! Totally breathtaking. We had made it and felt so privileged to be staring at this amazing ancient wonder. We just stood and starred for a while, taking pictures and just breathing it all in. The Incas were truly a civilization to be admired. How they managed to create a city like this snuggled into the mountains and a trail to get there too is hard to imagine. Eventually it was closing time and we had to drag ourselves away from the epic scene. We were very excited to know that tomorrow we would be back to explore the city. We hopped onto a bus that winds its way down the mountain to the town below, Aquilas Calientes. It's a really sweet little town built along the river which was charging along filled with the days rain waters. Franklyn lead us to our hostel which was very nice indeed. We were very wet and cold. Our hiking boots had started to fill up with water during the last hour of the hike so were pretty slushy but we decided it was better to go and eat and then pull off the wet clothes and shower since they where the only clothes we had brought with us. Franklyn took us to a restaurant and we had delicious hot soup and grilled trout with veggies for dinner. Perfect. We had lovely chats with Franklyn before heading back to the hostel. Sadly after pulling off our wet clothes and shoes we got a lukewarm shower. Brrrr! But hopped into a cosy bed and slept like babies. What a fun adventure we have had so far in Peru. We can't wait for more.
Today's the day to begin the trek to Macchu Picchu. We woke feeling excited despite a bit of a bad sleeping night. We packed a small backpack and put the rest of our stuff in storage at the hostel. We then caught a taxi to the bus that took around an hour and a bit to the train station. From there we hopped onto the Perurail. The train was great and we were served a little drink and snack along the way. It was also really cool because there were windows on the roof of the train so there was a great view of the mountains and scenery as we weaved our way along the valley. The train stopped very briefly at the 104 km mark, as its known, and we had to climb off along with about four others. The rest of the passengers would take the train all the way to Macchu Picchu. Our guide, Franklyn, was waiting for us and within a few minutes we were on our way along the Inca trail. He handed us each a little yellow Inca bag with our packed lunch in it and we set off. About 10 minutes later we arrived at our first archeological site, Chachabamba