"That's not real...It's an Animatronic Llama!"

Trip Start Sep 16, 2012
Trip End Mar 03, 2013

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Flag of Peru  , Cuzco,
Saturday, February 2, 2013

Chloeism - Machu Picchu, Feb 2013

We really enjoyed our stay in Cusco, it's a beautiful city with lots of lovely architecture. We had a couple of nights exploring the city, visiting markets, the plaza de armas, local restaurants and bars. I enjoyed a particularly a couple of good Pisco sours over looking the main square one evening. Alasdair also tried the traditional guinea pig for dinner one evening! It was literally served whole including claws and gnashy teeth! Tasted like rabbit apparently.

One afternoon we decided to walk up the hill to the San Blas area of Cusco, it's the artsy area with lots of shops selling local artesian goods, trendy bars and good views across the city. We came across a local parade, we think for the patron saint of San Blas. We watched as 20 odd men struggled to carry the solid oak statues along the narrow streets whilst ladies threw petals over it and the marching band followed. Around 10 kids, some as young as 5 carried the table to rest the statue on when the men needed a rest! It was funny to watch.

The tours to Machu Picchu seemed pretty expensive and we generally prefer to go our own way so we booked ourselves on the train to Aguas Caliente and reserved our tickets for Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu. It was still overpriced but cheaper than the tours...and you can't really come to Peru and not see it! Aguas Caliente is nothing to write home about but its not as bad as the lonely planet describe it! Our hostel wasn't so great, a bit grim and damp but we were just crashing there one night ahead of our trek so barely spent any time there...on the upside it was cheap!
Most people get the shuttle bus to Machu Picchu for around 20 soles. In our money saving and "it'll be good for us and we'll beat the crowds" attitude we decided to get up at 5am and start walking in the dark from Aguas Caliente up to Machu Picchu ...as you do! It was certainly a work out, going up step after step for 6k but we made it to the entrance just in time to start our next climb up Wayna Picchu. (Yay! I wasn't so happy about our next climb but a snickers cheered me up!) To access Wayna, we had to go through a little area of the ruins, as we walked closer, we could see what looked like a llama standing on the edge of the ruin wall terrace in the morning mist. "Look, there's a Llama!" Alasdair said "Oh Yeah", I said as I took a closer look whilst walking towards it..."That's not real, it's Animatronic!" I insisted, it was standing somewhere far to contrived and standing stock still with just a little twitch of the ear, every couple of seconds. "it's definitely animatronic!", "Why on earth would they put an animatronic llama on Machu Picchu...Alasdair said, In a 'did I really marry this woman' kinda way... the penny dropped when the Llama made a big enough movement for me to realise that it was in actual fact a real and very much alive...he was just a poser! I walked around the corner to see all his mates, hoping that not too many people heard that conversation!

We had walked up through drizzle and cloud and wondered whether we would actually see much of the famous inca ruins from the top of Wayna Picchu - climbing to the top of something for me involves a good view at the top...I wasn't sure if I wanted to climb all that way to see more clouds! We get those in England...with the energy from my favourite chocolate bar I made it to the top, hauling myself up step after step and thinking how much my sister would hate the big drops and narrow steps. We did get a couple of glimpses of the ruins through the fleeting gaps in the clouds which was good! When we got to the bottom we then started to make our way through the ruins, they are incredible. It's amazing to think how long they went unknown for. Luckily the weather had cleared by the time we reached the highest point of the ruins where you get the 'picture postcard' view. We certainly appreciated seeing it more from that angle rather than being in the middle of the giant perfectly carved stones.

We walked for over 8 hours that day. We decided that seeing as we hadn't got the bus up we should finish what we started and walk back to Aguas Caliente, reaching the town just as the heavens opened and before my knees gave up on me. Back on the train we hopped to the UNESCO world heritage site and inca town of Ollantaytambo in the sacred valley. We loved this little town with its cobbled narrow streets, it had such a lovely feel and everyone was very friendly and welcoming. We also had a great little hostel overlooking the inca fortress. Before long we were on the move again, heading back to Cusco to catch a night bus to Arequipa!
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