The icing on Peru´s cake.

Trip Start Nov 02, 2007
Trip End ??? ??, 2008

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Where I stayed
Hotel Cama

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Cuzco the big one!  We had no expectations and were pleasantly surprised, after Arequipa, to find a city where you could breathe!   It was like someone had switched the colour on and pulled everything into focus.  Being the hardcore backpackers we are, we spent the first few days lounging... ahem, I mean aclimitising to being at 3300m above sea level.  We bought a supply of Coca toffees for our treks and found that eating half a dozen or so, made us quite perky! 

Now being in Cuzco, the Inca HQ, meant that there were a million things to go see and we set about trying to get as many holes punched in our tourist ticket (boleto touristico) as was humanly possible in 6 days.  On our first day out we went to Pisac, which is at the start of the Sacred Valley.  Now as you´ll all now we both have an extreme case of lazy-itis, so when we got to Pisac we decided to avoid the 1 hr scramble up a very steep path to the Inca ruins and got a taxi instead.  Yes it was a cop out, but it meant that we could enjoy the incredible scenery (complete with flute soundtrack courtesy of the Senor trying to flog us the soundtrack for 10 bucks) and most importantly, breathe!    Can we just be serious for a moment and make a profound intellectual comment by saying that these Inca´s rocked!!   How they managed to shift 5 ton rocks up big mountains without sustaining hernias is amazing!   

The day after we headed to a few local Inca sites around Cuzco including one called Sacsayhuayman.  Now if you´re wondering how to promounce this, the woman at the tourist information centre iPeru was very helpful.  I asked her how to get there and she said "If you follow this road, you will find Sexy Woman."  As you can imagine it took all our willpower not to snort and laugh in this woman´s face, and needless to say we found no sexy women at Sacsayhuayman!  It was however the site of a great Inca battle were the Inca´s got their asses kicked (no disrespect intended!) by the Spanish lot.  

Ok and finally the big one - Machu Pichhu.  Let me just say that getting there is an excercise designed to part you from as much of your dosh as is possible.  We spent 100 dollars each to get there and our entrance ticket in, and that was on the cheapest train, catching 2 buses on route.  But it was totally worth it.  We decided to stay in the small town of Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Pichhu so that we could get the morning bus at 5.30am and spend some time before the coach loads of tourists got there.  So we stayed in a cheap damp backpacker joint for 5 quid a night (very cheap for a town that hikes all of its prices up cos it can!), it was so damp that I was not at all surprised at seeing a slug crawling across the shower at 3am in the morning!   

We got up an at the ungodly hour of 4.30am and arrived by bus to M.P for 6am.  The die-hards scrambled a 1 hour trek up the mountain, but we are not associated with those uber human fitness freaks.  A word of warning, we were completely ill prepared for this trip having only packed 4 biscuits and 1.5 litres of water.  But this was not because we are a complete pair of monkeys! No!  It was because our guide book said that all rucksacks had to be checked into storage and that no food or water was allowed to be bought in onto the site.  Our tickets said the same thing - so we just assumed we could get stuff in there.  Imagine our surprise when we didn´t have to check our bags in and no one searched our bags for contraband in the form of bread and water!   Plus we saw a couple of locals with a huge picnic, loads of food and a 3 litre bottle of Inca Cola! 

We thought nothing more of it, as we didn´t need food with the shed loads of adrenaline pumping through our veins.   We climbed to the caretakers hut to get our money shot.  The views were incredible - no postcard or picture can do it justice.  You just sit there and try and understand how the Incas created such places surrounded by the breathtaking mountains and plunging valleys.  Then we got this crazy idea to go climb Wayna Pichhu - the big green mountain in the background.  It took us 2 hrs to climb with many rest stops (because of the altitude not because we are rather unfit and chubby!)  At the top hysteria and euphoria kicked in upon these giant boulders which the Peruvian Senors jumped to and from like Neo from Matrix. 

At this point we probably should´ve just walked back down, but now the altitude had made us high and when John and Marcia tempted us with a trek down to the Great Caves and The Temple of the Moon ( a path filled with white knuckle steep paths and ladders and ropes were the path had crumbled away), we went for it, kamikazee style.  All was fine, we trekked an hour to the caves and then it dawned on us, that we´d have to climb a hour and a half back up.  Harmeet was bolloxed to put it politely and the climb back up was murder.  We had no water and only some biscuits which proceeded to suck all the H20 out of your body after consumption.  The snakes, lizards, mozzies and disease carrying albino mosquitos really didn´t bother us by now, and we kinda understood how John Hurt felt pre chest bursting scene in Alien

10, yes 10 hours later we made it back to Machu Pichhu, exhausted and delirious.  We were the last 2 off the mountain and we walked straight past the ruins and onto the bus back to our hostel.  Even after such a arduous journey M.P was still an awe inspiring visit that left us speechless. 

Having lost a few thousand brain cells due to lack of water and oxygen we headed back to Cuzco the next morning, feeling rather elated at being alive! 

Cuzco was incredible, the place, the Inca history and ruins and the great friends we made along the way - Shyum and Pramila, John and Marcia, Ruth our fellow brummie and the man who ate 2 cakes!...
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