Similiarly to Arequipa it has its fairshare of tourist hungry locals offering every possible way of getting to the legendry Machu Pichu but at the same time has a nice feel and pace excentuated by hot sunny days to sit in the square and soak up the sun and do nothing.
We spent the first couple of days doing just that whiling spending a bit of time to take in a few churches and eating the local cuisine. We took another... tour (my pet hate) to taste our first experience of the Incas who used Cusco as their capital city back in the day. The tour was unfortunately unsuprising and rushed with us spending more of our time in a shop and not in the ruins which didnīt help my phobia towards them. However it was fascinating to learn the ridiculous lengths that people went through in the old days to build things. A place called Saqsaywaman they had built what was believed to be some sort of ceremonial building ( the size of several acres) out of stones from a quarry 6kms away and weighing upto 300 tons in weight and then carving them to fit perfectly to create beautiful walls,
aparrently to look impressive more than anything according to our guide but also to act as a defense. The unfortuate thing about the history of the Incas is that they never wrote anything down so alot of history is theoryised! Nonetheless we saw some fantistic views and found out a little insight into the Incan empire. The next day we went about planning our route to Machu Picchu while trying to dodge all the cowboy outfits. Fortunately for us we stumbled across a agent offering motorbike tours and rental so obviously we jumped at the chance to do things differently and more importantly, independently. A few hours later we had two 250cc dirt bikes reserved, a map and all the info we needed to get to Machu Picchu and bags of excitement!
The route we had planned out had us heading about 180 miles to the other side of Macchu Pichu, with most people heading directly there or walking which was definitely not on the cards for us! We had to set off at about 6.30am to make sure we could get to the train at 3.00pm that would take us to the town at the bottom of Machu Picchu, not accesible by road.
Tanks filled we ventured off towards the larger than life Andes. As we climbed higher the air temperature cooled and we had to stop to add more layers. We passed though rollong hills riding though the heart of little villages and towns until we suddenly reached a huge valley town called Urubamba sprawling along the valley floor with the andean mountains towering above it.
From here we had to ride into the jagged mountians knowing that the highest point would be around 4000 metres!
The riding was some of the best iīve ever done and son agreed with hairpin after hairpin as we climbed higher and higher, the road clutching the mountains edge, from above the road looked like a scalectric track.
However as we got higher dark clouds started to form which blanked the top from view. As we rode into them the visability dropped and it started to rain heavily with neither of us wearing waterproofs we we soaked and freezing. We both had to put our heads down and ride through it. Reaching the top was more of a relief than anything knowing that we would now descend and hopefully it would stop raining and we might actually be able to dry off! Eventually it did stop when we dropped below the clouds and we were able to feel our finger tips again! The road conditions changed to dirt and we were rattled about by the poor roads, fortunately the bikes were up to the challenge and it turned out to be quite fun! We pushed on and eventually got to Santa Theresa 7 hours after we started. We dropped off the bikes grabbed quick meal and then we had to get the train to Agua Calientes.
Finally we had made it but couldīt stop just yet as we hadnīt got a room! Eventually with a room found and all the dust showered from us it was time for a well deserved drink, food and early night as we had to be up at 5am to go to Machu Picchu!
Arriving in Cusco was another long and slightly painful journey in the sense that we expected it to take about 12 hours and it turned out to be 16, by now we should both be prepared for this! Cusco is a lovely city filling the bottom of a valley with plenty of old buildings and cobbled streets that extend up towards the hills.