Machu Picchu or riding?

Trip Start Nov 26, 2007
Trip End Nov 26, 2008

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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Sunday, August 10, 2008

5am... The alarm didn´t go off, luckily there were so many people outside doing the same thing it woke us up in time. The first bus was at 5.30am but we knew there would be queues before then. We were up early to climb Wanya Picchu which is the hill at the back of the classic photo which gives commanding views over Machu Picchu. Typically even though it was the driest time of the year it was belting down outside so we had to buy sexy plastic ponchos to keep us dry! The queues were long but there were many buses to take us up. 20 minutes later we were up at the top and queuing again to get into the main gate. When we got in it was just getting light and we got a glimse of how high we were and the ruins themselves which we didn´t give too much thought because we had to go and queue again to get to the top of Wayna Picchu which they only let in 400 people a day. It was a really tough climb to the top and with the air really thin it was twice as difficult, those Incas were really crazy people. Son and I guessed they probably took it really easily having regular breaks and not in such a mad rush as all the tourists trying to do everything in a couple of hours. The climb was well worth it and when the cloud eventually moved we had a great view of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains. After a bit it was down to explore the ruins themselves. It was a real maze and we couldn´t locate ourselves on the map so we gave up and went to the classic view point which was worth it  and we used the map then to point out what was what! To be fair we didn´t hang around too long and didn´t want to encounter the hoards of people arriving by train from Cusco so we left early and went back to pick up the bikes. On the train back we met a dutch guy who had bought a bike in Columbia and was riding it all the way to Rio. He was really inspirational and at a fraction of our age too he made us decide to continue that day towards Cusco so that we could have more time to check out the Inca ruins on the way back the next day. Fed and watered we headed off from Santa Theresa along a dirt track that was like being on the canyon edge we travelled for about 3hrs with both of us thinking that we´d seen somewhere to stay along the way but for some reason the guesthouse never appeared and before we knew it we were starting to climb the mountain which we definitely knew we hadn´t seen anything... and it was getting dark. And dark in this part of the world means cold. We stopped at where a girl was selling oranges and asked for the nearest hostel and she said there wasn´t one, the nearest being over the mountain and two hours away which meant that we´d probably have to do the majority of the hours in the dark and cold. We didn´t know what to do and with the light faiding rapidly we pushed on. We thought we´d get towards the top quickly but it didn´t happen with the road going across the mountain more than up because of the steepness of the mountain.Eventually we were riding in pitch black and we had to drop our speed, especially as we couln´t see the road which often had rock fall debris littering it. Eventually we reached a truckers cafe and in desperation asked them if they had room thinking we´d have to beg them just to give us floor space and amazing for us they had a bed. It wasn´t pretty but we didn´t care, we even had to sleep with bikes in the same room, for us though it was perfect. We got food and a bed that was all we needed at it turned out to be the cheapest evening we´d had for ages, we even got chatting to the owners who kept laughing at our poor spanish and the fact we had to refer to a book and gave us some of their own home brew booze made from sugar cane, good for the cold they said... and for us, sleep!
The next morning up bright and early we headed off towards cusco. The weather was clearer and the roads had dried off but it had still manged to snow at the top. We were having loads of fun, even taking different routes taking the bikes off road. It obviously wasn´t so easy for the hgvs two of which had had accidents on the twisty roads. We had planned our return route to take in more Inca ruins. The first was Moray and area of concentric lines that they believed the Incas used to test their different crops with each level having it´s own micro climate. It was great turning up on our own transport while we over took buses and taxis filled with boxed in tourists smelling and hearing everything around us. We then went to Salinas, an area used by the Incas and people today to collect salt. Neither of us could work out where the salt had come from, had the sea really been this far inland once?

Once again we passed all the vehicles gridlocked on the narrow roads we were having a blast, dust flying singing though our helmets we were at last loving Peru! Our Last stop had us visit Pisac where the best evidence of evidince of agricultural terracing sweeping around the hillside. It was really quiet with hardly any tourist yet it was one of the best things we´d seen. We walked up to gain great views over the ´sacred valley´ and it was an amazing sense of wellbeing at the top, the climb itself was tough we wondered how difficult it was for the sellers who had made it there every day to sell their goods.

We felt for them and bought ourselves something, maybe also to remind ourselves of how good a three days we had just had. Returning to Cusco we felt such an achievement almost wanting to tell everyone of our expeirences, of how exciting getting to Machu Picchu could be but knew it was something that just son and I had shared. Now we are again one of the many tourists in Cusco and tonight are going to feast on Guinea Pig. Our plan now (parents you may not like this!) is to look at buying bikes to travel bolivia and argentina... Tomson on bike tour!
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