Since I last wrote quite a lot has happened. Cusco was a great laugh but unfortunately due to the miners strikes at the border with Bolivia, I ended up stuck there for a few days longer than i would have liked. After a few nights getting used to the altitude (3300m) i set off on my Inca jungle trek to Machu Picchu. The idea of this route to Machu Picchu was that it is based more on adventure sports on route rather than just trekking for 4 days. So the first day was a 64km bike ride, down an amazing road that started at about 4700m and descended to 2000ish metres. This was amazing as the road was a series of switchbacks with amazing scenery the entire way. Unfortunately the majority of my group for the next 3 days was a bunch of aussies who had been traveling together and insisted on getting drunk and high at every possible opportunity. This meant that they were constantly late for departure times and one of the guys actually crashed quite badly into the big gutter on the side of the bike ride. Probable largely due to the fact that he had taken a few valium half an hour before we set off! Luckily a few guys on the trip were decent lads who were up for all the activities and more sensible, so i mainly hung out with them and ignored the crackheads in our group. After the bike ride we had the option of white water rafting in the evening, obviously i couldnt do this because of my burst eardrum, but no one else wanted to either so we set off on our 45 min car journey to our overnight stop in the town of Santa Teresa. There was the option of spending the night in Santa Maria (the town the mountain biking ended in) and doing an 8 hour hike the next day to santa teresa. But i had opted for the 3 day trip so we skipped this. After a relatively uncomfortable night in a grotty hostel in Santa Teresa and having to again deal with the drunk aussies, we set off for some ziplining. As you can imagine the aussies were all hungover and therefore late (again). This was pretty fun, but seeing as id done it in ecuador i was a little underwhelmed. After this it was time for our ¨trekking¨ to start. This was only a 10km hike along the train tracks and around Machu Picchu mountain, which meant that we could see it the entire time. The aussie girls hadnt quite realised that being a 3 day trip, packing light was key as we carried our own stuff. So when they turned up with an 80litre rucksack asking who was carrying their kit it took about 10 minutes of painstaking explaining to show them that they would be. This was clearly too much and they decided to get the train with the injured Tomo. The trek was actually really nice and because it was so easy i switched to flip flops after a little bit. Arriving in Aguas Calientes that afternoon meant a well earned dip in the hot springs before an early night to start the ascent to Machu Picchu at 4am. The walk up was more like a race, as only the first 400people into Machu Picchu get a stamp to be allowed to Wayna Picchu for amazing views. So i got to the queue to start the climb up 1600steps early and after about 35mins of exhausting climbing that nearly killed me, I was 6th in line to get into Machu Picchu. This was definately worth it, as the park was completely empty when I was let in and the smile didnt disappear from my face all day. I had high expectations for Machu Picchu and in no way did it disappoint. It truly was stunning. The climb to Wayna Picchu was just as hard as that to Machu picchu that morning, but the good thing being this time it wasnt a race. After savouring the views for a few hours we headed back down to chill out in Machu Picchu and generally enjoy the stunning beauty of the place. My legs by now were completely dead so i decided to get the bus back to Aguas Calientes rather than walk back down, and prompty fell asleep. It was then a short train ride followed by another bus journey back to Cusco, and the end of a stunning day and an incrediably enjoyable journey to get to Machu Picchu.
As Ive said due to the miners strikes the road to Bolivia from Peru and the border were both closed. They were even threathening to blow up the boats on lake titicaca if they werent stopped. So this meant my only options to get to La Paz were either fly or go through Chile. As going through Chile had never been my intention and would take several days, I decided to fly and found a cheap flight for $120. This however meant killing 4 more days in Cusco. Those four days were pretty much devoted to drinking and chilling in the hammocks at the hostel making friends. So eventually Wednesday arrived and surprise surprise the border opened on wednesday for a week. But my flight was booked and only took an hour as opposed to a 14hour bus ride so not the end of the world. The flight itself was very strange as the plane never felt like it was descended but just kept climbing before landing very fast. La Paz is the highest capital city in the world (3660m) and it definately tells. Just walking uo stairs in the hostel is knackering and I find myself constantly breathless. After a day of trying to get used to this I booked to do the worlds most dangerous road on mountain biking. Unfortunately a few days ago a Japanese tourist had died on this trip because she used a budget company and her brakes failed. With this in mind i went with the most expensive company with a nearly 100% record. The bikes were amazing quality ($2500 each) and our guide was really cool. Also I booked on with a load of english lads who´d I´d meet in Arequipa so it was fun doing it with people i knew. We also had a small group (6 of us with two guides). The ride itself was amazing fun, and once you got used to going along a single lane road with a 150m drop to your left it was incredible and the views amazing. After about 10km on the road it widened a little bit we could get some good speed up as we forgot about the drop and started to really enjoy it. The ride finished in an animal refuge at the bottom of the road, where we had a buffet lunch and got to play with the monkeys. The day had started at 4600m and descended to 1200 over 55km. And all this for only 70quid. So the plan now is to leave La Paz tomorrow for Sucre (the actual capital of Bolivia) and then Potosi followed by the salt flats. Hopefully i can get used to the altitude as Potosi is the highest city in the world at 4070m.
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