Lima to Machu Picchu

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March 8th 2014
Published: March 8th 2014
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When I returned to mainland Ecuador last week, I decided (with a few friends from the tour) to head up to the equator which was only ten or so kilometres away. We took a taxi and took a few photos on the equator line at "the middle of the earth" before returning to Quito, picking up some laundry, and heading for the airport. It turned out that 6 of us had flights within five minutes of each other so it was nice to take the taxi to the airport together. I arrived in Lima at 10pm and after going through the security and getting in a taxi to my hotel, was greeted in my room by Frankie, who had flown in that morning and was looking pretty shattered.

6am the next morning saw us at breakfast and packed up for our flight to Cuzco later that morning. We thought it was all going smoothly when we walked out to the bus but it turns out the bus was broken and we had to wait back at the gate for a while before we could finally get on the plane. It was about an hour flight and we were met on the other side by Elias, our guide in Cuzco and on the inca trail. He took us to our hotel and after we had checked in, he took us on an orientation walk around the city. We saw temples and the main square but as it was carnival on that day, we were sprayed with artificial snow by the local people. It wasn't exactly pleasant! Frankie and I both had some alpaca for lunch and a pisco sour cocktail, both of which were delicious. In the evening, we met the rest of our tour group and had a briefing on what would happen on the inca trail.

The next morning, we left for a tour of the sacred valley. We took some photos high above Cuzco City and then went to a local village where we met some ladies who weave alpaca and llama wool to make some money to send their children to school. We saw how they spun the wool and dyed it with natural colours before weaving it to make, scarves, table cloths and all manner of objects. Frankie bought me a pair of llama socks, purple of course. We then went further down into the sacred valley and saw the archaeological site of Pisac, where Elias told us about the history of the inca civilisation and what the ruins that we were seeing might have been used for. There was a lot of steps so it was a good warm up for the inca trail as well! When we were finished there, we drove to the town of Ollantaytambo, where we were staying for the night, and checked into our hotel. We walked around the town and at the other end discovered another inca site, some terraces which they used for farming. They were very interesting but we couldn't stay for too long as it started to storm and we were keen to get back into the dry. We stocked up on some supplies for the trek and had some dinner with the group.

Since Tuesday, we have been trekking the inca trail, the 45km route that was built by the inca civilisation over 500 years ago. Like in Ecuador, I struggled with the altitude the first day or two but felt much better towards the end. Along the way, we have seen some amazing inca remains, I might have to show you all the photos when I get home as I have so many! We've done a lot of steps, apparently over 11000. We've walked over 1000m up and 1000m down and it has been fairly tough as I haven't done an awful lot of exercise recently. Frankie's spent some of his first nights under canvas and we have lived up to our team name of the "stinky alpacas". It was all worth it though. There have been some absolutely beautiful views, both of the landscapes and the rain forests and we have seen some of the amazing inca remains. Of course, it all ended in Machu Picchu which was just amazing. We got up at 3 am yesterday morning to be one of the first groups through the check point and marched to the sun gate (up some particularly nasty stairs). Unfortunately it was really cloudy when we got there and we didn't manage to get our first view of the site until we dropped down a little on the path. When we did see it, I was blown away, it's still relatively intact compared to some of the other remains we had seen and covers a bigger area. We walked into the site as very smelly and weary travellers but spent most of the morning exploring and listening to our guide talk about the site and inca history. At lunchtime, we got a bus down to the town of Aguas Calientes where a pisco sour cocktail awaited all of us. Such a sense of achievement! We took a train and a bus back to Cuzco, showered, went out for dinner (where Frankie and I are guinea pig, a local delicacy, and alpaca) and eventually collapsed into bed.


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