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Published: January 25th 2011
As one of the wonders of the world - Machu Picchu is a must on the list of places to visit in Peru. Likewise fellow travellers seem to talk about the Inca trail as if it were the holy grail. After a lot of debate Tom and I decided that we would break from the crowd and skip the four day test of indurance. Instead we headed straight to Aguas Calientes, a beautiful town at the base of the site.
Contry to popular belief, noone knows the name of the Inca city. Machu Picchu is actually the name of one of the two adjacent mountains. The other mountain is Huayna Picchu and authorities issue 400 tickets per day to climb its heights.
Willy Wonka´s Golden ticket is nothing in comparison to the fierce competition between visitors for Huayna Picchu tickets. We were up at 4am to be met by a large crowd . Like the first day of the Harrods sale as soon as the entry gates open the crowd surges up the hill to the ticket office which is located an hour and a halfs walk up a steep hill - all this is done in the pitch
black while being pushed and shoved by others desperate for a ticket (we actually saw a fight break out!!.)
My competitive nature came out and regardles of the rain I galloped up. While soaking wet victory was ours and we were one of the "lucky" 400.
I soon came to wonder if it was a false prize. What they dont tell you is that while you need to be up at the ticket office by 5.30 am the pass admits you at 10.00 am by which time any warm blooded being has lost all feeling in their limbs and has turned a shade of blue. I have to admit that by 9.30 after walking round the main site my resolve to conquer Huanya Picchu had left me in favour of a hot shower.
At less than 700 years old you can see older ruins and get just as cold in Scotland but Machua Picchus saving grace is its surroundings which make it one of a kind.
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