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Published: June 26th 2017
Geo: -13.1583, -72.5314
On Wednesday morning we left Cusco by bus at 6am. We had a two hour drive through Urubamba to Ollayantambo to catch the train to Mach Picchu. The train arrived at 8-20am and we left for our one and a half hour trip through the valley alongside the Urubamba River. The train was very comfortable with viewing windows in the roof. as well as large windows. We were serve breakfast. This consisted of cactus fruit, melons, Quinoa pancakes with blueberry sauce and a warm spinach pastry. We also had coffee. The scenery was stunning. Apart from the roaring river the tall mountains and green hillsides were very attractive.
We arrived in Machu Picchu about 10am. From the station we had a short walk to our hotel, Inkaterra. This is a fantastic place. It is an Eco-lodge set in beautiful gardens and using all natural products. Each room is in separate bungalows. We had a huge room with a sitting area overlooking the river. They offerred to light a fire for us if we needed. Once we left our luggage(we had to take only a small bag for these two days and left our suitcases back at Cusco) We walked down
to the bus station to catch the bus to take us up to this World Heritage site. The bus ride up was hair-raising. The road was only wide enough for one vehicle most of the way with some passing areas. However the bus drives were unperturbed and seemed to sense when a bus was approaching.
Once at the top our group was divided into two for the tour.We went in a small group who did not want to climb to the high entrance. Our guide was Jacqui. She was great. She led us along the path and through some buildings. She asked if we were ready to see Machu Picchu and when we said yes we went around a corner and there it was laid out before us. It was breathtaking. The size of this site is mind-boggling and is dominated by the cirle of mountains protecting it. There are many terraces along the side of the slopes. made by the Incas for farming. We were told that this site was mainly established for astronomical purposes and as a Royal residence for the King and his aristocracy. However, many common people also lived here to provide services. As well pilgrims came
along the Inca Path from Cusco.
We walked up to the Temple of the Sun which has two main windows, one for the Winter and the other for the Summer Solstices. We then climbed up to the area where observations were made for the accuracy of the Incan calendar. There is still a large stone sun dial there. We looked out over the quarry from which most of the stones used here were mined. The views are fantastic. We then walked down to the main square and then we were taken to the King's house. He even had a modest hole in the ground as his toilet The Incas had sophisticated drainage and aqueduct systems to provide water and sanitation.
The last places we saw were the houses of the ordinary workers as well as another astronomical area where reflective pools were used to observe the sun and moon. The final site was the Temple of the Condor, the sacred bird of the Incas. This has a rock formation which looks like the wings and on the ground in front is carves the head and body of the bird.
All together we spent over 2 hours wandering amongst the extensive buildings of this
site. It is certainly one for the bucket list. By the time we emerged it was 2pm so we had baguettes at a small cafe next to the exit. The weather had been kind. It was sunny at the start and though we had showers they were light and did not interfere with the experience. After lunch we did the return trip in the bus about 3pm. At the bottom we wandered along the railway track back to our room browsing through the sm all souvenir shops along the way. We spent a little while in the room then went to the Lobby bar to try and get Internet but it was very slow and intermittent.
Dinner was included in our stay so at 7pm we went to the Cafe Inkaterra, overlooking the river for a wonderful meal.
We had a free morning today and so took our time. Unfortunately the Internet signal was weak so couldn't upload photos or do much. We went into the town and bought some T shirts for the grandsons and a hat for me. Heaps of people around. Then it was off to the train station for our 1-37 train. Perurail is great. Not only
were we given a snack for lunch we also had a fashion show of Alpaca handknits and a local dancer in costume entertaining us. Of course they were selling the garments but it was enjoyable. We got off at Ollantayatambo and then were taken by bus to the archaeolgical site there. This is another Inca complex spreading over the hillside and also has large storage houses up high on the side of the mountain. I climbed up to the first level but didn't go any further. Fletcher stayed at ground level. When I returned we inspected the system of fountains used to channel and store water. Very impressive.
We then drove to our accommodation for the night in Urubamba. This was the Casa Andina another beautifully appointed hotel set in lovely gardens. Our room was a fair distance from Reception and upstairs but was very comfortable. We had dinner there. I had a trout chowder which was huge and contained a large single piece of trout. Then I ordered a risotto which was supposed to be typical of the area. This was very tasty but again the serves were huge.We were taken back to our rooms in the golf cart which
saved our legs somewhat. Another interesting day.
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