Our first adventure was a hike to Machu Pichu. The 'traditional' Inca Trek is a four day adventure that involves hiking some of the original Inka road. This is subject to strict permits whereby daily quotas of gringos are imposed so that the great Incan heritage isn't destroyed under the feet of foreigners. As such we opted for the Jungle Trek which included a day's biking and then two days hiking (with optional rafting and zip lining). It proved to be a great choice; the biking was excellent and started in snow capped mountains and descended to sub-tropical jungle. The bikes and safety equipment were excellent, even though we did have to wear orange bibs over our cool mountain biking apparel...
Day two and three were hikes through valleys and up mountains, stopping at local houses, coffee farms and small villages along the way. We learnt about the local communities, the old Incan customs, the Spanish invasion, and how to select a Cuy (guinea pig) for dinner.
On the forth day we woke up at 3.30 to hike to Machu Pichu. From Aguas Calientes (the local town) you walked approx 30 mins to the gate and then from there a further hour in the pitch black up steep steps. The alternative was to get a bus but we wanted the extra exercise and Dan begrudged paying $10 for a bus for the lazy/incapacitated.
We met our guide and the rest of the group at Machu Pichu and proceeded on a tour. The sight of the entire city was that of utterly, stupendously, stunningly, awe-inspiringly sod-all! You could see 15metres in front of you at most (when it wasn't raining) enough to verify that someone in the not so distant past had constructed a collection of stones on top of a hill. In addition to this, we had paid a further $10 to climb Machu Pichu Mountain in even poorer visibility. 75 minutes of demanding cardiovascular work up incredibly steep stairs was rewarded by a photo in thick fog next to a sign noting we'd reached the summit. Lucky there was a sign as for all we knew we could just as easily have been standing on Ben Nevis.
Before the eyes of our readership are wet, let us assure you that by the time we got down from Machu Pichu Mountain, the mist had largely cleared and the city was presented in its glory, enhanced by the mist hugging the surrounding mountains. Or as someone on a subsequent tour said on hearing of our MP adventure:
'If I went on a tour of Machu Pichu and it was that s***, I'd say the mist enhanced the scenery too'