After a slight time adjustment from 4:30am pick up to a more reasonable 6:20am we left our luggage at Tierra Viva and Eddie our guide for the next two days came to collect us in our private van. We were all excited about the day ahead, knowing that by this time tomorrow we would have already seen Machu Picchu, one of the seven new wonders of the world. The journey to Ollayantambo was quite long and windy but we saw some great views along the way. We arrived ahead of schedule I had to follow Eddie with our passports as he collected our train tickets, Mum told me never to let them out of my sight, I felt like a stalker! After a short wait we were on the train, with a load of noisy Israelis', enjoying the view and the teeny tiny sandwich we got as breakfast. Eddie pointed out a few interesting sights along the way and Mum and I attempted a conversation with the couple sat opposite. Mum asked the woman where she was from, in Spanish, she responded and then we both attempted to ask if Peruvians were allowed in Machu Picchu for free. At this point her husband sat down and said they didn't speak English! Mum and I tried to keep a straight face but it didn't last for long when Mum turned to me 'I thought we were speaking Spanish!' After another attempt we managed some conversation with them and they were very friendly, even to the point of having a group photo with us.
The train came to a brief stop for those of us joining the Inca trail to get off quickly and begin our preparations for our trek. We took a few photos at the starting point, Eddie rightly pointed out that it was the best place to take photos before we got sweaty, out of breath and possibly wet from the rain. As we turned around the corner Eddie ordered us to be quiet and we all peered up into the treetops. I couldn't believe my eyes it was a pair of Peru's national bird the one the only… c*** of the Rock! Jenny had highlighted that we had to see this on our travels. It is so rare, Eddie had only seen it twice before and never a pair. Mum exclaimed 'Que Suerte!' and Dad asked 'What is it?' After the excitement we began our 7 hour trek and a few minutes later we made our first stop at a Inca ruins and then it was pretty much non-stop for another 4 hours. Along the way we did make a few brief stops to catch our breath (well mainly for Dad to) and take in the amazing views. Eddie decided the truth hurts and continually lied about how long until the next stop and where we were going. Although when he did tell us the truth we found it difficult to believe him-'Really, that far until the next stop?!' Eddie also pointed out flowers and facts about the Incas, M&D loved the different birds, in particular the hummingbirds which took at least 10 minutes of admiring until Dad sneezed and scared them away. There were also a few sightings of giant beetles, bugs and butterflies, which made the journey exciting at every turn and caused a few delays; Mum 'Sorry we're behind Jon was taking a picture of a bug!'
The hardest part of the trek were the steps to the second Inca ruins they were high steps and there were a lot of them. We all managed it and were rewarded with some great views especially when the rain stopped and the clouds cleared, very atmospheric! We had our box lunch at the check point and the easiest leg of the journey left, well apart from the few steps that Eddie 'forgot' about and exclaimed a very English 'whoops' when he saw them. Dad was not pleased but we all made it and got some more great photos. By the time we reached the sun gate we had climbed mountains, trekked through the jungle, clambered over waterfalls, avoided landslides and explored two Inca ruins. We all waited at the top of the Sun gate and saw Machu Picchu for the first time together. I was concerned that the hype and expectation would not match the sight. I had nothing to worry about, it was amazing, just amazing. After some photos at the sun gate and attempting to take in this seven wonder we wandered down to the 'postcard' view. The weather was perfect and the view kept taking my breath away. Not only Machu Picchu and the picture I am sure everyone has seen from posters etc but the surrounding views were just as amazing. We sat for several minutes attempting to take it in and observed as other people got their picture postcard shot. One guide made us laugh as he took a picture of his American tourist. The yank asked 'did you get the shot?' the guide replied 'yes, one of you posing and one of you moaning!' they obviously had a good rapport!
We got the bus down to the small town of Aguas Calientes and were taken to our hostal for the night. James and I found it to be a decent hostal with a private bathroom, treat! However, M&D weren't so keen, Dad took more photos of the room then he had in the nice places we had stayed before! The buffet dinner was also pretty good, well for our standards M&D were not impressed!
The next morning we were up at 5:00 ready for a mediocre breakfast and another view of Machu Picchu. Unfortunately the weather was terrible, it was raining really hard and it didn't look as if the clouds were going to shift anytime soon. We decided we would wait for a bit as we had the whole morning to go up and didn't fancy getting soaked in the first few minutes. James the ever optimist kept saying 'it is clearing'. Eventually we took his word for it and left the hostel adorned with rain jackets and sexy ponchos. When we got to the top we could barely make out the buildings and felt sorry for the group in our hostel that only had this morning to see it. Eddie took us on a tour of the ruins, highlighting interesting buildings and telling us some of the history of the Incas. We attempted to refrain from giggling when he was telling us about a bush and kept saying the word bush! Luckily Eddie had a good sense of humour and although we put him off track with his tour he was as immature as us, laughing at the word bush! The ruins are a bit maze like at times and we don't really know how it happened but we turned around and Dad was gone. We heard a small voice coming from behind the walls 'Where are you?' Dad had managed to get himself lost in the space of 2 minutes, we obviously started to laugh and he did find us again. After the tour we had a drink in the outside cafeteria and went back in as the weather cleared a little bit. We walked to the Inca bridge, took some more photos and after James had a word with the posh restaurant owner about the ridiculous prices and we got a bus down to Aguas Calientes. We found a restaurant a couple had recommended and had a delicious lunch. The sun came out and in true Mansfield style we found a nice coffee shop and relaxed until our train left.
I fell asleep on the train journey back but apparently there were some fantastic views that we had missed on the way there due to clouds. We got a coach back to Cuzco to our new hostel and didn't fancy a long walk but luckily just down the road from our hostel we found a lovely little pizzeria. It was only big enough for three small tables and was run by a man who made the pizzas in front of us and his daughter who took the orders. It was our last night with M&D and we did a few more luggage rearrangements and went to bed.