30th October 2009 - 5th November 2009
We arrived in Cusco early in the morning after flying and sleeping in airports all night . Well this time I slept and Nikki held the fort. The scenery was immediately different to the north of South America because it was dustier with even more mud brick homes. The women of African descent with colorful clothing and fruit on their heads were replaced with native South American women with colorful clothing, wearing hats like Charlie Chaplin might, and pony tails.
The night we arrived it was Halloween so every kid in the town was dressed up running around having a ball. Some of the little kids were really cute in Dinosaur suits. Nikki and I decided it would be nice to buy some lollies and give them out but as I purchased them a huge crowd of kids mobbed me. As I gave the sweets out more and more came until I was surrounded. The fight or flight kicked into action and I threw the sweets one direction then ducked my head and ran the other way.
We found Cusco to be a beautiful city but were excited to see Machu Picchu. As many people walk the Inca trail to Machu Picchu we decided to do an alternative tour involving Mountain biking.
The first day of the tour we rode MTB's down from about 4,800meters altitude to a small town. Up there it was really cold (10 degrees) but by the time we got to the bottom of the mountains it was warm (25 degrees). After the ride our new friend Daniel and I decided to have a few quiet beers before dinner. The nice surprise is they were 1.1litres each. Hehe.
The next day we walked though a beautiful valley, part of which was the Inca Tail. At one point we climbed the trail up really high on the side of a mountain for some photos on a cliff edge and as I'm scared of heights I asked Nikki with my most serious face not to do anything stupid and she immediately walked up to 1,000ft of pure death, stood on one foot and went OOoooooooh. Thanks.
Then we had lunch, slept in a hammock and followed the trail back down near the river below. There was once a town and a train track running along the side of the raging river but it had been washed away. Some of the twisted track can still be seen in the water. Parts of the path had slid away too but this gave us the opportunity to roll huge boulders down into the water - Nikki's idea, honest.
At one point Nikki and I were walking along listening to our iPods when we startled a huge snake and it slid right past our feet. We also saw a massive hole (4 by 4 meters) in the side of a cliff thrusting out water down to the river below.
Ooh. Nearly forgot. There was a Coca plantation we walked through too.
The next day wasn't much fun as we mostly just walked along a railway except for Nikki pointing out a naked lady to me. We had stopped at a stall for a drink from an old lady and everyone was having a look at her naked body in the river below when the lady at the stall said it was her daughter. We were all speechless except for an awkward joke about her having good genes.
On the third day of the tour we started walking at 5am and made our way up from the valley to the ancient town of Machu Picchu. The walk up the side of the mountain was epic but the view looking over the ruins on top of the mountain was easily worth it. The most impressive thing about it is the location but there are also some huge stones in the walls with many sides carved into them and teirs of farming land built right up to the cliff edge. From Machu Picchu we walked up Wayna Picchu, part of the ruins extending to another peak. It was a really difficult walk but had even more breath taking views. The guide we had was a descendent of the Maya people so he was very proud of the place and would get very excited and lick his lips when he told us stories about Machu Picchu. All in all it was another great tour and part of the world we feel very lucky to have visited.