Had the best night's sleep since arriving in Cusco last night, think it may be because we are much lower down and the altitude sickness has eased off. Just as well really as we had a 4.30 am start in order to get to Machu Picchu to see the sun rise. When we arrived at the inca city we set off at a brisk pace to one of the highest points which was about 500 steps! Unfortunately by the time the sun rose it had become cloudy but it was still a wonderful experience. Machu Picchu is everything I thought it would be it is absolutely amazing. There are some things I did not know however:
1. You need to be a professional athlete to truly appreciate it due to the altitude and the number of steps!
2. It was not discovered by Hirham Bingham the locals were farming and living in the area when he arrived and gave him a guided tour of the city (FACT!)
After watching the sun rise we walked down the 500 steps to meet our guide we then walked back up the 500 steps again to begin our tour! Decided to have our photo taken with the flag which was immediately confiscated by a security guard, quite why this was we do not know, however an Irish guy on our tour reckoned the guard must have been a Scottish Rugby supporter. Had a really interesting tour and then were left to our own devices, we had hoped to climb Wayna Picchu but our tour organiser didn't tell us we needed tickets (aaarghh!) We decided to climb Montana Machu Picchu instead and our guide told us it would take about 2 hours there and back so off we set. We were already suffering from the altitude and the physical exertion of getting around the site but thought we would take it easy (sorry should not say we it was me really). Well anyway half hour into the climb I think my left lung stopped working, Nick kindly took my backpack and we continued on our way. An hour in and the capacity of my right lung was down to about 10% the only good thing (for Nick anyway) was that I had been unable to speak the whole time as I did not want to waste the little oxygen finding its way into my defunct lungs. Got to a small ridge and looked up to see we were nowhere near the summit, at this point I am ashamed to say I gave up. Nick continued the trek for Wales and I returned to the bottom of the mountain to await my brave explorer's return! 3 hours later Nick returns looking very unwell and about 1 1/2 stone lighter, I happened to enquire where he had been as in total it had taken him 4 hours and he nearly bit my head off! It transpires that the guide was lying (as most tour operators do we have found here) and this climb was extremely difficult and long. In fact he said of the 50 or so that we met along the way only about 6 made it to the top (of course my Nick was one of them). Finally left Machu Picchu after 11 hours really tired for our train back to Cuzco.