South America, Day Twenty-One: Aguas Calientes, Peru (& Sacred Valley)

Our two-day tour of Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu begins.

We were picked up around 8.45am by a woman who walked us to a bus in the main square. After driving around in a circle for a while, we eventually set off. The tour-guide was called Julio and he was absolutely brilliant; dual-lingual too. It was almost like a Spanish lesson. And we learnt so much about Inca history.

The first stop was at Valley of Correo, which was basically just a market and a bano.

Next stop was Pisac. We wondered around the ruins and nearly killed ourselves in the process (the first half is flat, the second half isn’t). Also, it’s like 3,800 metres above sea-level. I’m unfit at the best of times.

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(Photo: Vicki Brand)

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Our Inca tour was interrupted by a visit to a silver shop. They claimed 950 silver is the best in the world. Ha! The ring I bought in Pisac market for 40 soles (£9) was in there for 120 (£26). Tourists are mugs.

Then we had a 40 minute drive to our lunch… which was an all-you-can-eat (and very yummy) buffet for 40 soles each. We had soup, rice, lamb, beef, chicken, fruit, cake, rice pudding and tea (we made up for the lack of food last night). It was lush.

We passed Ollantaytambo. More hills. More uphill trekking… but it’s totally worth it for the amazing sites.

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(Photo: Vicki Brand)

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Now we’re on a train (Inca Rail) to Machu Picchu. We’ve got really nice seats… and we got a free drink and snack! Then again we did pay an arm and a leg for this package tour.

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Our room is a mosquito cemetery. Dead bugs squished on every surface. Machu Picchu is in a jungle. We’re gonna be eaten alive out here. Our room is great otherwise; then again, compared to Bolivia, anything’s a palace. Two twin beds and an ensuite. Sorted.

We bought our tickets for the bus. £20 each!! For a bloody bus!! They’re bleeding tourists dry and laughing while they do so, but can’t say I blame them.

We have to leave the hostel at 4.45am. God. Help. Us.

The train ride here was lovely. The bloody thing kept whistling all the way here though. Endearing to start with; annoying by the umpteenth WOO-WOO.

We had dinner at Inti Feliz. God, it was delicious. A la carte shit, I mean. Nicely presented. Masterchef style, you know? It came to circa £30 for both of us. One starter (shared), two mains, two cocktails and a bottle of water. And it was really, really nice.

Aguas Calientes is a beautiful town. Shame we can’t explore here for longer. Machu Picchu is the main ‘I saw’ though. Hopefully they won’t notice / care that my passport number doesn’t match the one on the ticket… and hopefully they won’t care that Vicki’s not a man… that 4.30am alarm will be an even bigger bastard if so.

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