South America, Day Twenty-Two: Aguas Calientes, Peru (Machu Picchu)

Machu Picchu day!!

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(Photo: Vicki Brand)

We got up at the arse crack of dawn and, in the pissing rain, made our way to the bus station. Despite leaving the hostel at 4.45am, the queue was still bloody long (what is wrong with these people?! Machu Picchu ain’t going anywhere!). We managed to get on bus number three (each left within a few minutes of each other so it didn’t hold us up by much). We arrived half an hour later, after a twisty-turny journey (I guess it would be; we were going up a mountain!). Then we had to queue (again) at the front entrance. And, yippee, we got in. So we had about 20 minutes to have a look before our tour-guide arrived – which wasn’t enough time to get a snap of MP without the droves of people. Plus we took the wrong turn and went up instead of down… meaning we spent half of those 20 minutes walking up a never-ending set of stone stairs, and the other half walking back down again, having realised we didn’t have time to reach the peak.

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We met up with David (tour guide number one) after shouting his name for an age. David then passed us onto Pablo (tour guide number two). We then went on a two hour guided tour of Machu Picchu where we learnt more about the history of the site. It was discovered in 1911, and then they worked on the land, getting rid of all the trees / forest growth that had taken over the city in its 500/600 years of abandonment.

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(Photo: Vicki Brand)

Machu Picchu is beautiful – the stunning Incan archaeology is set amid bright green vegetation and the surrounding mountains (they look like moss-covered caves). And it is amazing to think that a whole city thrived so far up in the mountains – not to mention the painstaking lengths they went to while building their temples and housing. Now only llamas live there.

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(Photos: Vicki Brand)

For some unbeknown reason, we were told to get up there early – but I’ve got no idea why. 6am or 10am, it looks the same. You can still get a decent photo at whatever time. And it doesn’t matter if you’re first in the queue; some bugger will still photobomb your pic. All the tours start at 6.30am though. Weird.

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(Photo: Vicki Brand)

There are a few rules you should obey (or break if you’re us). No eating (we had a Diamox for altitude before we realised that was a rule and needed to eat otherwise the pill would have done funky things to us). No jumping (what’s Machu Picchu without a jumping photo?). No naked photos (yeah, we adhered to this one).

10848007_637417176548_8865707934894740062_n(Photo: Vicki Brand)

It’s bloody tough finding your way around the place. Very steep, uneven steps, wobbly rocks… not to mention loads of human traffic. If you’ve got dodgy knees, this might not be the place for you.

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There are a few great photo ops. The main one is by the “sun house” – the small house with a roof right at the top of the mountain (the only house with a roof).

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People kept asking me and Vicki to be in their photos. We felt like a tourist attraction. It’s like they’ve never seen blonde hair before. Know what celebs feel like now.

It’s cool to see the difference between the Incas efforts and the modern-day both up restoration job. The Incas had style. And mad skills. The 20th / 21st century architects do not. You can spot the difference a mile off. Apparently, the site consists of 70% original Inca architecture, and 30% reconstruction.

After Machu Picchu, we headed back down to earth and spent ages wasting time before our train back. We ate at Indi Feliz again (so good), had a hot chocolate at the French bakery and eventually got on the train.

Back in Cusco, we had dinner at Jack’s (my stomach is still funky) and spend our last night at Milhouse.

It’s been a great week in Peru. Next up: Brazil!

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