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Cusco, Peru

Machu Picchu, Inca Train and super rain.

all seasons in one day 28 °C

The bus journey from La Paz to Cusco was superb, we opted for a cama seat ( almost fully reclining ) which had so much space. All this for 150 Bolivianos each, which is roughly 20 quid. We arrived at just after 3 am, about two hours earlier than expected so were at a bit of a loss as to where to go. After considering sitting in the freezing bus station until it was light, we jumped in a cab to take us into Cusco city centre and attempted to find a hostel with available rooms and who would let us straight in. Of course there is always a hitch and the first hostel we tried was completely full, however on the advice of the old Lonely Planet book we headed to a place called Casa de la Gringo two. It was down a tiny little street only just big enough for the taxi and took several attempts at banging on the door to rouse the night porter to answer. After a pretty tough exchange of broken Spanglish, he agreed we could use the room straight away without any extra charge. I have to say it was a brilliant feeling, although the bus journey had been comfortable, there's nothing as nice a real bed and not having to hang around.

After a couple of hours sleep we headed off for a look around Cusco and i have to say, we were quite impressed. There is a huge square with shops and restaurants round the edges and generally the whole town was very pretty. That night, Peru were playing Uruguay in the semi final of the Copa America cup so we decided to head for a bar and watch the match with the locals. We had a great time and were the only tourists in what seemed like quite a cool bar aimed at the local trendy set. After one or two Machu Picchu beers ( thats the truth!!!! ) we drunkenly headed back to the hostel in anticipation of heading to Aguas Calientes the following morning, our final stop before visiting Machu Picchu.

After some initial problems with our transport arrangements, we were on our way to a train station in Ollantaytambo to catch the Inca Rail train to Aguas Calientes. The train is the only mode of transport that can get you to Machu Picchu and that means its always really busy. We were really lucky as the Inca rail trains are beautiful inside and on top of that, provide you with snacks and coffee. The journey itself was stunning and really set the tone of what to expect from Machu Picchu. On arriving in Aguas Calientes ( just to be clear, Aguas Calientes is the closet town to Machu Picchu ) we headed out the station to find our hostel. We couldn't for the life of us find it anywhere, and it is a tiny town, nor had anyone heard of it. After about an hour and a half of wandering around, we finally found someone who had heard it and pointed us in the right direction. It turns out that there had been someone from the hostel waiting to pick us up from the station, but on the name board it had said Nicol Screeman and we hadn't clicked. All we did that night was head out for some dinner and then back to the hostel to try and get a good nights sleep before our visit to Machu Picchu the next day.

We had got up nice and early and as soon as we finished breakfast, went down to the bus station ( the only buses here are ones that ferry you up the mountainside to Machu Picchu ) and set off on the 45 min trip to Machu Picchu. We had planned this quite well as most of the " tourists" don't arrive until around 11 am and we were at the entrance gates by 8.30 am so meant that it was relatively quiet. Its quite hard to describe what Machu Picchu looks like and even harder to explain the feeling you get when you first arrive. Its so much bigger than either of us realised and tucked away high up in the mountains. We spent two hours exploring the area before heading back to the entrance to meet our tour guide, and join the throngs of the other "tourists". I have to say, although i normally don't enjoy these tours, it was great and answered a lot of questions that we thought of the first time round. Machu Picchu really is a must see for everyone at some time in life, it truly is spectacular and both of us were really glad we made the trip. After our tour we decided to head back to town as we had to catch our train back to Cusco. In our infinite wisdom, we decided to walk back to Aguas Calientes, which turned out to be, although amazing and breathtaking, a huge walk down thousands of stairs to get to the bottom of the mountain. On the way back down we say some others walking the route uphill and i have to say neither of us was envious of them.

We were going to visit the hot springs when we arrived back and sooth our tired feet however it started to rain, not you usual rain, but torrential down pour that lasted for nearly two hours. By the time it finished, we needed to get to the train station to catch our train back to Cusco. Lady luck must have been looking down on us as our carridge was one of the first class sections so our journey back was really comfortable.

The following day we organised the next leg of our trip, an overnight bus to Tacna, which is in the south of Peru. From there we would take another bus across the border into Chile and our final country in South America. Before we left Cusco there is a local dish that Nic had been dying to try, Cuy al horno is a traditional delicacy of Peru and has been around for hundreds of years and apparently has been the staple diet of locals ever since. I wasn't too keen on it however Nic thought it was great,and has said that she would quite happily eat it again. Just for future reference, if Nic comes round for dinner at your house, keep your Guinea Pigs hidden!

Posted by Big Adventure 22:17 Archived in Peru Tagged machu pig picchu aguas calientes rail cusco inca guinea tacna

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