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26th July 2006 - Peru Trip - Day 4, July 7th - Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes to Cusco

Again up at the crack of sparrows fart to catch one of the 1st buses up the hill to Machu Picchu. The 1st bus leaves at 05:30, but there are plenty and it seems that everyone staying in the town is trying to get up top early. People and buses everywhere and most people were in groups, so I was escorted to one of the buses at the front to take the last seat and off we went.

The idea today was to meet up with my group that would be hiking off the Inca Trail this morning. (Angie, Vanessa, Steve, Dre, Ali, John and Matt with their guide Bobby).

I'd got some duff information regarding the sunrise time. I was led to believe it was around 06:00, but was in fact 07:15, so I just scoped out a good vantage point to watch the sunrise and sat and waited.

Around 06:45 I looked up just above where I was sitting and saw the group arrive and actually I saw Dre's mental hat first!

We all thought it would be hard to meet up here, but in fact it turned out really easy.

They all went down to the main gate to check in all their backpacks, while I sat and waited for the sunrise.

At first the sun just touched the far peaks, before creeping to the top of Huayna Picchu and then slowly unveiling the site itself.

I joined the group with their guide for a guided tour of the ruins. Bobby was a very informative guide with a great sense of humour, and I would imagine that he was a joy to travel with on the Inca Trail.

Along the way we bumped into a vizcacha which looks like a cross between a rabbit and a large squirrel - it's a member of the chinchilla family.

Also in the following sideshow, you can see some of the rocks that have been carved to the same shape as the adjoining mountains.

views of Machu Picchu

As lunchtime arrived, we decide to travel down to Aguas Calientes for food.

After the 2nd hairpin turn down, one of the local kids ran the whole way down the mountain via the steps, beating the bus at each point and waving madly to us. He was probably around 11 years old and to cap it all was only wearing sandals!

At the bottom the driver stopped to let him on and he walked down the bus looking for the obligatory tip. He them stood at the front and did a manic wave elongating every word - gggggoooooooodddddddd bbbbbbbbyyyyyyyeeeeee etc etc.

As someone in the group commented, "sounds like he's speaking from another dimension." This image stayed with the group for the rest of the trip.

I had my first taste of ceviche (raw fish pickled in onions - trout today) in one of the restaurants below - and very good it was too.

views from Aguas Calientes

I was on the 15:30 train back to Cusco, while the rest of the group were on the 15:55 train. Again I was lucky enough to have both seats to myself.

On the train we were treated to some entertainment by the staff. First off one of them came out dressed in a white mask and costume and danced his way back and forth along the carriage. I have no idea what character he was playing.) Then the other two staff donned various items that were for sale in a modeling show.

photos from the train from Aguas Calientes to Cusco

I waited back at Cusco station for their train which was more than 30 minutes late. While I was waiting the staff had locked the entrance doors to the outside world, to stop the hordes or taxi drives, hotel staff, and people generally selling stuff from mobbing the station itself.

Then it was back to familiar territory in the Hostel Corihuasi, where the temperature seemed to be more than ten degrees warmer than a few days ago.

Had a quick beer and sandwich and managed to score an internet cafe to catch up on all my e-mails.