We got off to a very early start this morning - 4.30am, breakfast at 5, and on the bus up to Machu Picchu at 5.30. The bus departs from the bus station in Aquas Calientes and heads down a narrow road into the jungle before crossing the river to begin the step and windy assent up the Machu Picchu mountain. Both Laura and I are not the best with heights, and buses driving along shear cliff faces is one thing we both battle for the isle seat on. Laura scored the window seat on the way up - were not certain if the partial daylight made the trip better or worse, but we made it to the top in one piece, although a there were a few nifty manuevors on the way up as two buses passed each other on the often very narrow track.
We were at the top at about 6am, and there was already a queue to get into the park. After entering, we walked/climbed our way to one of the higher areas on the southern side of the city where we could look down over the ruins.
Reaching the top you are immediately struck by the awesome site of the Machu Picchu city ruins - its pretty much all you expect it to be, but being there is just so much more exciting.
After many photos - post card perfect - we began our tour with our leader through the Machu Picchu ruins - this lasted for probably a good hour and a half to two hours and was very interesting.
The lawns of Machu Picchu are continually manicured by the Alpaca's that roam freely there - apparently they are the owners of the site now and have completely free rain.
We took heaps of photos - although im sure these will not do the place justice - its something that simply has to be seen to fully appreciate.
Anyway, I have added some of the photos I took on my mobile to the gallery, so it should give you a small taste until I can upload more.
After our tour we had the option of climbing Wayna Picchu - the small, but very steep mountain that is on the northern side of the Machu Picchu site (Machu Picchu is actually the name of the mountain on the southern side of the site) - although this looked a little too dicey for us, so we decided to grab something to eat (a mistake as a chicken sandwich cost 20 soles, the equivalent of a decent 3 course dinner in most Peruvian cities!). Anyway, after a small snack we decided to just sit on one of the terraces and absorb the surroundings for a while (and pluck up the courage to take the bus back down in full daylight - I scored the window seat this time!).
This afternoon was pretty much consumed by the train ride back to Ollantaytambo, and then a bus ride back to Cuzco and civilisation again.
I must say, Cuzco is an absolutely lovely city - possibly one our favorite of the tour so far - and its great to be back. We have another free day here in Cuzco tomorrow, and then we head off for the Jungle after that for two nights, and that will conclude out tour.
We are looking forward to the Jungle, and have had a very small taste of it travelling to Machu Picchu today.
The country side here is amazing. In the Jungle (about 2,000m) its warm and humid, yet the tops of the mountains (some of which go over 5,000m) have snow caps. Its weird to be in the warmth of the Jungle and look up and see snow on top of the mountains.