Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, or the one where clouds nearly ruined our day

So my last post was a speed tour through the first three days of the Inca trail, but even then we still had 5km of trail to put our broken bodies through before we got to our final destination of Machu Picchu. By this point we were completely exhausted from all the steep uphill sections and our knees were crying from all the many slippery steps downwards, but we still had to get up in the dark to go stand in a queue of people waiting at the checkpoint to get back on the trail. The trail opens at 5.30am, but all the groups want to be there as early as possible so we were awoken at 3.30 for a bleary breakfast before going to hang out in the cold and wait. We had it better than some other groups – one next to us had already been packed away and left as we were eating.

Mostly this part of the trail wasn’t horribly difficult so the pace seriously picked up from previous days and we practically raced to the finish. The worst part was an almost vertical set of steps that, although it only took 5 minutes or so, is known as the ‘gringo killer’, and I was slightly concerned I’d topple back off it. Luckily once you’ve passed them, you’re at the sun gate and you’re met with a fabulous view down over Machu Picchu. Except…

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Hmmmmm

So the cloud did not want us to have a fabulous view over Machu Picchu. Fine. We still had a bit of the trail to go til we got to the traditional photo point anyway. Except…

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Oh my gosh this view is so much better

Yeah no view for us there either. This was pretty frustrating and in our sleep deprived broken bodied state it was even worse. But being promised it would clear up, we sat on a terrace and were told the story of how Machu Picchu was lost and found again. Amazingly as our guide talked, the clouds parted and we got the sights we’d all gone there for…

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Selfie stick obvs
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Clouds melting away
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Finally!!

The whole site is incredible. It is huge and we had a great guided tour, so got to know about all the temples and whatnot. It really was just somewhere you could wander for hours and be amazed at the scenery. If your legs are still up for ‘wandering’ up and down more steep steps, which somehow we managed

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Lots of llamas about
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As the Spanish never found the city, it is intact
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The classic 'postcard' shot
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Rav fell over when taking a photo. This was almost the best bit

After a morning of loving the ruins, we caught a bus down to the town of Aguas Calientes which seems to function solely as a tourist trap for Machu Picchu visitors but at least gave us somewhere to rest afterwards. We had lunch with our tour group, slept in comfy beds, and went to the hot springs. Perfect because we were feeling a lot like this:

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From Aguas Calientes we took the train to Ollayantaytambo, then a bus and were finally back in Cusco in our comfy apartment.

We had a couple of days left then until our respective family members left, so we did one final day trip out to the Sacred Valley and the town of Pisac where there is a great market which we spent a nice long time in. And as I had a parent to bring home my purchases and not have to lug them all over the place, I could go all out (yes of course I require two alpaca blankets).

No pics of Sacred Valley though. I was too busy shopping…

All too soon it was time to say goodbye, and we would have to return to hostel traveller life and be on our own again. The worst thing though was that it meant a return to the night buses… Next blog will cover Huacachina and Nazca which are back over near the coast, so it was a lovely long drive to get there 😥

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One thought on “Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, or the one where clouds nearly ruined our day

  1. Great blogging, fantastic photos. Your avid readership make 2 requests; first, you are not allowed to come home until your blog is fully up-to-date, second, that on your return, you commit to publishing the sequel ‘Harriethome – Reading & Caversham (featuring Bonnie & Dylan)’

    Like

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