After almost two incredibly fun weeks in Lima we had to move on again in the direction of Bolivia. But first, we had the mandatory tourist stop in Cusco and Machu Picchu. Cusco is at a high altitude again (about 3300 meter above sea level), something we weren’t used to anymore since Lima is at sea level. The first two days we took it easy here, with the highlight being a visit to the Dutch bar/restaurant here, “El Cholandés”. We had some great bitterballen, poffertjes, patatjes oorlog, and even hutspot!
Wednesday we took a three day tour to Machu Picchu and the Peruvian “jungle”, which started out with a two hour downhill bike ride. While it was a bit short, it was still very spectacular; we descended about 3000 meters! Anne had a little mishap involving a road-side ditch and a front-flip, but he was back on his bike soon again and was okay, minus some bruises and scrapes.
During the second day of the tour we teamed up with three Flemish girls for some canopying (zip-line) over a canyon. This was again very spectacular. With our guide we then hiked for a few hours to Aguas Calientes, a little town close to the Machu Picchu ruins. The hike was very beautiful, giving great views of the mountains around Machu Picchu and the river down. In Aguas Calientes Brad from the U.S.A. joined our group again.
Day three started with a 4 AM hike to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Only 400 visitors are allowed to go up to Waynapicchu (the “young mountain”), which gives amazing views of the ruins and its surroundings. Naturally, we wanted to be seven of those 400 hundred. At 5 am the gates to the trail leading up to Machu Picchu opened, and this was the starting signal for more than one hundred tourists to run op the steep stairs (consisting of 1700 steps) to the ruins, all the get a stamp allowing entrance to Waynapicchu. Walking in the dark in a long line with that many other tourists was a weird experience.
One by one we arrived at the ruins and we collected our stamp. Half an hour later our guide joined us and we went into the ruins for a two hour tour. The ruins were amazing; the “town” of Machu Picchu is big and very well preserved. And the surrounding mountains are beautiful. The pictures should speak for themselves… We had an early train (earlier than promised by the tour agency :/) so around 12:30 we headed back to Aguas Calientes to board a train with very comfortable chairs but no leg space at all.
Now we are back in Cusco, preparing to leave for Copacabana (Bolivia) this evening. The Bolivian border is closed by miners on strike, so we have to get into the country with a boat from Puno over Lake Titicaca (which we think will be pretty nice!).