Peru - Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu
Today we walked in the footsteps of the Incas. Our guide collected us from our hotel early this morning and we visited Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley, a charming little town en route to Machu Picchu where there are the ruins of an old Inca fort. We climbed to the top and enjoyed the views of the surrounding mountains and beyond. The first two extras were taken there. Our guide is excellent and we have heard so much information about the Incas - or pre-Columbian Peruvians as some like to call them. There is so much misinformation about them, and our guide presents all the theories and then lets us make up our own minds about who they were.
At Ollantaytambo we boarded the Hiram Bingham train to take us to Machu Picchu. We were served the most delicious early lunch on the journey, it was all very elegant and a lovely experience. We arrived at the end of the train line where we caught a very bumpy bus ride to Machu Picchu.
We spent over 3.5 hours in Machu Picchu with our guide, and it was fascinating to learn all about the settlement and why it is there. No one knows for sure who actually built it, and why it was built but there are enough reasonable theories to allow historians to get a good idea. It is situated in a cloud field and so is often shrouded in low cloud - we were lucky as it was clear enough for us to see everything, unlike the earlier visitors who had rain and thick mist. This was taken as some light momentarily lit up the ruins. It was not as crowded as I expected, which was great. I have some extras of us taken by our guide, and one of a rather silly llama!
It was quite exhausting walking up and down the steps of the site, so by 5pm when it closed I was pleased to be able to sit down and relax. We are staying at a hotel right next to to Machu Picchu and we are meeting our guide again at 7am tomorrow morning to walk the first part of the Inca Trail up to the Sun Gate. The forecast is for rain :( We had planned to get up for the sunrise but we don't think there will be one. Your entry ticket limits you to one entry, so if we go for sunrise we cannot come out again after sunrise for breakfast and then go back in again, so we decided to rather eat a very early breakfast and go in at 7am.
It has been such a fascinating day, the boys are also loving it and enjoying the knowledge of our guide (who happens to be a chemical engineer and also has a degree in tourism!) My head is buzzing with all the information about the Incas, they were such an advanced group of people who were sadly exploited by the Spanish settlers, but I won't get into that argument right now as my Pisco Sour is waiting for me downstairs at the bar!
- Nikon D810