Bike, Hike, Zipline to Machu Picchu
We started at 7:15 am in Cusco and walked to San Francisco Square to get our transport (a minibus loaded with mountain bikes on top.) A quick breakfast stop just outside Ollantaytambo where I scoffed a Veggie Omelette for some energy... Onwards to our mountain biking start point. We were covered head to toe (literally!) in protective clothing; knee to shin pads, a padded jacket, another vest over that, gloves and a proper motorcycle crash helmet. The weather was TORRENTIAL - so much so that we were asked by our guide if we even wanted to bike the 2.5 hours downhill. Enthusiastically we set off, it was pretty simple because it was on the main winding road through the mountains, so the surface was easy! However the rain in our eyes, the low clouds and fogginess and the general splashing of water was what made it tricky. A few obstacles along the way too - cars, animals, other cyclists, a road crash and the worst... waterfalls that were flooding onto the road. There was no hope for our shoes!
Anyhow, we survived and we reached the end, more than a little damp but hey ho. We soggily clambered back into the minibus which took us to our lunch destination, we were treated to Tuna Pasta Salad followed by Vegetable Soup followed by Roasted Chicken on a bed of Mashed Potato with Spring Onions and Rice - yum!
Off to our accommodation for the night, referred to as both a hostel and a homestay, it was somewhere in between. We had our twin room (with three beds) and there was an en suite. A common area with games and a television and the added bonus of free bananas and mangoes...
We whiled away the afternoon, predominantly by napping I'm ashamed to say but the biking really took it out of us. We arose again for dinner in the same restaurant where we had lunch. This time we had; Wonton topped with Bolognese, Semonlina Soup, Chicken Pizziola with Rice followed by Chocolate Brownie.
Breakfast at 6:30 am in the same restaurant as yesterday's lunch and dinner. It was a buffet breakfast with fruit and a weird selection of cold omelette, cold pancakes and noodle soup... Today was our longest day. Around 7-8 hours of hiking. It was a nice hike, some flat along the river then quite a bit uphill which took it out of us but then downhill for lunch. We started at 7 am and stopped for lunch around 2 pm so a good few hours already done! Lunch was amazing, homemade guacamole with bread, a smoked chicken salad, soup and then spaghetti bolognese but with steak strips instead of mince! After lunch we had a 2.5 hour walk to the hot springs. It was a lovely flat walk along the river, pebbly all the way but nice. We took the local "Cable Car" which was a very homemade contraption to get us across the river then we walked through a creepy tunnel carved into the mountain which was full of bats and then to the hot springs! Here we slightly cheated - but within reason, it was 6:40 am when we were leaving the hot springs and the option was an hour walk (in the dark, slightly damp) or 5 soles for a bus. We took the bus! We arrived in Santa Teresa and had dinner which was avocado salad, chicken casserole with rice and vegetables then ice cream!
We opted to do the zip lining in the morning which was so much fun, five lines and five different flight positions, upside down, lying back, spinning, superman etc... This was another "cheat" as the zip lining picked us up from Santa Teresa and dropped us to the hydroelectric station, therefore cutting out a 3hr walk.
We had lunch at the hydroelectric station - at 10:30am!!! Too early for the soup, fried fish with rice and vegetables then ice cream.
We completed our hike with 3.5 hours relatively easy walk into Aguas Calientes along the train tracks. We arrived in Aguas Calientes and checked into our hotel - Inka Tower which was lovely! We spent the afternoon exploring, eating ham and cheese croissants in the highly recommended french bakery and shopping for souvenirs. We met the group for our final dinner which was nice, we were given a menu with a variety of options. You get used to being given food and eating whatever it is, so it was nice to choose! I had avocado salad, Lomo Saltado and Ice cream. Yum!
The earliest start. We arrived in the queue for the bus at 4:05 am and waited for the buses to begin at 5:30 am. We managed to make the second bus and luckily we were the first people to actually enter Machu Picchu and be amongst the ruins on that day - quite impressive I feel!
We had a 2 hour guided tour before exploring the ruins and taking lots of photos on our own. We headed back down by bus as we had the tickets included and then did some more shopping in the expansive market and back to the french bakery. This time for a Croque Monsieur - so good! Naughty but nice...
At 2:55 pm we caught the Peru Rail train to Ollantaytambo, we had a nice carriage with ceiling windows and a free drink and snack service. From here we were picked up and transferred to Cusco by bus where we finished our amazing but tiring tour!