This photo-blog is designed to work either as a standard blog with images or - by clicking any image - a photo-album. To see an image in full resolution click to the left or right of an image in blog mode. The images were generated from video to give the best possible view of the journey.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu

We managed to all squeeze into a tiny taxi in Cusco after I ditched my postal fiasco with me sitting in Adam's lap (no joy for either of us, since I was wincing with diarrhea cramps). As we wound out of Cusco the driver was all over the road, repeatedly falling asleep at the wheel, so we had to force him awake at every bend to avoid crashing. Eventually about half way to Ollantaytambo in the dark he suddenly stopped the taxi in the middle of the highway, jumped out and disappeared into the darkness.

We were left standing in the bushes (with me gratefully having a crap in the darkness) and eventually were picked up by a local bus to Ollantaytambo leaving behind in the confusion virtually all the food rations we had gathered for our prospective trip down the Urubamba.

Panorama from La Union (click to enlarge)

We ended up in a small guest house "La Union", where we shared a large upstairs room.

In the middle of the night, suffering bouts of the runs, I slipped in the bathroom and sent the heavy porcelain toilet cistern lid crashing to the floor, splintering into shards, which woke everyone in the house. The owners were very excited and said it would cost $200 to repair and it would have to come from 50 miles away.

So I wandered weakly into town and found a small, ancient carpenters shop, with some planks of hardwood and managed to get them to cut a piece to the size of the cistern lid and made them a very nice wooded top which they were more than satisfied with, avoiding the situation spiraling out of control.

Panorama of a farming cooperative (Click to enlarge)

Ollantaytambo has its own imposing Inca ruins.

We journeyed back along the highway to make contact with Jose Luis our Pongo guide, who lived in a small 'hippie' commune with a German ex-partner in a neighbouring town, and having secured an arrangement to leave by bus with his crew in a couple of days, set off in the train to visit Machu Picchu.

Day and night panoramas of the Oyatatambo town square (click to enlarge)

The journey to Machu Picchu was relatively uneventful, passing alongside the raging torrent of the Urubamba, ending up at the rail head town at the foot of Machu Picchu.

There is a bus which takes you up the hairpin bend road to the Inca ruins. On the way back down, a kid raced the bus on foot by running directly down the stairs for pocket money donations.

For the visit to Machu Picchu see the next blog ...

The rail head is a tourist trap of cafes and trinket stores.

Listen to the one man band here.

The return journey rapidly became a nightmare. The train struggled to pull out with the carriage brakes stuck on. After the diesel engine virtuall exploded with flames coming out the top of it, the train finally ground to a halt in the gathering darkness with us all stuck in the pitch dark trying to hold onto our video cameras, while a bunch of Peruvian men hovered ever closer looking for sly opportunities to make of with anything they could lay their hands on. Eventually five or six hours later a second engine came up to drag us back into Oyatatambo.

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