Next morning time for sightseeing. A wander through the Historico Centrico and the Plaza Des Armas up to Saqsaywaman, an ancient Inca sight sat on a hill overlooking modern Cusco. My research was lacking (as always), so I didn’t know what to expect. I was totally blown away; it was that place from countless documentaries about the Incas’ astonishing stonework. Huge rocks carved to fit each other in irregular patterns with no mortar and NO gaps between the stones. And the place was massive. Peru has some amazing historical/archaeological sites; and Saqsaywaman is right up there as one of the best. I spent so long wandering around, I didn’t realise my neck and arms were slowly cooking. It’s the altitude I tell you; it plays tricks.
I should have quit while I was ahead. The following day, I went to go on a tour of the Sacred Valley and other Inca sites. The key word here is “tour”. It was, perhaps predictably, a complete *%~& up. Numbers don’t go high enough to express how much better a bike is than a bus; a bus full of people at that. I won’t go into the details here; suffice to say I am not a tour person. I crave the solitude of the bike and the open road.
Couldn’t leave Cusco without visiting Machu Picchu of course. No tour, but I bought my ridiculously expensive return train ticket and my entrance ticket and set off. It is one of those rare places that lives up to the hype. More than anything for its extraordinary setting. Perched high on a plateau surrounded by impossibly steep, jungle covered mountains and vertigo inducing valleys. Truly impressive. It was awash with tourists however and the queue to get the bus back down the mountain was an hour long; and this isn’t peak season. If I hadn’t already bought a return bus ticket, I would have walked the 8km down. But a minor gripe on a good day.