After an early bus ride (feet too sore to walk), I arrived at the gates where I met up with the rest of the group, and from there it was another short climb to the spot from which you first, huffing, puffing, sweating and swearing a little, see the mighty, ancient Incan ruins rise into view...and what a view...
No number of photographs can prepare you for the majesty of Huaynu Pichu and it's smaller sister jutting out of the earth, keeping eternal guard on the (admittedly very preened and preserved) ruined city which lies at its feet. All, it seems, suspended on a floating disc in the dizzy heights of mountains dripping with jungle and spider-webbed with cloud.
A magical, whispering awesomness pours out from the ancient bricks and spills over the edges, cascading like the ethereal mist that surrounds it, which the sunshine clears away after a few minutes of us staring down in awed silence.
We spent the day napping and sketching on the top of Huaynu Pichu in the sun, looking down (and bearing our bits to...see picture) Machu Picchu below.
The whole trek was an amazing, hilarious, thoughtful, hard, rewarding and incredible experience and was a phenomenal way to start 2013.
From here, I flew to Lima to meet Mama bear, got stuck there for a while due to a nasty swollen bite and a chest infection (not had the best luck with health as of late). From Lima to Tarma, a weird little town totally off the Gringo trail, which as it turns out, is pretty cool. From Tarma we took a day trip to San Pedro de Cajas, a wee adventure through farming villages, alongside a river on a bumpy dirt road, up, up, up through the mountains to 4000m above the sea to San Pedro. There, we ate lomo saltado (chips, tomato, onions, pork and rice all cooked in a delicious sauce of sorts, and super cheap) followed by a strange pineapple gelatin thing which vaguely (closely) resembled what was still coming out of my nose... Then wandered round the incredibly quiet and sleepy town in the sun, up to the cemetery where we sketched for a bit before getting back into a taxi, packed with 9 people (9! It was a flippin' 5 seater!!) and wound our way back down to Tarma, ears popping as we went.
From Tarma we shared a taxi with a mother and her two travel sick little boys to nearby San Ramon, a gateway to the jungle. It's a really wee little town filled with moto-taxis buzzing round the hive town like bees, beeping tirelessly, inquiring who needs a ride (for 25p per person anywhere). We hopped on a bee who took us to a 3* hotel (thank god for mums) Hotel El Refugio, at the end of town, just at the top of a dirt road leading down to the river.
We entered and were greeted by a mini jungle refuge, with vines dangling down from the high trees which eased the vicious sun's strength, as beautiful birds hummed through the bountiful foliage that accompany you down the winding paths which connect the little bungalows dotted through this jungly sanctuary.
So we've spent time swimming, relaxing, visiting waterfalls hidden in the jungle. A walk led by a little girl of 10; our guide, Janette, where we sat in a powerfully pummelled pool at the base of the waterfall. It was quite an experience; to sit in this natural swimming pool, and to look up and see the sky dripping with green trees soaring into the bright blue.
And Dad would love every second :)