Our day started with breakfast and a 1.5 hr. train ride to a town of Aqua Calinete near the base of Machu Picchu. It was really interesting to see the change in vegetation going from basically scrublands to tropical rainforest as we descended approx. 2800 ft. We left our luggage at the hotel and headed for a 20 minute bus ride up the switch back mountainside road to MC. Fabulous topography and rainforest on the way up to the ancient Inca site.
What an amazing experience to see Machu Picchu and its ruins for the first time in person... everyone in our group was in awe. Our guide for the day was the person who wrote the official guide book for MC!!! We had an extremely detailed and interesting 3 hour tour through almost every part of the ruins. Ask your child about the importance of the condor and the ancient Incan gold... After our guided tour we were free to have lunch in the village or head straight up to the Sun Gate. Almost our entire group opted to go for it right away... the students went at race pace and the adults at a more refined, elegant pace (AKA slowwww). It takes an average of about 1 hr . to walk up (which was our pace) and 40 min. to come down. We had to go around several lamas that were on the path and a couple of them were running full steam ahead at us!!! What a spectacular view from the top which is at an elevation of 2720m. About a 300m. climb... We had lunch and rested for a bit then made our way back down. A snake slithered by me... much bigger than our garter snakes - Jim took a picture of it and our Tour Director thinks that it is one of the poisonous ones.... Back into the bus for the 20 min. ride to town, showers and then out for dinner. Teah Whitefield celebrated her 17th birthday today, so we had arranged for a cake, balloons and a Peruvian tradition of a pinata. The kids had fun being blindfolded and trying to break it...there were lots of toys inside that we collected and will give to local children. For most of the people in our group, this was the day we had been waiting for, experiencing Machu Picchu. It did not disappoint. The weather cooperated, the mosquitos stayed away for the most part and the Incan energy was evident in all of us.
Its almost midnight here so must head for bed. Another early morning tomorrow.