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November 5, 2007 - November 17, 2007
Photos are here

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PowerPoint format: here (~43.2 MB)

In brief
Inspired by a co-worker's photos of Machu Picchu I suddenly decided that going there was something I wanted to do -- and soon! A few emails later and I had some travelling companions: my sister and my long-time friend Ryan.

I'd heard good things about GAP Adventures and wasn't really into spending the time to put together my own trip, however Nicola felt a self-organized trip would be more rewarding. As long as she would do all the work I agreed. :) We ended up using Llama Path as our tour company for the Inca Trail (a guide is required) and the rest of the time we'd be on our own exploring places in and around Cuzco.

We all had seperate flights there, though I managed to meet up with Ryan in the Lima airport (where I had an 8 hour layover). Also of note was the fact that I got upgraded to first-class for the Lima->Cuzco flight; best one hour flight ever!

We had a few days before setting off for the Inca Trail, which was a good thing since none of us were accustomed to the thin air at 10,000'. We travelled around and explored some ruins in the Sacred Valley. Very cool! Nic, who had arrived a couple days before us, was already speaking spanish like a pro while Ryan and I were still trying to pick up a few basic words.

Our group for the Inca Trail consisted of 14 tourists (including ourselves), 2 guides and 22 porters. Hiked along the trail for 4 days, enjoying excellent views and food along the way. The people in our group were super awesome and everyone got along quite well. Many of them were on extended trips (over a month long, some up to 7 months!) and was making me jealous as I was using up most of my vacation time with our 12-day trip. :P

We first saw Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate -- a place overlooking the town from which it is slowly revealed as the sun burns off the morning cloud cover. A very impressive sight. Our guide then gave us a 2.5 hour tour of the city and then we had a few hours to ourselves. A small group of us decided to hike up Huayna Picchu for more amazing views; we were not disappointed!

Back in Cuzco we had only a few more days before Nicola had to leave (while Ryan and I were there for one day longer). If I'd done my research earlier I would've have managed to fit in a trip to Manu National Park, but as it was it didn't fit into our schedule. Instead we spent the last few days exploring more of Cuzco and the Sacred Valley and hanging out with our new friends from the trail. Even managed to hit up a few clubs at night!

On the way home Ryan and I had 8 hours in Lima. We spent the non-airport time in Miraflores, where we perused the night-market, a chifa restaurant, a salsa club and a cafe.

Overall the trip was amazing! The only bad thing was losing my camera on the second last day (pick-pocketed? dropped? I don't know), though filing a police report was relatively interesting. Although I was somewhat against the "organize our own trip" thing at the beginning, I'm pretty glad we did it in the end. While we may not have seen all the sights we would have on a fully-organized trip (Puno, Lake Titticaca, etc), the things we did see were more interesting as we got there on our own (using the public buses, taking a colectivo, etc) and it gave us time to just hang-out and relax when we needed too. Hanging out in cafes with our new friends was definately a highlight as well.
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