“They have a special permission…………..”, Cusco, June 7th, 2011

As always when you book such organized tours you really buying a surprise package, wondering what`s in it, if you made the best deal and if everything will go as expected. The old lady we booked with seemed trustworthy but also a bit sneaky. Oh yes, she is, instead of “maximum 8” there are 15 of us being squeezed into that bus for the coming 2 hours and the bike were in miserable conditions. But also as always (at least most of the time) people adapt and things get better. The ride was fun and the bike tour spectacular. Starting at 3500m we descended on a public road partly quiet fast in speed down to 1500m within one hour. Everything between Andean mountains, with great views.

Another ride to a small village and after dinner a 90 minute football match among us and the local boys. I have not done any sport since November and I could feel it. Smart Thomas was self selected goal keeper faster than you can say “ball” and enjoyed watching us sweat. At least I could enjoy the ice cold shower afterwards much more than him. Ha.

The next day started early and became an 11hours trekking tour, one of them ride on the famous Inca trail. For info, there are 4 to 8 day treks to Machu Picchu on the Inca trails but they must be booked at least 3 months ahead, they are hard and they are only partly on the real Inca trail. Our one hour gave a good impression we thought.

We came along small steps high up, river beds, local houses, hanging bridges and crossed a river in a “cable car”.

It was a great hike, everybody was tired and so we enjoyed the hot springs at the end despite the many tourists and the beer sold in big amounts here. The very last 40 minutes from the springs to the hotel only we and the Israelis walked while the others took a bus. While Thomas and I were discussing the fitness of these Isreali girls (girls and boys in Isreal must go to the army and usually travel when getting out of it) our guide saw it different. It completely dark, he walked fast, the girls only lacked 20m behind and he said: “I thought they are fit!!!???” I guess, perception is the only truth.

In “nothing going on” Santa Teressa I experienced something new. We joined some of the boys for the night life and for the first time I knew everybody in a dance club. There were only us and the guide. Still we danced which was even more strange.

This highlight was quickly forgotten by the next day’s morning event – Ziplining across the canyons and rivers. Not much to say, just watch, the second video I took as I was going with 30 to 50 km/hour at a level of 100 meters above ground.

The adrenalin helped to carry our heavy rucksack for almost 2 hours along the train tracks to Aquas Calientes, the base town of Machu Picchu.

At dinner our guide explained how we can manage to be first at the entrance gate. Short explanation: there is a gate at the button of the mountain, another one right in front. You can walk or take a bus up there. There is also Wayna Picchu, a even higher mountain with spectacular views which you reach from Machu Picchu (you see it in all fotos in the background), only 400 people a day are allowed on it. It’s the first 400 at the main gate who can get a free permit. That is what its all about, getting a permit to climb even higher. As instructed we reached the lower gate before everybody else at 4am. Then a small group just passed. I asked the police guy à “They have a special permission!!!” Quickly we learned that you can buy this permission with a few dollars into his pocket, the rest is history and you can see it here, us, first in the morning and for sunrise at Machu Picchu.

Our tour guide came later and gave us good explanations. I could not concentrate as I saw this guy. Do you recognize him? Smile…..

We spent the last days with 5 Israelis and I thought I could do this joke. I said to them: “I have bad news for you, “HE” survived, pretending to be a tourist in Machu Picchu. Their response: laughing and “wow, he kept young, drinking lots of water.” Its nice to see that our generation of Israelis and Germans have left the past behind (without forgetting) and can laugh together about such things. Then we climbed Wayna Picchu, the weather could not have been better.

It’s a tough climb, much harder than it looks. Going down is even tougher but everybody has its own technique.

Of course we also walked everything back down, enjoyed a good shower and the train ride back to Cusco. It feels nice to come back to a place you know, especially when you like it as much as we like Cusco. Hopefully the pictures show it.

Even all the vendors on the street did not border too much. Saying “No gracias” usually does the job. If not, repeat it until it does. We made the test, how many vendors will come along our bench on the central plaza while I eat a McDonalds Sunday ice cream. We only show you the first one but believe us, it were 15 in 4,5 minutes.

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