On reaching Cusco there are two essential things Sara-Ann and I need before embarking on our ride:
1) To be properly acclimatised to ride safely at 4,000m+ above sea level
2) To have our bikes.
On point 2, not so much luck! At our 2nd flight transfer in Lima, and after a long wait by the oversize baggage gate, it became apparent that our bikes hadn’t made it onto the plane from the first transfer back in New York. Not quite the value for money we expected having each been stung by an unexpected $100 baggage fee back at JFK…
Various form filling and waiting around ensued (during which time we missed our 3rd flight) until we were duly informed that the bikes would follow behind us. Reaching Cusco sans bikes, and with various attempts at hotch-potch Spanish, our bikes eventually turned up a day and a half later covered in some very official looking US Immigration inspection tape. Not sure there was room to hide a small child in those boxes, but I guess they still had to check!
No trip to Peru is complete without a trek to the magnificent Machu Picchu, so point 1 was achieved with far better humour. Joined by two more friends, Isabel and Rochelle, we set off in good spirits to trek the ‘Salkantay’ route. Hiking 60km over three days at altitude and peaking at 4600m above sea level crossing the Abu Salkantay pass definitely provided a some good acclimatisation training and a great opportunity for a good natter along the way.
On Day 4 we all duly got up in the middle of the night ready to hit Machu Picchu for a 6am sunrise, and with not a blister in sight. As it happened Machu Picchu wasn’t in sight either! As all good things come to those who wait, the mist tantalisingly lifted over the next few hours to bless us with stupendous views of the breath-taking 15th Century Incan citadel.