Still on the banks of Lake Titicaca we spent the night in the muddy city of Puno and left early in the morning. We had a long ride in order to reach Cusco and the crappy fuel of Peru slowed us right down, lengthening the day even further. After the lake disappeared behind us the mountains drew in and we were soon joined, once again, by snowy peaks and sure enough, rain.

 

The road carved though the mountains along with a river down below us but soon enough the river and its natural pathway swung east towards the Amazon and we were faced with a steep climb over a mountain pass. Up into the clouds and snow we went, our bikes choking on the lousy fuel and struggling in second gear, to a pass over 4300m where the rain had subsided and all that was left was a downhill ride.

As we finally reached Cusco the heavens truly opened and we became soaked in seconds. Seeking feeble shelter under a tree at the roadside whilst pondering over a soaking wet map, a compromise was made. Knowing that we were not far from Cusco’s backpacker district we flagged down a cab and for roughly a dollar were taken right to the doors of yet another Loki hostel. It was a tactic we would soon adopt quite regularly. After cramming the bikes into the hostels foyer and dumping our bags in the dorm, in filthy, wet clothes we hit the bar and straight away ordered a frothy pint of Guinness and a Jameson’s. After all, it was Saint Patrick’s Day.

Rugby from 2007, awesome!

We spent some time just kicking back in Cusco, hanging out with everybody we had met back in La Paz, such is the backpacker trail. A beautiful city and Peru’s tourist hub, it is the launch point from which all travellers leave from in order to reach Machu Picchu, be it by foot on the Inca trail, By rail or by road. We were no different, yet we had our bikes.

Shep had been hit hard by the financial crisis and soon the pressure had gotten too much...

I found that The Sacred Valley from Cusco to Machu Picchu rated very highly on most travel motorcyclists top 10 rides and as we climbed out of the Cusco, bound for the lost city it was easy to see why. Ancient Inca ruins were dotted amongst picturesque green hills and occasional breaks in the trees provided spectacular views. Frank had a slight spill following the miscalculation of a speed bump but aside from a damaged ego, both he and his Honda were fine.

Pisaq, a small one road town marked the beginning of the actual Sacred Valley itself and the views were replaced with magnificent jungle draped mountains towering over us and a raging torrent joined us at our side as we followed the road through the valley. It certainly was a fantastic ride yet with such an abundance of tourist busses to share it with, an element of serenity was lost.

carving through the sacred valley

Beyond Ollantaitambo public access to the Sacred valley road was restricted and we were forced to leave the bikes with a friendly in-keeper and take the train up to Aguas Calientes, the closest settlement to the lost city and where we would spend the night.

I had always dreamt of seeing Machu Picchu and it certainly was no disappointment. Despite its enormous popularity, the sheer size of it meant that a little solitude could be found either within its crumbling walls or overlooking the city. The early hours saw low lying cloud shrouding the surrounding mountains but by afternoon its full glory was unfurled, Huayna Picchu stood like a classic back drop to the ruins, that cult image that had brought me around the world.

the morning mist blankets Machu Picchu

"Hey you guuuuys!"

After climbing Huayna Picchu we let the rest of the day pass by continuing a chess tournament overlooking the ruins far below us, a peace full end to our Incan adventure.

Frank looks down on Machu Picchu from Huayna Picchu

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