A big day today - like the pilgrims of past we were excited to be making the final step to the Macchu Pichu itself. In an effort to worry us at 3.30am there was a large downpour which I listened to wondering if we were to be spending the day in a Welsh-like cloud with visibility down to half an arms length but by the time we were roused at 4.15am the rain had come to an uneasy truce and settled for just damp cloud. None the less we packed everything into dry bags and made sure our waterproofs were to hand just in case watery hostilities broke out again. Our porters were anxious to get packing up quickly as they had to race down to catch their bus or else face paying tourist rates so there was more urgency than normal. I'd like to blame this when I put my bag on the pile only to watch it roll off, over the edge of the ledge and onto the roof of the mess tent below. Cue a couple of minutes of frantic scrambling by all porters in earshot to retrieve the errant bag.

With breakfast done we congregated at the building before walking down to the gate, which did not open for a few minutes. Noticing that Russell and Carl were in full head to toe waterproofs despite the current lack of rain I couldn't help but tease them as we strolled off 'Are you hot yet?'. Luckily the egg didn't land on my face and it stayed dry and after some furious sweating they conceded and took the layers off. The trail was slick but an easy gradient and as the sun came up we could feel it trying to penetrate the mist that was hanging over the trees. With torches away we continued until we came to a sharp set of steps which led up to the Sun gate, in theory a great vantage point to get an overview of the Macchu Pichu complex but it was still cloudy. We waited for a while along with a crowd but were only rewarded with teasing glimpses. We felt we had invested enough time and so started the gentle walk down into the complex itself. Along the way the cloud started to lift giving us progressively more impressive views and it struck us just how huge it was.

We entered Macchu Pichu from above and stopped by a great viewing platform for photos, group hugs and general back slapping. By now the cloud had lifted from the ruins but still clung to the peak just behind. Still it was nice to be in warm sunshine soaking up the view. Carl was hoping to get the perfect 'money shot' with the peak also in full view but despite waiting for a while this didn't materialise from the mist. Walking down to the main gate we stopped by the toilets which were so nice compared to the last few days I even took a photo. We saw an irate oriental lass with her boyfriend being told that they needed a ticket to get in. I had some sympathy for them as they didn't sell tickets at the gate, only at the bottom of the hill thus requiring a long round trip and so missing out on precious time.

Our guide proceeded to show off his knowledge once again with a two hour tour around the ruins and it was to his credit that despite the intense heat he still kept our focus until the end. The site was 'discovered' by westerners in 1911 when a few locals who were already living in part of it showed them where is was. The locals had been using the terraces to grow crops since 1901 but did not declare them to avoid taxes and had been selling some of the artifacts. The initial photos show a site which had suffered a lot of damage and was largely overgrown but obviously something astonishing was waiting to be patiently reclaimed. Over the entire area there were at least 18 distinct types of construction used, the more refined for buildings of more significance and the more rough and ready for those of a more mundane nature.

The earth temple took advantage of a natural rock formation for the base and the quality of the construction around this was superb, even with grooves to channel the water. Small niches had been carved for mummies and offerings during religious ceremonies. Above this was an observatory for the astronomers. Some of the doors were very high leading some to believe that the Inca's were unnaturally tall but in all probability it was to accommodate large headdresses, in much the same manner of Western churches. We were shown the condor, which was an augmented stone to resemble the bird with the wings swept back. For there we worked our way up to the highest platform where we were shown a block of stone carved to mimic the mountains in the background.

Overall there is just too much to record in detail here but with some free time we weren't bored wondering around the rest of the sights and it all felt more rewarding for having walked here, despite the smells emanating from our feet. After a while we had exhausted the sight seeing and  I set about trying to get my own 'money shot' - the perfect Llama picture. My hunting ground was a series of terraces at the back of the ruins and with Eleanor sat in the shade watching on with amusement as I carefully stalked my prey. This took some time and was noted by most of the group, with Russell commenting that he was somewhat worried about my fascination. Eventually I had what I felt was my shot and I'm pleased to say that a copy has been blown up and is hung up in our hallway at home - rewards come to those that try.

Eventually it was time for our bus down the mountain and we met some of the group in the queue and the rest in the restaurant at the bottom at exactly the arranged time, only to find that they had jumped the gun and ordered early! Still some celebratory beers helped smooth over our mock indignation. Over food we got together a tip for our walking guide who had been fantastic, Russell collected the money and then with no notice passed it to me and started tapping his glass saying he didn't like public speaking. After blustering my way through a few knee jerk words we passed it over to much applause. Finally we had a little time to check out the town and turned up little of interest to note so it was onto the train to Cusco.

The train was pretty good and we even had some more celebratory beers but this all came to an abrupt stop when we were transferred to a bus replacement service which majored in bumps and failed in the provision of toilets leaving Carl to rue his earlier celebratory consumption. Here we picked up someone on a different tour but also with Geckos heading back to Cusco and I'm sad to say he was English. It was a little confusing at first, he didn't seem to understand that trekking also meant sleeping in tents and declared that 'there was no way I could live in my own filth for four days'. From here he went onto just plain rude and started to give our guide a hard time when she said we had a free day in Cusco 'so they're not doing anything then?' - at best he was just on the wrong tour but at worst he really was just giving England a bad name. Russell apologised to the group on behalf of our country.

Back at the hotel that seemed so long ago we showered to clean off the filth and headed out into town for food and some pisco sour. Mel and Hayden stayed at the hotel and had take away and after waiting an age for our food and not getting back until gone midnight, a mere 20 hours since starting the day, I couldn't help wonder if they had got it just right.