It's an early train and the first time we'll be splitting up. The train to Agua Calientas at the base of Machu Piccu is like something out of a diffferent era. We have to show our passports to get on and are served drinks from an old airline trolley. We clank through the valley for an hour before Juan Carlos, Joe and I get off at km104 to do the final day of the inca trail. Jane and Tilly stay on board for a further 20 minutes to be me at the station by another guide.
When we get off we cross a bridge to reach a checkpoint that involves a lot of paperwork for what is just a walk. The number of walkers a day is strictly limited and about 12 have got off our train. We have about 700m to climb to get to Windy Wayna, an Incan terrace and temple that fed Maccu Picchu. The walk is fairly hard work and takes us about 2.5 hours along a path cut into the edge of the mountain. Some parts are paths, many are steep steps and most is very exposed to the valley with the river and train track up to 1500ft below. We saw ants an inch long, flying critters called firefires and beautiful wild orchids. Winay Wayna itself is stunning and amazing how they can build such a vast complex into the side of such a steep mountain.
We stop for an early lunch at the point where the 4-day inca hike trail meets ours and watch a team of porters arrive to unload their packs. Each pack is massive - maybe 50cm taller than them and must way 50kg. We saw one guy remove a canvas tent from the top of his pack and then pull out a full size gas canister! One of those 15kg ones we use for the BBQ back home! Full, that must weigh over 20kg on its own.
We're now at 2650m and have only another 100m to climb in a 2 hour walk to get to the sun gate. Juan Carlos goes off to phone the girl's guide to give them our progress.
As we reach the sun gate we get our first view of Machu Picchu and it is breathtaking. No photo can ever prepare you for the real thing. It is way below us and massive, spreading across the mountain top. We get news that Tilly and Jane have reached the city and Tilly will walk up to us, a walk of about 45 minutes.