Today we awoke exhausted and sore after our Machu Picchu experience. The stair climbing and general hiking around the site yesterday had lingering effects today...sore knees and muscles. (My foot is acting up badly so it too was barking at me this morning)...we decided therefore to take it easy today.
We had learned about a waterfall not too far from town and so we slathered up with sun screen and grabbed our walking sticks and off we went...following the train tracks (as instructed) and making our way towards the waterfalls and gardens which were a mere 3 km away.
It was a lovely day and we were following tracks through the valley with the mountains soaring above us. We were thrilled to see some of the ruins of Machu Picchu from the ground...making us appreciate the effort it must have taken to build the city in the first place.
Our walk took us through two Railroad tunnels (scary indeed) and alongside the river which is fascinating by itself as it is literally a torrent which passes over rapids and through narrow spots where it tumbles past very violently).
We noticed a number of young trekkers speeding past us as we made our way beside the tracks. We were sure that we were all headed to the same site...but when we finally reached the entrance to the falls, we discovered that these hikers were headed another 4 kms beyond where we stopped so they could catch a bus...thus avoiding the train and the high cost of transportation.
Having seen no one else, we were sure that we were the only ones to make the effort to visit the falls today, so we were convinced that we were on the "path less travelled". We paid a small admission fee and were granted entrance to the Gardens of the Mandor Ravine.
Another trek awaited us as we made our way through the thick vegetation toward the goal...the falls...
When we finally reached the falls (I was getting very tired by this point as we had been hiking for over 3 hours)...they were very pretty. Paul found the energy to go down to them and to get his feet wet and to splash some water on his head...I was taking pictures and we were considering a quick skinny dip...being as we were in a remote area which we were convinced was off the beaten track...when I turned and was greeted by a tour group who had just arrived!!! Our remote and isolated experience was neither as isolated nor as unknown as we had thought!!! Good thing we weren't caught in the all-together!!!
We started our hike back...and by the time we returned...tired, sore but with a feeling of accomplishment...some 6 hours after we had started...we felt that a quick snack and a lie down was in order!!! Our ,"down day" plans had not materialized after all.
After a short nap we were off to supper in the first rain storm since we had arrived here. As we finished our meal the skies cleared and we were treated to a beautiful starry night framed by the peaks of the Andes....magical.
Tomorrow we are off to Cusco for one night before flying out to Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon...