Sacha Lodge, Ecuador (Yvonne Smith)
We meet Ayul at 7 am and decide to take a hike along the river that passes below Machu Picchu to a large waterfall. The valley walls are steep and the river is a raging torrent below so the path mostly hugs the single line railway track. We occasionally stand back as a small train trundles slowly by. As we leave the town, we come across a couple of tail-wagging dogs. There are quite a few street dogs about but they are mostly friendly surviving on scraps from restaurants and tourists. We haven't come across any aggressive dogs throughout our travels however they can apparently be a problem in the suburbs of the larger cities where they travel in packs (we've seen these packs from the car in Quito). In any case, we are badly missing our dog at home so we welcome the company of these strays (but don't allow the kids to touch them!). Our new furry friends decide to accompany us on our hike so off we go. Ayul points out many natural and historical points of interest along the hike and we end up at a beautiful natural waterfall with banana trees, lovely tropical plants and many varieties of orchids. It really is a beautiful and fascinating country. Around noon, we return to town for a quick lunch and then head over to the train station for our train back to Ollantaytambo. We are met there by our driver and private van who then shuttles us through the highlands, glaciers visible in the distance and back to our main base of Cusco where we will now spend time exploring and learning more about this former Incan capital and Peru's 4th largest city!
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