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DAY 14 - TUESDAY

Bird perched upon the rocky cliffs
Bird perched upon the rocky cliffs
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We set our alarm for 4:30 am as Dick and I planned to catch the 5:30 am bus to witness sunrise at Machu Picchu. At the bus station, seven buses were lined up to begin ferrying tourist to the ruins. Arriving at 6:10 am, we selected a spot near the trail to the Sun Gate to wait the arrival of the sun. Although low-hanging clouds normally shroud the ruins, the sky was clear with only a scattering of high clouds. Temperatures were in the low 40's with a slight breeze. Near 7:50 am the sun appeared over the tops of the surrounding mountains. It was a beautiful sight to watch the sun slowly wash over the ruins. Dick and I slowly descended to the ruins, stopping to rest and to enjoy the view from the storage huts. Near the Temple of the Condor, we found a protected grassy area overlooking the river far below. Here we rested and took in the view before returning to Aguas Caliente at 10 am. After refreshing ourselves in the hotel, Dick and I relaxed alongside the rapids on the Urubamba River. We found a small restaurant and enjoyed a great wood oven pizza and cold cervaza prior to meeting up with our group for the 1:30 pm return train ride back to Ollantaytambo.

With our driver meeting us at the train station, we quickly retrieved our luggage from the El Sauce Hotel and started the return trip to Cusco. The steep climb from the Urubamba River to the highlands again was breathtaking as the sun was low in the sky. Shadows were long and colors subdued. Returning to the Casa Andina Hotel in Cusco, we showered and rested prior to setting out to a wine and tapas bar for a light meal. The tapas bar was not crowded so in addition to a great variety of foods, the friendly bartender provided the entertainment. Both Peruvian and Chilean wines were served along with a huge selection of tapas. Dick finished the night enjoying a nightcap of a pisco liquor.

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