Day 15 – Urubama River & Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town)

8 Apr

Started this morning with a white water rafting trip down the Amazon. Well okay, the main tributary to the Amazon – the Urubama river.

Started off with squeezing one more person in the van than there was seats, which by Peruvian standards meant it was almost empty.

Arriving at the river, the boat was pumped up by hand as the seven of us donned very fetching wetsuits and buoyancy aids. Slightly more concerning was the main train line between us and the river, and the fact that the local kids seemed quite interested in getting in on the action.

Yvonne (my designated swim coach) admitted just as we were about to get in the boat that her lifesaving qualification was only for indoor swimming pools, but happily reassured me with the upside down first aid kit that she was carrying. I’m sure elastoplast is useful when drowning.

The rafting itself started off gently and progressed to three or four different set of rapids. Twice the guide and accompanying kayaker pulled us into the side so they could go off for a cup of coffee – I mean rekkie – to make sure of the safe route down the river. Slightly disconcerting! Apparently we were the first this year to make it down the river, due to the water levels being appropriate.

Anne’s (dry) shoes had missed the bus to the other end, so the guide stuck them down his life jacket and them gave them to one of his friends on the first rekkie.

This was fortunate as Anne soon took a tumble into the water on one of the more entertaining parts of the water ride.  Sitting behind her, I saw her go over the side, still holding on to the raft and her paddle. I saw her go completely under, looking shocked. Still my only thought was “thankfully that’s not me”. Eventually Paul sprung into action and grabbed an armpit. I tried to help where possible but someone had to keep the laughter going and I was Des. She apparently gave herself a black eye at the time and ended up in a heap at the bottom of the raft before recovering and continuing.

After this much excitement we finished up and were treated to a nice lunch on a table nicked from the house we stopped at.

We continued on to Ollantaytambo, a nice Inca village rebuilt by the Spaniards. Spent most of the time people and dog watching in the square, but did manage a large takeaway cake for my second lunch. The others who had not been rafting joined us here, having not had any lunch at all. Shame.

We walked down to the train station carrying our overnight bags and boarded the train where lunch number three was served. Tried the local Inca Cola, which was bubblegum flavour. Coke has no worries there. It rained.

Arriving at Machu Picchu town, we were frog marched through the obligatory handicraft market with strict instructions not to look and head straight to the hotel – Gringo Bill’s just off the main square.

Had time to settle in and wash the Urubama out of my hair before setting off on a flag hunt. Not too long later and one was purchased, much to the hilarity of the shop owner when I asked for her photo with it.

The day finished off with a group three course meal – speaking mostly to Bob again. Must remember that when given chillies to add to french onion soup, not to.

Early start tomorrow to get to Machu Picchu proper.

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