Also in Arequipa I encountered a flock of alpacas (like sheep built on a llama framework) which lived around our hotel. Most of them were friendly (as were nearly all the llamas and alpacas with which I came to grips in Peru) but there was one alpaca with only one eye who distinguished himself by the ability to spit with unerring accuracy from any angle. Approach him from behind and he'd swivel his head 180° and ZAP!

The locals turned up one day and were vastly amused as One-Eye scored hits on some of the old dears who'd come out to take photos ... but I really freaked them out (and One-Eye too, I expect) when I became the first "gringo" they'd ever seen actually SPIT BACK at an alpaca!

Sacsayhuaman - Cusco - Peru
Sacsayhuaman - Cusco, Peru.
After a few days in Puno we took the train to Cusco, the old capital of the Inca Empire. The train journey took about eight hours, passing through spectacular Andean scenery, and I spotted vast herds of llamas from the train windows. Above Cusco we visited the vast Inca fortifications of Sacsayhuaman, where vast stone blocks which look like they've been cut with precision lasers are formed into enormous walls. The joints between the stones are so good that even today you can't get a knife into some of the cracks.

We took a trip out to the ruins at Ollantaytambo, a breathtaking journey by bus through the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Some of the photos I took from that bus look like they were taken from a plane window. All the while I was listening to Pink Floyd on my Walkman, and the combination of amazing scenery and music was a freakout. The ruins themselves are more evidence of the fantastic stoneworking abilities of the Incas.
Not even the local people there today know how the structures were made so perfectly. By the end of the day my mind was pretty well blown... but the best was yet to come.

From Cusco we left by train to spend two days in the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu (Activision - take note of that spelling!). Although I didn't see Pitfall Harry or his Lost Caverns, what was there was simply brainzapping.

Perched on a mountain ridge between the peaks of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu are the remains of a large Inca city. "Remains" isn't really the right word because most of it is still there! The setting is truely awesome with steep drops all around and Inca terracing in the most amazing places. The whole place has the most incredible atmosphere about it. I'm not normally a freak for ruins and suchlike, but sitting in this incredible city watching the sun go down was just too much.

Ollantaytambo - Cusco - Peru
Ollantaytambo - Cusco, Peru.

I got up early next morning to climb the trail up Huayna Picchu, about 1000ft above the ruins. The climb was fairly heavy in places, and occasionally you'd glance over the edge of the narrow trail to look down a 400 foot vertical drop ... but when you finally emerged, up a wooden ladder, onto a circle of large stones right at the summit, it was worth every penny of the airfare just to sit there.

Huayna Picchu - Wayna Picchu - Machu Picchu - Peru
View of Machu Picchu Ruins from Huayna Picchu (aka Wayna Picchu) - Peru.

Once you'd got over the stage of hanging on and swearing, you'd begin to appreciate the view. Looking down, through the clouds below you, the ruins of Machu Picchu lie a thousand feet below ... and all around near-vertical drops right down to the valley floor. I sat there for about an hour, not saying anything, just a total freakout high.

That hour was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. I didn't ever want to come down, but unfortunately time, tide and Peruvian trains wait for no man, and I had to return to planet Earth.