Today we got up at 5:30 am and stood in line for tickets to Huayna Picchu. We just had to walk out of our hotel to get in line, but if you wanted to get there before the first bus (which left Aguas Calientes at 5:30 am) and were not staying at our hotel you needed to hike about 1hour up the hill, which many people did. When the line started moving we noticed that people had their park tickets and that was what was being stamped for entry to the hike but we did not have our ticket. When it was our turn I told them that our guide had our ticket so they stamped yesterday's. Troy was nervous about how this would work because only 2 groups of 200 people are allowed to hike on any given day. As we left the line and went back to our room the buses came and the line got very long.
About ten minutes after we got back in the room, the phone rang. It was the front desk telling us that they have our ticket and the line was very long so we would need to go right away to get in line. We told him that I had gotten the stamp on yesterday's ticket and he said that would work.
We met our guide Catarina at 9:30 am and she walked us over to where the Huayna Picchu hike started. People coming back from the first group of 200 had very big welts so we promptly put on bug spray. We left Troy and Adrian in line and then began our walk to the Sun Gate. The Sun Gate is located 2,600 meters above sea level on the south east flank of Machu Picchu mountain. The grade was about 45 degrees with some large rocks to climb up. The views were spectacular. We could see the road we came up with all the switch backs, we could also see Aguas Calientes as well as Machu Picchu. Along the way we saw beautiful flowers, butterflies, some poisonous spiders as well as a centipede like you never saw before. He was about 6 inches long and 1/4 inch round and he was all black with red feet. There was also a llama on our path. In contrast, Troy's hike was a vertical climb up to about 2,540 meters.
After the hike we had another fantastic lunch. Peruvian's know how to cook, they have over 300 varieties of potatoes and the few we have tried are very tasty. They also serve several starches with a meal so it is normal to have both rice and potatoes with a meal. After lunch and a brief rest we went back into the park to see more of the sites.
Tomorrow is our last day here. We will do one more walk around the ruins and then head down for lunch. Then we will take the train to Ollantaytambo and then a car back to Cuzco where we will spend the night.