Location: Cuzco to Urubamba

Today started with one of the most difficult experiences we can expect to encounter on this trip: climbing the stairs from our hostel with our bags to the bus located on the road, at least 30,000ft above (only slightly exaggerating). It was time to say goodbye to Cuzco, and hello to the rural Andes.

Amidst the dazzling scenery stood the first stop of our action-packed day which was an alpaca and llama farm. Despite some fears, we all managed to escape without being spat on and several remarkable selfies. Unsurprisingly, alpacas are photogenic.

Next came the Pisac Market, famous for its handicrafts and good prices. During our short stay of only half an hour, almost everyone emerged with a beanie, sweater, or pair of gloves. I purchased my second alpaca sweater out of what will likely be fourteen.

These first quick stops were quickly outshone by what came next. The Pisac ruins lie on a mountainside, nestled amongst surrounding cliff faces and above layers of agricultural terraces. The beauty of the view was indescribable on the cliff face opposite lay hundreds of holes dug out of the rock. We learned from our guide Raul that these were once tombs where Incans lay so they could return to nature once they died. They were buried with their possessions, and when the Spanish Conquistadors discovered this, they unearthed these tombs to steal and sell anything of value. We braced the stairs up to the peak of the ruins, wondering all the while how fit the Incans must have been. At the peak the beauty of our surroundings was again, completely mesmerizing. The number of tourists did not prevent the tranquility of Pisac from shining through.

After our descent from the ruins, we stopped for lunch and then continued our day with mountain biking. Today was the first time in about three years that I had ridden a bike and surprised myself by picking it up again fairly quickly. Our ride was fairly flat, but took place along a dirt road so was as flat as a road can be when it’s covered in rocks. About every half hour we arrived in a new town, where our bus was stopped in case anyone wanted to get back on. Considering how exhausting this day and every other day has been, it was understandable that most of the gang left early. By the end of the ride, only five of us remained. It required a lot of concentration to keep from going off the road, but once we slowed down and remembered to look up, the reward was brilliant. I was riding along, eyes on the road, when all of a sudden I looked to either side of me to discover we were riding between two mountains. The sight caught me so off guard I almost stopped dead in my tracks. From that point on I remembered to look up; never missing a farmer working in the fields, or girls walking home from school, or Dan taking pictures of us as we rode to the finish line.

We are currently in a beautiful hostel for the night in the town of Urubamba. The gardens are peaceful, the beds are comfortable, and there is guaranteed hot water. Everyone else in my room is already asleep, and after such an exciting and fun-filled day, I think I might join them. Goodnight from Lifeworks Peru talk to you soon.