Typically we're busy planning our client's bucket list trips, but this year, I got to check one of mine off the list. Peru has a special place in my heart, as I remember seeing the picture of Machu Picchu over my great-grandmother's bed in Paris and she told me how she dreamed of visiting one day. While she never did make the trek, I felt privileged to reflect on memories of her in this special place.
Arriving to paradise in the Sacred Valley: After a long day of traveling, arriving at the Inkaterra Urubamba was a welcome sight! This property is beyond peaceful and set amidst the striking mountains. It was a perfect place to relax and allow our bodies to adjust to the altitude. The staff is friendly and attentive, and if you're looking for an amazing Pisco Sour, you've come to the right place! There are so many great choices in the Sacred Valley, so feel free to reach out to us for additional ideas.
The cool thing about Peru is that there are so many different ways to see the country, depending on your situation and preference. We saw families with small children, honeymooners, backpackers, older couples and serious trekkers. Since we didn't have our two small children with us, we chose to go the active route and spend a lot of our time exploring the different Inca sites, riding Peruvian horses, hiking (more on that in a minute) and happily eating and drinking everything that crossed our paths (with the exception of Cuy, which is the Peruvian delicacy of Guinea Pig).
I have to say that out of all the amazing things we saw and did, it would not have been as memorable, meaningful or educational had it not been for our guide, Javier. An amazing guide is key to getting the most out of your trip. Absolutely worth every penny.
Inca Trail: We had to experience the iconic Inca trail, but only had time to
do the one-day trail. We took the Vistadome train to KM 104 and started our 9-mile trek to the Lost City of the Incas. If you like hiking, you will love this experience. It's challenging, yet you're rewarded with breathtaking views, jungle sights and sounds, wild orchids and countless butterflies. I was really impressed by how clean and well maintained the trails were despite the number of people that hike it every year. We were there during the slow season, so there were hours of hiking without seeing another person.
Seeing Machu Picchu open up through the clouds as we arrived at the Sun Gate was met with cheers and did not disappoint. It's an incredible site, surrounded by vast green mountains, and boggles the mind on how they built it over 500 years ago. We spent a luxurious night resting our legs at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel.
Stairs, stairs, stairs! In the early morning, the real challenge started when we began our ascent up Montana Machupicchu, ultimately reaching over 10,000 feet. This hike is not for the faint of heart. It is steep with a sharp cliff to one side. At many times, you have to scale the wall while others pass in the opposite direction.
However, you will be rewarded with amazing feelings of self accomplishment, incredible views down onto Machu Picchu and, if you plan wisely, an amazing party on the Hiram Bingham train with a four course meal, flowing wine, live music and dancing, on your way back to Cusco.
One of the favorite places that we stayed was the Hotel Belmond Palacio Nazarenas in Cusco. As soon as we checked in, I was reluctant to explore the city, as all I wanted to do was sit in this amazing bathtub.
Cusco has so much to offer: some incredible restaurants (some of the best food we had the entire trip), beautiful architecture, people and more. One of my favorite experiences was a private cooking class on a rooftop in the heart of the city.
There's something for everyone in Peru. What will you discover?