The INCA ruins at Machu Picchu rank high on our list as a once in a lifetime destination. There is a mystical atmosphere that permeates the site as one walks among the amazing ruins. The setting is amazing, perched on a cliff top surrounded by the high Andes mountains, one feels as though they are in a city in the sky. The stonework is phenomenal and the level of craftsmanship will astonish you. Massive granite blocks are fitted together in perfect harmony to create temples, arches, and a myriad of other stone buildings.
We offer two ways to distinct journeys to Machu Picchu: luxury travel by train or adventurous lodge to lodge trek.
Either way, you are in for a treat! This combines perfectly with our Galapagos Islands trip.
I have just returned from one of the most amazing countries on the planet - Peru - where our small group travelled from the charming coastal capital of Lima to the spectacular ruins of Machu Picchu. Along the way we explored Lima's exploding culinary scene and took part in a market tour followed by a cooking class presented by one of Peru's top chefs. Peru is blessed with an mind boggling abundance of fruits, seafood, and vegetables (over 2000 types of potatoes alone!). The local produce market was fascinating. We learned how Peruvian cuisine incorporates a myriad of ingredients, many from the Amazon Basin, to create unique and delicious meals. Did you know there are over 6 types of bananas used in Peruvian cuisine? If you are a foodie Peru should be on the top of your list.
The city is modern and clean with many innovative chefs offering specialties from fresh ceviche and seafood to roasted meats. I dined at some of the top restaurants in the city and can provide my guests with an in depth culinary adventure. In addition, the lodging in Peru is now top notch including boutique Hotel B where I stayed in the charming Barranco District which was the former summer sea-side residence of the President of Peru.
I am pleased to say Lima is now a highlight of any trip to Peru and features some of the top museums on the continent including the wonderful Larco Museum which includes stunning pottery from Pre Inca to Colonial eras, gold masks and jewelry, and much more in a fantastic setting (great onsite garden restaurant as well).
Next it was off the Cusco where we lodged at the newly opened superb 5 star boutique hotel, Palacio Nazarenes. Set next to the historic Monastario Hotel it features Cusco's only swimming pool and has oxygen pumped into the rooms to help guests acclimatize to the altitude. The building is a former convent with an on site chapel and gorgeous stone walls surrounding a peaceful courtyard. I was also able to inspect several top properties such as the exclusive La Casona and the Monastario where Jale and I stayed on our honeymoon in 1997. We toured the historic main square including the staggering cathedral with its enormous vaulted ceilings. We spent the next day touring the wonderful sites of the Sacred Valley which features Inca ruins, salt pools, and the beautiful Urubamba River. We lodged at another Belmond Property (former Orient Express) exquisitely positions along the river called the Rio Sagrado. Our suites faced the river across an expansive open lawn where alpacas and llamas roamed free. The spa was spectacular with an indoor/outdoor pool and jacuzzi. I enjoyed a great massage which was perfect to relieve the stress of traveling. I forgot to mention we also participated in a ceremony with a shaman at the weaver's market early that day which was extraordinary.
The highlight of any trip to Peru is certainly the mountain top ruins of Machu Picchu. You can either reach them by train or by trail. This time we went with the luxury Hiram Bingham train (Orient Express) which featured fine dining, a fun bar car with live band and great views thanks to the vista dome windows. My favorite area was the exterior observation platform at the end of the train where you could hear the roar of the Urubamba river, smell the jungle plants, and crane your neck up to see the impossibly steep slopes to the snowy peaks above. What a difference from our last trip when Jale and I hiked over Salcantay Mountain to the Inca Trail after rafting the class 5 rapids of the Apurimac. Nothing wrong with a little luxury later in life!
Our grand finale awaited at the top of Machu Picchu where we strolled through the various temples and chambers where Inca priests had once lived. The stonework is spectacular and of the finest quality in many places where you could not even slide a credit card between the joints. The view is over a lush semi-tropical river valley a thousand feet below and to the high peaks of the Andes surrounding this mountain top site. I was pleased to see lots of kids traveling with their parents having a great time exploring the site and jumping off the rocks. Peru has something to offer for everyone at any age. Cuisine, art, history, mountains, rivers, jungle and more...but the lasting image I have is of the people, warm and inviting with a huge smile on their faces. These are some of the happiest people on the planet and I can see why...
Please contact me to learn more about a custom adventure to Peru for you or your family. There are many options from luxury to adventure (including a trek with from lodge to lodge to Machu Picchu). Most people travel between May to September when it is the dry season in the mountains however my recent experience convinced me that despite a little afternoon rain at times the months of November to April can be an excellent choice as rates are lower and it is uncrowded at the major sites. In fact, Lima has the best weather in these months with day time temps in the 70-80's and no rain at all. Peru is one of those bucket list countries and I hope you can make it once in your life - you won't regret it!
P.S. - Peru makes a perfect combination with a Galapagos adventure in Ecuador!