An Amazing Peru Adventure
In February of 2019 I traveled Peru and my experience was amazing. I had what I believe was the perfect itinerary for a first time visit to Peru, and would be suitable for couples or families. The adventure begins when I arrived in Lima and caught a connecting flight to Cusco where we were then immediately transferred to the Sacred Valley. The Sacred Valley is a great place to start as the altitude is lower than Cusco making it a nice place to acclimate.
From there, I spent two nights at Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba. It was fantastic and photos really don’t do the property justice. During the two days in the Sacred Valley, with an excellent local private guide, I visited the Pisac Ruins (highly recommend!!), the Moray archaeological site and Maras salt mines. The guide, a local of one of the high plateau villages near Moray led us on a beautiful hike around the Moray area and then from the Maras Salt mines down to the valley. The scenery was spectacular and we met local farmers, dressed in the beautiful colored clothing typical of the region, who were happy to let us stop and learn a little bit about their life tending to their potatoes. Fun fact: peru has something like 3,500 different varieties of potatoes – who knew!
After this we visited the impressive Inca ruins at Ollyantambo and then took a first class train to Machu Picchu town. The train journey included full meal and beverage service, a bar cart and live entertainment. It was a very scenic and enjoyable journey.
Machu Picchu was more impressive than I imagined. I’ve seen so many images of the ruins I thought I had a good impression of the site in my mind, but it blew me away. Sitting on the edge of one of the terraces looking down the steep cliff face to the valley below and imagining how a civilization built the impressive structure was truly a once in a lifetime experience.
I also hiked to the top of Machu Picchu Mountain, which s about 300 meters above Machu Picchu. The hike is not for the faint of heart as it consists of LOTS of uneven stairs and sheer drops along the path. If anyone is afraid of heights I would strongly caution against this hike. I really enjoyed the grounds of Inkaterra Machu Picchu and the convenience to the town for sampling other restaurants and browsing souvenir shops.
From Machu Picchu we traveled back down to Olllytambo by train and then by car to Cusco. We stayed at Inkaterra La Casona. It was again, marvelous! Did a fun cocktail small bites tour, that consisted of several stops where I learned to make different local cocktails including the famous Pisco Sour.
Next, I flew from Cusco to Juliaca and transferred by car to Lake Titilaca. Honestly, I was least excited about this portion of the tour, but it turned out to be my favorite! The hotel is simply spectacular and Lake Titicaca is impressive- it's the highest navigable lake in the world I believe and one of the largest, if not the largest high altitude lake in South America.The hotel is located at very high altitude (12,500 feet) and was the highest altitude place I stayed on the trip. This is a place for relaxing and taking in the environment and culture. It is very remote, so not for people who want to be in the midst of action. But for those looking for an off-the-beaten path luxury retreat – this is it. Food was outstanding, scenery beautiful, service excellent, cultural activities interesting and high quality.
Lake Titicaca also offers a number of incredible local cultural experiences and excursions, included in the stay. I chose to visit the floating island community of the Uruos people – a fascinating one of a kind cultural experience. Then we went to the island of Taquile, home of the Quechua people, who have unique customs and the men do the weaving.
In addition to visiting the islands, I took a guided hike around the area to see local farms and community life and also went rafting in the local reeds witnessing the abundant bird life around the hotel. It was cloudy during my stay, but I’ve heard the star gazing is especially spectacular. I would've stayed longer if I could!
Finally, I ended my trip with two beautiful nights in Lima.The guides and service were excellent, people were friendly and the culture was vibrant and colorful. I tried surfing the famous beaches, had ceviche at a beachside restaurant and explored the historic city center. I also took a late night stroll and sampled snacks and cocktails in the trendy and vibrant Barranco district. All very fun!