Peru’s Sacred Valley
The views of the Andes from the plane window were incredible as we came into land in Cusco, the ancient Inca Capital 3400m above sea level. Surrounded by mountain peaks and clouds, Cusco is truly unique. At the airport we were greeted by our Mountain Lodges host and transported to El Mercardo Hotel. On arrival we enjoyed some cocoa tea and took a rest on our balconies. Our host, Andres, recommended lying flat and drinking the cocoa tea to help avoid latitude illness. Who were we to argue, so a lay down on the day beds on the balcony outside our lovely room, was a perfect start to our visit to Cusco. Then, a beautiful lunch in the hotel’s restaurant and a guided walking tour around the town. I have wanted to visit Cusco for so long and wandering around the Plaza de Armas and admiring the architecture was amazing, with locals traditionally dressed and lamas tethered to posts it was like stepping back in time. After our expedition briefing and a delicious dinner at Incanto, an early night in preparation of our adventure into the Sacred Valley the following morning.
The Mountain Lodges programme was the perfect way to explore the Sacred Valley. Our guide was passionate and so knowledgeable about the Incas, the landscapes, the history and the archaeological sights, not to mention astronomy. Our days were filled with hikes, local villages, cultural experiences, breathtaking views and our evenings filled with luxurious accommodation, chef prepared meals, local wines and star gazing. There is so much to love about the Sacred Valley.
One of the cultural highlights was the visit to Choquecancha where we met Maria and some of the local villagers. We enjoyed a home cooked meal and chatted over lunch, learning of the art of dying yarn and weaving, and their way of life. We were all so touched by this really wholesome and spiritual visit.
I also totally loved the hike we did through Lares Pass which took about 3 hours and followed one of the ancient Inca trails through the canyon to the local community of Totora. This was one of the easier hikes and absolutely stunning and so remote. On this day we only encountered a couple of locals, lamas and sheep, and no tourists at all. Everyday there were options for hikes or cultural visits or a mix of both. In our small group of 10 some chose the challenging hikes, others the moderate or easy hikes and others the cultural experiences. In the evenings we enjoyed sitting around the large dining table, like a big family, and chatted about our experiences for the day, sharing our stories and reflecting on the day that had been and planning for another amazing day to come.
The lodges are in remote locations in the Sacred Valley and both have fabulous views. There are only 8 rooms in each lodge and the feeling is relaxed, the décor is authentically Peruvian, the meals are chef prepared and made from local ingredients. This is the perfect combination of luxury and adventure! Where else can you spend the days exploring the ancient Inca trails and the evenings in a hot tub looking across the Andes?
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