If you’re an avid traveler as I am, the pull factors that attract you to certain parts of the world are: 1) The breathtaking beauty of a region; 2) The experience of completing immersing yourself in the culture and history of a place that is steeped in rich tradition; 3) Diverse outdoor activities and plenty of adrenaline-producing adventure; 4) Great cuisine that is made from fresh local farming produce. 5) Charming local people who welcome visitors with warmth and hospitality.
I visited Peru two years ago and pretty much can’t wait to get back there because there is so much to see and imbibe. I particularly enjoyed the warmth of its gentle people who were so keen to share their history and culture with us. This is a country that is steeped in centuries of rich cultural heritage. Their traditional ceremonies and festivals include everyone in the village and their colorful costumes and dances are a feast for western eyes. Add to that the fact that the US$ goes a long way in Peru and you have the assurance of one of the most inexpensive vacations. For those suffering the effects of the devaluation of the US$ against the Euro, this comes as a welcome relief. I traveled with Adventure Life Journeys and would highly recommend that you book your trip through them. They know every facet of the place, work with exceptional guides, and will insure that you make the most of your time there.
This is not just a Vacation; it’s a deeply-felt Experience.
As you walk through the cities (of which Cusco is just one example), you’ll find artifacts and architectural evidence of the ancient Inca civilization everywhere you walk. The town is steeped in Inca culture. If you can, try and time your visit during festival time. I was there for the Inti Raymi Festival and was blown away by the colorful costumes and national dances. Everything about that day was magnificent. What was also interesting was the number of high-profile people who were there to soak up the experience. I saw Bill Gates and Cameron Diaz mingling in the crowd – enjoying every detail of the festival.
The Inti Raymi, “Festival of the Sun”, is a religious ceremony in honor of the Inca god, Inti, and marks the summer solstice. With a week of festivities, the actual day of Inti Raymi is on June 24. This is definitely an experience that I highly recommend.
Beauty of the Region
Peru’s landscape includes both the Andes Mountains – with its breathtaking views and hiking possibilities – and the Amazon rain forest, which is home to literally hundreds of thousands of species of animals. The Amazon boasts one of the most diverse habitats on the planet. The sounds that you hear range from the soft flutter of butterflies to a huge number of species of monkeys. There are beautifully-colored parakeets and a host of flora and fauna that most people have never seen before. The natural environment has been carefully maintained with little intrusion from man. Peru has many peaks above 18,000 feet and the Inca trail is rated as one of the best hiking treks in the world.
History and Culture of the Inca Civilizations
What makes Peru so spectacular is the combination of the verdant landscape and the remarkably rich Inca culture. It was they who built the ancient Inca cities that you find throughout Peru. There are historical ruins from past civilizations scattered everywhere. Some of the most significant include Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Nazca Lines and the Sacred Valley (which includes Sacsayhuaman). There are hundreds of miles of Inca road construction that helped to connect the ancient Inca Empire.
Diverse Outdoor Activities and Adventures
I have never traveled to a country with as much diversity as Peru. You can mountain bike from the mountains down into the jungles and the next day, just chill and relax on a private beach. You can spot a Jaguar in the jungle and the next day feed a Lama at Machu Pichu. River rafting in the Sacred Valley is a thrilling experience; so too are the numerous famous Inca hiking trails which traverse some of the highest mountain peaks in South America.
For the Super Adventurous
The Peruvian Andes provide some of the world’s most sought-after trekking adventures. The most famous of these is the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This 4-day journey takes travelers through incredible landscape, which is further enhanced by the historic and spiritual significance this legendary hike has for the Inca culture. Avid experts rate the Cordillera Blanca Trek as one of the must-dos. It’s a 10-day trek starting in the Peruvian town of Lima. The glacier-covered peaks of the Cordillera Blanca soar into the blue skies of northern Peru. This tour takes you to the highest tropical range on earth, more than 70 summits over 18,000 feet with Huascaran at 22,204 feet. The tour guides are well aware of the importance of acclimatizing beforehand and they’ll guide you through the mountain town of Huaraz. Biking, rafting, ruins, markets…..Huaraz offers it all. The challenging five-day trek takes you on an unparalleled alpine adventure, past towering peaks, turquoise lakes, flower-filled meadows, and isolated villages seemingly lost in time. Another great adventure is the Ausangate Trek. The Ausangate Mountain is Peru’s most sacred mountain and it’s close to Cusco in southern Peru. All these options are offered by Adventure Life Journeys. If you’re looking for more than a hiking trip, but want to keep up the adrenaline, ask for their Andean Multisport Tour, an adventure package that includes mountain biking, whitewater rafting and kayaking.
For Children and the whole Family
This gorgeous journey begins in Cusco and ends in Puno or vice versa. Here you and your family can explore Lake Titicaca, a geographical landmark at the crossroads of the Andes and the Andean plateau – and South America’s largest lake. Travelers enjoy interacting with the local community whose roots date back to the ancient cultures that settled in this area. Their hospitality allows your family a homestay opportunity on Amantani Island.
Luxury Travel at Inexpensive Rates
At the heart of Cuzco is the 16th-century Hotel Monasterio, originally built as a monastery in 1592. Hotel Monasterio is the ideal base from which to discover Cuzco and the ancient ruins at Machu Picchu, which can be reached via a spectacular three-hour train journey. All rooms are luxuriously equipped with laundry and room service 24 hours a day. The original architecture and design of the Monasterio has not been significantly altered, and thus the rooms do reflect their origins as a home for Jesuit seminarians. There are no two rooms alike and they all vary in size and format. Around sixty-five guest rooms are enriched with oxygen to help combat any problems encountered as a result of the high altitude.
In a private mountainside refuge deep in the lush Andean cloud forest, in the heart of the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary, lies the intimate Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. From the hotel you are only minutes away from this premier archeological adventure of the Inca Empire. In 2005, the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel was the first Peruvian hotel to be included on Travel+Leisure Magazine’s “The Best 500 Hotels in the World” list.
Because Peru’s landscape is so verdant, the local produce that is grown is rich in nutrients and healthful benefits. I have never eaten so healthfully as I did there. ‘Lucuma’ and ‘pacae’ are some of the local fruit delicacies and some of the crops include corn, lima beans and peanuts. There are some gorgeous atmospheric restaurants tucked up in magnificent architectural buildings that were built 15 centuries ago. Restaurant Huaca Pucllana is just one example of where you can find haute cuisine while dining in the ambience of a great historical building. Another is Cicciolina.
Preserving Weaving Traditions
The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) is a non-profit organization established to preserve, dedicate and recapture the textile traditions of pre-Columbian Peru cultures while providing support to weaving communities. The CTTC has a store and museum where it exhibits a wonderful collection of textiles, and presents a look into the different functions textiles are used for in the different stages of the life of a Cusquenan weaver. There is an education facility for the local community of artisans and a store in Chinchero – a village known for its traditional and colorful Sunday market. Adventure Life Journeys is a proud supporter of the CTTC.
Your travel consultant at Adventure Life Journeys can advise you on the best times to visit Peru. Festival time is in June, so if you want to capture some of the rich heritage, that’s a good time to visit. Whatever tour you choose, this is an experience that will fill up your senses and provide you with some of the most fulfilling memories.
Adventure Life Journeys South & Central America
Tel: 800-344-6118 Adventure-Life.com