Recently I had the pleasure of joining Lima Tours on one of their FAMs, or familiarization trips, and checking an item off my bucket list, Machu Picchu! What a fantastic trip that was!
My first night at the Country Club Hotel reminded me of a stay at one of those Country Estates I’d see in Europe, complete with butlers, chauffeurs, and a concierge. This Luxury Boutique hotel is anyone’s special retreat. This popular property is used by the high society of Lima for years. Their attentive and excellent staff will make your stay one to remember, as I know I’ll always remember.
On the second day I met the rest of the group, with agents from various parts of the U.S. mostly young millennials with the exception of two others who were close to my age! That day we had a tour of Lima, which began at 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 pm but what an awesome experience that was!
We visted a 200 AD archaeological centuary that is one of the most important Pre-Inca religious centers in Peru. This was a sanctuary devoted to Pachacama, the god who created the world. The site is built on a hill in front of the Pacific Ocean. You will need some hiking shoes and lots of water for this excursion which can take about 3 hours from start to finish, depending on amount of information your guide will provide you with.
In Lima we had two other excursions, one was a lunch at the Hacienda Los Ficus where we enjoyed a delicious Peruvian lunch and a horseshow demonstration which was a lot of fun and one that I would recommend to those visiting Lima. I only wish it had been a little longer than 2 hours! What a Fantastic time I had.
I especially like the part where they let us ride a horse after their show. What a treat for a horse lover like myself. You need to have time for this excursion when you go to Lima, definitely a must!
The second excursions was a tour of the historical center of Lima, a UNESCO World Heritage site where we visit the catacombs of the San Francisco Church build in 1674 and had a tour of Casa Aliaga, a colonial mansion occupied to this date by the same family since 1535. The house is in the center of Lima just steps away from the Plaza where you see the Cathedral and other important government buildings.
After our stay and tour of Lima, we flew to Cusco than over to the Sacred Valley where we stayed at Explora for 3 nights. Our drive there was about two hours long, but it doesn’t seem as long when you enjoy the picturesque country side. Before we knew we had arrived to the Explora, Sacred Valley.
This turned out to be a great base area and a great idea to use for those who enjoy hiking, , biking, exploring historic sites, or simply relaxing at this tranquil and quite retreat with an amazing spa! Loved it! The Sacred Valley is also an area used to help the tourist to get used to the high altitude, before going to Machu Picchu. Is very important to give your clients time to Climate otherwise they can have a negative experience during this amazing trip! There is plenty to do while staying in the Sacred Valley!
On our second day in the Sacred Valley we visit a local family in Mismanay and hiked 15 kilometers to Salineras de Maras, salt mines, an impresive site on the side of the mountain and mils away from the Ocean.
The hike was only 15 kilometers, but with the sun, heat and altitude it felt like it was 30 miles. Before you recommend this excursions make make sure they are in good health conditions and physicaly fit.
Our third day came in very quickly and were were prepared for our highly anticipated journey to Machu Picchu. Our day began at 8:00 a.m with a drive to Ollantaytambo where we would board the Vistadome train at 9:15 a.m. the ride would take about a two hours with some snacks and drinks served along the way. We made two stops along the way, one to let people off who were doing the four day Inca trail and the second to let those off who were doing the baby Inca trail which is a one day hike! Make sure you have your passport with you, because if you don’t then you are out of luck and no Machu Picchu for you, that day any ways!
We arrived to Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu’s, and last stop before the bus ride than hike to Machu Picchu! I felt very anxious and excited even though the day promised we’d be having some rain at any moment. I was prepared with a poncho, hat, and my water repellant coat so no worries and off we went! As we approach the bridge to cross the river we could see what seemed an endless line of people waiting to board the same bus that we were going to be taking to the entrance!
Our guide told us not to worry, this is off season and instead of two or three hours we may only have to wait one hour before we could get to the front of the bus and instead of waiting under the blazing sun we had a cloudy day and some rain. Wow, I felt blessed and lucky to be there at this time! For sure it was meant to be, I had been waiting years and years and now I finally was there, well almost there!
Before the entrance to Machu Picchu I had to show my passport once again, than a hike of about half mile before you see the magnificent view of an acient Incan sanctuary, believed to be a retreat for Pachacutec, an Inca Emperor.
We were super glad that our guide had purchase the entrance tickets before so we didn’t have to wait once again in line, it’s also not advised to do that unless you get to the entrance very early or risk the possibility of not entering since they allowed a certain number of visitors per day.
Here again, the hike, altitude and uneven ground can make one feel sick if you are not physically fit. Make sure you take plenty of water, and by that I mean more than one bottle! Only drawback, is there are no restrooms so make sure you make a bathroom stop at the entrance this is especially important for families with small children.
Then there it is!! What a site!! Much more than what I was expecting! A glorious view at an almost 8,000 feet it’s an amazing site! You see these enormous mountains above the archeological site, as if they were guarding this magical masterpiece of timeless grandeur! WOW! WOW! WOW!! Is what came out of my mouth, but I had so much more to say but instead I treasured the moment and saved it in the library of my life! Definitely a memory to be cherished for life!!
Spectacular view, a very uneven ground for those who have mobility issues or bad knees, wear some comfy hiking shoes.
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, hence the reasons for my pictures!! I enjoyed taking them as much as I enjoy sharing my wonderful and unforgettable trip! WOW!! I still say that when I see the pictures! WOW!
Everywhere you turn there is a picture perfect moment, and you want to take a picture of everything, but something are better left for another time. The guide explained to us that the rock above had been known to have mystical powers and that some people claimed to feel the energy in it so of course everyone wanted to touch it including myself!
Inside Machu Picchu there are lamas which just about everyone wants to take a picture so it’s not the easiest of tasks, therefore, I opted for the long distance photo.
The day was magnificent, regardless of the rain, which for being such sports about it mother nature granted us a view of a rainbow which I hurried up and took a picture of!! So beautiful!! The rain didn’t bother me nor did it make it less of an experience, in the contrary it was magnificent!
And just like that, we were done with the tour! Now it was time to head back to Sacred Valley and get ready for our Cusco trip the followind day. But first enjoy a warm and cozy dinner aboard the Hiram Bingham rail! The experience is luxury and romance for those who enjoy the nostalic train travel.
A three course meal aboard the Hiram Bingham with wine paring as you travel the Urubamba Canyon uphill across the Andean landscape from Machu Picchu to Cusco is even mor nostalgic and traveling in the XIX century old train is a journey right out of a novel. There is local musicians playing aboard the train, as one nejoys a pisco sour, a national drink. There is an open-airobsevation car where one can watch the sun set over the mountain peaks and take in the beautiful landscapes.
Our last day was had a tour of Cusco, including a lunch and thirty minutes shopping at the plaza!
Well, I needed more time than that, but the tour was not a shopping tour, therefore, I will need to make a second trip just for that! I wish we would’ve had more time in Cusco but once again, I will need to make a second trip. It’s a Big city, bigger than what I expected, very historical with a Spanish flare and nice people! Beautiful in deed!
And did I mention I wanted a picture with a Lama or an Alpaca?
Well it is said ask and you should receive! So I askded and I received! Fantastic Trip!