We decided to take a trip to South America this past August. Peru is our first stop. The amazing adventures in Peru were filled with cultural delights that I want to share with you, including key highlights and details from my itinerary, and essential tips for anyone planning a trip to Peru.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE THE TRIP
Cusco was once Incan capital and it's where most people starts their journey to Machu Picchu. The city is full of history and beautiful architectures.
WHERE WE STAYED
Palacio Manco Capac by Ananay Hotel
Palacio Manco Capac by Ananay Hotel is simply breathtaking and elegant. It sits on the hill of the town Cusco and overlooking the valley. The view is really something else.
The hotel ground is surrounding of a beautiful eucalyptus forest, incan ruin site, and its half between Sacsayhuman and the popular Plaza de Armas in the San Cristóbal neighbourhood of Cusco. Not to mention that the hotel is also a lovingly restored 1800s Peruvian Republican Mansion.
The place is hands down a hidden gem, given its quietness and unique location.
The hotel staff was extremely attentive and always available to answer any questions or arrange transportation for departure to Machu Picchu. All staff are very personable. We enjoyed all our conversations with the hotel staff and got to know a lot of local culture. We enjoyed breakfast each morning at the hotel’s expansive buffet in the beautiful dinning room.
Another unique feature of the hotel is they have a pet alpaca and llamas out back. They are super cute and friendly, and enjoy to be fed flowers in the morning.
Special thanks to staff Christian and Claudia. Yow two made our stay super pleasant!
Traveling from Cusco to Machu Picchu, other than hiking the Inca Trail, you can also catch the Peru Rail from the town called Poroy which is about 20 to 30 minutes from Cusco. Taking the 8:25am train, you will arrive at Machu Picchu station at noon. Also, a meal is included in the ticket. The scenery rout is breathtaking .
You hear it often about some of the most beautiful places in the world, “Pictures Do Not Do It Justice” and this holds true for Machu Picchu. On our first day in the park (We entered a total of four times on two separate days), we hired a private guide who taught us a great deal about the history of the Inca ruins.
Couple of things to keep in mind while you are at the park:
Huayna Picchu hike
Huayna Picchu Hike is among the most popular hikes in Machu Picchu. You will have to book your spot at least 3 months ahead of time.
We went with the 7am to 8am group. The entire hike took about 2 hours. The trail became a straight up in the last 15 minutes. The reward though is priceless.
Sun Gate Hike
After the morning of Huayna Picchu hike, we had a lovely lunch and decide to go on another hike to the Sun Gate. It's great to see Machu Picchu from a different angle. Along the way we met many people that are coming through Sun Gat finishing their Inca trail.
Where we stayed
Belmond Sanctuary Lodge
Location, Location, and Location! This sums up Belmond Sanctuary Lodge. Given it's the only lodging up in the mountain, we got to wake up at sunrise and roll out of bed into line to enter the gate of Machu Picchu. All other visitors have to either hike up from the Aguas valley or take 30-40 bus ride. We entered Machu Picchu 4 times during our 2 nights stay. After our Huayna Picchu Hike, we were able to go back to the hotel, have a nice lunch and take a nap before heading out for the afternoon hike to the Sun Gate.
The Belmond Sanctuary Lodge had modest accommodations, but beautiful, tropical grounds, including a secluded outdoor jacuzzi, and a hidden oasis for couples massage. The outdoor massage area is hidden down a pathway in a secluded garden area with a small waterfall and view of the Peruvian mountain peaks. The restaurant serves afternoon tea, which includes all kinds of interesting and delicious tidbits. They also offer Pisco tasting in the evening, which includes a lesson on mixing the famous alcoholic beverage to make different cocktails, such as the well-know Pisco Sour. The convenience of staying at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge made our trip headache free!
We want to get a taste of the Sacred Valley of Peru before heading to our next destination Chile. Ollantaytambo could not have been a better choice. We took the morning train from Machu Picchu station and arrived at Ollantayyambo around10:30am. Ollantayatambo is a town surrounded with historical ruins. It's the only town where the Inca defeated the Spain. The town is small with many allies paved with cobblestones.
Where we stayed
Hostal Iskay is about 20 minutes away from the train station. It's located in one of the allies facing the historical ruins. The hostel is full of charm with all the beautiful flowers and plants. We enjoyed having conversation with the host Carmina Aredez, who is originally from Argentina. The room is small but cozy with a great view of the ruins. The hostel is close to all restaurants in town.
Maras and Sacred Valley
Since our flight to Chile is in the afternoon, Hostal Iskay helped us to arrange a private driver to take us to the salt mine in Maras.
The scenery is absolutely stunning. I wish I had planned an extra day there. The salt mine is so unique and interesting, something I have never seen through my past travels.
Congrats!! You made it through this extra long post. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. Here are some of the clothing I wore during my trip. Next up, Chile!
Dresses: Anthropologie (see similar here andhere)
Sweater: Anthropologie (see here)
Nightgown: Anthropologie (seehere)
Leather jacket: Mango (see here)
Machu Picchu outfit:
Checked shirt: Anthropologie (see similar here)
Jenas: Zara (see similarhere)
Active tanktop: Athleta (see similar here)
Active bottom: Athleta (see similar here)
baseball hat: REI (see similar here)
Cowboy hat: purchased at market in Cusco (see similar here)
Dress: French connection (see similar here)
Shoes: Convers (see here)