Mentioning that you plan to visit Machu Picchu is like stamping “Midlife Crisis” on your forehead. Add that you’ll be journeying 41 miles in six days to get there, and now everyone thinks you’re crazy. That is, until you educate them on Mountain Lodges of Peru and their unique lodge-to-lodge trek, all with luxury rooms, Jacuzzis, delicious food prepared by your own chef, and a masseuse for your aching muscles as the end of the day.
Suddenly that “Crisis” doesn’t look so crazy after all.
The city of Cusco serves as the home base for travelers heading to Machu Picchu. It’s where you acclimate to the elevation, share the sidewalks with llamas, and eventually find yourself at the Plaza de Armas square. Plaza de Armas is where the ancient Spanish cathedrals stand side by side with bustling retail shops and exquisite modern cuisine. First stop has to be lunch at Pachapapa, where a heartfelt welcome from the friendly staff, outdoor dining room, open kitchen and pisco sour cocktails have you feeling like you are hanging with friends. Before you say goodbye to Cusco make sure to also try Limo restaurant and their delicious tiraditos and taro chips, Peru’s version of ceviche and French fries– an odd but excellent combination.
From there, let the trekking begin!
Mountain Lodges of Peru transports you from Cusco to the base of the Salkantay Mountain Pass trail. From there you move through five different climates, changing landscapes and elevations, which makes every morning a surprise and every evening an opportunity to share the day’s experience with loved ones back home thanks to precious WiFi.
A truly amazing moment for us? Reaching the top of the Salkantay Glacier at 15,000 ft. This was truly a rock star moment, with a shaman blessing that moved me to tears and then laughter when he immediately asked, “Wanna buy my hat?” Here we also discovered that MasterCard is not accepted everywhere (Peru has an exclusive love affair with Visa) and that every article of clothing can be made out of baby llama!
On the last day we found Machu Picchu waiting for us as it had for countless others over millions of years. The ruins are overwhelming in size, and over one day of wandering in and out of rooms, up and down stairs, I was only able to see a small part. The air is untainted, the sky is a foreign shade of blue, and with no instruction to be quiet thousands of tourists were there whispering… including me.
There is no denying that a peace is present, and if you are looking for your inner self or enlightenment I think you could find it here. I enjoyed and appreciated the ancient ruins hidden deep in the Andes as much as everyone, but it wasn’t the triumph that I expected, rather the melancholy end to an adventure of a lifetime.
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