Featuring the Mountain Lodges of Peru
First, one is taken by the stunning physical aspects of this trip: the amazing ecological diversity as one ascends to 15,000 feet above sea level and then descends, through snow, ice and rock, to alpine meadows, to shrubs and bushes, to lush jungle-like vegetation. The glacier-filled peaks against the azure blue sky, which then disappear into mounting clouds and pelting rain, only to pop out again–with a little more snow on them. The Mountain Lodges of Peru, which are our evening refuges along the trail–each different, each emphasizing its own local environment.
Next, one is always being aware that we are in the land of the Inka–with local people using “our” hiking trail as their commercial highways, packing things on their backs or on stock, in their garb that harkens back to an earlier time, not to a Travelsmith catalog.
Finally, for me, this entire trip is constantly overlaid with a very spiritual feeling–being in the land of the Inka, we’re also feeling their connection to this land, if we’re open to it. And it’s hard not to be. Talking to our Qeuchua helpers along the way, engaging in some of the traditional rituals under the tutelage of our MLP guides–coca tea, laying stones on the cairn at the pass, tossing the coca leaves into the gale at highest point with a wish for our future path. And that is before even laying eyes on Machu Picchu. Once in that mystical-feeling place, it all comes together. The physical beauty, the Inka past, and the spiritual journey that is life. A trip indeed.
While I’ve been blessed to have traveled the world and experienced enough to satisfy a few lifetimes, this trip fully captured my attention, exceeded my high expectations, offered an abundance of pleasant unexpected moments and will undoubtedly remain etched in my memory. From our first footsteps out of Mollepata and breathtaking offerings of Mother Nature to the gigantic Condor that flew within 4 meters of us, this trip was a cacophony of sights and experiences. I particularly liked the variety from the dry alpine climbs with views of the Salcantay Mountain and Humantay Peak and glacier lake to dense jungles dripping with life, color and many different scents. And with our impressive hiking to get from one stupendous and pampering lodge to the next, we fully justified enjoying the splendid culinary spreads and evening Jacuzzis.
If I were to be fired tomorrow, my first thought would probably be- “When can I return to do this trip again?” For someone who likes the combination of physical exertion (at my pace), taking in copious quantities of nature and spoiling myself, this vacation ranked in the top 5 for me!
I agree w/ Peter about the biozones – the amazing variety in a single day of hiking and throughout the trek. I also liked the “up-close” lesson on glacier geology – the valley shape, the lateral moraine, how subsequent terminal moraines each give way to eventually forming a new moraine (higher up) w/ a new glacial lake.
Another aspect of the trip that meant a lot to me was to hear about past (Inkan) plus current spiritual practices from native Quechua guides, for example, the belief that the Apu (sacred mountains) are the intersection between the sacred sun (Inka) and the sacred earth (Pachamama). I also loved the sacred cocoa ceremony at Salcantay pass. I appreciated that there exists a culture that respects rather than exploits our earth mother and I held this thought as I walked the ancient paths.
It’s always amazing to me how unique each travel adventure can be. We packed so much into 9 days! From hiking at high altitudes in the beautiful Andes Mountains to shopping in the markets at Aguas Calientes and roaming the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, this trip had it all. There was a variety of activities, gracious hosts and cooks each night in beautiful accommodations and as always, fond memories created with new and long-time friends. The Peruvian hospitality can’t be beat and I look forward to a return visit.
I, too, have been so fortunate to have had many trips of a lifetime that have taken me across a wide range of our diverse and amazing planet. But what strikes me most about our journey in Peru, is the broad range of sensations that combine and touch the soul, leaving a special place in one’s heart for this unique and beautiful part of our world. Glacier capped mountain ranges, reflections in a crystal blue-green glacial lake, descending through dense cloud forest with butterflies dressed in brilliant colors greeting you around every corner, washing away the heat of the trail in a pool of a roaring mountain river, condors soaring on the wind drafts watching, waiting…and with each of these, and many more, our expert guide, who grew up in these mountains, shares their spiritual significance with legends, history, stories from his childhood and mystical offerings to the forces of nature, seeking their aid in our travels.
And as each day’s hike comes to a close, feeling the satisfaction from the physical exertion and the day’s experiences, we are rewarded further with very warm greetings from the lodge’s staff, a soak in the hot tub, fine wine and cuisine, and an evening’s conversation with new friends. Each day of our journey afforded special memories that I will carry with me always. Viva el Peru. I will return.
- The wide variety of terrain, flora and vistas along the trek
- Being able to slip into a warm Jacuzzi and comfy bed at the end of each day’s trek
- The views, the views, the views!
- The anticipation of each day’s trek
- Saying “Allillanchu?!” (How are you? in Quechua) to locals along the path and getting a very enthusiastic response!
- Getting a massage, steam & sauna just a few hours before getting on the flight from Lima to come home!
- Finding my corner of solitude at Machu Picchu and soaking up the beauty, mystery & energy of this special place
- Trent’s comment: “Let me get this straight. At this lodge, there are no massages and no Jacuzzi? I’ve gotten terribly used to both and may start having withdrawals!”
- The variety of the lodges and how each had their own unique ambience
- I really enjoyed seeing and connecting with the local people
- Ending in Machu Picchu was a true highlight for me – it was such an incredible and spiritual experience to wander through all that sacred stone!
- The cohesion of the group was great, thanks to GS and to our guide, Williams
- The little things that our guide did to make the trek special- weaving in a history lesson, pointing out aspects of the flora, sharing stories about the culture, the economy and his personal life made the whole experience richer and much more than “a place to just go hiking”. He also introduced us to his relatives and friends in Mollepata and arranged for tea in a relative’s café — that really made the trip interesting
- It felt like I was making a pilgrimage to Machu Picchu. And I didn’t feel disappointed in any respect when I arrived. I haven’t seen anything like it. Loved the mist that shrouded the site.
- The company of the fellow sojourners was terrific!
- I loved being able to hike multiple days in a row and in such gorgeous scenery – and I’m from the beautiful mountain state of Colorado!
- It was nice to be with a group that was so fit and we were all able to do the hike at a similar pace
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