New York, New York Travel Agent
Peru: Past and Present
Peru is a very special place. The people were incredibly hospitable and drew me into their history, traditional crafts and way of life in a very personal way. It is amazing how much of the past is intertwined into present-day life. At the same time, it is a very comfortable place to travel. I stayed at Belmond hotels & resorts throughout, which offer immersive experiences in addition to five-star luxury.
Machu Picchu was magical. Walking into the single city gate that allowed entry to the ancient citadel, I felt transported back in time. Considering its stunning location, surrounded by cliffs high in the Andes Mountains, it was easy to see why the 15th century Inca elite chose this site. It is incredible to see what they were able to build for themselves without modern technology and how precise they were with their technology hundreds of years ago. The fact that it has remained intact for so many centuries is a testament to the skills of the ancient Incans.
Staying at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge was ideal. The other hotels are all located in the valley, so most visitors to Machu Picchu start their day traveling to the site. Since the Belmond is located just outside the entrance to the site, we could just step out our front door and be there. It’s also a lovely five-star boutique hotel in its own right with field-to-table local cuisine, a spa, and the chance to take part in traditional ceremonies.
The hotel can also be a jumping off point for treks into the Sacred Valley, where you can feel the connection of present-day Inca to their past. We went to a llama farm, visited a salt mine, and visited with weavers who explained the traditional Incan weaving techniques and dyes-making methods using natural ingredients that are still practiced there today. They also showed us how each village weaves its own patterns and stories into its designs.
Our guide explained that the Inca culture has great respect for nature. One of the most interesting places we visited was an agricultural site where crops are being grown as they were centuries ago. The land is terraced in concentric circles in a methodical way that creates a series of different eco-systems. As you descend, the temperature, sun, and water balance change to provide ideal conditions for different kinds of foods. The Inca have also done a lot of work with creating natural hybrids, increasing the varieties and characteristics of vegetables and grains.
Cuzco was also fascinating. It is even higher in elevation than Machu Picchu, and its history predates the Inca. The modern art was very original. It intertwines old and new, using joyful colors from the past in playful new ways. I stayed at the historic Belmond Palacio Nazarenas, which preserved much of the original Inca stonework, colonial frescos, and gold-framed paintings while providing luxuries like cutting edge cuisine and a wonderful spa.
Peru has so much to offer, from outdoor adventures to fine cuisine. Everything is made more special by the people, who proudly share their traditions in a very welcoming and personal way.