On Top Of The World!

Sarah Freeman on 29 July 2023
With the world now fully open and ready to be explored, lots of clients have been asking me to create their bucket list trips for them, from safaris in Tanzania, Australia and New Zealand combo’s to touring around Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. One of my favourite trips from a few years ago was my 12 day tour of Peru and now that the political unrest from start the year had died down, its now back on people’s radars. The biggest pull is of Machu Picchu, standing at 2, 430 metres above sea-level in the middle of a tropical forest in the mountainous Andes region, the complex dates back to the Inca Empire and is definitely one of the greatest architectural achievements anywhere in the world. With over 200 structures hugging the mountain and divided by steep stone terraces, this ancient city combines a mix of residential, ceremonial, religious, agricultural and astronomical buildings. Best visited in the dry season (May to October) when you can enjoy sunny days and clear, the peak tourist season is June through to August and the best time to do trekking and the infamous Inca Trail. But Peru also offers so much more. Most people will fly into Lima (“The City of Kings”), the capital while offering all the trappings of modern day life is a World Heritage Site with a historical centre and while its been severely damaged by earthquakes it still offer great colonial buildings, museums and the Government Palace and it’s the only South American capital on the coast! Make sure to also visit the archaeological sites of Huaca Pucllana and Huallamarca with their pyramids and excavated mummies. After spending 2 days in Lima, I flew to the red roofs of Cusco which is the historical capital of Peru to start to get acclimatised. With it’s open plaza and cobbled winding streets, this beautiful town has history around every corner. Make sure to visit Andahuaylillas known as “The Sistine Chapel of the Americas” – you will be blown away with the inside décor, gold is literally everywhere! If you like souvenir shopping, head to the San Blas neighbourhood, here you’ll find every type of artisan craft. Cusco is also a great stepping stone to fascinating archaeological sites such as Sacsayhuaman with its gigantic boulder walls. From Cusco, I headed into the Sacred Valley which runs through the Urubamba mountains, again this area offers a plethora of archaeological sites and picturesque villages such as Pisac renowned for its Inca architecture and handicraft market plus chance to try roasted guinea pig! As you continue through the verdant valley, make sure to stop at Ollantaytambo built over 3.500 year ago to see the imposing fortress and climb to the top of the terraces for wonderful views. From here you can then take the train to Aguas Calientes with its thermal baths, plethora of restaurants and the gateway to Maccu Pichu. From here you have the choice of taking the bus up (about 30 minutes) to the site or walking the 9km (about 2 hours).