Last December we were thrilled to organize a private Tour for repeat guests. We flew from Lima to Cusco and went straight on to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley to visit the dramatic Inca site and enjoy a lovely vegan meal before settling down in our beautiful Hotel in Urubamba.
The next day we took the train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu. This train journey is known to be one of the most spectacular rides in the world, traveling from a highland ´Qeshwa Valley’, where corn and vegetables are cultivated, down into the cloud forest. We passed snowy peaks and several Incan sites on the way.
The train service was supposed to give us a vegan ‘light lunch’, but unfortunately there was a confusion with the arrangements and our lunches had been given to someone else by mistake. As I had complained about this we were greeted at the platform in Machu Picchu by the supervisor who apologized handing us a gift of milk chocolates!! Needless to say, we turned the offer down.
Although we were in the middle of the rainy season and started off with an overcast sky, in the end we had a wonderful sunny afternoon at Machu Picchu. First of all we had fun with the resident Lamas who to our delight were exhibiting themselves on the upper terraces. Amongst them there was a cute baby feeding from its mother.
After that we decided to walk to the Inca bridge and enjoyed stunning views of the the thick vegetation of the cloud forest with its bromelias, mosses and lichens, the occasional orchids and begonias, and the Urubamba valley below.
We were delighted to get an upgrade to the first class on the way back to Ollantaytambo and this time we were generously wined and dined (delicious vegan fare) and arrived back at our hotel in Urubamba tired but happy.
The following day we worked our way to Limatambo with stops at the impressive salt pans of Maras and the archeological complex of Moray, believed to have once been a kind of greenhouse of the Incas. The terraces placed on five concentric circles at this magical site, seem to recreate the climates of all the different ecological tiers in the Andes and were therefore perfect for agricultural experiments and adaptation of crops to higher altitudes. It is possible that the Incas had adapted corn (which is, in fact, highly susceptible to night frosts) to an altitude of up to 3,500 m at this very place.
We enjoyed a leisurely picnic lunch at the beautiful highland lagoon of Huaypo before driving on to Limatambo. On the menu was a Cebiche made out of the raw beans of lupines, accompanied by sweet potato, Andean dry roasted corn and salad, followed by a cup of muña tea (a minty herb that helps with the digestion and adaptation to the high altitude). You may surprised to learn that one species of the lupine, lupinus mutabilis, is a staple crop in the Andes, providing great plant protein!
After another two hours we arrived at Andean Spirit Lodge outside of Limatambo. After a good night’s rest we set off to the thermal baths of Cconoc at the Apurimac River. The Apurimac province is one of my favorite regions in Peru as few tourists venture there. ‘Apurimac’ means ‘the God that speaks’ and refers to the beautiful and mighty Apurimac River that during the rainy season swells up dramatically and makes impressive rumbling sounds.
We had a good soak in the mineral rich baths, followed by a delicious picnic lunch with fresh garden produce from our Lodge and overlooking the river.
The days at the Lodge were passed exploring the garden trails, cuddling our animals, sampling gourmet meals and enjoying conversations and rest by the log fire.
We had a Xmas Eve nut roast with veggie gravy and a German mulled wine. It was a wonderful relaxing retreat away from the busy festive madness of Cusco.