Traveled and written by Kelly Corroon
Machu Picchu had been on my list for some time, so when my friend Maria asked me if I would be her "plus one" on a girls trip, I jumped at the chance.
Much has been written about doing the trek to Machu Picchu, and there are many ways to do it. Because there is a lot of transport involved to get from place to place, this is one trip you want to pay careful attention to your itinerary and stop-overs to try to eliminate the amount of packing, re-packing and car time. This cannot be stressed enough.
We launched into Peru with a few days in Lima, an incredibly sophisticated city with a vibrant arts and food scene. We stayed in the chic, art-filled Hotel B. We arrived late, so we sat in the bar for a few tapas and Pisco Sours before retiring to the high-celing rooms with juliette balconies overlooking Barranco, Lima's bohemian art district.
We started our first day in Lima with a walk through one of the local markets with Urban Kitchen to understand the local specialties (over 500 varieties of potatoes?!?) of the Peruvians, some of which were purchased that morning to use in our afternoon cooking class. The food scene here is major, the chefs and cuisine are some of the most inventive in the world. Ceviche is at its ultimate here. Recommended restaurants are Rafael, Amaz, Huaca Pucllana, Sonia, Panchita and Canta Rana. There is a charming little vegetarian place called La Verde. When booking restaurants, plan ahead. Many are high "gourmand". If you are jet-lagged and want something simple and quick, make sure you choose accordingly.
Not to be missed on the museum scene is the Larco Museum, housed in an elegant hacienda. This museum has the largest private collection of pre-Colombian artifacts. Have lunch in the little garden, it is very special and hidden in a busy part of town. Because there were a few ex-fashionistas amongst us, we also loved the Amano Pre-colombian Textile Museum and the Mario Testino Museum (MATE), featuring the work of the Peruvian (controversial) photographer. There is a very chic little boutique here that shouldn't be missed. Our favorite part about the art scene, however, was visiting some of the galleries that are scattered all around Barranco and Miraflores. A parital list follows, but be sure to check hours, as most are closed on Sunday, and a few seemed to fall more into the "temporary" category.
Hotel B (all works throughout the hotel are for sale)
Artesenias Las Pallas
Heading to Machu Picchu
After we spent two days in Lima, we were ready for our next adventure, climbing Machu Picchu. We flew into Cusco, and met our incredible guide who would stay with us for the 3 days. Many people are concerned about the altitude, as Cusco is at 10,000 feet. Our group drank the cacao tea, some had medication, but mostly we were all fine with good, basic hydration.
We stayed at the Belmond Hotel Rio Sagrado in the Sacred Valley and woke up at 7am to catch the train to the bottom of the Inca Trail. You are literally jumping off the train in the middle of the forest, which was a very cool experience, as most of the train riders take the railways to the bottom of Machu Picchu.
We hiked for about four hours, a steady and fairly easy climb, eventually ascending to the Sun Gate, with it's incredible first reveal of Machu Picchu. Another one and a half hour hike down, we arrive into the ancient city of Machu Picchu.
We hiked down and had a great lunch at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, which would be another option to stay for the night. From the base, there are loads of buses that line up to take everyone down a very long and windy road to the town of Aguas Calientes. Whilst there, we stayed at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu.
On the second day we climbed up to the peak of WaynaPicchu, which you start from the base of Machu Picchu. There are a few other peaks that you can hike around Machu Picchu. Be forewarned, this one is tough and super vertical, and if you are afraid of heights (like I am), it is possibly not for you. The views and sense of accomplishment are second to none, so weigh your pros and cons.
After the hiking it was time to head back on the one and only Hiram Bingham Belmond train. With it's bar cart with a band, the 5-star service and the soothing rhythm of the rails, it is the perfect way to end your epic adventure.
Health and Safety
Check the CDC website for updated travel vaccination recommendations, which in general suggest HepA and Typhoid. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/peru
Kelly's Packing List for LIMA
From top row, left to right:
The Upside sports bra, $71: Tibi denim jumpsuit, Karen Walker Eyewear $155, Matches Fashion; Gucci flared pants, $1,600 Net a Porter; Corroon playing card case $55 (long train rides) , Sarah Alexandra denim shirt, $200,; Heidi Carey horn bead with red jade, $285; Fendi loafer $890, Matches Fashion, Significant Other shorts $210