Travel DEREK BAL­MENT ticks off two bucket list des­ti­na­tions in one trip to this South Amer­i­can gem!

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Con­tents -

Oz tree­house stays

Here’s ’ th the money shot! h t! It’s the cli­max of a five-day, mul­ti­ac­tiv­ity tour of the Sa­cred Val­ley of the In­cas with Moun­tain Lodges of Peru (MLP). This unique, all-in­clu­sive ex­pe­ri­ence mixes Inca his­tory, Peru­vian cul­ture, hik­ing and ex­clu­sive overnight ac­com­mo­da­tion. Trav­el­ling with a small group of Amer­i­cans (which in­cluded a guy called Austin who was ac­tu­ally from Austin!) and ded­i­cated guides who were as help­ful and in­for­ma­tive as they were hi­lar­i­ous, meant by the time we reached Machu Pic­chu we all felt like Inca ex­perts. Oh, and our fit­ness lev­els had also greatly im­proved! I’m not go­ing to lie, hik­ing at al­ti­tude (you can be as high as 4260 me­tres above sea level) can be like suck­ing air through a straw at times. Luck­ily go­ing at our own pace was en­cour­aged and it got eas­ier with each hike. But if we had any breath left, it then got taken away by the type of views no cam­era can ever do jus­tice to... Our heads were lit­er­ally up in the clouds.

It wasn’t all hik­ing though, with our own per­sonal mini-bus (and if you didn’t fancy a hike, the bus was al­ways on hand to ferry you to a less phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity in­stead) we were also able to soak up the cul­ture and visit com­mu­ni­ties other tourists can’t ac­cess, as well as mar­kets, towns, his­tor­i­cal sights, and even a brew­ery. It was a great way to mix with the lo­cals – and the ever-present lla­mas. Ev­ery­where we went, even half­way up re­mote moun­tains, the Peru­vian women spun yarn and made the tra­di­tion­ally colour­ful gar­ments that ap­peared to be mod­elled by most of the lo­cals liv­ing in this beau­ti­ful land­scape.

Each day would end with us all gath­ered around the din­ner ta­ble

at one of MLP’S ex­clu­sive lodges, with a buf­fet-style se­lec­tion of tra­di­tional food on of­fer, in­clud­ing that Peru­vian spe­cialty, guinea pig! Run by lo­cals, their five-star hos­pi­tal­ity gives our stay a homely feel, and it’s hard to beat a soak in an out­door spa, with moun­tain views and a beer as the sun sets. At the trip’s end I feel en­light­ened, wiser and fit­ter, and def­i­nitely at one with the lla­mas! This gen­uinely has been the high life.

A selfie? No prob-llama! One of the world’s best foot­ball kits and one of the world’s best views... that’s Peru! Those In­cas sure knew how to build on a moun­tain! Del, Austin and the gang tak­ing a breather – lit­er­ally. The lo­cals are friendly and al­ways spin a good yarn.

Guinea pig. Yes, it’s a bit like chicken!

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