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