Things to do in Machu Picchu, Peru

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Apus Peru FOCUSThings to do in Machu Picchu, Peru!

This series is a collection of travel tips and stories shared by other bloggers and traveler’s around the web.

We hope these tips and stories will inform and inspire you to visit Machu Picchu. If you have already been, please share a tip on things to see and do in Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu Travel Essentials – What You Need To Know About a Visit To Machu Picchu

The Basics – This is a great list of several things that are important to know before visiting the magnificent Machu Picchu. From pickpocketing to cold nights, these quick tips serve as a basic “heads up” to help prepare you for your stay.

Book Ahead – When traveling to Machu Picchu, you will need to purchase various tickets depending on your traveling needs. It is important to book early, as this blog post suggests as permits and tickets sell out fast!

An Overview – This website offers up a fantastic post highlighting the history of the stunning ruins. It is a bit lengthy, but certainly worth the read!

Things To Do In Machu Picchu

A Service Town – Aguas Calientes is the service town for Machu Picchu. With several hot springs located throughout, it is the perfect place to relax! This blog post is worth a read as it makes several other important notes ie. increased prices and lack of ATM’s

A Visitors Point-of-View – This is a great post, full of close up photos from a traveler who has been to Aguas Calientes. While it doesn’t offer a list of things to do or specific restaurants to visit – it does show one what they will be able to expect – and when traveling, surprises are the last thing anyone wants.

Things To Do With Kids In Machu Picchu

Let’s Be Realistic – Traveling with children is infinitely different than traveling alone. There are always inquisitive minds to appease! Between all the questions, and probably more than a few complaints you can utilize some of the fantastic tips listed on this blog post! Written by our very own Ariana Svenson, a mom who has traveled with younger kids, we know that we can rely on the advice she gives!

Bits And Pieces – This is a short post, with several small tips however I still felt like they were important, and could come in handy for a visitor. It highlights a few of the sights, instructs you to keep a close eye on your toddlers and reminds you to take the time to enjoy what you see.

Where To Stay In Machu Picchu

Affordable Family Hotels – Finding a hotel to stay in that is child-friendly can sometimes be a fight! Thankfully, Machu Picchu offers several affordable options!

A Fancy Accommodation – The Belmond Machu Picchu Sanctuary hotel, is located right next to the ancient Incan citadel. They boast fun activities, beautiful gardens, and massage treatments. This hotel can accommodate children but comes with a much higher price tag.

A list of recommended hotels – from our very own folks at Apus Peru Adventure Travel Specialists.

 

 

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Things to do in the Sacred Valley, Peru

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Apus Peru FOCUSThings to do in the Sacred Valley, Peru

This series is a collection of travel tips and stories shared by other bloggers and traveler’s around the web.

We hope these tips and stories will inform and inspire you to visit the Sacred Valley. If you have already been, please share a tip on things to see and do in the Sacred Valley.

 

 

 

Sacred Valley Travel Essentials – What You Need To Know About a Visit To The Sacred Valley

Exploring The Sacred Valley – While this article does not provide a lot of text, what it does provide is many pictures to help paint an image of the region, especially for those who have never been. I find images to be helpful to gain a sense of what the culture, and community is like.

The Symbolism Is Strong With This One – This is a fun read that highlights the story of how the beloved ruins of the Sacred Valley came to be.

The photo below is just one example of these ruins. It shows a close up of the God Tunupa
overlooking the city of Ollantaytambo

Things To Do In The Sacred Valley

Hiking With Llamas…And Kids! – Peru is known for its many incredible trekking trails. This one just so happens to be kid friendly! You get the chance to get to hang out with some pretty cool llamas as well as hike with them – who wouldn’t want to do that?!

To Market, We Will Go – It’s no secret that the Cusco region hosts one of the world’s most famous markets drawing many tourists and visitors! As it is a tourist destination, it can be a little hectic at times, remain patient and take your time as this is one stop worth waiting for! Also, please note that some of the vendors may not enjoy having their photo taken, so please ask before doing so!

 

 

Festivals Galore – The Sacred Valley hosts some incredible and exciting festivals throughout the year! This is a great, and helpful calendar of sorts that highlights when each festival takes place as well as a short description of each. The festivals provide a chance to not only see but to take part in the culture.

Learning On Vacation – While visiting, why not take up a few fun and exciting classes? These are just a few that are offered through this particular group. You can take cooking classes, learn how to weave and even learn Spanish!

 

 

Another Path Less Traveled – Speaking of weaving, Apus Peru offers a tour designed to take you away from hiking the dirt trails and instead give you a glimpse at another village tradition – weaving! (don’t worry, we still go hiking). This particular village is one of three that our NGO Threads of Peru works with!

Where To Stay in the Sacred Valley

A Family Friendly Stay – If your looking for somewhere family friendly to stay – look no further! This blog post has you covered! Please note that these suggestions are not limited to just families – anyone can stay! I found this post to be helpful as it highlighted the pros and cons of each of the three main towns located in the Sacred Valley

 

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Photo via www.worldoftravelswithkids.com

 

 

The Best Of The Best – This is a longer list of suggestions on where to stay when visiting the Sacred Valley. Again, these are family friendly but not limited to just families. Each hotel has a fantastic little description along with it, as well as a photo!

Don’t Break The Bank – If you are a solo hiker, or even a couple looking for a quick and clean place to stay, this is a list of many hostels located in the region. With affordable prices, they might be a worthwhile option! I love that this site provides reviews of those who have visited previously so that you know what to expect from each.

Sacred Valley Hotel – recommendations from the folks at Apus Peru. These hotels have been tried and tested by people that work in the area.

 

 

 

 Where To Eat In The Sacred Valley

Looking For Food Fuel In The Sacred Valley – A fantastic travel website that breaks the restaurants down by not only area but cuisine type too! It uses a simple dollar sign to show the range of prices for each restaurant – how helpful! When clicking on each restaurant it will open a new page which has a short description, address, phone and website of each restaurant should they have one.

Things to do in Arequipa, Peru

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Apus Peru FOCUSThings to do in Arequipa, Peru

This series is a collection of travel tips and stories shared by other bloggers and traveler’s around the web.

We hope these tips and stories will inform and inspire you to visit Arequipa. If you have already been, please share a tip on things to see and do in Arequipa in the comments down below!

 

Arequipa Travel Essentials – What you need to know about a visit to Arequipa

Petty Theft Is Quite Common – It is always important to be wary of your surroundings while on a vacation. This website offers up several useful tips to help keep your money where it belongs – in your pocket!

Experience The Culture – Arequipa is home to many incredible festivals. If you are visiting during one of these times, don’t miss the opportunity to take part in a wonderful, and beautiful tradition. Through dance and costumes, these festivals allow you to enjoy the Peruvian culture

The Attractions of Arequipa

The Museum of Archaeology – Displaying around 1,000 items, this museum is just one of the many beautiful sites of Arequipa. This website offers up a background of the museum as well as what you can expect to see. It even lists their hours! Don’t forget to mark this as a stop on your to-do list!

Hike The Colca Canyon – This blog post is written by someone who has traveled to Peru, and experienced hiking the canyon themselves. While stating it is possible to do so independently, I highly recommend a guide – it’s never a bad idea to be safe especially when you are in a new place. 

 

In Arequipa With Kids 

What To Do…That Is The Question… – Taking the kids along on a vacation can be a difficult feat. Fortunately, Arequipa has some excellent kid-friendly activities, that won’t bore mom and dad. Whether it’s a bus tour or a chocolate making class, you can be sure to find something everyone can, and will enjoy (just don’t forget to bring me back some chocolate!)

Where To Stay And Eat in Arequipa

Accommodations That Won’t Break The Bank – One of the most important things to think about while traveling is where you will stay. Of course, vacations can already be expense without adding on a $200 per night stay at a hotel. This website offers up a fantastically long list of hostels. The hostels are rated, and most offer free wifi and breakfast for only several USD!

Arequipa Hotel – recommendations from the folks at Apus Peru. These hotels have been tried and tested by people that work in the area.

 

Good Eating In Arequipa – Arequipa is known for it’s fantastic regional food specialties. This website lists the top 5 restaurants that should be on your dining list for sure! Equipped with opening hours, price range, dress code and photos – it’s enough to make any belly hungry!

 

 

Ausangate Trek « why should someone do this trek? why is it special »

 

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¨Ausangate¨ or ¨Auzangate¨ is a mountain, located in the region of Ocongate, at an altitude of 6384 meters (20,945 ft), this is one of the highest mountains in the Cusco region and in fact the whole of Peru. The hike around the base of the Ausangate mountain includes  spectacular mountain scenery and highland wildlife. The Ausangate trek is becoming an increasingly popular trek, that is usually 5 days long but can be done in even 4 days).

The mountain is highly significant in Incan mythology. Every year the QollorRiti festival (Quechua for “snow star”) attracts thousands of Quechua pilgrims as well as an increasing number of tourists. It takes place one week before the Corpus Christi feast.

The region is inhabited by llama and alpaca herds, and constitutes one of the few remaining farming communities of its kind, in the world. During this hike you have to walk between lakes (each is a different color) and snow capped peaks, you can actually hear the slabs of ice as they crack, crumble, and finally crash to the waters below.

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 On the First day, you start to walk from Tinqui (the biggest town near to the Ausangate Mountain) to arrive in Upis, which is the first campsite and where it is possible to enjoy some beautiful hot springs.  On the second day, you have to climb the first pass  at 5 000 metres  to get to the Ausangate Lake for the second campsite. On the third day, you have to go to Jampa after climbing another 5000 meters pass, and if you don’t have time you could stay for the night. If you have time to continue, you can go to Pacchanta (it is possible to enjoy a dinner and a beer at the hot springs). You need to ascend  another pass at 5000 meters for this. On the fourth day, you return to Tinqui, from where you will be transported back to Cusco.

 To be honest, it is one of the most beautiful treks around Cusco, having awesome scenery every day. Compared to the Salkantay trek, it is quiet and remote during the hike, and even though it is a famous trek, you don’t have lots of tourism. In addition, the scenery is more beautiful than Salkatay in my opinion. Of course this trek is difficult, but not impossible. It will be easier to enjoy this trek with an expert guide, and all the equipment from Apus Peru .
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Apus Peru offers a number of Ausangate options!

5 day traditional Ausangate trek:

http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/ausangate_5days.html

The All new in 2016 Ausangate and Vinicunca Trek:

http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/ausangate_vinicunca_rainbowmountain.html

Also mentioned in this story is the Qollor Riti Piligrimage:

http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/qolloritty_pilgrimage_trek.html

 

Step back in time at Hotel San Agustin Monasterio, Urubamba

When the wrought iron gates part and you step into this distinctive hotel, be prepared to step back in time to Peruvian yesteryear.

The San Agustin Monasterio of Recoleta hotel offers the once in a lifetime opportunity to stay in 17th Century Franciscan Monastery and convent!    Such an opportunity is relatively rare in this price range and this is a wonderful chance to stay in an extremely atmospheric cloister, located alongside a beautifully renovated chapel.

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There are two parts to the hotel, in the original section there are small, and simply decorated rooms around the Cloister which includes tiles from the original building.  It is also decorated with artefacts from the church and other relics). The other part of the building is a newer wing done in keeping with the original building and includes very cute suites with two stories including a romantic loft for the bed.

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Rustic, old world and charming the Monasterio de Recoleta is run by the 3-4 star San Agustin hotel chain and has a cute personal restaurant, lovely gardens and places to connect.  They are extremely proud of their ‘Bio Huerto’ (organic orchard) and have numerous fruit trees around the property and their own fruits in season in their restaurant. They also offer a magnetic healing garden.

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For those considering an un-paralleled and unique Peruvian wedding or renewal of vows, the chapel has been restored with attention to detail and there is a beautiful atmosphere.   Weddings can be arranged at this hotel, please contact Apus Peru for more details.

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The Hotel San Agustin, Monasterio of Recoleta, is technically in Chichubamba (and the community apparently still use the church on festival days) but on the outskirts of Urubamba, but it feels very remote and isolated.   There are opportunities to walk around the hotel, or, if you wish, into Urubamba itself, though this would be a longer walk.

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A luxurious retreat at the Rio Sagrado…

Nestled into a hillside alongside the roaring Urubamba River and with the craggy mountains of the Sacred Valley as a backdrop, the Belmond Rio Sagrado property is beautifully placed for those looking for a serene getaway, located halfway between Machu Picchu and Cusco.

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Rio Sagrado means ‘Sacred River’ in Spanish and the connection with the river, mountains and earth are evident in many aspects of the hotel.  When you arrive you are seated in a cosy study, filled with books and with a huge telescope for viewing the night skies, which were so important in Incan times.

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Originally constructed as a family vacation spot, with the original villas now accommodating larger groups of up to 10 people,   the Rio Sagrado hotel has expanded out over a hillside, with a variety of different rooms and options. Natural materials are a feature, and the way that the rooms and casitas mould over the hill makes you feel that it’s grown organically.  With only 23 rooms in total, it’s a small, boutique hotel with a feel of exclusivity.

Food is a feature, and we were offered a delicious pachamanca picnic by the river.  El Huerto (the Orchard) restaurant is a delicious fusion of Urubamba’s best-kept culinary secrets and provides elegant dining by the river.

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A highlight is an outdoor heated pool, fantastic for year round relaxation, which sets this hotel apart from most other SV Hotels which only offer unheated (and therefore cold!) pools.   A beautifully appointed spa is located in a wooden and stone building and offers a luxurious range of treatments using local therapies.

As you would expect for a property of this standard, the Rio Sagrado rooms have been created with careful attention to detail.  Balconies are carefully concealed from their neighbours using plantings of indigenous trees, and you can shower looking out over the landscape –with your private parts modestly obscured by clouded glass! Large beds, pima cotton sheets – and heated wooden floors, as expected from a hotel like this, your stay will be extremely comfortable.     We also were pleased to see recycling options in the rooms.

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As the aim of the hotel is to getaway from the busy world, relax and connect with nature there are no televisons in the rooms, but wifi is accessible if you wish.

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Finally a word on access – the hotel does offer one disabled/easy access room at the top of the hill and provide a golf buggy to access all locations in the hotel, including the restaurant located near the river. Otherwise, access to the rooms is via a series of steep steps and may not be a wonderful option if you struggle with climbing or descending steps!

 

Hotel Sol Y Luna: Heaven on Earth

The name, Sol y Luna evokes a connection with the stars, sun and moon which in turn reminds us of the Incan connection with the heavens.  The Incas believed that the Sacred Valley was a reflection of the Milky Way and with warmer climes, lush vegetation and flowers; the Sacred Valley was literally heaven on earth.

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The 2013 Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice Awards placed the Sol y Luna Hotel at Number 1 Hotel in South America, – and it was included in the list of top 25 hotels in the world  – no mean feat!

And yet, despite being located in ‘Heaven on Earth’ and such a prestigious accolade, these rammed earth, rustic bungalows, set in abundant, beautiful gardens are natural and not in any way overconfident or boastful.  They fit in with their surrounds, and are in harmony with the earth.

On the day of our visit, it rained and we ran from Casita (little house) to Casita, enjoying the space, winding paths and flowers.  Each room has its own unique touch, decorated in a simple, yet elegant manner and you can imagine enjoying the space with your family.

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The decoration in common areas (reception, library etc.) has been done by a Limeno artist…. and is very memorable, quirky and fun!  Contemporary pieces are found throughout the property, including in the restaurants and guest rooms. This really adds to the atmosphere of the site and sets this hotel apart from the other hotels in this price range in the Sacred Valley which belong to chains and are a little less personalised.

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Their spa is housed in a stunning building, surrounded by extensive stained glass walls, and named Yacu Wasi – “the house of water”.  It is a space that seems made for a peaceful, pure restoration, but possibly also an understated indulgence!

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Having grown organically since being first built in 1996, the Hotel Sol y Luna now offers a series of different standards of room, all of them bungalow style.  The Casitas are very nice, well decorated but a little older and simpler. The Deluxe Casitas are very large, luxurious and decorated with attention to detail – they are clearly Peruvian, yet with modern amenities to complement.

The property has two restaurants, both known for their great meals and high quality cuisine.

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And perhaps if we haven’t provided enough superlatives about this great experience, there is the fact that Sol Y Luna has a foundation that supports children’s education in the Sacred Valley.  This belief that tourism needs to give something back mirror’s Majestic Peru’s own beliefs.   Sol y Luna’s Association now supports not just local schools, but provide Vocational training and other initiatives that support a stronger local economy.

Sol y Luna is much more than a hotel – it is an experience.