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

 

p1100512

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.

Advertisements

Giving Back to Andean Communities: Apus Peru Student Sponsorship

Fernando

Fernando Echame Melo

Apus Peru  strives to be the kind of company that takes our responsibilities to the communities of Peru seriously. We feel that it is equally important that our hosts, whose home this is, benefit from our presence on their “turf,” as that visitors enjoy their time in this unique and vibrant country!

We believe in a tourism that’s both beneficial to local communities and enjoyable for visitors. With this in mind, Apus is involved in several projects that benefit communities in Peru. One of our proudest is our collaboration with Mosqoy, a Canadian- Peruvian non-profit that “supports the educational and cultural rights of indigenous communities in Southern Peru.”  Apus has currently committed to sponsoring the education of an enterprising young man from the Quechua-speaking weaving community of Huilloc in the Andean highlands in the Cusco region. His name is Fernando Echame Melo.

Fernando himself took the initiative to contact Mosqoy several years ago about help with his future. He was orphaned at a young age and attended a school that Mosqoy did not normally work with. When he heard through a cousin that was already working with Mosqoy about a chance to receive an educational scholarship, Fernando made the arrangements to participate in the selection process and traveled many hours to attend the testing. When his efforts proved successful, Apus Peru happily came on board to sponsor Fernando, who is currently in his fifth semester at the Khipu Institute, studying tourism.

Fernando and Cristian

Fernando with his cousin, Raul

Fernando’s hopes for the future include teaching the villagers of Huilloc Spanish, so that tourism will be a viable economic option for his community. He also hopes to bring tourists to his community to teach them about the centuries-old weaving tradition the village centers around.

Fernando is learning all about his beautiful country’s history, landmarks, and flora and fauna as part of his tourism education. Here he is crossing Keshwa Chaca, which is the last example of an authentic Incan woven bridge. Once widespread, these woven grass bridges spanned steep canyons and river rapids. Keshwa Chaca overhangs the Apurimac River in Southern Peru.

Fernando on trip

Fernando on the Keshwa Chaca rope bridge in Apurimac, Peru

Fernando recently wrote a letter of appreciation to Apus Peru for our help. His youth and enthusiasm shine through as he thanks us and wishes blessings on us for his sponsorship. It’s both poignant and highly gratifying to read his earnest words of gratitude. We are proud and honored to be able to be of assistance to this worthy young man, and we hope to continue helping Andean youth in the future.

Here is an excerpt from Fernando’s letter to Apus Peru:

“The reason for this little note is to thank you for helping me in my college studies and to let you know that all of my childhood dreams are slowly becoming reality, thanks to you. I will always remember you for your unconditional assistance.”

Fernando letter

Fernando 2

Finally, Cara Catanoff of Mosqoy has this to say about Apu’s sponsorship of Fernando:

“I wanted to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude for your support of Fernando and the Andean Youth Program. Donors like you keep our programs thriving, and we cannot thank you enough. I think it is particularly special that Apus is based right out of Cusco and is supporting a local tourism student. Amazing! ” 

To learn more about Apus Peru’s projects and offerings for sustainable tourism, visit us at the following links.

http://www.apus-peru.com/responsible-travel/community_projects.htm

http://www.apus-peru.com/tours/special_interest.html

 

Lares to Machu Picchu in pictures…

Sharing – this year we’ve received some great fotos from some great clients – BIG thanks to all of you – keep a look out for foto blogs and facebook posts!

THANK YOU to Dee Andrews and Theresa Seiwald for these beautiful shots of your 4 day Lares to Machu Picchu trek http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/lares_machu_picchu.htm with us in June.

Lares Mapi 1

The unsung heros of the trek our Arrieros and their best friends

Lares Mapi 2

Theresa Seiwald up high in the fabulous wide open spaces of the Andes

Lares Mapi 9

Lush Lares Valley

Lares mapi 12

A warm welcome!

Lares Mapi

Local girls

Lares Mapi 8 lares Mapi 10 lares mapi 11

For more information on this or any other of our treks and tours please contact reservas@apus-peru.com

Festive Peruvian family adventure!

We would like to share a review with you and a little anecdote from one of our clients while travelling with us on their Peruvian family adventure tour, Christmas 2014. We helped plan their bespoke ‘child friendly’ itinerary in which they spent time on the beach in Lima, went hiking in Chaullacocha, visited Maras Moray and Salineras, the Chichubamba Community project, onwards to Machu Picchu and last but not least discovered the Amazon jungle! Unfortunately, the children got a little sick whilst in Cusco but soon recovered and were able to complete their adventure…

IMG_1280

On the way to Chaullacocha

“I have been meaning to write to you and thank you once more for all your hard work that contributed to making the trip such a memorable adventure. I particularly appreciate your flexibility when things didn’t go according to plan (all part of the adventure).

IMG_1322

Village of Chaullacocha

The trek to the village was a highlight for everyone (even though we had to truncate it), and it made a huge impact on the kids. In particular, we have to thank Jose (our guide): when I asked what the villager ate, he replied “Potatoes”. “And with potatoes?”. “Potatoes with potatoes”. Now the kids don’t complain about dinner!

Here’s a lovely foto provided by the family of the girls in their Apus T-shirts enjoying the sunshine in Lima. Thank you to the Veitch family, for your comments and anecdote, wishing you happy future travels! From all the team at Apus Peru!

Tara and Tanaya soaking up the Lima sunshine

Tara and Tanaya soaking up the Lima sunshine

For personally programmed itineraries, please contact us at: reservas@apus-peru.com

Off the Radar Ruins!

I recently hiked our unique to Apus Peru ‘Inca Traditions Weaving and Pumamarca’ one day hike. Here’s my blog.

Pumamarca was supposedly a control point allowing access to the Inca town of Ollantaytambo from multiple valleys and above the site is part of the old original Inca trail which is now not accessible.

The ruins themselves are still well hidden from most of the popular trails and thus rarely visited by any tourists.  They also happen to be extremely well preserved.

Rumira Sondormayo

From Cusco, the drive to Ollantaytambo is around 90 minutes, then it is less than a 1 hour journey to get to the first stop, the weaving village of Rumira Sondormayo. Rumira  is one of three villages that our sister NGO Threads of Peru works with on weaving revitalization with the women. http://www.threadsofperu.com/weaving-culture/communities/

ruins at Pumamarca

After some explanations and weaving demonstrations we have a local lunch before heading out to the ruins

The Valley

There are several ways to get back from here as it can be hiked or biked from the top to bottom!

Scenic!

There is plenty of time to admire the view of the Patacancha valley which is simply beautiful!

By Matt Waugh, March 10th, 2015

To book this trek with a visit to the weaving village of Rumira, please see our link at – http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/inca_traditions.html

Apus Peru’s Christmas Chocolatada in Chaullacocha 2014

Not only are Apus Peru adventure travel specialists but each year our staff, guides and some special guests make the trek out to Chaullacocha to give hot chocolate and toys to the children of this community at Christmastime.

Our social commitment to communities is not just about giving at Christmas – we work locally and sustainably with community groups in rural, high Andean communities year round.  We achieve this through our work with and support of our partner NGO Threads of Perú http://threadsofperu.com/ in remote communities, specifically Rumira Sondormayo and Chaullacocha.

A picture tells a thousand words, it was a lovely day  – and the rain held off!! 🙂

IMG_1318

Truck ride Chupani to Challaococha

IMG_1347

Playing games whilst waiting for the hot chocolate

IMG_1288

APUS TEAM ASSEMBLING GIFTS

IMG_1300

Waiting patiently outside the classroom

IMG_1339

lining up ready for a game of ‘tug-o-war’

IMG_1367

here’s the game with Ruth from Team Apus Peru shouting encouragements!

IMG_1396

A good old fashiond game of “British bulldog” or “Sharks and Fish” or simply just “run for your life” 🙂 great fun!

IMG_1400

Las Señoras Erika and Fely working hard, handing out the good stuff

IMG_1409

Our guides Joel and Mari getting stuck in!

IMG_1414

beautifully colourful!

IMG_1418

delicious hot chocolate!

IMG_1424

Posing 🙂

IMG_1446

¡¡¡HOLA!!!

IMG_1461

FELIZ NAVIDAD!!

IMG_1465

Apus Peru whole team enjoying the last chocolate pot! L to R Adrian, Ruth, Sergio, Señora Fely, Mateo, José, Erika, Emily, Joel and Maribel.

The team at Apus Perú would like to thank the communities in Chupani and Chaullacocha for their welcome and cooperation and a great day! We look forward to continuing to work with and support your communities in 2015. See you next year!

Cusco Peru with Apus Peru, a reflection – Diana Untermeyer

by Diana Untermeyer
author, Qatar: Sand, Sea and Sky

http://dianauntermeyer.com/

My favorite kind of trips are those that leave me hungering for more. Our trip to Peru facilitated by Apus Peru and guided by Arturo Mantilla was just such a trip — visually, intellectually, and gastronomically. I’ve wanted to visit Machu Picchu since I was a teen, such that it had taken on the significance of a pilgrimage — a chance to experience the incomprehensible enormity of ancient accomplishment and the sheer beauty of the Andes and Andean culture.

Then, last spring our 20 year old daughter Elly found a position volunteering in a medical clinic in the mountains of northern Peru, so we planned a family trip to Cusco and the Sacred Valley beforehand. We decided to use a guide in Cusco and the Sacred Valley to set the context for our visit to Machu Picchu, which we wanted to explore at our own pace. After researching various companies, we decided on Apus Peru because of their commitment to the environment and the development of micro-businesses in the places where they trek. While we didn’t have time to trek on this trip, their philosophy resonated. This was the best decision we could have made.

Arturo greeted us right on time at our hotel in Cusco, and we liked him immediately. We set out at the kind of brisk pace we like as Arturo brought the Inkan world alive. In a separate blog, my husband recounts some specifics of our days, so I’ll focus more on the socio-cultural context Arturo taught us, which was the framework for our entire trip in Peru.

Before our trip, I really expected to focus primarily on the Inka and the Spanish conquest. What Arturo was able to teach us both by words and by example was a richer story of cultural assimilation, approbation and conquest. In building techniques, ritual and costumes of the festival dancers, Arturo pointed out what was Inka, what was pre-Inka and of course what was Spanish colonial. I hadn’t realized how much of Inka culture derived from the other historical cultures of the region that preceded it. The brilliance of the Inka was their administrative ability to unite disparate civilizations from Chile to Columbia and to refine best practices, most visibly, building techniques.

The Inkan conquests contrast so starkly with the Spanish that I found myself feeling angry while visiting churches and cathedrals even while admiring the lovely Cusquenan decorative arts. The cultural arrogance of the Spanish as they systematically obliterated Inkan civilization including destroying the knotted strings known as khipu, which the conquistadors suspected records of history and religion, is tragic when one thinks of the history forever lost. To their detriment, the Spanish ignored the ingenious Inkan construction methods and built using European methods which to this day are susceptible to earthquake damage.

We had a few days in Cusco, but one could imagine spending a year there feeling the rhythm of the festivals combining indigenous culture and Roman Catholic ritual, exploring the local markets and restaurants and getting to know the people. But on we moved towards Machu Picchu visiting the Sacred Valley with Arturo. I loved going at our own pace so that we could linger at Awana Kancha, a llama farm and living weaving museum.

Awana Kancha is a tourist stop, yet, a wonderful one. Llamas and alpacas welcome visitors who are welcome to touch and feed the animals. The shy vicuñas are pastured on a close hillside. The weaving process comes alive from shearing to dying with natural plants and insects. Indigenous weavers in their colorful village dress work on intricate patterns. The weavers work at the farm for a few weeks or months and then return to their villages. The shop has exquisite handicrafts, mostly labeled with the artist’s name and her story.

IMG_2744

Arturo finally had to pry us away because fascinating archeology as well as an epicurean’s delight awaited us. We worked up an appetite hiking around Inka terraces and the Temple of the Sun, and jumping out of the car to photograph snow-capped peaks and handmade adobe bricks drying on small village roadsides. When we arrived in the town of Urubamba, our driver negotiated the narrow streets until we were within walking distance of el Huacatay (a type of wild mint) restaurant. Our own flowering vine-covered pergola awaited us as we settled in the garden for midday Pisco sours and a lunch that was painterly and delicious. Delicate sauces, architectural creations and the freshest herbs, vegetables and fish marked each course.

IMG_2793

It has become almost cliche to say that Peru is in the midst of a gastronomic renaissance, but what sets the food apart is that so many restaurants are farm to fork. In fact, one restaurant in Ollayantaytambo grew its produce on ancient Inka terraces just behind the kitchens. Peruvians seem to take great pride in their food, whether it is roasted cuy in the city square, the richest hot chocolate, or a simple pastry. My personal quest was to find the best alfajores, dulce de leche sandwiched by two delicate cookies, the secret of which is adding cornstarch in the dough. I went to fancy bakeries and local coffee houses, but the best by far was at the little bakery at the Ollayantaytambo train station. So if your train to Machu Picchu pauses there, jump off and see if there are any remaining in their daily supply.

I’d like to jump off the train almost anywhere in Peru and stay there a long while. Our family had a wonderful trip and look forward to trekking the Andes with Arturo or perhaps floating through the rainforest on the Amazon River.

Apus Peru would like to thank Diana and her family for travelling with us and Diana specifically for her lovely relfection on the wonders of Cusco and the surrounding region. Diana, Chase and Elly experienced the following tours with Apus Peru:

http://www.apus-peru.com/tours/half_day_cusco_city_tour.html

http://www.apus-peru.com/tours/four_ruins_tour.htm

http://www.apus-peru.com/tours/sacred_valley.htm