Peru Adventure to Cusco

Dec 02, 2014 Avatar Susanne Hamer Susanne Hamer

I wanted to go somewhere in August with my 26 year old son to a country I had not yet visited. This was somewhat of a challenge as it had to be the right season, with enough to do for a 26-year old athletic person, and not too much for his Mom. South America offered some options, and

Peru was the perfect choice. We flew on the nonstop LAN flight from LAX to Lima, about 8 hours and very comfortable, with excellent service. We spent 2 nights in Lima since we arrived very late. We stayed at the Hotel B, a small boutique hotel in the Barranco “Art Deco area” of Lima.

I did not really have any expectations for Lima, so I was neither disappointed nor surprised. My son got up at 5am to go surfing with a local surfer guide, and according to him it was fun but not amazing.

The next night was spent at the Miraflores Hotel, which is in a lovely neighborhood close to the beach.

On day three we took a one-hour flight to Cusco, once the capital of the Inca Empire.

Cuzco is at nearly 11,000 ft elevation, and I took some “altitude” pills and felt fine, although definitely winded and much slower. My son refused to take anything and was just fine – maybe the age difference was showing!

We stayed at the Monasterio Hotel, a former monastery with the most amazing chapel. The hotel is in the heart of the old city surrounded by museums, galleries, shops and restaurants. We had a fantastic private city guide who explained all the history, art and culture, which for me is very important and very much worth the expense.

The next day we drove to the Sacred Valley, with a stop at Awanakancha to see a real working llama farm and an authentic handicraft market.

We stayed at Tambo del Inka Resort for two nights, with amazing views of the surrounding mountains.

We visited the city of Ollantaytambo, known for its ruins and the spot where the Incan emperor, Manco, was able to defeat the Spanish. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a well known artist workshop, famous for ceramics, and at Chinchero, the area known for its outstanding textiles.

The rail trip to Auguas Callientes followed, where we took a local bus to the base of Machu Picchu. This was without a doubt the highlight of our trip, and an amazing experience.

Built around 1450, Machu Picchu was abandoned 100 years later. Known as the “Lost City”, it was forgotten for centuries and “found” by Hiram Bingham in 1911. You can spend as much time as you would like walking around the ruins; however, I would highly recommend a private guide to enhance the experience.

We stayed overnight at the Sumaq Hotel in Aguas Calientes, which was convenient. The small town is very quaint with restaurants and handicraft shops. True to form, my son got up at 5am the next morning to hike to the top of Machu Picchu at sunrise, which he said was just amazing.

We took the train back to the station and drove to Cusco with a stop at Sacsahuaman, the largest Inca ruins after Machu Picchu. This was believed to be a royal retreat as well as a fortress.

Our last night was spent at the Palacio Nazzarenas in Cusco, my favorite hotel of the trip and next door to the Hotel Monasterio.

Peru is an ideal destination for families as well as for an active honeymoon, as well as being the gourmet capital of South America.

To plan your family vacation or honeymoon, or learn how to travel from LAX to Cusco, connect with Susanne Hammer.