The Gaudet family takes on the streets of Cusco and the magnificent Machu Picchu for their final adventure in Peru.
My family had been traveling Peru for over 2 months when we arrived in Cusco. We had taken another all-day bus ride that had brought us from Puno, located on the shores of Lake Titicaca. We rented a small traditional apartment from a local teacher that was set far back in a residential block situated close to the center of the historic district. Tired from our recent travels we took our days slow, wandering the cobblestone streets of our new neighborhood, exploring the many parks, churches, and restaurants. The San Pedro market was a family favorite, we would walk each of the colorful aisles to see all that the merchants had to offer before buying our groceries. We enjoyed taking chocolate making classes at a chocolate museum and were swept up in more than one Semana Santa parade.
(Photo: Michelle Gaudet/Living in Peru)
A highlight of our time in Cusco was a day trip to visit the Cochahausi Animal Sanctuary. The sanctuary offers refuge for Peruvian animals that have been injured or abused. Our family appreciated learning more about the animals and having a chance to see them up close. After a couple of weeks of staying in Cusco, we said goodbye with the plan of returning for an extended period after our trip to Machu Picchu.
While making our plans to visit Machu Picchu I had come across the village of Urubamba, nestled in the middle of the Sacred Valley with a bustling market and many Incan sites nearby. It seemed like the perfect base to explore the region. Travel from Cusco to Urubamba was quick and easy by collectivo, and within a couple hours, we were at a small family run hostel named Pakakuna Posada Gourmet that would be our home for the next week until we traveled on to Machu Picchu. The laid-back atmosphere and friendly people of the village made it easy to feel at home. My husband Mark who is a little more on the adventurous side spent a day at the Natura Vive Ziplines and Skylodge* which are located high above the Sacred Valley. Our hostel hosts introduced us to a local driver who drove us around to many small towns in the area which were home to sites of interests like the Salinas de Maras and Moray.
Our mornings were spent hiking the mountainside trails to find unmarked ruins locals had told us about and our afternoons walking into town to visit the market and Plaza de Armas. One-half of the young couple running the hostel was also a trained chef who runs an amazing Peruvian fusion restaurant onsite where we would eat delicious freshly prepared local meals with Pisco Sours underneath the stars in the evenings.
Aguas Calientes (Photo: Michelle Gaudet/Living in Peru)
While In Urubamba we received a phone call that would change the direction of the trip and our lives. My father who had been diagnosed with cancer before we left and had been managing with his illness had taken a turn for the worse and was no longer responding to treatment. We made the decision that we needed to cut our trip short and return home. After speaking to my parents and conversation with the airline to book new return tickets we decided to still make our way to Aguas Calientes to visit Machu Picchu before our flight home to Canada a week and a half later.
We boarded the Peru Rail train at the Ollantaytambo train station that would take us to Aguas Calientes the small tourist town located near Machu Pichu. We stayed in a hostel above a mystic store, almost at the highest point of the village, near the hot springs. Our visit to Aguas Calientes would be a quick one with only two nights there before having to return. On our second day, we woke up well before sunrise and made our way down to the buses that take the thousands of travelers daily to the gates of Machu Picchu. Within minutes of making our way through the entrances gates and down the first trail, we were caught in awe at the beauty and magnificence that is Machu Picchu at daybreak when the fog starts to lift. We spent our day walking in and amongst the ruins in wonder of the sacred space. I was humbled by our day at Machu Picchu and can see why people travel from all over the word to visit. On the day after our visit to Machu Picchu, it was already time for us to take the train to Ollantaytambo where we would travel back to Cusco and prepare for our flight to Lima and eventually back to our home in Toronto, Canada.
Maras, Sacred Valley (Photo: Michelle Gaudet/Living in Peru)
It has been a little over a year since we have returned to Canada from our Inspired Adventure in Peru. I am infinitely grateful that my family had the chance to experience and explore the beautifully diverse country that is Peru. The kind, and spirited people we met as well as the stunning landscapes will be forever carried in our hearts and minds. Our travels in Peru have inspired me to want to help others to experience the beautiful world around us. I am currently working towards opening a travel and tour company that will offer family adventure travel and retreats to Canadians wanting to experience more culture and significance from their travels. One of the first retreats I have planned is to the Sacred Valley. Peru, nos vemos.
Michelle Gaudet is a Canadian writer, artist, and photographer. Last year Michelle and her family took their first family travel adventure backpacking southern Peru for 3 months. She currently lives in Canada while traveling and worldschooling with her family as much as possible. Michelle is the Director of Digital and Social Media for Spiritual Niagara and is building a new career in travel focusing on family adventures and group retreats. You can find her family’s adventures on “Instagram”:www.instagram.com/Inspiredtraveladventures .