Luxury vacation to Machu Picchu
Besides visiting various nice and interesting places in Lima, I booked a luxury trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu, staying at Inka Terra La Casona and Inka Terra Machu Picchu and traveling with Inca Rail that only opened 18 month ago.
We left Lima at 10 a.m. and chose Peruvian Airlines, which not only is the newest national airline of Peru, but it also offers the same prices to both foreigners and residents of Peru. Check-in took less than 5 minutes and we walked straight to the gate and left 30 minutes later. Service inboard was excellent and the seats were comfortable.
|See slideshow: Inkaterra La Casona in Cusco.|
After arriving to Cusco an hour later, a taxi waited for us to take us to one of Cusco’s most luxurious hotel, Inka Terra La Casona, which offers 11 beautiful suites all with fireplaces and a big bath tub which the staff gladly prepares for you with hot water and a special foam that makes you relax and sleep like a baby.
The hotel is located in one of the most quiet zones of Cusco and next to the Museum of Precolombian Art. The hotel offers breakfast, lunch and dinner in its very cozy restaurant after which you can go and relax in the yard. Price per night is S/. 1,064 ($380) including breakfast and afternoon tea.
Inca Rail to Machu Picchu
After one night at La Casona, Inca Rail organized a taxi to take us to Ollataytambo through Chinchero, where they are planning to build a new airport. It is here the trains are leaving from these days. (The railroad track from Cusco won’t be ready till the end of May 2011.)
After a comfortable drive through what some times looks like northern Italy, we arrived to Ollantaytambo an hour and a half later. I’d decided to book the midday train as it is not crowded and it arrives just after lunch to Machu Picchu, just in time for the afternoon tea at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo, located a few minutes from the train station. (Don’t worry, the hotel staff is waiting for you, so you don’t have to carry your baggage to the hotel and they can even arrange for a wheelchair if necessary.)
Orchids and rest at Machu Picchu Pueblo
|See slideshow: Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo.|
At the hotel, we were received by the hotel service manager José, who quickly organized our junior superior suites after having zipped a homemade organic ice tea that just was delicious. Before visiting the orchid farm and the garden were they grow all the tea and coffee we consume during our stay, we took a little nap, just listening to the Urubamba River and the fireplace that now had been lightened up.
The hotel itself only occupies around ten percent of the estate, so there is plenty of space to discover flora and fauna and the hotel provides you with free guided tours throughout the day starting very early in the morning.
After having learned about the plants and animals living on the property and seeing how they roast our coffee, it was time to visit the bar for our welcome pisco sour drink and later have dinner, which all was part of the package. Of course we expected good food, but we all agreed that it was outstanding, especially the salmon served with a homemade pisco-based sauce. Yum!
After a good cup of coffee it was time to enjoy the fireplace and play some cards. (I lost.) We slept like babies till our wakeup call came in at 5:45 am. We had decided to get up early and be at Machu Picchu at sunset. We got there at 6:40 and it was AMAZING!
There was misty cloud cover, but that just made the place so much more mystical. Later the sun came out and it got hotter and more humid.
|Carsten Korch, left, with 90 and 80-year-old uncle and aunt. Bring it on, Machu Picchu!|
|More Machu Picchu photos.|
The ruins of Machu Picchu are not an easy place to visit when you are 80 and 90, but my aunt and uncle saw everything and were very pleased with our two-hour walk seeing the Temple of the Sun, the room of the three windows, the sun tier, the Temple of the Condor and much more.
At 9:50 am, just when it started to drizzle, we were back at the hotel for a nice and healthy breakfast, with lots of fruits, fibers, omelets, bacon, sausages, cakes, breads, juice and homemade coffee and tea.
If you decide to organize the purchase of your tickets to enter Machu Picchu yourself, don’t forget to purchase down in Machu Picchu Pueblo (formerly called Aguas Calientes) or online, as you can no longer buy them at the entrance. Tickets are S/. 126 ($45) for foreigners and the 20-minute bus ride to get there is $16.
Before packing and returning to Cusco, we just had a couple of hours to enjoy the facilities of the hotel including the spa: a massage, sauna and much more. Price per night at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo is S/. 1,534 ($548) including breakfast, afternoon tea and lunch or dinner.
It was time to head back and the baggage helpers came just in time to take us down to the train station, where Inca Rail was waiting for us. We really enjoyed the Inca Rail service. Not only do their trains pollute less than their competition, they also serve healthy snacks and food onboard their trains. They offer three different services: business, first and presidential service (wagon for eight guests and only on special request), all recommendable and service very good. Prices start at S/. 300 for a round trip ticket.
The train ride from Ollataytambo to Machu Picchu is one hour and a half and is quite bumpy as the tracks needs to be improved, but it is very charming and one feels like an explorer traveling by train a 100 years ago, when Hiram Bingham first found Machu Picchu.
Our taxi driver was waiting for us and instead of driving through Chincheros, we took the other road through Pisac, which is a much more beautiful ride to Cusco. At 6:30 pm we arrived to Inkaterra La Casona again for a nice bath, a pisco sour and a delicious meal before returning to Lima again.
It was a great trip that none of us will ever forget and as my uncle said, Peru is full of wonderful images: a paradise for any photographer.
Thinking about visiting Machu Picchu? Contact the LivinginPeru.com travel department, PeruExperience.com, where local knowledge meets world class service.