Exploring the Sacred Valley
Art, alpacas and ancient stones: this magical swath of green fields high among the Andes holds a treasury of delights.
Once the aorta of the Inca heartland, Peru's Sacred Valley stretches some 90 kilometers from Cuzco to Ollantaytambo via Pisac, offering breathtaking scenery and an abundant menu of activities.
Towards Pisac, a simpático shoestring family venture, called the Ccochahuasi Animal Sanctuary, shelters a menagerie of Andean fauna, rescued from illegal captivity. The highlight is a spacious pen, where mighty Andean condors with 3 meters wingspans skim visitor's heads as they swoop on a meat snack. Family-friendly and fun; donations gratefully accepted.
Further animal encounters await at nearby Awanacancha, where all four of the cameloid species - the famous domestic llamas and alpacas, plus the rarer wild vicuñas and guanacos - can be viewed, fed and petted. The locale also features traditional weavers at work and a store selling high-quality knits and textiles.
An hour downvalley at Huayoccari, a turnoff leads to the ancestral home of the Lambarri-Orihuela family, where special visitors can enjoy an excellent lunch of Peruvian cuisine amidst a striking array of Spanish colonial and pre-Columbian art. Enjoy the mansion's colorful gardens, with a spectacular view of the valley, and don't miss the excellent private museum of indigenous art.
Across the river between Lamay and Calca, a startling series of hairpin bends climbs 700 meters to approach the massive ruins of Huchuy Cuzco, about 25 minutes walk from the road. Formerly the royal estate of Inca king Wiracocha, this intriguing site remains sparsely-visited because of its difficult access. Worth a whole or half-day for lovers of Inca mystery and mountain solitude, the views are simply stunning. Requires a 4WD, and great faith in its driver.
At the main valley town of Urubamba, Pablo Seminario holds court at his prolific pottery amidst an immense range of ceramic art and artifacts. His lively neo-Andean style, derived from ancient techniques and designs, has influenced interiors throughout the region, and few leave his premises without some purchase tucked under their arm. He ships, too.
Downstream in Ollantaytambo, a different drummer animates Lucho Soler, who, having learned his arts among the Pueblo of New Mexico, works his clay in earnest solitude and turns out the kind of exquisite pots that ring when you strike them.
A Sacred Valley sampler must include one serious hike. My vote is for the quarries of Cachicata. Everyone visits Ollantaytambo's famous ruins, but few know the fascinating Inca stoneworks high across the river, where ramps, walls, and part-hewn blocks both vast and slender, lie strewn and abandoned by their ingenious makers. It's a whole day. Depart early.
On a recent trip to Peru, I was told by friends who've visited of all of the places that I needed to check out, all the restaurants I had to eat at, and all of the historical sites that I needed to explore. The one thing that was missing from that list, for someone who's a cocktail aficionado, is to try the Chilcano—a modernized twist on the classic Pisco Sour.
While it isn't that hard to come by, it's a regional staple that you can't pass up. Almost every restaurant or bar offers their own version of the Chilcano with a handful of variations, but they all generally stick to the same recipe: 2 oz. Pisco, 4 oz. ginger ale, 1/2 oz. lime juice, 2 drops of Angostura bitters, and served over ice in a rocks glass.
Pisco, usually associated with its namesake cocktail the Pisco Sour—made with Pisco, egg whites, simple syrup, lime juice, and Angostura bitters—is a Peruvian brandy made from fermented grapes. It's subtly sweet and when mixed with ginger, makes for a wonderfully balanced cocktail. And this isn't the only updated take on the classic cocktail, there are a handful of variations that include local fruit juices. Try supplementing the lime juice with one ounce of mango, passion fruit, dragon fruit, or guava juice, for a different take.
Wondering where to get a Chilcano in Lima? Head to La Picantería in the Surquillo neighborhood for one of the best in town. You can also get great versions of the drink at Central and Maido, both of which landed on The World's 50 Best list for the best restaurants around the globe.
In recent years, the country has become one of the most traveled for foodies around the globe. With a handful of internationally celebrated restaurants and chefs between Lima and Cusco, it's the perfect destination for anyone looking for a culinary vacation.
Article from: Forget About the Pisco Sour, It's All About the Chilcano
Sean Flynn - https://www.departures.com/lifestyle/wine-spirits/...
Movies under the stars
Rio Sagrado, A Belmond Hotel, located in Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Incas has an outdoor movie night, where families can enjoy favorite films under the stars.
The luxury retreat is set on the banks of the rushing Urubamba River among verdant fields and towering mountains, providing a unique and peaceful backdrop for this fun family activity.
During the evening, adults and children alike can snuggle under alpaca blankets as the movie unfolds. Entertainment is accompanied by a variety of delicious snacks.
Guests can enjoy a selection of family-friendly films in English with Spanish subtitles, including Forest Gump, and The Jungle Book. The outdoor movie night runs year-round and is held from 6:30pm one evening a week weather permitting
Rio Sagrado is built in natural materials, in an authentic Andean village style. Situated at a lower altitude than nearby Cusco, the hotel provides the perfect environment in which to acclimatise, and is an ideal base to explore the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu.
Aqua Yoga experience
2018. - Rio Sagrado, part of Belmond's luxury hotel collection, is located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas in Cusco, a magical setting to unwind and reconnect with what matters most.
One of the activities offered is the Aqua Yoga at Mayu Willka spa, an energizing exercise that looks for internal and external body control through meditation, concentration and relaxation.
Guests are able to accomplish smoother movements with more freedom, develop strength and balance, while improving their physical condition. this activity is performed in the Spa’s Jacuzzi at a temperature of 36° Celsius.
The class is guided by an expert and it is offered to people of all ages. Definitely a unique experience to enjoy Urubamba River Waterfront view.
ON BOARD the Hiram Bingham train to this breathtaking historic sight, you might expect an atmosphere of hushed anticipation. What you don’t envisage is a local band pounding out Latin rhythms as the barman dispenses pisco sours. As the train leaves the high Andes for the Amazon cloud forest, the open-air observation car fills with guests gathering to dance to guitars and the cajón drum beat.
Visit Peru with Belmond and you quickly learn to expect the unexpected. Surprises come tumbling down like the rapids of the Urubamba River surging alongside the train.
Arrive at Machu Picchu to stay at Sanctuary Lodge, A Belmond Hotel, located beside the “Lost City” gate, and you are ready to explore terraces of jigsaw-tight giant stones. But few visitors are prepared for the site’s tropical beauty, lush with flowers. Tucked behind the Lodge is a glorious garden containing 137 of the 370 varieties of orchid found on this mountain alone. Orchid specialist Leonidas Chahuayo lovingly tends them and gives private tours, pointing out tiny flowers that hide under leaves or disguise themselves as insects. He works alongside guide Cecilia Cabrera, who also leads intriguing tours of the citadel and can take you to espy indigenous birds or medicinal plants. Perhaps the ultimate experience, though, is to relax in the hotel’s hot tub, which is overhung with gorgeous exotic blooms that frame a view over the citadel.
Back in the Sacred Valley, as dawn breaks over Rio Sagrado, A Belmond Hotel, you may hear the echoing blast of a conch shell being blown. It’s the village shaman announcing the start of the ceremony to honor earth goddess Pachamama, beside the blazing fire that he builds at the water’s edge. Hypnotic chants and rituals conjure up an ancient world in this exquisite setting among trees and hummingbirds. An equally memorable way to enjoy the riverside setting is to savor a pachamanca—a traditional Peruvian meat dish cooked using heated stones in a pit—or to relax in the garden over a lunch of produce grown in the hotel’s own kitchen garden.
Saddle up to explore further afield on horseback, either on local forest trails or adventure treks to the glistening Maras salt pans or the archaeological riches of Pumawanka. For even more exciting thrills, hit the water and go river rafting along the roaring Ollantaytambo rapids, glimpsing amazing Inca terraces as you speed by.
High above the valley, in the city of Cusco, guests of both Monasterio and Palacio Nazarenas also have the opportunity to gain special insights into local life. With its gold-encrusted baroque-style chapel and collection of museum-quality 17th-century Cusqueña school paintings, Monasterio is a work of art in itself.
Guests can marvel over magnificent and vibrant images of winged saints and scenes from Peruvian history on the hotel’s Art, Cooking and Opera Tour. The circuit also includes a visit to the kitchen to discover recipes from the same era as these works of art. The grand finale is a dinner with an opera or classical music concert by leading Peruvian performers, served in El Tupay restaurant.
At adjacent Palacio Nazarenas, a former palace and convent, innovative food is high on the agenda. Its gourmet restaurant, Senzo, features an exciting menu based on ingredients from the surrounding Andes that guests are highly unlikely to have encountered elsewhere. Many are the result of the kitchen team’s research and visits to local farms, and are specially grown for the hotel. True foodies will want to join the chef on a tour of Cusco’s San Pedro central market, to be dazzled by the towering arrangements of exotic fruit and vegetables. They then head back to the hotel to master the art of cooking quinoa, tubers, alpaca meat and other Peruvian specialities. Every guest will want to discover the hotel’s secret garden and its many herbs before selecting their favorites to be brewed in a special tisane. This can be enjoyed as part of an exclusive afternoon tea—opt for Andean specialties like muña or coca leaves to indulge like the locals. Or sign up to a pisco tasting session, with the chance to discover the hotel’s special recipe for a knockout pisco sour cocktail.
Peru's capital, Lima, brings art and cuisine together—and how! The city’s creative and culinary scene is bubbling, with new galleries and restaurants opening by the week. Must-visit museums like the Museo Larco, with its breathtaking displays of ancient treasures, have been joined by contemporary and revamped spaces with cool monikers such as MAC (works from 1950 onwards) and MALI (from pre-Columbian works to new photography), not to mention stylish private spaces where you can buy pieces by local artists who are developing international reputations.
Lima’s artistic hub is the district of Barranco, conveniently close to Miraflores Park. The hotel offers a Bohemian Barranco Tour, which takes in the home of Peruvian artist Victor Delfín and photographer Mario Testino’s contemporary gallery, MATE, among other fascinating highlights.
Peru’s capital city is increasingly becoming known as a cutting-edge gourmet destination, with so many restaurants to sample that visitors have impossible choices to make. Find out more on a Gastronomic Discovery tour, including a guided visit to the colourful and extensive Surquillo food market, a private cooking class and lunch at the hotel’s innovative Tragaluz restaurant.
All of these astonishing experiences create indelible impressions of Peru. It is the world-famous Inca glories that first tempt visitors to the country, but these rich details will embed it in visitors’ memories forever.
Feel the rush of adrenaline as you course along the fast-flowing waters of the Urubamba River while admiring magnificent terraces and an Inca bridge along the way. Stop to relax and replenish your energy over some delicious Peruvian snacks.
Led by a shaman, this ancient Andean ritual enables you to give thanks to Mother Earth, or Pachamama, for the life that she gives us, and to make special personal requests.
Horseback Riding - Huaran
Embark on a scenic horseback ride through native forests, pastures and streams, visiting local communities along the way and, at journey’s end, a magnificent waterfall.