I fully understand why so many tours in the Guerba brochure visit Peru and Bolivia. With great food, impressive Inca and colonial architecture, lovely people, snow capped mountains, ancient pathways and good value for money, both countries are fantastic.
My wife Lorraine, eight other travelers and I were on the 'Inca Highlands Trek' a 16 day tour of Peru and Bolivia including an extended 6 day trek to Machu Picchu. The first main highlight of the tour was the laid back and rather crazy town of Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca. This historic town is dominated by the cathedral, where the practices not only care for human souls but along with the pagan witch doctor they also visit the car park to bless all manner of vehicles!
As our visit coincided with the festival of the Southern Cross star constellation, party spirits were in full flow and parades of marching bands and dancers wounded their way around the streets through the night and well into the following day. After these celebrations, an early night was called for in preparation for our boat trip to the Island of the Sun and our introduction to high altitude trekking, where we visited the Inca ruins where the Inca creation legend began.
Over the next few days we followed the shores of Lake Titicaca back into Peru. We crossed the Antiplano, stopping at various Inca sites as we headed for Cuzco, a fascinating city that was later explored and explained on our guided tours. The wide variety of nightlife and restaurants allowed us to experiment with the many local delicacies such as Guinea pig and Llama kebab, with the latter providing to be my favorite by far!
Our 6 day trek started in the village of Mollepata and followed the little used Inca pathway up the Apurimac Valley to our camp at the base of the sacred 6,271m mountain Nevado Salcantay. We were rewarded not only with fantastic views but as we trekked toward the high pass the following day, a huge part of one of the glaciers crashed down throwing tons of snow and ice high into the air and showering us with an amazing snow fall! From the sacred mountain we descended to Hyalabamba, where we joined the classic Inca trail and headed up towards our camp just before 'Dead Women's Pass'.
Our path then followed the contours of the rugged landscape like a giant roller coaster passing through cloud forest adorned by orchids, Inca tunnels and ancient ruins. At Intipunku (the sun gate) we were rewarded with our first view of Machu Picchu. It is amazing. Without going into another long line of adjectives, it is even more impressive than I expected. Another great plus with the Inca trail is that the main highlight is at the end of the trek, rather than a mountain peak where on reaching the top you then have several days to trek out. With the promise of a relaxed exploration the next day, we left the ancient city and took the bus to our hotel in Aguas Calientes. After our weary legs, we partied well into the night.
From start to finish our guides Raul & Demas, our cooks and an army porters made our trek as enjoyable as possible, just so you can imagine how good the food was.
The following day we had the big tour of the site before heading back to Cuzco and then on to Lima. At this stage of the tour, having worked as a tour leader in Africa for 6 years, I was stuck by how well everything worked during our tour – it took extremely bad weather to finally disrupt the tour. As we waited with the passengers from the earlier flight at Cuzco airport, Lima airport was still fog bound and flights were backing up by the hour. Our onward flight connections were looking unreachable. After a call to our Cuzco office I found out that ourCuzco transfer manager was at the airport already sorting things out. "Elvis is in the building" I was told. Having never met him, I encountered many strange looks and enjoyed a few good comments as I went round the airport asking, "Are you Elvis?" Needless to say Elvis Macoyllo was found; he sorted out the flights and entered our hall of fame