Traveling Into the Light Series – The Healing Hiker™ Freedom and Adventure in Peru
Part 1 Cusco, Sacred Valley of the Incas
“What do you mean you are going to Peru to hike the Inca trail and explore the Amazon, aren’t you afraid?” I am in my early 50’s and decided to head out to do a trek around Peru and head into the Amazon to explore areas I never thought I would visit. Hmm, why now and was I afraid? Well, after the last year and a half of working on restoring my health from cancer treatment, I figured “why not NOW?” Hiking every weekend and eating right has brought my health to great place. (Never mind that I got bronchitis 3 weeks before the trip!) This is a trip that I felt I needed to do for my soul to heal. The Healing Hiker™ needed to get outside, hike, connect, and heal. Plus I really like adventure. I get excited about adventure trips, not much fear comes in to play for me. The way I look at it is that if it’s my time, it’s my time. I am not going to stay home because of fear. It was also important to show that we can go do these things at any age and better today than when we might not be able to go. The biggest lesson is always “Just Go!” No more excuses, book a trip and go where you feel called to go. The rest will work itself out.
This trip took a lot of advanced planning and preparation, which is not normally my travel style. I don’t normally travel in tour groups because I love the freedom of being able to explore at my own pace. However, I am glad I joined up with the Wild Women Expeditions tour group on the first part of the trip. 15 of us women decided to get out of our comfort zones and head into the wild blue yonder together. What a trip! We had from ages 22 to 61 in our group and everyone had the freedom to go at their own pace and make the trip their own. These women were absolutely great to travel with – every turn, we would gasp, and turn to look at each other speachless. The words awesome, amazing, and beautiful were bantered around quite a bit. I’m thinking “awemueatiful” can be our new trip word.
Ok, I need to be completely honest here. While I may hike every weekend, I am not a camper. As in sleep in tents outside and go potty in buckets. One of the other reasons for this trip is that I wanted to see if I could do it and if I would love it. The only way to see certain things on this planet is to hike to them. For days in a row. So, instead of trying that in good ‘ole California, I had to travel to South America to try it. (Kind of fitting and not surprising for those who know me.) Wanderlust has always been in my blood and this time it paid off. I LOVED trekking and especially loved that I didn’t have to set up or carry my own tent. Ha! Not going lie, that part was pretty sweet having my sleeping area all ready to go when we rolled into camp every night. Oh, and our meals were made for us too. Delicious meals and hot chocolate at tea time! They even made special meals for those of us with dietary issues! Wow!
The permits for Inca Trail trekking and Machu Picchu go on sale in early January of each year, so you have to have a local guide ready to purchase your permits right when they go on sale. Only 200 guests and 300 porters/guides are allowed to enter the trail each day. The list of supplies needed for this trip was quite extensive and took me months to gather.
Now, I had seen pictures of Machu Picchu like everyone else, but I hadn’t seen very many of the actual Inca Trail and wanted to keep it that way so I could be astonished along the way. I read the book by Mark Adams Turn Right at Machu Picchu, which inspired this trip. Knowing the history of the ruins we would see helped me fall in love with this place even more. I felt an instant connection with the ancestors here who thought of the stars and sun as gods and were able to use them to plan, build, and co-create beautiful temples and structures across the Andes. We could feel them walking among us.
A few hot tips: Super smart to go to Cusco for a couple of days to acclimate to the elevation. The town of Cusco is located at an elevation of 1,152 feet (3,399 meters). The first day we did not do much just tried to get used to the elevation. The locals recommend drinking coca tea, which tastes really good and did seem to help. It does not make you jittery or anything so don’t worry about that. The next day we had a wonderful walk around the town to several museums, stopped in the local Starbucks to get out of a hail/rain storm, had a terrific meal, and fell in love with this town. It’s charming, lots of cars that DO NOT stop for pedestrians, cute shops, and great food.
We had the chance to explore the Sacred Valley for two days which was worth the drive and really lovely. Our guides, Dismarda and Lisbet were adept at sharing important Inca and Peruvian history with us, giving each location much more meaning and importance. Turning a corner, climbing each set of ruins, and each town was more spectacular than the next! I don’t know how many times I literally gasped out loud and the beauty of each place. Our hotel was down this long dusty dirt road (we were a little nervous) and then the gate opened and we were in an oasis! Aranwa Hotel & Spa was lovely in Guayllabamba; the ruins in Pisaq were a sight to see with the terraces spilling down the mountains. It was the perfect place to do healing meditations for the world and connect with nature on a cellular level.
The next day was a beautifully sunny day and we went to Ollantaytambo, which is a charming village with the ancient fountains, irrigation, and streets still in use! Standing at the Sun Temple with the view of the valley below, the sun filling me up with warmth and joy, and the snow capped Andes in the distance kept me in a state of awe and wonder. It sounds so corny, but it was so beautiful there my heart was full (and still is). You can still see the storage sites the Incas built up in the side of the mountain to keep food cool and usable. The Incas design abilities and thorough planning rivals the Romans. This place felt like it changed the energy in my body and is still coursing through me weeks later.
A highlight was getting to walk through the town and then eating at K’uchu Wasi Restaurant (which is in the chef’s front yard). Filled with flowers, butterflies, and the owner’s kids, dog and cats, it was a treasure to experience local hospitality at its finest. The food was great too!
The next part of the day, we drove way up in to the Andes Mountains to Accha Alta village. This is where the Andean Weaver village is located and we had the chance to watch the local women weave different textiles right in front of us! The people in this area wear traditional clothing that is bright and colorful with handmade weaving along the hems to highlight their astounding skills. I will be posting a separate post about this village and the woman who helps get the textiles distributed, Nilda Callanaupa Alvarez. Another powerful woman I am so grateful to have met and hope can work together in the future!
Join me for more on this exciting adventure coming soon! Want to break free and experience Freedom and Adventure of your own? Be sure to also check out my Guide to Freedom and Adventure Course available now here:
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