Written by Sharon Sinclair.
My husband and I recently returned from an escorted tour to Peru and Machu Picchu with Gate 1 Travel. As a Travel Agent, I usually choose not to go on escorted tours but prefer to make my own itinerary. However, this is one location that I didn’t want to tackle on my own and I am so glad that I chose Gate 1 Travel. Their escorts are very knowledgeable and so very proud of their country. Everything was on time and very well-orchestrated. The hotels were moderate with all of the necessary amenities.
First stop: Lima!
Lima is a huge city. It took about an hour to get from the airport to our hotel in Miraflores, an upscale neighborhood in Lima.
Our first full day in Lima we enjoyed a city tour of the sights of Peru’s capital city with 2,000 years of indigenous and colonial heritage. We spent time at the San Francisco Monastery, famous for its 17th century architecture and world renowned library.
We went on to visit the Larco Herrara Museum, located in an 18th century restored mansion, it holds one of the world’s largest collections of pre-Columbian art.
The evening culminated with a Peruvian dinner and musical performance featuring typical dances.
The next day it was off to Cuzco, the capital of the Incan Empire and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cusco is declared the Historical Capital by the Constitution of Peru and hosts nearly one million visitors every year.
Enroute to Cuzco, we were treated to a visit of a local preschool which is funded in part by Gate 1 Travel. We were encouraged to bring school supplies to the children and they were delighted with our offers. The children entertained us with songs and I was able to “brush up” on my high school Spanish!
Following the school visit we went on to visit the Colonial Cathedral, Temple of the Sun and the fortress of Sacsayhuaman near Cuzco.
The next morning it was off to what we had all been waiting for!!! Machu Picchu. The route took us by bus to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley and then by Vistadome Train into Aguas Callientes. From there we took a bus on a switchback road up the mountain to Machu Picchu.
Known as “The Lost City of the Incas”, Machu Picchu was built circa 1450 and abandoned only 100 years later. It was rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham. The purpose of this splendid city is still a mystery to modern historians but certainly a wonder to behold and very much worth the effort to get to.
We spent the afternoon wandering through the citadel and marveling at its corridors, ceremonial centers and terraces.
Back in Aguas Callientes we caught up on some shopping at the many markets. Tapestry is one of the main exports of Peru with the Llama and Alpaca offering beautiful, soft articles. The many booths in the market offer a wide variety from which to choose.
Machu Picchu is as breathtaking as when I first saw it in National Geographic Magazine in the 60s. It is definitely well worth the effort it took to get to.
One more check off of my “bucket list”.