Peru - Awesome Experiences

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Peru

Machu Picchu has to be on everyone’s bucket list. Most of us have heard of the Inca Trail, including its hard-to-get permits and testing altitudes for climbers. Personally, I dont like the porters carrying everything for you. Nor did I particularly enjoy the rubbish left by the parties who had preceded me. So we offer the last section only, coming out at the magnificent gate overlooking the forgotten city of the Incas. Here, I learned about Pacha Mamma, the ever-present goddess revered by several Andean peoples. She is everywhere, and for a time I believed she was a representation of the Virgin Mary. Well, I got that bit wrong. She is actually an earth-goddess with the power to command earthquakes and sustain life on earth, and symbolic of the relationship between the people of these regions and their timeless landscape. If that nourished the spirit, then alpaca and guinea pig offered a different kind of nourishment for the body. Alpaca tastes good, a little like a gamey lamb. Guinea pig is - to use a famous British word - interesting, but more effort than it's worth, like frogs' legs.

It is almost unbelievable to think that a handful of Spaniards overthrew the leadership and culture of a whole great warlike empire, mainly by superior weaponry, abduction, internal rivalry and sheer ruthlessness : a formula they had deployed ten years earlier to overthrow the Aztecs. Today, even in its ruins, Machu Picchu mutely testifies to the grandeur of the Inca empire before that fateful year of 1532.

One option to get around this mountainous country is the luxury Belmond Train, but AX offer private car and rail transfers too. Cusco is high. Don't be foolish - take time to acclimatise or you will regret it! I didnt go to Rainbow Mountain. You should...

Lake Titicaca is the world's highest lake at 4,000m or more. It has floating islands made of reeds, reached by reed boats. The contrast between an ancient way of life and nearby modernity is fascinating.

The Colca Canyon is beautiful. At 9am all the Condors rise on thermals and everyone gathers to see them. The terraced farming is interesting too, as is the microclimate agriculture and the colourful salt pans.

Incredibly AX have an experience there you can complete in a week, but personally I would go for 10 days and savour every moment of this compelling country.

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