When you tell people you’re traveling to the Incan mountaintop citadel of Machu Picchu, which leads down to Peru’s Sacred Valley, you immediately have their attention. Whether they’ve been or not, most have heard about this breathtaking. And once you’re there, you’ll find that the sights and stories live up to the area’s mythic-sounding name. Aside from amazing Incan ruins and unique crafts (you would be remiss to not take home a few alpaca keepsakes) you can also enjoy great cuisine, spa treatments and music. Find out how to make the most of out of your trip to this world wonder using our Weekender guide.
Where to Stay:
Machu Picchu has over a million visitors each year, and with a wealth of luxury hospitality options, it’s not hard to see why. We chose the Tambo del Inka, a sprawling property with an indigenous touch throughout. The breakfast buffet here is especially memorable, serving everything from eggs and bacon to tamales to dim sum. There’s also an exquisite spa and pool area open late for you to get a nighttime relaxation and swim session in.
If you want to be more central to Machu Picchu, you can’t choose a more conveniently located hotel than Sumaq Machu Pichu. It sits at the base of the road that leads you up to the famous archeological site. Many of their rooms offer amazing views of the mountain so that you can get excited before you even go on your endeavor.
What to Eat:
Peru is renowned for its delightful and inventive cuisine: regional specialties include ceviche, lomo saltado (stir-fried beef) and papas a la Huancaina (potatoes in spicy cheese sauce). For a really unique local experience head to Sarapampa Hacienda, a family business dedicated to the production of Cusco giant white corn. You’ll learn about the production, have a chance to see a lot of guinea pigs that live on the farm and enjoy an outstanding farm-to-table lunch. The menu is composed of traditional Peruvian ingredients such as quinoa, alpaca and of course, corn. In addition to excellent food, the views are also incomparable.
What to Do:
Given the mind-blowing beauty of the so-called “Lost City of the Incas,” you’ll want to spend at least a morning and afternoon winding its 15-century ruins, built by the Incan civilization and largely untouched until being rediscovered by historian Hiram Bingham in 1911. After that, the adjacent Sacred Valley offers an equally rich archeological experience; Pisac, a small town with Inca ruins that run across a ridge overlooking the valley. You’ll be amazed by the constructed agricultural terraces which allowed Incas to cultivate corn and potatoes with scientific precision. But for some live-action fun, check out a Peruvian paso horse show. The horse’s unique gait, display a four-beat, lateral trot called the paso llano, is something to behold.