Trip of a Lifetime
Wow! I’m on the plane back home from one of the best trips of my life — if not the best — to Peru.
My family and I, as well as our close friends the Nick (cc’d) and Amy and their family, joined Gary Ziegler, cc’d here, and his merry band at Adventure Specialists, for a custom horseback and hiking expedition to explore the Sacred Valley of the Inca in Peru.
I want to share with you all about this trip and the opportunity to enjoy the experience of a lifetime. My eyes — and more importantly those of my kids — were wide the entire weeklong adventure. The sights — spectacular 20,000 foot Andean mountain vistas, rural Quechua villages, bucolic landscapes, ancient temples — were surreal. Gary, Edwin the guide and their crew arranged the trip for riders and those a la pied; and, all were thrilled with the experience.
I had heard about this “Peru trip” from others who had traveled with Gary, but the words defy the breadth and beauty of the experience. One fact that sold me on joining was that the two gents with whom I had spoken about the trip, had both set off not once, but twice, on this adventure.
We visited temple after temple, as well as the renowned Machu Picchu, wending our way through small villages and farms along the old Inca trail on fine mounts, by foot and by rail. The lodgings were perfect; we even rode our horses to the doorstep of one Inn!
While many have trekked the Inca Trail(s), I doubt any were armed with such knowledgeable guides — Gary himself has a PhD in Archeology and Edwin is certified by the Peruvian Board of Tourism —. and the resultant perspectives that we gleaned.
We took our kids out of several days of school to join this expedition and they — and we parents — learned and witnessed much more than any esquela can teach in a year.
We flew to Lima and on the Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca empire, now a bustling city with a beautiful and romantic 16th century-Spanish square set atop the Inca foundations made of the finest stonework in the Western Hemisphere. There are ample restaurants, museums and shops.
We rode and hiked into the Valley of the Urabamba River, and saw much more than the vanilla Peru trip foisted upon so many visitors. We interacted with the people, sampled their foods (some more than others!), and gained a feel for the local culture, as well as the story behind it.
I had read ahead about Francisco Pizarro, his brothers, and the colonization of Peru, and about Hiram Bingham and his “discovery” of Machu Picchu, but no amount of reading can prepare one for the palette of the vistas, the sense of history, and the mystery of the architecture, both pre-Spanish contact and post-.
I hope that you have the chance to join Gary on one of his expeditions and I know it will change your perspective and allow for a fantastic family, friend adventure!
Kevin a.k.a. “Paco”