An Insider Look at Peru
Yampu Operations Manager, Jessica Veliko, returned last month from a trip to Peru, the country that inspired Yampu Tours’ beginning. She returned with more than just incredible pictures, stories, and chocolates- she came back with exclusive insider tips and must-sees for adventurers looking to travel to Peru.
The trip began with an overnight flight to Lima with a connection to Cusco with the rest of the day to rest from a long journey. From there on out, Jess dove right in to some of the best tours, check out what she had to say:
Palacio del Inka, a luxury collection sure stands up to its name. It also gets an honorable mention for being there for me after 30 hours of travel! Between the beautiful wood moldings, comfortable beds, 24 hour gym access all the way to the friendly and helpful staff. Above is a picture of my room when I first walked in. It had two rooms guys, two! You can count them.
Saqsaywaman fortress: It was beautiful. Limestone walls, supposedly shaped with a Puma in mind. I also walked through a tunnel which was super cool! Incas must have been tiny though. Some think there’s a tunnel that goes from the fortress all the way down into Cusco city, which would make sense. The fortress was created to defend against the Spaniards. After walking the fortress, you can go horseback riding through the foot hills of Cusco. Looking at the fortress I’d just seen from the hills above: perfection. I cannot begin to describe how amazing this experience was.
Gorgeous ride! Horses are pretty prevalent in Peru, and I had the pleasure of watching a beautiful horse dancing show, which you really have to see to appreciate how cool it is–this is an activity you can participate in if you travel to Peru as well, and it is on site one of Yampu’s favorite hotels, Sol y Luna.
Q’enqo ruins: This is mainly where llama sacrifices were held. Notice the exact, straight and flat surfaces they were able to create.
Lake Titicaca: I’m so glad I was able to visit the beautiful Lake Titicaca on a private tour. I’ve been wanting to visit here for a very long time, and I even got to swim in the lake! There is so much to learn about the lake and the people who live there. When touring the lake, there is an option to take a boat tour that goes to the island. Depending on the weather you can see the floating islands. Of course, another great sight to see is the yampus on the lake! Pretty incredible boats, and our namesake!
Because my trip was so action-packed, on my last day I only had time for a half day city tour of Lima. I so wish I had more time in this beautiful, historic city and I didn’t want to leave! There is just so much to see and do–who knew there was a penguin colony an hour drive from Miraflores? There are even archeological sites within the city, which I just think is so cool. If you are headed to Peru, I would definitely plan to spend more time in Lima because of all there is to see.
On some full day tours, you get to enjoy lunch while you’re out and about! One day, exploring ruins, we ate lunch in a valley overlooking Cusco city. Absolutely beautiful. I don’t always take pictures of my food but when I do, it’s a luxury picnic!
Traditional pottery and ceramics in Peru are truly beautiful. I had the chance to start one of my days with a ceramics class, where I met the most spectacular artists in Cusco. The class was taught by a father and son pair. The son spoke great English and was able to translate for his father, and for me- they worked so well together!
One of the best parts of travelling is not just site-seeing, but true cultural immersion in which you get the chance to meet the people who live in your destination country. I got the authentic experience and visited the Misminay community in the Sacred Valley. It is a small village of people who build their lives around passing on traditions of their ancestors. There are so many opportunities to learn traditional weaving, take agricultural workshops, and share locally cultivated and purely delicious meals with the community. You can see how adobe homes are made, a truly fascinating process–did you know they use hair to hold the clay together? Many of the people living here in their adobe houses raise guinea pigs, which can be fun to see. If you are up for trying something new, guinea pig is a traditional delicacy in Peru!
Another amazing site is the Salineras, or salt mines in Maras, where you can buy delicious salt to bring home with you! In Moray I got to see the incredible agricultural laboratory, built like an amphitheater by the Incas to experiment with plant adaptation. The built-in irrigation system and water reservoirs are truly impressive! Much like Machu Picchu, Moray leaves you in awe of how advanced the Incas were.
Take an early morning luxury train ride to the charming town of Aguas Calientes. From there, you can take a bus to Machu Picchu. There is so much to say about Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World that I won’t begin to describe. I will say this: the Incas, although an illiterate society were some of the most brilliant mathematicians we may ever know. They sliced through rocks with precision at high altitudes, with nothing but simple tools and water.
It’s amazing to see that some rocks are precisely cut and stacked and others look thrown together. The interesting part is that the ones that are precise are original Inca, while the jagged misshapen ones are from the restoration in the 80s. Hiking Machu Picchu is beautiful, albeit cloudy. It took me about 1 hour and 40 minutes to climb up the steps, and half that time to come down.
All in all, Peru was the trip of a lifetime. There are so many beautiful sites, delicious bites, amazing traditions, and generous people!