Our Flightie Flor Laudi, recently visited South America on an Intrepid tour. Here she shares her amazing experience with us and why you need to see South America with Intrepid Travel for yourself:
South America is a vast continent with much to be explored and Peru is no exception; offering adventure from the Andes to the Amazon. Machu Picchu, which tops most people’s bucket lists, seems to be the main attraction to this country. If you’re up to it and want more than just a National Geographic photo, take this trip and you can expect to be hosted by some of the most amazing people and immersed in culture that may change you forever.
Having been to other Latin countries, I really wondered how could this place be any different then everywhere else, and below are some of the highlights for me:
The Quarry Trail
The Quarry Trail doesn’t let the Andean spirit miss any opportunity to demonstrate how the landscape was integrated into the powerful Incan culture. This trek is more challenging then the main Inca Trail. Though one day shorter than the Inca Trail, you will reach the apex of 4450m (higher than Machu Picchu) while exposed to more elements as the weather can change quickly above 4000 meters.
Why do this? I wondered myself many times as I ascended each mountain pass saying, “Left foot…. right foot… okay break…” almost every 10 metres to take in the view (or in my case a great excuse to catch my breath). Perhaps now I think back to the condor that made an appearance that humbled being on top of the world or the Llama constellation which was so vivid when you’re that close to the heavens. The only thing more amazing than the landscape and marvellous Inca Ruins is the vibrant culture that still thrives in this Andean Centre.
Though most speak Spanish, Quechua can be handy outside of Lima and especially in many remote communities. Allijanchuy is the word for hello which I had the pleasure of using on this exhilarating mountain trek. Here I found myself, high above the clouds in the thin Andean air, amid families and communities that still farmed and herded sheep as they had for centuries. Every time I had the pleasure of passing a Quechuas person in their traditional clothing that demonstrated where they were from, each greeted me with “Allijanchuy” and a smile. This was their life and I was only getting to share a moment in their long tradition and journey. They are truly amazing people.
It’s not hard to imagine that there is a strong relationship between the people and this harsh land. Pachamama (Mother-Earth as we may easily relate) is the Inca goddess which still plays an active part of their faith from farming to family. Almost everything is in her honour and I was lucky to participate in private offering of Coco leaves which I believe has blessed me in many ways. One may think this culture has survived because of their link to her blessings.
Machu Picchu was amazing! I did get my photographs and passport stamped in the end, but I think the journey was more fulfilling because it would have just been stones without the context and colour of a culture that brings it to life.
All these experiences would not have been possible if it weren’t for Intrepid and their commitment to a truly cultural experience. Our guides Maritza, Tomas, and Fredy were more like long lost relatives hosting me back home. And like every special place, I can’t wait to return. Pura vida!