Cusco and the Sacred Valley, Peru

Join us in November for this amazing tour!!!
One of the most beautiful places I’ve visited is Cusco, Peru.

It is located in the Andes, amid snow-capped mountains, and it has been well preserved and exudes its native charm. There are no tall buildings in Cusco. It is a real treat to visit by day and by night, it is almost magical.

When we ventured out of Cusco, we saw magnificent Inca ruins, usually remains of their temples which reflected their reverence for nature. They built temples in caves, at tops of mountains, at springs of water, and they built temples out of huge rocks. They took into account the movement of the earth and position of the sun at the equinoxes and solstices. And even today, there are celebrations based on these events. A couple of years ago, I was there at the winter solstice in June and there were great festivities.

Outside of Cusco is also the Sacred Valley, a rich and fertile valley along the Urubamba River. In it, the people raise corn and potatoes.

One of our stops there is Chinchero, a colorful village.

Aside from the setting, Chinchero offered us the opportunity to see how the lovely tapestries made locally are produced. We watched the process from the preparation of the wool to the dyeing process (using all natural dyes) to the weaving.

Chinchero, remote as it is from commercial centers, is no amateur in exploiting its advantages. There is a lively market that sells not only local products, but also a wide variety of goods that are brought from outside the area.

One other wonderful place to visit is Maras. There we found salt evaporation ponds terraced along a mountain. Each pond or several ponds is owned by a local family that takes the salt from it and sells it. The water comes from deep in the mountain and trickles out into these ponds.
This is what they look like from a distance.

As one walks beside the ponds, the beauty of the setting and sound of the trickling water combine to make it a very relaxing visit.

We look forward to every visit to this special part of the world!

Getting ready for China

Although I am currently getting ready for China, I am having the experience I always do when I am getting ready for any of the tours I guide- whether to China, to Vietnam/Cambodia/Thailand, or to Ecuador/Galapagos/Peru. There are about a million pieces of data: information, equipment, communication with providers of services, scheduling, purchasing, packing, communicating with the travelers- that swirling around in my head simultaneously. At this point in the preparations, I am unable to think a full thought or make a complete sentence because there is a conference going on in my brain at which the pros and cons of all sorts of things are being discussed: what sights should we add? what food should be bring along? what written materials shall we distribute? how do we get people to meet at the initial gathering of the group as they arrive on 7 different flights on two different days? In discussing these things with my husband, I find myself starting in the middle of a thought and am sometimes so wrapped up in what I am thinking that a solution he offers, no matter how logical and obvious it should have been to me, is something I hadn’t even thought of. Sometimes I wonder why I do this.

Then I remember: I love traveling. I long to see China again. And mostly, I love seeing my travelers being amazed, sometimes astounded, by the sights I show them. For two weeks, my husband and I work harder than one can imagine, day and night, but for two weeks, we are able to provide one incredible experience after another for our people- the sights, the entertainment, the experience of being with a group of people who are there to see and to enjoy something totally new.

So as I prepare, I also remind myself that in under two weeks, a wonderful adventure begins!

Two of our travelers enjoying the Great Wall of China

Machu Picchu

When in Peru, one of the most beautiful and impressive places to visit is Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was an Incan city whose location had been unknown until 1911 when discovered by Hiram Bingham. Hiram Bingham was educated at Yale (BA) and at Harvard (PhD). He was appointed a lecturer in South American history at Yale. After Bingham discovered Machu Picchu, he and his team excavated and extracted somewhere between 4,000 and 40,000 (depending on who is counting 🙂 ) artifacts– including mummies, ceramics and bones. He later served as the Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut and after that, as a US senator.

Machu Picchu is a very beautiful location, accessible by walking the Inca Trail (about 4 days’ journey) or by railway. Our travelers, for some reason, seem to favor the railway. We pass through the Sacred Valley on our way. The valley is so named because it was a rich and fertile source of food. The Incas, using clever agricultural methods, domesticated and cultivated over 1,500 varieties of corn and more than 4,000 varieties of potatoes in the Sacred Valley.

Method for acclimating plants to altitude

There is a lot to see in the Sacred Valley and I will write about it in the future, but first, let’s go to Machu Picchu. Here you see my colleague Rita and me relaxing on the train on the way to Machu Picchu.

The ride is very pleasant and lasts under 2 hours, and we arrive at Aguas Calientes. We are greeted by the requisite Peruvian market,

but we restrain ourselves because we are ripe for adventure. We ride a small bus to the top of the mountain (about a 15 minute ride)

and this is what we see:

Everywhere we look there are magnificent structures framed by lush mountains.

The sights we see are incomparable. The city was built by the Incas some time around the year 1400. These stones were transported without the benefit of use of the wheel, which the Incans did not have. They also did not have animals capable of hauling these huge boulders. It is thought that they must have used large numbers of men who pushed the boulders up inclined planes.

The truth is, to truly enjoy it, you must see it for yourself. You won’t be disappointed!

Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, and Peru

Girl with her pet, in Cusco, Peru

Come join us on a magnificent tour.  It is not only beautiful and exciting, but people find it to be a spiritually significant tour as we see the unspoiled creation of the Galapagos Islands, not to mention the Amazon Rain Forest and amazing Machu Picchu.


Details of the itinerary and the cost are on this page….

A digression about Peru

I have been extremely busy for the last 3 weeks, having just returned from South America. Now, 2 surgeries (one mine, one my grandson’s), two sets of guests at my home, one major surprise birthday party (my husband’s) and 9 days of mourning ending on Tisha B’av– later, I am about to leave for my next tour to the same area. So, instead of continuing with the saga, I want to tell you about something that happened during my most recent tour.

Our group was an amazing collection of people. Most were Australians with some Anglo-Israelis, some Americans, and others. They were intelligent and fun-loving and they behaved like one big happy family. Traveling with them was delightful.

One day we went to a town in Peru called Pisac. It is located in the Sacred Valley and it has Incan ruins and a beautiful market. While there, one of the ladies saw a skirt that one of the local ladies was wearing and she really wanted to buy one like it. I assume that she looked for it in the market, but she obviously didn’t find it.

She finally asked our Peruvian guide to help her buy it from the woman who was wearing it. Peruvian women wear straight skirts under their brightly colored, embroidered outer dirndl skirts, so when they reached an agreeable price, the Peruvian woman removed her skirt and gave it to our traveler. When she got on the bus and told us that she had successfully purchased the skirt, everyone laughed and also applauded. Then someone said, “Well, that’s great, but what is she going to say when she gets home and her husband wants to know what happened to her skirt.” Our traveler said, “That’s not a problem; after I bought her skirt, he offered to sell me his pants!”

Women in market at Pisac

Women in market at Pisac

Note the beautiful skirt. Note also that one Peruvian woman was carrying her pet llama and the other has a child who is carrying one. The people posing with the Peruvian women were members of our group, but not the proud owners of a Peruvian skirt.

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