It’s a long walk from the Sacred Valley of the Incas to the ancient citadel at Machu Picchu.
This famous Inca Trail takes you high above the Urubamba River into the mountains where the air is clear and fresh, though a little thin! And if the altitude doesn’t take your breath away the views certainly will, as you look out from trails with evocative names like Dead Woman’s Pass to the magnificent snow-capped peaks of the Peruvian Andes. This is a place of calm and serenity that somehow makes you feel the mountain have a spirit of their own.
Reaching Machu Picchu’s sun gate at dawn is rewarded by a privileged view of the citadel before the train arrives from the valley bring with it the hundreds who flock to see this once-lost city.
Taking my well-earned rest I lay on a grassy terrace gazing at this most iconic of ruins; a scene completed by a well-placed llama. And as I dozed with my head on the ground the city became an Apu. His high forehead and sunken eye, his pointed nose, lips and prominent chin were unmistakable.
The pattern of the buildings sprawled out from his cheek like some ornate Incan headdress. Perhaps this is why the ancients chose this hilltop to build their city. This is truly a sacred place and one I’ll always remember.
Back in the Sacred Valley I was staying at Sol y Luna, which was also memorable, not least because of the very special spirit embodied by its ethos. This is a lovely hotel in a fabulous setting.
The owners, Franz and Petit arrived in the Sacred Valley with the aim of settling there and sharing, with visitors and neighbours, what this land has to offer: beauty, culture and history. But they also came with a desire to help the local community and the hotel was set up as a way to support their work. What they have created here is a wonderful place to stay where comfort, service and style goes hand in hand with a common philosophy of respecting our natural environment and living in harmony with the local culture.