Monday, July 7, 2014

Planes, Trains, Automobiles & Incas

Since we last left you we have been on the move and also had an opportunity for some R&R (& getting some laundry done) after our time up on Huascaran.  Before leaving Huaraz we had our last chance to take in the beauty of the Cordillera Blanca by hiking high above Yungay (the town completely buried by the landslide of 1970) and seeing some pristine glacial lakes. 

Laguna Llaganuco in Huascaran National Park
Next was an 8-hour bus ride south to Lima during which I managed to get some meaningful work completed on one of my oilfield service M&A deals back home along with the help of my colleague Jason Orr.  Thanks Jason!  We stayed 2 nights at a fabulously unique B&B called Second Home Peru which is the personal residence of Peruvian artist Victor Delfin who converted part of his property to a handful of guest rooms. It's perched above the Pacific Ocean high on the cliff side in the Barranco District of Lima, to us it seemed somewhat reminiscent of Santa Monica. 
In the wee hours of Saturday morning we flew to Cusco then boarded a train for a scenic 3.5 hour ride to Aguas Calientes on the banks of the Urubamba River. For those who haven't been to Machu Picchu this is the last town for visitors to stay before boarding a bus for the steep, windy road that crawls up the 2,000 foot vertical feet to the entrance of the Inca Ruins. We opted for the convenience of the train/bus rather than hiking the Inca Trail from Cusco to Machu Picchu as some do, figuring we will be hiking enough during our entire lengthy adventure. The ruins and their improbable location atop steep mountains were, simply put, AMAZING!  Watching the sunrise illuminate this fascinating creation of an ancient civilization was even more impressive. 

However, staying at the only hotel located RIGHT AT Machu Picchu, the 5-Star luxury Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, was equally impressive. We decided staying here ourselves was an important prerequisite for inspection of the property for the benefit of executives who may join us on future STEP Outdoor Adventures trips we may plan. Yes, this is a tough job but somebody has to do it. To ease the burden of this type of work, somehow we were upgraded to the Presidential Suite, the only room of its kind in the hotel with views of the ruins from the bedroom, sitting room, and the expansive private patio & lounge area. 
Jacuzzi at Sanctuary Lodge - with views of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu
This is definitely going to make it more difficult to return to our more typical accommodation - inside a 3-person North Face tent!

Next stop and next mountain, Bolivia and Nevado Sajama.....

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