We recently had a special opportunity to travel with some incredible content creators, brands, and influencers on our tour of Peru! We had an amazing time as we immersed ourselves in Peru's beautiful culture, delicious cuisine, and breathtaking landscapes. Take a look at the unforgettable moments captured on our Peru tour and see why this South American destination needs to quickly rank at the top of your travel destination list.
Like our Peru Expedition currently offered, we were able to witness the stunning ruins of Machu Picchu at sunrise, stroll through Ollantaytambo’s bustling markets, learn about the incredible Salinas De Maras (Salt Pans), and participate in a cultural llama blessing ceremony. The culinary delicacies of Peru were a hands-down favorite, as were the artisan markets where we couldn't help but admire the beautiful hand-woven alpaca textiles. Here's a breakdown of the highlights from our adventure and six top things to do in Peru. Be sure to also check out Lisa Homsy's ultimate Peru guide with a day-by-day breakdown of our trip.
1. Machu Picchu
An iconic destination in Peru, Machu Picchu is a must-see. Sunrise is the most beautiful time to visit, so we started the day early at 5am to catch the early morning bus to Machu Picchu. The bus ride is a scenic 20 minute drive to the top, where we were able to watch a breathtaking sunrise come up behind Machu Picchu (amidst many clouds rolling in and out) and it was absolutely stunning! For anyone going to visit Machu Picchu, be sure that you visit in the morning (before the tourists roll in). After spending sunrise taking photos from the ledges overlooking Machu Picchu, we descended into the actual ruins themselves. Here we had the opportunity to actually explore, touch, and experience Machu Picchu on a more personal level as our guide explained the history of this ancient city.
2. Salinas De Maras (Salt Pans)
As you descend down the mountain to the Sacred Valley it is worth venturing off the beaten track to visit Maras & Moray, the famous salt pools. Interestingly enough, each salt pool is owned by a family in Peru who mines the salt for their animals, cooking, and cosmetic purposes. A local community (Maras) lives within walking distance of the pools, and many of the people's livelihoods are based in salt mining and production.
3. Hands-on Cooking Class
We spent a full day exploring the Cusco City, visiting the Cathedral, the market streets, and even had the opportunity to observe a festival (that usually happen on Saturdays and Sundays in the cities). Local cuisine is always one of my favorite parts of traveling, so we met with one of the best chefs in Peru for a hands-on cooking class. Our first stop with him was to the market where we shopped for the ingredients that we were to use to prepare our dishes. He then taught us how to prepare so many delicious Peruvian dishes from ceviche, lomo saltado, and Pisco Sour!
4. Llama Blessing
While there are so many things to do and see in Peru, some of the most treasured experiences can’t be planned for. While on this trip we were invited to participate in a Llama (or alpaca) Blessing festival in one of the villages outside of Ollantaytambo. After breakfast we traveled through the mountains to the Latis Valley (on the other side of the sacred valley) on a scenic journey through the tiny villages fringing the mountainsides. After about one hour of driving we reached the first main village, where we were introduced to the local people and observed through our bus windows how they live their day-to-day lives. Our bus ride continued on until we reached the mountain highlands where the majority of Peruvian llamas live. As we hopped out of the vehicle, Juan and his family were there to greet us with big hugs and smiles.
The blessing is very special as the people believe it brings good luck and heath to their animals, which are an important part of the livelihood in Peru. First, all the llamas are gathered together and the youngest (some only 2 weeks old!) are brought forth to the front of the herd. Cocoa leaves, incense, feathers, and other items are gathered up in a pouch and burned. Special water is thrown over the tops of the llama heard, and the baby llamas are decorated with flowers and natural colors as prayers are spoken. At the end of the ceremony the people dance around the heard with flags and colorful clothing until all the llamas are released back into the mountains.
5. Ollantaytambo & Pisac's Markets
This little town of Ollantaytambo is one of our favorite villages in Peru. From the markets, to the ruins, to the little cobblestone streets, you could spend weeks in this charming little village. Not far from Ollantaytambo is another town called Pisac, a town famous for it's textile market. Here you can find beautiful Peruvian textiles, carpets, scarves, and so much more! We dedicate one entire day to each of these villages, as there is just so much to see and so much to do!
6. Rainbow Mountain
The Rainbow Mountains of Peru are unlike any other mountains in the world. Choosing to extend our stay in Peru, we woke up early to depart in time to summit the mountain before sunrise. After three to four hours of driving, one hour of hiking, and patiently waiting for the sunrise to appear - we were stunned at just how miraculous the landscape was... Brilliant colors on all sides of us, the reds, greens, oranges, blues, and yellows were just as vibrant as the pictures. While the hike is hard, it is worth the experience if you can add it to your itinerary as we did.
It's important to note that this particular trip was in part made possible thanks to the brands, content creators, and influencers who joined us. Special thanks to the brand sponsors: Arvo, Woven Pear, Jane.com, BRIC'S, and Fawn Design, the influencers: @meg_legs, @roses_cloud, @joellefriend, @reneeroaming, @lisahomsy, @mvandersluis, and @alliemtaylor, and the content creators: @mitchellthayne and @jakenackos.