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Goway’s BDM for Central Canada, Aubrey Schmidt, recently travelled to Peru on a Goway FAM. Here, he gives us his impressions of the South American country and reflects on feeling like he’s finally seen the country for real.
Most people know me as “Goway’s Downunder Guy,” so venturing to a land that has no Great Barrier Reef and no Uluru/Ayers Rock was so not the norm. Now to be fair, I have been to Peru once before on a whirlwind day-and-a-half FAM to Lima. I know what you’re thinking: who does that? You’re right, I don’t recommend it. As beautiful a city as Lima is, you haven’t visited Peru if you haven’t gone to Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas and, of course, Machu Picchu.
All I can say is “Wow!” The Inca and pre-Columbian cultural experience rivals that of the Aboriginal experience of Australia (believe me: that says a lot coming from me who has been promoting Downunder for over 23 years). It started in Lima with a stop to Huaca Huallamarca, a pre-Columbian archeological site in the San Isidro district of Lima. There are hundreds of such sites of all sizes throughout the city. So, if you’re interested in ancient history, Lima is for you. I should also add that if you’re a foodie, you will be in heaven in this city. It boasts some of the finest restaurants in the world (and they have the official accolades to prove it).
After a short one-hour flight from Lima, we were in Cusco, where the real adventure began. The Sacred Valley left me speechless (and that says a lot). A highlight for me was the town of Ollantaytambo. I was amazed by the stunning views, the Inca ruins, and incredible agricultural terraces. How the Incas could build such structures without modern tools is beyond me. Visitors can easily spend a few days in the Sacred Valley checking out all there is to see: the salt pans of Maras, the agricultural terraces of Moray, the Inca ruins—the list goes on. I’m so thankful that we stopped in the Andean village of Misminay, where we were treated to an amazing show of ancient traditions and a fabulous lunch (a true hands-on experience).
This trip was truly a “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” experience. From the Ollantaytambo train station, we boarded the Vistadome train to Aguas Calientes situated at the base of the mountain of Machu Picchu. I loved the riverside location of our Stay of Distinction Hotel, the Sumaq Machu Picchu and the service was great. Of course, the accommodation paled in comparison to the archaeological site of Machu Picchu. Despite the rain, I saw first hand why it is one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World. I spent a couple hours here, but it wasn’t enough. I would have liked to go back a second time to spend more time here. Simply put, it was incredible! My photos don’t do it justice. I was actually sad to leave Machu Picchu, but at the same time, I know I’ll be back. Perhaps I’ll substitute the cushy train ride for a life-changing 4-day hike of the Inca Trail—we shall see.
Not to say that the journey back to Cusco and then back to Lima wasn’t also a memorable experience, but it did seem somewhat anti-climactic after having climbed Machu Picchu. However, having some free time to explore Cusco and Lima was a real treat after such a busy schedule.
Back in North America, I look back on this first “real” journey through Peru as one of Goway’s Business Development Managers, but also as a humble traveller, and I can’t recommend Peru enough.
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