Trek Through History in Peru’s Andes Mountains with the New Digital Nomad Visa
Trek Through History in Peru's Andes Mountains with the New Digital Nomad Visa - Immerse Yourself in Ancient Incan Culture
Step back in time and immerse yourself in the living history of the ancient Incan culture. This fascinating civilization flourished in the Andean region of South America from the early 13th century until the Spanish conquest in the 1500s. While the empire itself may be long gone, its cultural legacy lives on in Peru.
Start your journey of discovery in Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire. Wander the cobblestone streets and marvel at the perfect fusion of Incan and Spanish architecture. Massive stone walls built centuries ago serve as the foundation for Baroque cathedrals with elaborate façades. Make your way to the Plaza de Armas, the lively main square anchored by the imposing Cathedral of Santo Domingo. This 16th century church was built atop the ruins of the Incan temple of Viracocha, literally fusing the two cultures into one.
Just outside Cusco lies the crowning jewel of Incan architecture: Machu Picchu. Take a train through the lush Urumba Valley to Aguas Calientes, the gateway town to the ancient citadel. Then board a bus up the winding mountain road to reach Machu Picchu itself. Prepare to be awestruck by the scale and artistry of this 15th century royal estate perched high in the clouds. Marvel at the perfect symmetry and unbelievable precision of the mortarless stone walls. Climb the iconic Huayna Picchu peak for breathtaking views over the entire site.
To immerse yourself even deeper, opt to hike the Inca Trail. This epic 4-day trek follows original Incan paths through the Andes to reach Machu Picchu. Pass through subtropical cloud forest and high alpine tundra dotted with ruins like Winay Wayna. Navigate Incan tunnels and ascending stone staircases hewn from the mountainside itself. Immerse yourself in the experience of walking in the footsteps of the ancient Incans.
Back in Cusco, browse the wares at San Pedro Market or San Blas Artisan Market to peruse traditional handicrafts. Watch weavers demonstrate their craft spinning alpaca wool into textiles. Browse art galleries filled with contemporary takes on ancient Incan artistic motifs. And don't miss the opportunity to indulge in Peruvian cuisine influenced by Incan staples like potatoes, quinoa and corn.
What else is in this post?
- Trek Through History in Peru's Andes Mountains with the New Digital Nomad Visa - Immerse Yourself in Ancient Incan Culture
- Trek Through History in Peru's Andes Mountains with the New Digital Nomad Visa - Hike the Famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
- Trek Through History in Peru's Andes Mountains with the New Digital Nomad Visa - Explore Colorful Local Markets in Cusco
- Trek Through History in Peru's Andes Mountains with the New Digital Nomad Visa - Acclimate Yourself Slowly to Avoid Altitude Sickness
- Trek Through History in Peru's Andes Mountains with the New Digital Nomad Visa - Spend a Night at the Sky Lodge Pod Hotel
- Trek Through History in Peru's Andes Mountains with the New Digital Nomad Visa - Visit Lake Titicaca, the Highest Navigable Lake
- Trek Through History in Peru's Andes Mountains with the New Digital Nomad Visa - Try Invigorating Yerba Mate, the National Drink
- Trek Through History in Peru's Andes Mountains with the New Digital Nomad Visa - Connect with Locals During Homestays in Rural Villages
Trek Through History in Peru's Andes Mountains with the New Digital Nomad Visa - Hike the Famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
The most iconic way to reach the ancient Incan citadel of Machu Picchu is undoubtedly via the Inca Trail. This epic 4-day, 27-mile trek follows original stone paths winding through the Andes Mountains to end at the Sun Gate overlooking Machu Picchu.
Hiking the Inca Trail is a truly unforgettable experience. The journey takes you through beautiful Andean scenery, from lush cloud forests to high alpine tundra. You'll traverse mountain passes at 13,000 feet, take in views of snow-capped peaks, and walk through exotic orchid-filled jungles. Along the trail, you’ll discover fascinating archeological sites like Winay Wayna, an immaculately preserved hilltop Incan complex.
The physical challenge of the hike is real but manageable for most moderately fit people. Ascending ancient Incan staircases hewn into the mountainside will raise your heart rate. But the payoff of arriving at the Sun Gate on the final day makes every step worth it. Describing the feeling of watching the morning sun slowly unveil the perfectly preserved walls and terraces of Machu Picchu after a days-long journey is simply indescribable. You have to experience this special “Wow!” moment yourself to truly understand it.
Fellow adventurers who have hiked the Inca Trail advise training by walking up lots of stairs while carrying weight. The hike involves ascending over 5,000 stone steps in total! They also recommend breaking in your hiking boots long before the trek to avoid painful blisters.
Travelers emphasize that a good guide can make or break your Inca Trail experience. Knowledgable guides will intersperse fascinating history lessons between motivational hiking encouragement. They’ll also help you acclimate to the altitude and point out incredible photo spots along the way. Multilingual guides can help bridge language barriers with other hikers from around the world too.
The camaraderie of sharing this once-in-a-lifetime adventure with total strangers that become fast friends is magical. You’ll forge bonds over breathtaking vistas and cheer each other on through challenging sections. And you’ll laugh reminiscing over shared memories and inside jokes long after parting ways.
Trek Through History in Peru's Andes Mountains with the New Digital Nomad Visa - Explore Colorful Local Markets in Cusco
No trip to Cusco is complete without browsing the wares at the city’s lively local markets. These bustling bazaars offer a sensory overload of sights, sounds, and smells that provide the perfect lens into Peruvian culture. Of course you’ll find stalls bursting with colorful textiles, alpaca knits, and woven handicrafts. But the markets are about so much more than shopping. They offer an authentic experience to engage with locals and support traditional Andean enterprises.
According to fellow wanderers who’ve explored Cusco’s markets, arriving early is key to beat the crowds. The quiet calm of the morning hours allows you to chat with artisans before the midday rush. Gracious weavers will gladly demonstrate their craft and explain the intricate patterns of their textiles. You’ll gain insight into the significance of the alpaca, llama, and vicuña wools unique to each piece. Fascinating food vendors will also share samples of exotic fruits and Andean corn you’ve never tried before.
The San Pedro Market near the city center should top your Cusco market exploration list. The intoxicating smells of produce and spices fill the air as you weave through congested stalls. You’ll find many culinary treats to sample like salty local cheeses, giant avocados, and juicy tropical fruits. Don't leave without trying a cup of punchy Andean corn chicha beverage. Check out the open-air courtyard filled with hungry locals slurping down hearty stews and grilled meats.
Up near the San Blas neighborhood, the Mercado de Artesania sells quality handicrafts in a calmer setting. Browse alpaca sweaters dyed in everything from earthy neutrals to neon brights. Chat up the shopkeepers to get insight into tribal meanings behind intricate woven patterns and motifs. Haggle politely for a fair souvenir price, but don’t talk them down too far. Handmade crafts reflect many hours of artistry.
Trek Through History in Peru's Andes Mountains with the New Digital Nomad Visa - Acclimate Yourself Slowly to Avoid Altitude Sickness
The high elevation of Cusco and Machu Picchu can quickly lead to altitude sickness if you don't pace yourself. Acclimating slowly is crucial for avoiding headaches, nausea, and serious medical emergencies while exploring the ancient Incan capital.
Fellow adventurers emphasize giving your body time to adjust to the thin air before tackling any strenuous activities. Cusco sits at 11,200 feet, while Machu Picchu reaches nearly 8,000 feet. The drastic change leaves many flatlanders gasping initially. Take things very easy when you first arrive; even a leisurely stroll up a slight hill can leave you winded.
Rest as much as possible, stay hydrated, and avoid overexerting yourself the first couple days. Limit alcohol consumption, which can exacerbate effects of altitude. Mild headaches and fatigue are normal, but persistent issues signal it's time to descend. Descent is the only cure if symptoms progress to vomiting or fluid in the lungs.
Locals advise chewing coca leaves or drinking coca tea to help alleve symptoms. The indigenous people have used coca for millenia to cope with the high elevation environs. In reasonable amounts, it can help alleviate headaches and stomach issues. It also contains antioxidants and a light caffeine kick. Just don't overdo it, as leaves contain trace narcotics.
To proactively avoid altitude sickness, many visitors use the "climb high, sleep low" method. Hike up to higher elevations during the day, then descend to sleep at a lower altitude. For example, you might take a day trip up to nearly 14,000 feet at Rainbow Mountain, then return to Cusco around 11,000 feet to rest.
When tackling the Inca Trail, smart pacing is even more critical. The four-day hike reaches over 13,000 feet at Dead Woman's Pass before descending to Machu Picchu. Altitude sickness often strikes at night after exertion hiking all day. Quality tour operators space lodging at wise intervals to mitigate this. They also screen clients to ensure general fitness for the trek.
Trek Through History in Peru's Andes Mountains with the New Digital Nomad Visa - Spend a Night at the Sky Lodge Pod Hotel
Looking to really immerse yourself in the clouds while exploring Machu Picchu? Then you can't miss the opportunity to spend an evening at the one-of-a-kind Sky Lodge. This boutique "pod hotel" combines luxurious comfort with a thrilling viewpoint that will take your breath away (although the altitude is likely already contributing to that!).
Fellow adventurers say that a night at the Sky Lodge is an unforgettable experience that's well worth splurging on. The property's transparent luxury capsules allow you to sleep suspended on a cliffside 400 feet above the lush cloud forest. You'll be cocooned in a comfortable bed as you gaze out floor-to-ceiling windows straight into the lush treetops. The sunrises and sunsets viewed from your private pod are simply stunning.
While curling up in your posh pod after a day exploring Machu Picchu's ruins may be tempting, the real magic happens at night. When the skies are clear, you'll be blown away by the dazzling display of stars visible thanks to the darkness of this tucked-away location. The Milky Way shone so brightly during my stay that I could hardly believe it. And I was lucky enough to witness several shooting stars streaking overhead throughout the night - what an incredible sight!
The remoteness of The Sky Lodge also makes it blissfully peaceful and quiet. You'll sleep like a baby in the fresh mountain air undisturbed by any sounds except for the gentle wind and calls of exotic birds. It's amazing how calm and restored you feel after waking up surrounded only by lush nature.
Trek Through History in Peru's Andes Mountains with the New Digital Nomad Visa - Visit Lake Titicaca, the Highest Navigable Lake
As the highest navigable lake in the world, Lake Titicaca offers a uniquely memorable experience for visitors to Peru. Resting at an altitude of 12,500 feet in the Andes Mountains, the sheer vastness of the shimmering blue lake juxtaposed against the arid, craggy backdrop never fails to impress. Fellow wanderers say no trip to Peru is complete without spending time marveling at the natural wonder of Lake Titicaca.
The cultures that have developed around the lake provide even more reasons for travelers to visit. The Uros people, for example, have built floating islands from the dense totora reeds that grow abundantly in the shallows. Meander through the make-shift "streets" of these man-made islands, built entirely from the buoyant reeds. Chat with the locals, learn ancient fishing methods, and get a glimpse into an astonishing way of life. On the larger island of Taquile, interact with the indigenous Quechua people, descendants of the Incas themselves. Hike up to the main village square to browse beautiful handwoven textiles.
Nature lovers will find no shortage of active adventures around Lake Titicaca. Kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding allow you to explore the lake first-hand, taking in views of the Bolivian Andes mirroring those across the waters in Peru. Anglers can try their hand catching trout and pejerrey introduced to the lake. Or hike sections of the Inca Trail that pass right along the lakeshore, rewarded by stunning vistas from high above. For a truly memorable experience, watch the sunset from Lake Titicaca as the last light of day reflects off the calm waters. The interplay of colors across the sky, mountains and lake is incredible.
While access can be a challenge, seasoned South American explorers highly recommend the journey. Most visit the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca from the city of Puno, reached by tour bus from Cusco. Give yourself ample time - a minimum of two days according to many - as the remote location requires serious commitment. Travelers also strongly advise hiring a guide to provide context and transport to remote islands like Taquile. The expertise, perspective and interpersonal connections a guide provides significantly enhances the Lake Titicaca adventure.
Trek Through History in Peru's Andes Mountains with the New Digital Nomad Visa - Try Invigorating Yerba Mate, the National Drink
No trip to Peru is complete without trying yerba mate, an invigorating national drink made from the leaves of the celebrated South American rainforest holly tree. This caffeinated herbal tea offers a unique way to experience indigenous culture and natural bounty that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
According to fellow wanderers who’ve sipped the signature brew, yerba mate has a bittersweet, earthy flavor profile unlike any other tea. The complex taste comes from naturally occurring caffeine, antioxidants, amino acids, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals within the leaves. It provides a nice steady energy boost without the jitteriness of coffee, making it the perfect companion while exploring all day.
Locals traditionally sip mate from a hollow gourd known as a guampa or mate using a metal straw called a bombilla. Sharing communal gourds cements social bonds much like grabbing coffee with friends. Joining a “mate circle” presents a wonderful opportunity to connect with locals and gain insight into this cornerstone of Peruvian culture. Know that receiving the mate gourd signifies friendship - what an honor!
While yerba mate is enjoyed across many South American countries, Peru produces the majority supplying the world. Local growers pride themselves on harvest techniques honed over generations to cultivate the finest quality leaves. Trying mate sourced right from the lush Peruvian rainforests offers an authentic origin experience.
You’ll find brewed mate tea and loose leaf packages in restaurants and markets across the country. Vendors gladly provide samples and explain proper preparation so you can experience the tradition. Bold travellers may even accept invitations to share mate with new friends and try sipping from the traditional gourd.
The invigorating, earthy flavor makes mate the perfect companion while exploring ancient Incan sites or hiking through the Andes. Its steady energy boost powers you through altitude adventures without the crash later. Sipping steaming mate also provides warmth and comfort during cool highland evenings spent stargazing or photographing otherworldly landscapes.
Trek Through History in Peru's Andes Mountains with the New Digital Nomad Visa - Connect with Locals During Homestays in Rural Villages
Nothing connects you to a destination's culture quite like living it firsthand. Opting for homestays with local families in rural villages throughout Peru provides an unparalleled opportunity to experience authentic Andean life. Immerse yourself in the customs, cuisine, and day-to-day routines far from the typical tourist track.
Fellow adventurers who've embraced the homestay recommend diving in without hesitation. Accept invitations to help with daily tasks like tending livestock or harvesting produce from the family chacra farm. Not only does pitching in break down barriers faster, you'll gain invaluable hands-on insight. Watching the grandmother expertly knead and pat out rounds of masa for homemade corn tortillas makes you appreciate the care that goes into traditional cooking. Your achy arms after manually crushing roasted quinoa kernels give you newfound respect for ancient food preparation techniques.
Mealtimes offer another chance to bond with your host family. Pass around hearty stews filled with hearty Andean staples like potatoes, quinoa, beans and alpaca meat. Sip chicha morada, the sweet-tart beverage made from purple corn. Share stories and smiles over your common table. Lovingly prepared homecooked food always seems to taste better.
While language barriers may slow initial interactions, just showing interest and respect goes a long way. You'll pick up key words and phrases in Quechua and Spanish. Laugh together over pronunciation flubs and attempts to chat. Don't worry about perfecting grammar - making the effort is what matters most. Before you know it, you'll be having basic conversations. What an accomplishment!
Nothing brings people together like music. During your stay, encourage family members to perform traditional Peruvian songs passed down generations. Accompany rhythms by shaking chonta wood shakers or tapping handy spoons. Accept an invitation to join in singing or dancing and have fun making an authentic connection. You may find you pick up the melodies quicker than expected!