Stylish Luxury at Home in Peru
As any Peru veteran will tell you, it would be a shame to do a trek in the country without sampling the charms of Cusco and the Sacred Valley, either before or after the trek (or on their own for that matter). While very much in the heart of the South American gringo trail, Orient-Express has brought a dose of style and luxury to an area long popular with backpackers.
After a second night at Machu Picchu, I again woke at dawn, took the first bus up from Aguas Calientes, and hiked Huayna Picchu (the famous mountain next to the ruins themselves) for a bird’s eye view of the citadel. Just before saying goodbye to the place, the morning sun broke through the clouds, casting an incredible glow on the granite stones.
Later that morning, taking the Vistadome train out of Aguas Calientes (a highly recommended alternative to the basic trains), I got off to explore the Incan ruins at Ollantaytambo, the last town in the Sacred Valley before the Urubamba River plunges down an increasingly narrow canyon on its journey north toward the jungle. From there, I caught a short taxi to the Hotel Rio Sagrado, just outside the town of Urubamba, an increasingly popular crossroads in the Sacred Valley, and hotbed of local activities.