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Embark on a Peruvian adventure where your days will be filled with hiking, exploring, and partaking in local culture. You will get to explore the area around Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas, accompanied by local guides. You will weave the knowledge, traditions, and ceremonies of these magnificent sites into your experience, and take part in special sound, movement, healing, and earth offering ceremonies facilitated by local people.
You will spend your first two nights in the cultural and historical city of Cusco. Your home base for two days will be at Hotel Encantada, a locally owned boutique hotel in the artsy neighborhood of San Blas with a fantastic view overlooking the city center. On arrival day, you will have time to walk around and explore the historic and cultural center of the city. You will spend nights one and two at Hotel Encantada.
You will spend one night in Machu Picchu Pueblo (also known as Aguas Calientes), in order to have a base from which to explore the ruins. You will be staying at El Mapi Hotel, a newer upscale hotel near the train station and close to where the buses leave for the ruins.
The hotel staff will make sure you are comfortable and able to get a good night's sleep and healthy dinner and early breakfast to fuel you for your two days spent extensively exploring the ruins of Machu Picchu. You will have the chance to be in this sacred area over the full moon. You will spend night three at El Mapi Hotel.
Your home base and refuge for five nights will be at Hosteria Illarimuy, a very pleasant, locally owned, centrally located hotel, oasis, and retreat center in the Sacred Valley just outside the village of Urubamba. Illarimuy will be reserved exclusively for Women's Quest during your five night stay.
In addition to comfortable beds and private bathrooms in each light filled-room, you can relax and enjoy the central gardens, dining room, yoga studio, jacuzzi, steam room, massage room, and other common areas.
These are double occupancy rooms, but single rooms are also available at an additional cost. You will spend nights four to eight at Hosteria Illarimuy.
Each day will be completely different on this trip, a day by day itinerary is available upon request. You will be getting up early on most mornings to get out and hike (to see the sunrise at Machu Picchu) and visit the sacred sites, local weavers, and artisans. You will restore and rest in the afternoons with yoga or a massage. Each night you will return to your comfortable hotel room in Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley after your awe-inspiring days filled with magic.
You do not need to participate in everything; you can pace yourself so that it is the perfect amount of activity for you. Women's Quest fully supports you in doing as much or as little as is right for you in the moment. The schedule gives you a sense of the flow of each day. It is subject to change, depending upon the needs of the group, weather, etc. You will go over the schedule each day at breakfast.
High above the Sacred Valley at 12,000 feet and famous for its women weavers, you will spend a morning witnessing a weaving demonstration using native plant dyes and techniques. This will be followed by a walk and guided tour of the beautiful Chinchero ruins.
You will spend two days exploring the famous ruins of Machu Picchu. Arriving by train from the Sacred Valley, you will explore the ruins on the afternoon of your first day and hike down with the full moon, staying in the ruins until sunset, one of the quietest times of the day. You will return early the following morning in time to witness sunrise over the ruins.
Your amazing guide, Gaby, will accompany you on both days, the first afternoon giving you a full tour of the ruins with their ceremonial center, sun-dial, still functioning water channels, and impressive stonework, all built in harmony with the surrounding mountains of the high jungle.
On your second day, you will hike some of the most famous trails at Machu Picchu, ascending the Inca staircases to the top of the spectacular Huaynu Picchu, descending down Inca steps and ladders to the back side of the mountain to explore the Moon Temple and circling back to the main ruins on an awe-inspiring ancient trail cut right into the side of the mountain.
You will admire the magnificent circular terraced basins of Moray, considered a sophisticated agricultural experimental center built by the ancient people who inhabited these lands, a perfect place to do meditation before getting into the Sacred Valley.
Pisac is larger than Machu Picchu in size, but because it was discovered by the Spanish, it is not as intact as Machu Picchu. However, Pisac is well worth exploring for a full day as there is so much to see and discover, including its sun temple area, vast terraces, intact water systems, hill-side tombs, and famous craft market. Your local guide will help you engage and connect with your surroundings with an earth offering ceremony at a special spot high in the Pisac ruins.
You will hike above Cusco to visit the zigzagging walls and impressive fortress of Sacsayhuaman where you will be introduced to some of the greatest megalithic stonework in the world. You will explore the expansive area including the carved boulders and hidden underground caves of Qenqo, and further up, a fascinating area still being excavated, known as “Temple of the Moon”.
Gaby will help you understand the significance and theories about the awe-inspiring and sophisticated construction of Sacsayhuaman and beyond.
Cusco is at 11,150 feet, the Sacred Valley is at 9,400 feet, and Machu Picchu is at 8,250 feet. While adjusting to the higher altitudes, it is recommended to take it slow, eat lightly, abstain from alcohol, and drink lots of water instead. Mild symptoms that some people experience usually subside in a couple of days.
In order to prepare for the altitudes, please spend time walking at higher elevations in the days or weeks immediately prior to the trip. Please consult with a physician if you have any specific medical concerns. Some people did fine going to their doctor first and getting Acetazolamide (diamox) tablets which can help. Oxygen will be available at your hotel in Cusco and medication is available over the counter at pharmacies just in case someone needs them.
You will be hiking everyday so get ready! In Machu Picchu, you will hike for two days; these are really amazingly beautiful hikes and the days will be long. You will also hike Gaby’s favorite trail in the Sacred Valley, which takes about five hours. Alternatively, you can stay and hike along the beautiful river for about one to two hours.
The distances will not necessarily be great, but the hiking will often be steep up and down at high elevations on uneven stonework sometimes with exposure (safe but impressive).
The staff is an inspiring and spirited group of women. You will have the chance to play with women who are both phenomenal athletes and articulate teachers, and receive cutting-edge instruction with heartfelt support and encouragement. The high staff-to-camper ratio allows opportunity for individual guidance, safe supervision of all activities, and personal attention to your feelings and needs.
The groups are organized to accommodate all fitness and experience levels. You will have a very special local guide with you for the whole time, Gaby. Colleen will also be there.
You will try to practice yoga or stretch out every day, but many times you will be out hiking and exploring. Each adventure-filled Women’s Quest day begins with Colleen’s unique “awakening the senses” yoga. This gentle but powerful practice draws inspiration from yoga, qigong, and Tai Chi, and is a perfect way to prepare the mind, body, and senses for the activities of the day. When getting up for the morning hikes, you will stretch out in the afternoon.
In the afternoon, you will practice a yoga sequence that moves from a dynamic flow to restorative postures, designed to stretch out the body from the days’ adventures. You will balance solid alignment techniques and playful sequences with opportunities for innovative self-discovery.
As you work with a focus on core integrity and the connection between movement and breath, your stiff shoulders melt, your hamstrings lengthen, and your spine finds greater flexibility. Most importantly, your smile widens as you nurture your self-compassion and gratitude for “your one wild and precious life.” The practice blends the specificity of Iyengar yoga with a delight in flowing sequences (Vinyasa), and poetic imagery.
Each afternoon practice ends with relaxing restorative yoga and guidance in mindfulness meditation.
During the activities of the day, you will cultivate a yogic focus, bringing with you awareness developed in the daily yoga. There will be mini “yoga breaks” during the day to find opportunities to feel suppleness and receptivity of the body as you draw the beauty of the environment into your cells.
The yoga practice on this retreat is designed to be accessible for all levels - both fresh beginners and experienced practitioners will deepen their practice according to individual needs and desires. Variations will be offered.
This retreat will take place in various locations in Peru, namely Machu Picchu, Sacsayhuman, Pisac, Chinchero, Moray, Sacred Valley, and Urubamba.
All breakfasts are included in the price, as are five lunches and four dinners.
One of the highlights of your trip will be to sample Peruvian food, the gourmet cuisine of South America. Peruvians take great pride in the preparation, presentation, and nutritional value of their food which includes a huge variety of colorful, locally grown vegetables, grains, and fruits.
The unique dishes of the highlands feature local crops including the world's largest variety of potatoes, olluco, corn, purple corn, quinoa, amaranth, fava beans, native berries, and other delights. A healthy breakfast buffet featuring fresh fruit, juices, coffee, tea, yogurt, granola, eggs, bread, butter, and local berry jams will be served each morning at all hotels. Box lunches that are hand picked by Gaby will be provided for carrying in your day pack when you are out exploring.
In Cusco, you will enjoy a special catered restaurant meal near the Plaza de Armas featuring local fare. At the Sacred Valley you will have delicious dinners at gourmet restaurants each night. Vegetarian options and other food preferences or dietary restrictions are also available.
In your free time, you can listen to live local folk music, visit the skilled women weavers of Chinchero, or take part in healing and inspirational activities. Optional coco leaf readings and massages are also available for an extra fee, and will surely round out your life-expanding journey in this special part of Peru!
Massages are available at most hotels at an additional cost.
Please book your flight to arrive at Jorge Chávez International Airport (LIM) in Lima, Peru. You will then take a domestic flight to Cusco where a taxi and Women's Quest staff will meet you and take you to the retreat.
Alternatively, book your flight to arrive at Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ). Transfer from and to the airport is included. Women's Quest will pick you up from the airport.