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Join Women's Quest for a once-in-a-lifetime, customized tour to discover the magical wonders and irresistible culture of Peru. You will hike and explore the magnificent archaeological sites of Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu with expert local guides. You will meet and participate in activities with local musicians, artists, and healers who will share their traditions and ceremonies with the group. This is your opportunity to truly connect with Pacha Mama (Mother Earth)!
The first two nights will be spent in the cultural and historical city of Cusco. The 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 our arrival day, you will have time to walk around and explore the historic and cultural center of the city.
You will spend one night in Machu Picchu Pueblo (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.
Women’s Quest has looked high and low for the perfect eco-lodge which actually feels like a hidden oasis in the Sacred Valley with its flowers, gardens and beautiful trees along the footpaths to your individual bungalows. This slice of heaven is called Casa Colibri. Women’s Quest reserves the whole area just for the group!
Each day is totally different on this trip. You will be given a “Day by Day” itinerary upon request. You will be getting up early on most mornings to get out and hike (Sunrise at Machu Picchu) and see the sacred sites, visiting local weavers and artisans. You will restore and rest in the afternoons with yoga or massage.
You will try to practice yoga or stretch out every day but many times you are out hiking and exploring. The group begins each adventure-filled Women’s Quest day with a 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 you get up for the morning hikes, you will stretch out in the afternoon.
During the activities of the day, you will cultivate a yogic focus - bringing with you awareness developed in the daily yoga. The group will take mini “yoga breaks” during the day, finding 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, and the instructors work with the principle that each person can find a relationship with an “inner voice” that guides the balance of challenge and ease.
You will be hiking everyday so get ready!
While in Machu Picchu, you hike two days which are really amazingly beautiful hikes and are long days. You also hike Gaby’s favorite trail in the Sacred Valley. This hike takes about five hours or you can stay and hike along the beautiful river and that hike is 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).. You also have options for the hikes.
You do not need to participate in everything; you can pace yourself so that it is the perfect amount of activity for you. You are fully supported 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. The group will go over the schedule each day at breakfast.
The majority of the women who attend Women's Quest's retreats come by themselves. English is widely spoken and the team is there to answer any questions about travel that you may have. Although you may come alone, you will leave the retreat with new, lifelong friends!
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. An amazing guide, Gaby, will accompany you both days, the first afternoon giving us a full tour of the central ruins with its ceremonial center, sun-dial, still functioning water channels and impressive stonework, all built in harmony with the surrounding mountains of the high jungle.
Ony our 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 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.
It is larger than Machu Picchu in size, but because it was discovered by the Spanish, it is not as intact as Machu Picchu. But, 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, hillside tombs, and famous craft market. A local guide will help you to engage and connect with surroundings with an earth offering ceremony at a special spot high in the Pisac ruins.
High above the Sacred Valley at 12,000 feet and famous for its women weavers, you will spend the morning witnessing a weaving demonstration using native plant dyes and techniques; followed by a walk and guided tour of the beautiful Chinchero ruins.
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 a meditation before you get into the Sacred Valley.
While you are staying in the Sacred Valley, near the village of Urubamba, you will do a special guided hike up a mountain valley not often visited by other tourists. There, you will be able to explore some rarely visited ruins, waterfalls and see how the local Quechua people live high in the mountains.
Colleen Cannon founded Women's Quest after a highly successful career as a professional triathlete. In her racing days, she was a World Champion in 1984, and National Champion in 1988 and 1990. She was also a multiple U.S. National Team member. Her passions, besides chocolate and being in nature, are liberating and empowering women through movement, balance, and targeting their true "hearts' desire". Colleen continues to evolve adventures for Women's Quest, delighting in ways to enchant women with the experiences that coax happiness grown from joyful physical experiences.
Cusco is at 11,150 feet, The Sacred Valley is at 9400 feet, and Machu Picchu is at 8250 feet. While adjusting to the higher altitudes, you are recommended to take it slow, eating lightly, abstaining from alcohol, and drinking lots of water. Mild symptoms that some people experience usually subside in a couple of days.
In order to prepare for the altitudes, you are recommended spending time walking at higher elevations in the days/weeks immediately prior to the trip. Please consult with a physician if you have any specific medical concerns. Women's Quest has had success with people going to their doctor and getting Acetazolamide (diamox) tablets which can really help. Oxygen will be available at the hotel in Cusco and medication is available over the counter at pharmacies just in case someone needs them.
Women's Quest team will take care of all breakfasts, five lunches, and four dinners. Vegetarian options and other food preferences or dietary restrictions will be available.
One of the highlights of the trip will be to sample Peruvian food, the gourmet cuisine of South America. Peruvians take great pride in the preparation, presentation, and nutrition 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 of the hotels. Box lunches will be provided for carrying in your day packs when you are out exploring. In Cusco, you will enjoy two special catered restaurant meals near the Plaza de Armas featuring local fare. At Illarimuy, your home in the Sacred Valley, you will have daily breakfast at the hotel and then go out for dinners near the hotel in Urabamba to explore, listen to local music and enjoy different Peruvian specialties. Vegetarian options and other food preferences or dietary restrictions will be available.
Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport
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