I love Peru and the Sacred Valley.
I've been hesitant to write about my Peru experience. I think it is because I am still processing everything I learned there. I experienced so much in such a concentrated amount of time and on such a deep level, it may be some time before it's all embodied and can rise to the surface. But what I can share is how much I loved the parts of the country I visited and the people and the culture. I CANNOT wait to go back one day soon and am thinking of hosting a yoga retreat there later this year or maybe next so keep it in mind if you are interested.
My homebase was Pisac, it is simply breathtaking. Pisac is in the Sacred Valley, part of the Cusco Valley and is called the Sacred Valley because of the spiritual energy of the surrounding Apus (Apus means "Gods" in Quechua, the language of the Incas, and the locals worship the Apus still today). For the first 3 days I was there, every time I looked up at the surrounding Apus I'd be overcome with emotion and tears would well up in my eyes, there were no thoughts attached to my tears, they were pure spirit coursing through my every cell. A lot of people respond to her beauty this way, this valley is so rich in spiritual energy and so calming, you can't help but be overcome by her power. I'm almost afraid to suggest a visit there as overpopulation will definitely take away from her unmatchable ambiance but as my calling is to inspire others how to live life with more connection I'd be remiss not to share this very special place.
The town is comprised of tiny little streets barely wide enough for one car, the outdoor market is vibrant and the Sunday veg market is filled with the most vibrant organic foods you have ever seen. The little shops filled with smiling faces and friendly chats, the street dogs with wagging tails and loving eyes, the grannies with their baby llamas and tiny goats, little children full of trust and the restaurants run by mommas, poppas, and kiddos make this place.
My favourite thing about the Sacred Valley is that businesses were run by the entire family including the dog. Babies carried on hips while dad swept the floor, momma breastfeeding
while taking your order, grannies and grandpas chilling and often dogs lazing around the front door...all were welcome and included. I am positive this inclusion of family contributes to their happiness.
Like any place there are drawbacks, here it is cold water showers, hit or miss electricity, delayed public transport, etc. and if you are focused on surface, the touristy side, you may miss the abundance of mystical charm.
Recommendations for PISAC:
Pisac ruins - I recommend hiking up the face of the ruins rather than taking a taxi up the backside if you have been in Peru awhile and already climatised. If you have not climatised then defo take a taxi up and climb back down.
Visit Moray and Salineras de Maras - they are not far from Pisac, you can get a collectivo bus (local bus for super cheap). I'd say do not worry about Chinchero which is included in the same national park entrance ticket, if you don't have time, it was not as special as Moray and Salineras. If you go to Salineras get dropped off and hike down, the hike down is easy and beautiful. You end up in Urubamba on the main road back to Pisac and its very easy to hail a collectivo bus or taxi back to Pisac.
Kirtan at Nidra Wasi (and Cacao ceremony if you are lucky) - Thursdays around lunchtime. Led by Brian and Daya, long time Pisac residents, the Cacao medicine they brew is DELICIOUS and strong. They provide mantra books to follow along singing, Brian plays the drum and Daya plays guitar. The dome shaped room with surrounding windows is worth a visit on its own. This place and the ambiance that Brian and Daya create is magical.
Yoga at Nidra Wasi - Daya offers Andean yoga classes that incorporate spiritual principles of the land, if you are lucky he may play guitar and sing to you in Savasana.
Yoga at Samsara- mornings at 10 am.
Evening chill at Samsara - run by Israelis, they offer flafel, etc. and have evening chill DJ sessions. They also have a huge teepee and a beautiful Alpaca who kind of bites but if you are patient and make friends with her she'll let you pet her:)
Sunday Sushi - across from Tacos. Only on Sundays, sushi and live music in a beautiful garden staring up at the Apus.
Tacos - currently only open weekends Run by Adrian and his team, it's a tiny little place and delicioso.
Ulrike's - an institution. She has been there for decades and offers all kinds of good food. The best thing about Ulrike's is the lounge area at the front, the roof top area to eat in front of the Apus, the refillable water station (you can refIll your bottle for less than 1 USD) and their baked goods!!!! carrot cake and vegan gluten free cookies, galore.
The Market - for fresh juices (with any fruit, veg, herb, root, spice you can think of and for soooooooo cheap, you get a pitcher of fresh juice made before your eyes for less than 3 USD), homemade Peruvian breakfast sandwiches (order yours with fried Plantains) and snack items. This market has no signage so you have to ask where to find it and it closes by dark.
Cafe.com & Kinsa Coche hostel - for coffee. The BEST coffee in Pisac, hands down. They grow and roast their own beans 8 hours away. Also have gluten free pancakes.
La Osteria - amazing Italian food and pizza.
Royal Inka Hotel - swimming pool and stream room and jaccuzzi. For super duper cheap you can use their facilities, you do not have to be a guest;)
Sunday Market - the most colourful market you have ever seen. Thee are street vendors every day but the Sunday market is off the charts special, you will want to buy all the fruits and veg.
The shopping, blankets and scarves, jewelry and pillow coverings are all magnificent. If you want to be sure you are supporting the local tribeswomen then you should buy from the cultural centre. It is more expensive but the centre has pictures and stories of the women so you know the origin of what you are buying.
If you are looking for a spiritual and deeply cultural experience then visit Pisac, get lost in her streets, spend time in her mountains and find your centre transformed:)
OLLYANTAYTEMBO - I wasn't long here but the ruins are a must, take the tour, the guide explains a lot you can't see with the naked eye. Do the hike to Pumamarca - this was my most favouritest hike in the world. little streams, roaming farm animals, peaks, troughs, rain forest, plains, butterflies, flowers, ladybugs, farm houses,etc. Stay at Mama Simona's on thE river, the rushing sound o her waters will lull you into a deep sleep. Sunshine cafe tacos Tuesday with margaritas and local beer on tap. And vegan oreo cookie muffins.
MACHU PICCHU - what can I say? The town is touristy and the entrance to MP a very organised cattle run but once you are there it really is a wondrous place. Get there early so you have some alone time before all the morning tourist buses arrive. And hike up to the top Huayna Picchu if you are not afraid of heights...or especially if you are afraid of heights!!!!! Finally, get the bus to Aguas Calientes and hike the three or four hours into MP town rather than getting the train (the hike is free, the train is expensive).
URUBAMBA - there are lots of retreats in Urubamba. I did not spend time here, only passed through but understand there are some beautiful places to rest and restore.
CUSCO - San Pedro Market, you can go to Cusco for the day from Pisac. The collectivo bus goes straight there and costs about 1 euro or less. There's a lot more to here but is too busy for what I was looking for on my visit to Peru.