Insiders’ Peru: South America's "Must-See" Destination

The Waterstone group at Machu Picchu.

Peru, one of the most popular destinations in South America, can now be checked off my bucket list thanks to a recent 10-day education trip with Waterstone and Metropolitan Touring Peru. Our trip took us to Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca; yet, thanks to excellent itinerary planning and timing, it never felt rushed despite several early-morning starts. Flying Friday and staying over two weekends as we did, is an itinerary I would recommend for clients with limited vacation time, in order to see as much as possible.

As the gateway to Peru, optimizing your client’s time in Lima is critical as flight arrivals and departures are normally late at night. Given the city’s traffic volumes, proximity to the airport and a good central hotel location are important to give your clients more time to enjoy the city’s many attractions. You will find none better than the Country Club Lima Hotel in the residential area of San Isidro, approximately 20 minutes from the cultural attractions of downtown Lima and 30 minutes to the Bohemian neighborhood of Barranco. Both are must-see destinations and can easily consume two days of wonderful sightseeing.

A Leading Hotel of the World, the Country Club Hotel Lima, which was completely renovated last year, is a beautiful, hacienda-style property suitable for couples or families. Overlooking the city’s only golf course with new contemporary fittings that complement its deep heritage, the hotel is famous for their Pisco Sours, which the staff at the Bar Ingles are only too happy to demonstrate. My only complaint was we were not able to see the hotel’s new Dom Perignon Suite, as it was occupied.

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A Traditional Inca welcome before a lakeside picnic.

Lima is renowned for its culinary diversity, and you should certainly consider Metropolitan Touring Peru’s guide to over 25 of Lima’s finest restaurants to help pass on recommendations to your clients. I recommend the Lago Museum and its renowned Lago Restaurant, which we were fortunate to experience. Despite the many options off-property, your clients will thank you for recommending dinner at The Country Club Hotel Lima’s Perroquet Restaurant where the chef makes one of the best ceviche dishes we experienced on the trip. Another recommendation would be lunch at Hotel B in Barranco, a boutique Relais & Chateau property I found truly delightful. The décor is whimsical with a wonderful collection of contemporary Latin American and Peruvian artists adorning the walls, and the food is excellent. While in Barranco, be sure to include a visit to the MATE museum, home of Mario Testino (renowned Peruvian photographer) and his collection of both contemporary and traditional images.

Cusco and the Sacred Valley was next on our itinerary and a slow schedule that helps you acclimatize to the altitude is a staple of Metropolitan Touring’s itineraries. I was also very impressed with the hotels as all offer Coca Tea and have oxygen on hand should clients need it. I would certainly recommend taking time to enjoy the hotels in addition to the many sightseeing opportunities. One favorite of mine was Belmond Palacio Nazarenas, a 55 all-suite gem in Cusco with an amazing outdoor pool, fabulous terraces, fountains and beautiful indigenous flowers — a truly serene retreat after a day’s sightseeing. The Belmond Hotel Monasterio, located next door, is a national monument with its own chapel and a colonial history that gave it very much a museum feel. A plus for both Belmond properties is that they have oxygen enrichment in the bedrooms for a good night’s sleep.

Tambo del Inka Hotel in Urubamba is perfectly located for sightseeing throughout the Sacred Valley. The resort is set along the Vilcanota River with interesting textiles and artifacts throughout the property and a wonderfully large stone fireplace in the lobby. Rooms are spacious with floor-to-ceiling windows and well-equipped bathrooms, yet the highlights for me were the magnificent buffet breakfast, the wonderful spa complete with an indoor / outdoor pool and the hotel’s very own train station in the grounds for easy access to Machu Picchu. 

In terms of sightseeing, everything Metropolitan Touring Peru arranged for us to experience was executed flawlessly. Our guides and drivers were superb, a wealth of knowledge and took care of all our needs. 

Machu Picchu was a highlight of the trip. I remain in awe of its beauty and the feat of engineering prowess required to transport materials and build the famous Inca Citadel. I was regularly stopping to catch my breath, both literally and figuratively, to marvel at the views and my surroundings.

Interacting with and learning about the different cultures of Peru’s indigenous people was fascinating. I am a knitter, and thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Chinchero where we saw a weaving, spinning and knitting demonstration, complete with how they prepare the natural ingredients from various plants to dye the yarn.

After visiting Lake Titicaca, I would say it is a ‘must-see’ on a client’s first visit to Peru to truly understand the cultural diversity of the country and its many people. The Uros people living on their floating islands of reeds could not have been more welcoming and friendly in demonstrating their remarkable living conditions. Visiting the Quechua-speaking natives on the remote island of Taquile, clients will enjoy its breathtaking scenery and the peaceful and relaxed lifestyle, which is far removed from the worries of the world. The colorful clothing and beautiful smiles are fond memories I will cherish for years to come, along with the crafts, scarfs, sweaters and souvenirs we were only too pleased to buy and help support their wonderful way of life.

The Uros people who live on floating islands of reeds in Lake Titicaca, are beautiful, warm and welcoming.

Metropolitan Touring Peru provided so many different experiences during our trip that deciding what not to include in your client’s itineraries may well be an advisor’s biggest challenge. Experiences I would certainly recommend include a bespoke outdoor countryside BBQ picnic complete with champagne and china. The Maras salt flats in the Sacred Valley were unique and certainly worth the drive. The first-class Inca Rail train ride to Machu Picchu with a lovely lunch and wine was an experience in itself, as the breathtaking views rolled by our window seat. Pablo Seminario’s Ceramics Workshop in Urubama also left a lasting impression, especially given his creative expressions and inspiration drawn directly from traditional Inca practices.

The one surprise I would be remiss not to mention, which has been a staple in Peru’s Andean diet for over 5,000 years, is cuy (pronounced ‘kwee’) otherwise known as guinea pig! Abundantly raised by families throughout Cusco and the Sacred Valley, I will admit I was the only one in our group not to try this Peruvian delicacy.

To help create your client’s itineraries to Peru, you will find Metropolitan Touring a wealth of ideas and a pleasure to work with. Simply contact Mariela Chiara ([email protected]), North American sales manager, for all your DMC services. For the Country Club Lima Hotel, contact leisure and luxury sales manager Miguel Cuya ([email protected]). Both Metropolitan Touring Peru and Country Club Lima Hotel are represented by Waterstone, and Lynne Partridge ([email protected]) is its director of sales development and strategic partners.

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