Love adventure? Peru is leading the way in luxury travel in South America, whether you prefer spas or sleeping bags, as Tom from Andean Trails explains
Peru is the most diverse of South America's countries, from its peoples to its geography. For this reason, I can only ever completely recommend that anyone thinking of a honeymoon in South America - be it luxury or adventure - should really put Peru at the top of the list. Here are some ideas…
Iconic Machu Picchu is one of Peru's jewels and as romantic an arrival place as could be wished for; arrive at dawn and watch the sunrise filter through wisping clouds that melt into the Andean mountains as you do into each other.
Your journey there can be as varied as you wish. For those wishing a remote trek but with a bed, a good drink and a Jacuzzi at night time then the Salkantay route offers some amazing lodges. If you want camping and the Inca Trail, you can choose a standard four-day hike or take the more leisurely and luxurious five-day hike and stay in remote campsites and barely see a soul.
For those seeking something a bit different from the trek to Machu Picchu, try the Lares four-day trek through gorgeous Andean villages or weavers and farmers, or a shorter two-day hike with an Andean homestay on the new Huchuy Qosqo route. Andean Trails can help you plan all these trips...
Should you prefer a train ride to Machu Picchu then the Haram Bingham luxury train and tour takes some beating. Relaxing after the trek (or the train) is easy, especially if you stay at the Sanctuary Lodge, which overlooks the ruins, or the incredible Inkaterra Machu Picchu hotel.
Not all trekking roads lead to Machu Picchu. Eco-lodges and friendly welcomes await those who head to the remote Ausangate range, near Cusco. Up here you hike by day, and relax in the welcoming hospitality of the Ausangate communities by night.
The new eco-lodges, called Tambos, have beds and are solid stone-constructions, tastefully decorated with native textiles and local mahogany furniture. All rooms are equipped with thermal duvets and a private bathroom with running cold and hot water, tapped from nearby springs.
There's no electricity in the lodges (propane gas is used for cooking and firewood for heating) so by night, the soft flickering light of candles and lanterns add to the ambience. There is nothing more invigorating than the magic of the Andean sky and the myriad of stars and constellations visible on a clear night.
Ever evocative, a journey up the river Amazon is the stuff of childhood dreams...a once-in-a-lifetime that's the highlight of any trip to Peru, let alone a honeymoon.
The gentle calls and lilting voices of the unseen as you cruise up river; the glimpses of monkeys; the flight of the macaw; and the sunsets, the sunsets of the big screen.
The Tambopata Research Centre is an eco-lodge and research centre, as far upstream as tourists are allowed. The simple and cosy lodge - where scientists and botanists are happy to talk about their research - is your base. Walks, swims and relaxing are the bases of this unforgettable trip to the wild, accompanied by a native guide.
For a one-off, never-to-be-forgotten, did-we-really-do-that?! experience - top off your honeymoon by climbing Pisco. The mountain, near Huaraz in the north of Peru, stands at an imposing 5,752m. Its peak is covered in ice and snow, but fear not - it's a great first peak to climb.
Altitude can be a problem, so for the best chance of summitting get well acclimatized, hire a qualified guide (Andean Trails can help you with this) and make sure you have good kit, before heading off for a three-day adventure like no other.
Practice your ice-climbing skills by day, and then, by night, set off for the top. Your guide literally shows you the ropes as you pick your way to the top for a sunrise you'll never forget.
Pisco is perfectly placed between a number of Peru's most beautiful, ice-clad peaks. When the dawn light comes, be prepared for the unveiling of a 360-degree view of some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. It, like when you see your bride or groom, is heart in your mouth stuff.
Tom Shearman lives in Barcelona, Spain, and has worked for 10 years at Andean Trails, South America Tailor Made and Adventure Holiday specialists. (www.andeantrails.co.uk)
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