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Machu Picchu - Close Your Eyes and Step Back

Majestic, mysterious and totally awe inspiring, this ancient site still beguiles our current sense of reality. Floating high in the Peruvian Andes, this centre of energy has been reported to revive tired souls and foster dreams for those who make the journey.

Designated by UNESCO as one of the new seven natural wonders of the world, an excursion to Machu Picchu, Peru will require some preparation and is not recommended for persons with mobility issues. First off, the most common subject to discuss is altitude sickness, and yes it is real, the locals prescribe cocoa leaves as a tea or placed in the back of the jaw like chewing tobacco. Alternatively you physician will be able to prescribe an appropriate medication and of course recommend if it is even necessary, I would not take both medications together of course. Some 3,000 stone steps of varying height, link more than 150 buildings such as temples, plazas, residences and terraces over an impressive five acre site. Expect to spend a great deal of time walking and gawking, you will certainly not be the only ones there, like so many photographs depict. Hundreds of thousand so visitors make the journey annually to the detriment of the nearby town of Cusco as well as the site itself.

Machu Picchu was built at the height of the Inca Empire during the 15th and 16th century, but was inhabited, scholars suggest, for about 100 years only. Diseases brought to the New World by conquistadors is often blamed as the culprit for the demise of the inhabitants.

Getting to Machu Picchu can be accomplished in a number of ways, some much easier than others. My personal preference is to choose the cruise line’s pre or post cruise add on. Planning the excursion on your own or with a private tour company of course works however confirmations, schedule adjustments and the accommodations are all very much “flexible”. Selecting a pre-tour is the most popular choice made by cruisers with Oceania, which once again proved true on our last voyage this January. Consider the fact that your excursion will take you high into the Andes, overnight stays, local food, water and of course visiting the site before repeating the process to get to the cruise port. It should be noted that the ship sails when the ship sails, so if your self-planned tour has a problem, or the train is not on time, heavens forbid there is nasty weather, you’re stuck. Travelling with a ship’s excursion all of these issues are taken into consideration and mitigated by the cruise line. Additionally, you will be on a mountain trek; there’s nothing nicer than coming “home” to the ship, indulging in a hot shower, clean clothes and goodness knows service to rival the very best hotels. To my way of thinking, an excellent way to start a cruise.

Machu Picchu appears on South American itineraries as well those coming from the South Pacific via Easter Island. Our last itinerary with Oceania, aboard Regatta, the delightful “R” class medium sized, luxury ship, offered pre-cruise excursions as we sailed from Miami to Lima. The reverse of this schedule allows for a post cruise excursion.

Regatta once again shone with its so typical elegance but since a refurbishment in the summer of 2014 she has even more sparkle. Smiling faces are the norm for crew and even hugs from attendants and staff who we have come to be very fond of over the years. Very much a coming home feeling as we settled into our stateroom before setting out to explore, visit and take in the beautiful scenery. “the kids” as we affectionately call many of our favourite crew go to no end to ensure that your special menu is prepared or your five o’clock cocktail, just the way you like, it is promptly shaken or stirred. The first few days are usually spent with other passengers sharing stories, photos and experiences of being high in the Andes. Naturally, Regatta has quiet little nooks and near-private enclaves around the ship so we can sit and recount our tales. We particularly like the Library with its “English Club-like” atmosphere and a super collection of reading material. Passengers often leave personal books for others forming a somewhat trading system. Let’s face it, if you have read the books, why carry them all the way back home?

Canyon Ranch Spa is heaven! This last itinerary was over 40 days so hair required cutting, nails needed attention and so on. Do NOT miss an opportunity to be pampered in the spa, after all you are on vacation. Often times the spa will post specials, typically on port days, so if you aren’t going ashore or on an excursion, treat yourself, perhaps after your excursion to Machu Picchu.



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