Some random thoughts as I gaze out the window of the Vistadome train, making my way from our Machu Picchu tour back to Cusco, traveling through the Sacred Valley of the Incas

The scenery is a cinematographer’s dream. It’s lusher than you’d think; in fact, we’ve passed a number of palm trees. (Who would have thought they could thrive at 7,000 feet?) Terraced hillsides rise above a colorful patchwork of quinoa, corn and wheat fields. And the backdrop to the whole scene are majestic peaks that reach 18,000 feet for a dramatic landscape all around you.

Llamas standing in front of Machu Picchu

Eating Our Way Through Peru

The food is a pleasant culinary surprise, with a fusion of European flavors and styles, mixed with incredibly fresh local ingredients—fish, meat, and local herbs. We’ve enjoyed several traditional dishes as well as international plates of risotto with pesto that turned out to rival some of the best we’ve had in Italy. As did the grilled shrimp with caramelized vegetables, and alpaca skewers with a mint vinaigrette. And sipping on a Pisco sour each evening has been a wonderful way to relax from our adventurous days.

Unmatched Peruvian Hospitality

Meeting local school children in Peru

The very best part of the tour? The local people. Anyone who believes the height of Andean civilization occurred several hundred years ago should meet the warm, welcoming people who populate this gorgeous country now. Throughout our walking tour of Peru and Machu Picchu, we were graciously invited into private homes, hosted for a cooking instruction, and given a warm welcome by the school children when we visited their village. Sitting down with a local family on their 300-year-old hacienda for a lunch of traditional Peruvian specialties remains a highlight in our hearts.

The ancient ruins and iconic Inca Trail are certainly what draw travelers to Peru. And while those treks and visits were incredible, the priceless moments on our Peru adventure tour were with the people that none of us will ever forget.