You’re in a cloud forest, atop the Andes of Peru. It’s 5 a.m., and the air is crisp outside your tent. You climb with your guides to the top of a nearby summit, where a table is set with hot coffee. You take a seat, take a sip and gaze out over the mystical ruins of Machu Picchu.
This is not a dream. It’s a nine-day dream trip to experience what Marc Goddard of Bio Bio Expeditions calls “the magical combination of adventure, culture, history and nature” that is Peru.
Goddard was enchanted by the “infectious joyful nature” of the Peruvian people in his years as an international whitewater rafter, so he created an adventure trip to share the same life-changing experience with others.
To acclimate to the nearly 12,000-foot elevation, guests spend their first few days horseback riding and mountain biking in the Sacred Valley, followed by a four-day trek along the Inca Trail to the ancient city of Machu Picchu.
But this is not your average hike. “The food is incredibly deluxe for a trekking trip,” Goddard says, “including white gloved waiters, fresh baked bread, hot drinks with every meal and multi-course dinners. You will be unbelievably impressed by what our staff can create on the trail.”
Along the way, you’ll witness village life among the Quechua, the descendents of the Inca. “Guests will definitely learn about the history and nature of Peru,” Goddard says. “But the most important discovery people make on these trips is their ability to accept challenges, push themselves physically and learn from the joy of life the Peruvians innately have, even through poverty. People go home more grateful for the things they have, but more importantly, more excited to share in the joy of life and adventure with their loved ones.”
On the Inca Trail, guests sleep in roomy tents, and guides “can tell you about every ruin, every orchid, and every butterfly that you pass by,” Goddard says. The immersion in Peruvian culture will leave you with a new understanding of the world and a greater sense of yourself in it.
The Nitty Gritty of Hiking the Andes
When to go: May through October.
What to bring: Breathable, moisture-wicking hiking clothes, a good sleeping bag and a comfortable daypack with a hydration system.
How to prepare: Start training two months in advance by hiking local trails or sweating out some uphill climbs on the treadmill.
Get more details from Bio Bio Expeditions at BBXRafting.com.
Trekking Closer to Home
March is a great time of year to hike. Whether you choose a winter trail or a wildflower path, go outside and get some fresh air!
Sky Trail at Point Reyes National Seashore
Location: San Francisco Bay area
Distance: 6.9 miles
Difficulty: Steep descent
Hike to the Inverness Ridge and enjoy great views, colorful forest berries and wildflowers.
Looking Glass Rock Summit Hike
Location: Near Asheville, N.C.
Distance: 6.5 miles
Difficulty: Gradual climb
Make a winter trek to the top of Looking Glass Rock, a breathtaking stone face rising above the snowcapped Blue Ridge Mountains, and stop halfway at the flat rock for a mug of hot chocolate.
Porters Creek Trail
Location: Greenbrier, N.C.
Distance: 4.0 miles
Difficulty: Gradual climb
Stroll beside a stream, peek inside the remnants of an old stone farmhouse, view budding wildflowers and take a rest near a waterfall on this trek through the Smoky Mountains.