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Trip Report Mountain Lodges of Peru - Trip Report

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The highlight of our trip to Peru,and the focal point of our trip, was the 7day/6night trek to Machu Piccu with Mountain Lodges of Peru. I've never seen a trip report this forum about MLP, and loved our trip so much that I wanted to share with others.

The trip was absolutely amazing and was without a doubt the best trip that my wife and I have ever taken (and we have gone to some awesome places.) For those who love hiking but hate camping, and are willing to pay the price (almost $4000pp), it is absolutely the way to see Machu Piccu.

Reservations - PIECE OF CAKE We booked directly through MLP, although others in our group booked through Sobek. I also think you can book through REI. In addition to booking our trek through MLP, they handled out bookings for hotels, restaurants, flights, transfers, trip insurance, and tours (with some good recommendations). WE payed online 60 days in advance of the trip. Very well organized, responsive, and easy.

The Trek - AMAZING The MLP trek is kind of a mix between the traditional Salkantay trek and the Santa Teresa trek. Over 6 days, we hiked almost 40 miles, from Mollepay to the train station at MP., generally, 5-8 miles a day over a variety of terrains. The hiking is relatively moderate, and by no means technical; the primary challenge is altitude. The hike starts at about 11,000ft and climbs to 12,700ft. The next day is an acclimization hike up to a glacial lake 14000 ft I jumped in; glacial is an understatement), followed by the Big Day, a climb from 12,700 to a pass on the Salkantay mountain at 15,200 and then back down to 12,900. From there it is effectively downhill, about 5000 ft over 3 days until you reach Machu Piccu town. The climbs were challenging, mostly due to altitude, but certainly doable for those who are in reasonable shape. Everyone in our 12-person group made it (although a couple of folks needed a bit of oxygen), including a 10 year old girl from Switzerland. Those of us who took Diamox preventively didn't have any issues; the three folks who had issues did not take Diamox until after symptoms appeared. The hiking was spectacular, and we encountered many more local families than hiking tours. We lucked out with a great group--3 American couples of varying ages, a young Brazilian couple, and a Swiss family of 4. We all got along fabulously.. We also licked out with the weather. Freezing temperatures in the morning (only for an hour os so) with highs in the upper 60s. Not a drop of rain, which I understand is somewhat unusual even in July. I would warn those of you that parts of the the trek would be a bit hair-raising (or at least very muddy) in the rain.

Guides - OUTSTANDING. Our group of 12 had a senior guide, Dalmiro, with over 25 yearsoff guiding experience, and a junior guide Jiro, with 8 years of experience. In addition, to be safe, knowledgeable, and steady, the guides were awesome teachers and fun to be with. In addition, they were attentive and didn't miss a detail. For example, one of the guides overheard me say that I was lactose intolerant; and from that point forward, I received meals without milk (I didn't even ask).

Lodging - COMFORTABLE AND UNIQUE MLP is a series if 4 lodges that have been built along the trail. The first lodge, where you stay for two nights, has 12 rooms (2 groups stay at a time); the others only six rooms. The lodges are gorgeous with a lot of rustic elegance. One thing to consider is that two of the lodges are between 12,500-13,000 ft, which may make sleep a challenge for some, although the hiking generally knocks everyone out. Three of the four lodges have jacuzzis with awesome views and massages are available at the lodges (although our massages were somewhat disappointing). Our first room looked directly at Mt. Salkantay; the views were not as spectacular at the other lodges but you don't spend much time in your room anyway. It's not 5-sate luxury, but very comfortable and homey. In Machu Piccu, the grow stays at the Inkaterra Hotel, which I found to be a bit disappointing, and certainly not worth the $600 rack rate.

Food -- DELICIOUS. Food is always a key factor for me, and the food at MLP was outsatanding. Dinner every night was a highlight as our chef Alajandro (who traveled with us from lodge to lodge) cooked delicious Peruvian meals. The highlight was our 4th day when we ate a classic Peruvian Pachamanca meal of meat, potatoes, and plantains cooked under the ground as well as tasted cut (guinea pig). Another highlight was a delicious warm meal that awaited us in a tent after our big hike to the pass. Every meal was memorable. Decent wine selection (alcoholic beverages are not included). The food was a definite highlight of the trip. My personal highlight was making guacamole for the group with avocados (the size of cantaloupes) I bought outside the lodge, with our chef assisting me as my sous chef.

Culture - FASCINATING We expected great hiking, comfortable lodging, and good food. What was unexpected, and most memorable, was the many ways we were introduced to incan culture throughout the trek. The highlight of the trek was a hike accompanied by two peruvian pachakuti (shaman), who demonstrated an offering ceremony for us at a glacial lake at 14,200. They even hiked with us, playing their flutes along the way. We also were introduced to a number of Peruvian families along the way, and were allowed to get a glimpse out their rugged life. MLP does an excellent job of intertwining Peruvian culture throughout the trip. This may have been the best aspect of the trip.

SUMMARY: MLP definitely isn't for everyone. It's pretty pricey and the hiking is fairly strenuous. Spending 7 days in a group tour also isn't for everyone (although we were lucky to have been teamed up with an excellent, compatible group). For us, however, it was the perfect bucket list trip.

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