Avoiding the Crowds at Machu Picchu and Beyond
For some, it’s easy to write off Peru as a destination. Too famous Machu Picchu has too many tourists. There is no doubt that fame is a double-edged sword and the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu, has paid the price. What many do not know, however, is that escaping the throngs of visitors is still possible at Machu Picchu and quite easy in many beautiful sites coming and going to the immortal Lost City.
With off-the-beaten-path travel being the dominant gene of our DNA, Wild Frontiers does not shrink from the challenge of having our travelers experience the best of Peru, including Machu Picchu, without the crowds. On my recent trip through Peru, I spent a great deal of time working on just that – trying out new routes, and secret spots that don’t require a seven-day trek to experience. It was a success and I am anxious to share these hidden treasures with our travelers.
In fact, there are many special villages, routes, mountain valleys and even Inca ruins totally void of tourists. Fortunately for the Wild Frontiers traveler, the choice between overtourism and authentic experiences is as easy as dropping us a line. The exact location of these spots need not be revealed here. That would be counterproductive. Yet, the rich, authentic and rewarding travel experiences are not only real and viable but so rewarding that they were undoubtedly the highlight of my 2022 trip around Peru.
It does not matter whether you are trying out Peruvian fusion cooking with a top chief in her ocean view apartment in Lima or in an Andean village meeting with school-age girls in traditional dress that forgo modern distractions to spend every Wed and Sat weaving Alpaca wool into spectacularly beautiful clothing. You could just as well be doing an easy downhill hike through rural Andean farmland just 20 mins from downtown Cusco to explore complex and fascinating Inca sites void of a single human being or have a meal with a rural Peruvian family that farmed themselves everything on your lunch table.
We might even take you to above 5,000 m above sea level where the dry páramo of the Andes suddenly turns to wetlands full of Andean geese, grazing Alpacas and scurrying Viscachas. It is here, where above the tree-line logic (higher you go, the drier and bleaker you get) rules are broken. Amongst these remote peaks, found just a 90 mins 4x4 escape from parking lots full of tour buses in the Sacred Valley, there are remote and lush green mountains that pierce the sky, punctuated by mirror lagoons, that erase any doubts heaven is near.
In this earthy paradise, humans are few, so it was without reservation that I waved to a woman who was sitting up on a hill, above her green fields and stone house, weaving and looking after her granddaughter María Jesusa. The grandmother returned my wave and ran down to the road to greet us. She invited us in. She had no idea why were we there, only that our smiles were equally sincere as hers. Machu Picchu is stunning and worth the visit, but it is moments like we spent with little María Jesusa and her grandma that stay embedded in our hearts.