Escorted Trek to Machu Picchu and the Virgen del Carmen Festival

If you still haven’t made summer travel plans, consider joining me in Peru this July on what is surely a once-in-a-lifetime trip, trekking to Machu Picchu via the Salkantay route and celebrating an authentic Peruvian festival with locals on our Escorted Trek to Machu Picchu + Virgen del Carmen Festival trip.  We only feature this trip once every few years and space is limited to 12 participants. 
Beneath the towering snowy peaks of Mt. Salkantay (meaning Savage Mountain in Quechua), we’ll hike along high mountain passes, meet local Quechua communities and engage in traditional customs honoring the spirits of the mountains and descend through the lush, bird and orchid-filled cloud forest to arrive at Machu Picchu.  You’ll carry just a day pack as we trek between comfortable mountain lodges, enjoying gourmet Andean cuisine, delicious wines, relaxing Jacuzzis and camaraderie each evening.  Pack horses accompany our group to carry belongings and give a leg-up to anyone needing a break from the altitude. 

After two days to thoroughly explore Machu Picchu, we’ll travel to Paucartambo to partake in the Virgen del Carmen Festival. Every year in mid-July, this tiny town well off the tourist track holds one of South America’s vibrant and fascinating festivals in honor of the Virgen del Carmen, patron saint of the mestizo population.  The celebration is a mix of Catholicism and Andean Pre-Colombian beliefs and ceremonies. Costumed dance troupes and masked acrobats from all over the Andes congregate in the streets to perform over five days, depicting legends, historical events and the iconic battle between good and evil. On the main day, July 16, the Virgen, who is also the Pachamama (or Mother Earth), is borne aloft in a procession through town to bless those present and rid the town of demons.  The celebration ends at the town cemetery where everyone gathers to pay homage to the souls of the dead.

 We will spend two days in town to dance, observe, photograph, eat, drink and celebrate with the locals.  From Paucartambo, travelers have the option to return to Cusco or continue down through the Andes to the Manu foothills and into the Amazon rainforest on our Manu Wildlife Camping Safari extension, which delves deep into one of the best locations for wildlife viewing in all of the Amazon rainforest. 

This entire trip, from mountain trekking to dancing and celebrating, is an amazing opportunity to get to know the soul of Peru and I hope you can join us.  A few spaces for adventurous travelers remain so clear your calendars for July 5-18, 2013 and come join us in Peru!   

keeping it wild,
Kirsten Gardner
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