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Posts By: Diane Valenti

Our Peru Adventure: Visiting the Sacred Valley

San Pedro Market Cusco Peru

Guest Blog Post by Lili Mahlab

Today Armando picked us up at 9:00 to take us to Ollantaytambo. We first headed to the Cusco market, which is quite large on Saturdays. After walking through all the stalls, we went to a place where we could buy school supplies for a local village that Llama Expeditions supports. After picking up dozens of notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, glue and such, we headed off to the Sacred Valley.

The valley is no more that 1 – 2 KM wide, but it’s 275 KM long and it is incredibly beautiful – surrounded by towering mountain peaks with the Urubamba river running right through it. The soil is so fertile and the weather is so perfect for growing crops, that they are able to have 3 harvests per year. (more…)

Posted in Guest Post, Peru, Sacred Valley | By

Our Peru Adventure: Lima to Cusco


Llama Expeditions

Guest Blog Post by Lili Mahlab

Gustavo picked us up at our hotel at 7:15 to take us to the airport. As usual, traffic getting to the airport was awful. It took us an hour and by the time we got there, Jean and Joe were bumped from the flight since it was overbooked. Fortunately, there were 4 more flights to Cusco that morning so they were only a half hour behind us. We met Diane Valenti, our tour organizer, at the airport in Cusco with our guide, Armando. They took us directly to our hotel, the Monasterio. (more…)

Posted in Cusco, Guest Post, Peru | By

Packing List for the Short Inca Trail

short inca trail

The night before the 1-day Inca Trail hike, you should prepare two bags.

The first is an overnight bag for your stay in Aguas Calientes. You should pack whatever you need for the night in Aguas Calientes after the hike and for the next day when you are exploring Machu Picchu and returning to Cusco. There is only room on the train for a small bag, so your bag should contain just the essentials. (more…)

Posted in Hiking, Inca Trail, Peru | By

Our Peru Adventure: Lima


Peru tour group

Guest Blog Post by Lili Mahlab

Back in January of 2013, I, my husband and three other couples decided to check Peru and Machu Picchu off of our bucket list. Our research started with the internet ( is my “go-to” site of which I’m a top contributor) in order to find an appropriate travel agent and itinerary.  We contacted three agencies and ultimately settled on Llama Expeditions (

After many e-mails and phone conversations, we worked with Diane Valenti (Llama Expeditions) to come up with an itinerary that would satisfy everyone’s needs.  Our objective was to have an authentic Peruvian experience with just our small group of travelers. We were not disappointed. (more…)

Posted in Guest Post, Lima, Peru | By

Should You Stay in the Sacred Valley or in Cusco?

sacred valley or cusco

Located at nearly 11,000 feet, a visit to the city of Cusco is likely to induce a physical response to the altitude in almost everyone. Those affected might feel a range of symptoms from shortness of breath to a pounding headache to serious altitude sickness. In the case of serious altitude sickness, the only recourse is to descend immediately. The good news is that most people are able to weather a visit to Cusco just fine.

That said, wouldn’t it be better to just bypass Cusco altogether and stay at a lower altitude in the Sacred Valley? The problem with this strategy is that confining your visit to the narrow floor of the Sacred Valley means that you’ll miss out on some of the most interesting sights this part of Peru offers. (more…)

Posted in Cusco, Peru, Sacred Valley | By

6 Secrets of the Colonial Cathedral in Cusco

colonial cathedral cusco

Although I am more of a spiritual person than a religious one, I keep finding myself visiting the colonial cathedral of Cusco. In fact, during one visit I spent four fascinating hours in the cathedral. I wasn’t attending Mass, praying, or counting rosary beads. Instead, I was exploring secrets hidden in plain sight with a local art expert.

Designed by a Spanish conquistador and architect, the cathedral of Santo Domingo is built on the foundation of Inca ruler Viracocha’s palace. Most of the stones for Cusco’s cathedral come from the sacred and military site of nearby Sacsayhuaman. And, when the Spanish learned that the sand in Cusco’s main square was considered sacred, they used it to make the mortar that holds the cathedral together. During the nearly 100 years that Cusco’s cathedral was under construction, Spanish priests and architects supervised mostly forced Inca labor. (more…)

Posted in Cusco, Peru | By

Best of Arequipa in Peru



Arequipa, also known as the White City because many of its buildings are constructed from the white rock and ash of the three surrounding volcanoes, is in the south of Peru.

If you are planning a visit to Arequipa during your trip to Peru, make sure to include these five best-of-Arequipa activities on your must-do list.

1) Visit Santa Catalina Monastery. Stepping through the doors of this four-centuries-old monastery feels like stepping back in time. You can almost hear the hushed whispers of the sisters echoing through the labyrinth of streets. The monastery, which is built of white volcanic rock and ash, has its own guides. Your guide will walk you through the maze-like structure and tell you stories about what life was like behind the cloistered walls. One surprising fact I learned is that many of the nuns were daughters of nobility. Vows of poverty not withstanding, their simple rooms were furnished with rich tapestries and fine china. Many also had personal servants. (more…)

Posted in Arequipa, Peru | By

3 Places to Unplug in Peru + 1 in Bolivia

3 Places to Unplug

Digital technology is a little like potato chips. There is always room for one more salty, crispy chip. And, there is always one more minute to scan Facebook status updates, check email, or send a text message. If access to technology is available, the pull to “not miss out” is hard to ignore.

Yet, we all know that this unhealthy tether to technology wreaks havoc on our minds and bodies from headaches and “text neck” to dissatisfaction with our lives. Turns out getting away can be the best way to detox from too much digital connectedness.Here are two places to completely unplug and tune into real life (RL). (more…)

Posted in Bolivia, Bolivian Salt Flat, El Salar de Uyuni, Peru | By

2 Places to See Condors in Peru

condors peru

The Andean Condor is perhaps the most majestic bird in South America. With a wingspan of more than 10 feet across, this national symbol of Peru mates for life and has been known to live to nearly 100 years in captivity. According to the Andean religion, the Andean Condor is believed to be the ruler of the upper world.

To see Andean Condors in Peru, make sure to check out these top two places. (more…)

Posted in Colca Canyon, Peru, Salkantay Trail | By

How to Make Friends with Llamas on a Llama Trek


If you are thinking about trekking with llamas through the Peruvian Andes, you might wonder how to avoid being spit on and actually make friends with these curmudgeonly creatures.

Here are two proven ways to become fast friends with your llama companions. (more…)

Posted in Llama, Llama Trekking, Peru | By

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