I crossed a footbridge over a small tributary of the Vilcanota River and pierced an invisible veil. Leaving behind the sad little town of Machu Picchu Pueblo, devoid of trees and littered with broken down hostels and pizza pubs, I stepped onto the exquisite grounds of Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, where brilliant hummingbirds flitted between orchids and intertwining old-growth trees enfolded the hotel’s whitewashed stone villas.
Soft light filtered through the cloud forest canopy as I followed the hotel’s representative along serpentine rock paths to my private casita. She threw open the rugged wooden door and stepped aside, revealing an enormous suite with luxury bath, fireplace, sitting area and private balcony. My gaze swept from the rustic wooden beams of the cathedral ceiling down to the king size bed. Salivating at the prospect of sinking into its mountain of pillows and 100% cotton sheets, I quickly thanked her and shut the door.
Barely had I unlaced my heavy boots and wriggled my toes when someone knocked at my door. “What now?” I wondered. “So sorry miss Barbara, but I thought you might like to see this.” She pointed to to the top of an old telephone next to my villa, where a gorgeous male Golden Olive Woodpecker rat-tat-tatted, determinedly searching for grub. “We don’t see them very often,” she explained, pointing out the female sitting on a nearby wire. It was the first of many kindnesses I experienced during my two days at this heavenly retreat.
I had learned about the Inkaterra when I received an invitation to a press conference in New York City, where Fodor’s would announce their Top 100 Hotel Awards for 2011. When I replied with regrets, explaining that I was currently traveling in South America, they responded with a list of the five South American properties included among the top 100 and inquired if I was planning to stay at any of them. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel was among those five. It was too much of a coincidence to ignore.
Because Fodor’s has long been considered a trusted authority on travel, especially with regard to accommodations, I knew the Inkaterra would be a treat, but I could not possibly have anticipated just how exceptional the hotel would be. Already impressed by the attentiveness of the staff, I returned to my spectacular suite and discovered a second surprise: on a table in the far corner a plate of gourmet chocolates and dried fruits awaited. Settling into a chair on my patio, I gorged on chocolate as I looked out over terra cotta roofs topped with ceramic bulls said to bring good fortune and gardens that quivered and twittered with rainbow-colored birds. An hour later, driven by a sugar high, I abandoned any thoughts of a nap and set out to explore.
I descended the circuitous paths, peeking into the on-site spa and noting a trio of cascading, candle-lit hot tubs for later. Back at the main lodge I joined a free guided nature walk to learn more about the fascinating and fragile ecosystem of the Machu Picchu cloud forest. Our guide pointed out dozens of the more than 372 native species of orchids found in the hotel’s gardens (some so tiny they were best viewed with his oversize magnifying glass); several of the 18 different species of hummingbirds that have been identified on the grounds; and led us through the hotel’s organic gardens where herbs, coffee and tea are grown solely for guests of the Inkaterra.
By the time the tour was over I was ready for a dinner made with some of those organic herbs, so I headed back to the dining room with its giant wall of windows overlooking the Vilcanota River gorge. After selecting from one of several vegetarian selections the chef prepares each day, I turned my gaze to the lush greenery outside the restaurant’s window and watched twilight descended over the enchanting cloud forest. Dinner, like everything else I had experienced thus far at the Inkaterra, was perfect.
With a full belly, I retired to my suite, where a cozy fire crackled in the fireplace. I climbed into my plush bed and propped myself up with plump pillows, hoping to get some writing done, but that bed was just too heavenly. One final thought flitted through my mind before I succumbed to the sandman: would Machu Picchu Citadel be shrouded in rain and fog the following day or would the morning dawn bright and sunny? With only one day to visit the Incan archeological site I had longed to see my entire life, I hoped Inkaterra’s ability to achieve perfection in all things extended to the weather gods.
Staying at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel:
Though rates are not shown on Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel website, I requested and received their rack rates via email. For a single person, casitas are priced from $394 to $895 per person, per night; for doubles casitas range from $249 to $531.50 per person, per night. The larger villas are priced at $844 per person, per night for two travelers; $635 per person, per night for three travelers; and $527 per person, per night for four travelers. Rates include assistance between Machu Picchu train station and the hotel and return to train station upon departure, one buffet breakfast, one a-la-carte dinner, and guided excursions within the property (bird, nature, orchid, twilight, and Tea Plantation tours). Prices do not include the 10% service charge or local tax (18% VAT) applicable to Peruvians and foreign residents in Peru. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is definitely an upscale property, but one that is worth every penny.
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel kindly hosted the author’s visit to Machu Picchu, Peru. However, the receipt and acceptance of complimentary items or services will never influence the content, topics, or posts in this blog. I write the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. In this case, I highly recommend Inkaterra, not only for their excellent facilities, services, and staff, but also for their devotion to conservation. Since 1975, based on a principle of respect for the ecosystem, Inkaterra has been developing conservation programs to preserve the natural characteristics of the Amazon rainforest, which helps prevent global warming. Inkaterra protects more than 17,000 hectares of original forest, helping to reduce directly 3,315,000 tons of carbon, and supports a variety of external conservation programs. With these programs, Inkaterra has become a truly Carbon-Neutral organization, and every guest at Inkaterra has a 100% Carbon Neutral hotel stay.