This November, we journeyed to the jewel in South America’s crown, to the time-honoured land of Peru – and return bearing a careful curation of gems for our venturesome and insightful curiosity-seekers. Blue Sky Escapes presents our special selection of hotels and experiences in Peru, chosen by us for you.
– By Sam Anna Lee
Belmond Las Casitas
Nestled in the peace and serenity of Peru’s Colca Canyon – one of the deepest canyons in the world – this collection of luxurious Casitas offers the ultimate Andean retreat. Each casita has a private terrace with its own plunge pool, fireplace, indoor and outdoor shower, and a hot tub on the veranda – all built with an emphasis on natural materials and to blend effortlessly with this lush, timeless valley.
This is the ultimate spot for exploring the “Valley of Marvels”, a nicknamed well-earned by Colca Canyon for its plunging gorges, smoking volcanoes, verdant green hills, and dramatic desert slopes. Rent a bicycle, or go on foot or horseback to take in the impressive canyon scenery – an unmissable highlight is to watch the magnificent condors soaring up the canyon walls on thermals rising in the mornings.
Sample delicious local delicacies beneath the star-studded sky at one of Peru’s best-loved restaurants, which transforms the organic produce from the hotel’s extensive vegetable garden into tasty, authentic dishes. Savour the company of a good book in the library, unwind in the free-form swimming pool built using stone sourced from the Colca Valley, and indulge yourself at the Samay Spa – inspired by the Inca world, an extensive menu of revitalising treatments featuring the rejuvenating power of indigenous products and fresh herbs await you.
With your first step in, you’d be forgiven for thinking you have mistakenly wandered into the residence of a well-travelled photographer. Perched in a quiet corner of the chic district of Miraflores, there are no signs from the outside revealing that this delightful Tudor-style 1940s house is a hotel – one that is meant to feel like home, and to remain discreet and private for its guests.
Upon arrival, enter and be greeted by the Maître de Maison. There’s no front desk – just a beautifully decorated and welcoming entrance hall befitting a stately home. An around-the-clock service provides access to all that Lima’s contemporary scene has to offer, with a full service concierge. Expect impeccable service and personalised attention, and meticulous detail employed through the hotel.
Revamped lovingly to merge sophisticated urban designs with a deep-rooted classical feel, the space is befitting of its name – meaning “timeless” in Spanish. Throughout the hotel, elements of the old and new blend seamlessly. Antiques and collectables are comfortably combined with state of the art technology for an aesthetically pleasing yet uncompromisingly comfortable stay. Each of the nine bedrooms bears its own presence – all individual in their design and style, decorated with art photos, ceramics and bespoke lamps. Snuggle in for the night with luxuriously comfortable cotton bedding, air conditioning, black out curtains and ergonomic beds.
Atemporal is in close proximity to vibrant shopping districts, sublime restaurants and colourful neighbourhoods, and is a few metres from the significant archaeological site of Huaca Pucllana, a pre-Inca pyramid. Hop on a bicycle and enjoy a leisurely cycle around leafy residential streets. At the end of a day out, unwind in the well-stocked library, indulge in a reinvigorating massage, or kick back with a drink in the salon that opens to a terrace and garden.
Pago a la Tierra
The ancient Peruvians developed strong links with nature based on respect, fear and adoration, often with the celebration of rituals. “Pago a la tierra” is a mystical Andean ritual that has prevailed for centuries in honour of “Pachamama” – believed to be the goddess of fertility in Incan mythology, helping both to nourish and protect life on earth. Today, the deity is still considered a personification of the earth and of nature, retaining its pivotal role in the religious beliefs of the Andean peoples, who gather yearly to make offerings in her honour. Though known as a gentle and conciliatory goddess, Pachamama is also believed to possess the power to bring about earthquakes, landslides and lightning bolts when provoked. Should lands be abused, plants neglected and animals made to suffer, the deity will punish those at fault.
The ceremony is a sacred ritual in which an offering (despacho) or payment is made to Pachamama, accompanied by a traditional prayer asking the deity for good health, luck and protection. The average ceremony, whose main objective is to dispel negative energies and cleanse its participants, lasts between two and three hours. While early Incan worship commonly included the sacrifice of different animals and at times even humans, modern day worship has shed its gory past, though its offering practice still forms an integral part of the ritual – albeit in a tamer form. Nowadays, typical payments include sullo (dried llama fetus), peanuts, rice, anise and beans. Participate in this ancient ritual that is still part of Peruvian culture by offering native foods, animals, and coca leaves.
Located in the arid Peruvian coastal plain, some 400 km south of Lima, the mystery of the Nazca Lines in Peru has baffled mankind for ages.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, the Nazca lines are a series of enormous geoglyphs etched into a roughly 200-square-mile stretch of the desert, measuring as long as 30 miles and can only be truly viewed viewed from the air or from surrounding hillsides. The figures vary in complexity – from simple lines and geometric shapes, to trees and flowers, to zoomorphic designs of animals such as a hummingbird, spider, fish, llama, jaguar, monkey, lizard, dog and a human.
The lines have been traced back to as early as 4th century B.C. While some believe that these were created by the pre-Inca indigenous Nazca, other theories have gone the way of aliens – many believe that the Nazca built the lines themselves but with extraterrestrial instructions, perhaps to create landing strips and runways for alien spacecraft, or to attract aliens with images big enough to be visible from space.