PERU POSHLY! by Travel Writer Devanshi Mody
This article was written for Country and Townhouse and supported by Katrina Trotter Travel. All the hotels can be booked through Katrina Trotter Travel who promises to offer additional value to your booking and special treatment throughout your holiday in Peru. The article was published in 2019 and the guide prices reflect 2019 rates.
‘We wept when we checked out of explora,’ is a refrain rippling across Peru. And it’s explora with a lower case ‘e’. Capitals are for Experience whereas explora is about ‘the art of travel’ and, like all fine arts, its appeal is niche. The sleek wooden structure emerges from a hazy speckle of purple and golden corn, as if from an Impressionist painting. Beyond, green-mantled mountains soar, their summits like rock-sculpted ancient temples. And explora was created to scale these peaks. The Chilean owners spent over three years crafting 36 hikes that unveil the Sacred Valley’s secret splendours. The adventurous are swung across mountain passes, past streaming glens, shark jaw canyons and shimmering lagoons until, suddenly, a sly slink into an Inca trail leads to some fabulous esoteric site. After a nine-hour, 19km hike you’ll need Peru’s most gorgeous destination spa, set in aromatic gardens. In such perfumed purlieus your masseuse, naturally, is called Rosemary.
BOOK IT: Three-night all-inclusive programme, from £1,387pp.
The only lodge in the Amazonian Tambopata Reserve Forest and an eight-hour boat ride from Puerto Maldonado. Thirty years ago, Eduardo Nycander founded Rainforest Expeditions when, on visiting the Amazon, he stayed on to rescue the endangered macaws. Soon scientists ventured there too and Nycander created an at-one-with-nature space for them to stay in, which in time morphed into an eco-lodge. To celebrate its 30th birthday the lodge has gone glam with vast new suites boasting only three walls, the fourth thrillingly ceding to a tumble of voracious jungle outside. The famed Tambopata Macaw Project undertakes the deepest research on Amazonian macaws, so mornings are spent observing the resplendent birdlife. Then you’ve got monkey trails, swamp or forest hikes, the must-do Master Trail and jaguar spotting. After that, night walks. The jungle never sleeps.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £780
Rainforest Expeditions’ latest venture is accessed after a fourhour boat ride past raptors, capybaras and spectacled caiman crocodiles. The wooden villa, designed by architect-owner Eduardo Nycander, is a masterpiece of jungle style, with all natural adornments made by local communities and one wall dedicated to an open view onto the roaring jungle. The bed’s a beauty, but set your alarm early for a visit to the forest canopy watchtower. At the oxbow lake you’ll spot three-clawed sloths that inspired ET. Back at the villa your private chef makes outstanding Peruvian cuisine, served at a lavish long wooden table or an outdoor pavilion. The villa has a wine list, but best is rich hot chocolate – the sort for which Paris demands €15. The bathrooms are priceless, with shower and bathtub interiors decoratively studded with three different breeds of Peruvian frog!
BOOK IT: Doubles from £874.
This sanctuary of unbridled luxury has propelled Peru to glamorous new heights. Your airport pickup comes with cushions, blankets, oxygen (you’re at 12,500 ft!), wifi and a bag of snacks. At the lodge, leather sofas, slick lights and contemporary art flirt with a fanciful extravaganza of vibrant shawls and decorative pink cows; rooms have big beds and buxom tubs. But what really astounds are the views, through wraparound windows, of Lake Titicaca, the world’s loftiest navigable water body, that stretches out like an ocean. Take a boat to the famous floating islands, followed by a picnic on the culturally rich Taquile Island. Return to afternoon tea, sundowners under astral skies and supper in a beautiful dining room – dressing for supper is de rigueur.
BOOK IT: Doubles all-inclusive from £870.
This is Peru’s sexiest address. You’d think you were on the French Riviera as impeccable lawns flow down to seas bobbing with boats. Lounge on your own terrace and drink in that view, unless you’ve booked with Aerodiana to visit the mysterious Nazca lines. In paradisal, multi-faceted Paracas, piercing blue seas embrace palm-swooned deserts and the hotel offers desert odysseys that culminate in dune-top sunsets with sundowners. Morning excursions include speedboat rides to the splendid Ballestas Islands to see bird-sheeted islets, sea lions and wondrous marine creatures. Grab the spa for top-notch massages and then devote yourself to the pool, where girls flaunt their Barbie-doll beach bodies and glowing tans. The food is excellent, debunking snobbish notions that sprawling buffets are tacky. They also offer the best pizzas this side of Rome.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £175.
The Sacred Valley’s best-located hotel and its most popular. Set in acres of sumptuous gardens overlooked by glaciers, it boasts outdoor terraces on which to sip cocktails concocted using indigenous exotica. Creative culinary journeys include Farm to Kitchen Lunch – stroll down a riverine path
to enchanting organic gardens where you pick ingredients for the chef to prepare. An exhilarating outdoor banquet awaits, accompanied by dynamite hot condiments made from Peruvian chillies. Cool down with intense chocolate ice cream. Despite the wealth of local archaeological sites, guests understandably loll by the pool, one of the world’s most sensational – part-indoor, part-levitating over a landscape of bird-flitted lawns. Paradise found.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £254.
If you’ve traipsed across Peruvian expanses and exhausted yourself at more archaeological sites than is seemly, seek respite at the reclusive serenity of this colonial river-set retreat. You’ll need to drive there, and the drive is an unmissable experience – snaking around craggy escarpments to exalted viewpoints of epic and beguiling Andean landscapes. The hotel takes you to Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest, where giant condors soar.
Otherwise, relax with a book on a garden bench, have a rigorous massage or just soak in your outdoor tub, fragrant with minty muna, watching the light change over the hills.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £885.
By night the hotel glitters like a bejewelled casket on the hillside. Perched in the embrace of the imperial Andes, this tranquil temple is among Peru’s loveliest hotels. The main building, behind which casitas rise on the lilt of the hill, recreates a Spanish hacienda enclosing a central courtyard. Breakfasts seduce, but for gourmet suppers drive out to Sol y Luna.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £360.