Julie’s Peru Travel Diary

This summer, Julie had the pleasure of visiting Peru, a Southern American nation known for stretches of Amazon rainforest, and the historical Machu Picchu. Here’s everything she saw, ate, and visited during her weeklong, life-changing trip.

Images courtesy of Belmond

Where I visited: Peru

Why Peru: Belmond invited me to experience their properties, and I knew it was an experience I couldn’t pass up. Peru has such a rich culture with amazing history and an incredible culinary scene. It did not disappoint! Our clients are looking for more unique experiences for their events, and I want to make sure I can speak from a knowledgeable space when I recommend things to them. Also, Belmond as a brand has truly amazing locations and properties that aren’t your average hotel experience. It is something we are always looking for when our clients are considering destinations and what properties would fit best for them.

How I got there: I flew from Birmingham through Miami, then into Lima. While it wasn’t a short travel day, Lima is on Central time, so I wasn’t dealing with any jet lag.

Length of the trip: Seven beautiful days!

Where I stayed: We visited five different Belmond properties and stayed at three of them. I arrived in Lima and spent two nights at the Miraflores Park property. This hotel felt perfectly metro chic in the beautiful Miraflores Park neighborhood. Then we moved to the small Rio Sagrado property in the Sacred Valley for one night. This location felt almost like a retreat as it was an intimate style of hotel. We then took the Hiram Bingham train to experience Machu Picchu. The train itself is a delight and such a fabulous way to get to another fabulous location. At the top of Machu Picchu is the Sanctuary Lodge property. We had a small snack there before heading back to the train to go back to stay at Monasterio in historic Cusco. Its sister property, Palacio Nazarenas, is next door. They are both hundreds of years old and have been converted from the monastery and convent they originally were.

Image: Julie Bunkley

My travel companions: I traveled alone, but met our group of fellow planners, travel professionals, and Belmond representatives in Lima.

Favorite meal I ate there: We visited Manuel Choqque’s potato farm for a private lunch all centered around the work he is doing with Peru’s most well-known contribution to the culinary world, the potato. Manuel has been cultivating nutritionally-dense potatoes to change the conception of what a potato can be and do. He has been listed in the 50 Next of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants as one of the young talents who are shaping the future of gastronomy. It was eye-opening and an honor to spend time with Manuel in his space.

Image: Julie Bunkley

Best shopping: Barranco in Lima! This is an artistic section of Lima with lots of art galleries and new designers. I loved finding a unique clutch from Gabuteau, a modern Peruvian designer from which I hope to collect more pieces.

Souvenirs I brought back: Not too much! I was packing in carry-on only, but I was able to get the one clutch, a necklace, and two small pieces of art from ALQA Museum in my luggage safely. (The art is similar to this piece.)

My room at Belmond, in three words: There were several! But well appointed, completely unique, and always spoke to the location the property was in.

The most memorable part of the hotel: My most memorable stay was at Monasterio. The hotel is a converted monastery from the 1600s. Every room is different and much of the artwork is original. It was fascinating to stay in a place with so much history in it.

Hotel details that I appreciate the most: How each hotel has its own personality and fits in perfectly for the location. Even in the historic Cusco properties, they felt so authentic, original, and not forced.

Best wildlife encounter: We didn’t see too much wildlife beyond the gorgeous llamas and alpacas! Some we got to visit at different alpaca farms and learn about how their textile industry flourishes with very old and traditional processes. But seeing llamas just wandering around Machu Picchu was such a treat!

Most stunning nature experience: Machu Picchu by far. There’s no words to describe it. It’s magical. Much like how someone would describe the Grand Canyon, you can’t get the grandeur from pictures alone. You’ve got to experience it. The train ride to Machu Picchu is a close second. You travel through a  rugged and rocky valley and then see it transform to the lush rainforest of Machu Picchu. Truly stunning scenery. 

The item I didn’t pack, but wish I had: Better hiking shoes for Machu Picchu! I was packing very conservatively and true hiking boots didn’t make the cut. While I basically got by with my (very comfy, but not hiking appropriate) APL shoes, if the weather had been at all rainy (thankfully we had lots of sun!), those shoes would not have worked at all.

Best memory of the trip: Oh so many. Machu Picchu was the top. But the last night of the trip, the Belmond hosts treated our group to a farewell dinner in the historic chapel which is onsite at Monasterio. Included in the dinner was an opera performance from their local soprano. It was incredible to be dining with that as your background among amazing art all around the room. Simply beautiful.

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