Sacred landscapes: amazing time on Easter Island and Peru

5 Stars

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Our amazeballs NatGeo Around the World jaunt continues!! We’ve been in Peru and Easter Island for the last few days and it’s all been pretty mindblowing!!

Here are my 7 top highlights:

Easter Island’s moai – WHOA!! Top of the list!! Way more impactful – and yet intimate – than Machu Picchu. Such a beautiful, mystical and surreal landscape with much smaller crowds.  So 5-stars for these phenomenal monolithic statues –  especially wonderful if you get to shoot them at sunrise as we did on our last day here (thank you Michael Melford!!). That said, I couldn’t imagine staying here for more than 2 days.  Also need to do a shout out to our fun and very knowledgeable guide: Edmundo Edwards!! The only negative on our visit: the super cheesy dance performance at the hotel – somewhere between Vegas and a strip club. Not good!!

Machu Picchu – have been here before but never with Nat Geo local experts to add Peruvian perspectives (and there are def lots of opinions about the who, what and why behind these massive structures). Adding to the experience immensely is traveling there from Cusco via the Hiram Bingham train  – exclusively ours that day (very VIP)!!  In comparison to Easter Island, however, Machu Picchu, altho a grand spectacle,  has become way too commercial and touristy.

Ollantayambo,  this under-the-radar gem suffers by comparison to Machu Picchu but is in many ways a better experience.  This great Incan archealogical site needs to be added to your itinerary if you’re headed to Peru. Besides exploring this massive citadel/temple, it’s also worth checking out the small city by the same name nearby – nice square in the middle of town, cobble-stoned streets, very charming.

Basilica at Plaza de Armas – this massive Catholic cathedral has dozens of absolutely exquisite altars. Unfortunately no photos allowed but I got some great outside shots.  A must-see if you’re in Cusco.

Belmond Hotel Monasterio – a 5-star refurbished baroque seminary built in Cusco in the 17th century on Inca foundations. Totally fabulous – wonderful staff, fantastic public spaces, great wi-fi (which is saying a lot in these parts)!!!  Highly recommend. Love this place!!

Animals galore: In Cusco, baby donkeys, llamas, guinea pigs (a delicacy?) and hundreds of happy street dogs;  in Easter Island, chock-a-block with horses, foals and cows – crowding out the cars on the more remote roads.

Our Halloween-festooned private jet – another great VIP experience.  When we boarded our flight from Lima to Easter Island on October 31st, totally blown away to find the plane and crew decked out in way-over-the-top Halloween fabulosity.

Pics of all below and expect the next post after we’ve been to Cambodia, Tibet and India!

EASTER ISLAND

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Ahu Tahai archaeological site

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Ahu Tahai archaeological site

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Ahu Tahai archaeological site

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Edmundo Edwards – our amazing guide/expert

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Yours truly at the Ahu Tongariki site

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The 16th moai at Ahu Tongariki

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I thought this was super cheesy but my travel mates loved it so what do I know!!

MACHU PICCHU

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Really amazing!

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Double the fun!!

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Hiram Brigham train

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Interior

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From our dining table

OLLANTAYAMBO

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The small town is nestled at the foot of the citadel

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Street view

BASILICA AT PLAZA DE ARMAS

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Exterior of the basilica

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Interior – but photo doesn’t do it justice

BELMOND HOTEL MONASTERIO

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Lobby

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Concierge

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Courtyard

ANIMALS!!

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Llamas – and baby llamas in Cusco

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More llamas

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Horses and foals

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Baby donkey

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llama in machu picchu

HALLOWEEN FESTIVITIES

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Welcome!!

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Orange wig was a huge hit. Chef is a bit bloody

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Cabin totally decked out for Halloween

WHERE ARE WE OFF TO NEXT??

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We left Easter Island this afternoon with our fabulous crew!!!

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The most glorious sunset as we head to Samoa

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