Come and join members of Plants and Healers International for a memorable and educational immersion into the mountains and valleys, forests and jungles of Peru, to discover and reconnect to the plants and the healers of this remarkable region.
In Memory of Frank Cook 1963 - 2009
Plants and Healers International is following in the footsteps of botanical explorer and humanitarian Frank Cook leading plant focused trips around the world.
We organized one tour to Costa Rica in March 2016 and the tour described below to the Andes of Peru in December 2016.
The Andean highlands have long been a source and destination for people seeking health and connection to the Mother Earth.
This winter, you can be one of the few that makes the journey, and brings back the knowledge!
We’re often going to have a program focused on studying plants up to six hours a day.
Botany can be a slow process and therefore takes patience and effort.
For those looking for a rapid pace and interested in moving through activities quickly, you may want to choose another tour provider.
The trip is also a form of pilgrimage. We are following in the footsteps of Frank Cook, who is the main inspiration for our organization.
Whether you knew Frank Cook or not, it is important that participants come with a sense of humble wonder and his spirit of reciprocity.
My trip to the Sacred Valley with Marc and Turtle was a highlight of my life. As an "earth energies" and consciousness researcher, I loved talking shop with Marc on ethnobotany in general and, in particular, local uses of plants in cuisine, healing, ceremony, and landscape.
Turtle's love of Peru and its archaeological sites led us down paths I'd never have known to take. Each day included time for lots of freestyle walking, browsing, hiking, observing, reflecting, celebrating. . . seeing places and meeting people in ways that would have been impossible on a bus tour. We ate well, slept well, laughed a lot, and I still miss the camaraderie.
We will meet in the beautiful colonial city of Cuzco for an afternoon drive through the Sacred Valley to Ollantaytambo, where we will meet our friends and stay in their wonderful little lodge, Casa de Wow.
This small and lovely and highly rated on Trip Advisor bed & breakfast will be our base for much of our exploration of the Sacred Valley. The knowledgable and considerate staff are local Quechua people.
They will aid us in getting a deeper look at the beauty and majesty of this special place! Puma Marka is a small temple with a vast vista! It is just a few miles up a narrow river canyon from Ollantaytambo. A great place to tune in, and get a quiet sense of the power of the Sacred Valley!
We begin the day with an adventure. Puma Marka, is a lesser known pre-Incan temple site, is our starting point.
A place where we can connect as a group, as well as touch down to the spirit of Pacha Mama, the Mother Earth.
From here we embark upon a short trek, accompanied by a local plant specialist that will help us become acquainted with the flora of the Andes!
We will start this day out with a morning exploration of the fabulous ruins in Ollantaytambo. While not as extensive as those of Machu Picchu, they are as equally exquisite!
Lunch will be followed by a trip to the circular Incan garden formations at Moray and a hike through the salt flats of Salinas. An exceptional hike, from high in the mountains, back to our home on the valley floor we will take in different ecotypes and reflect on the incredible resilience of the people who have inhabited these areas for generations!
Tonight we will search out the archtypical Chicha, a fermented corn beer. This a a favorite drink of the Andean people, who brew it and share it with great joy and reverence! Lots of different flavors of Chicha are crafted from place to place and village to village.
This exploration gives us a chance to explore concepts of agrobiodiversity and how we can maintain such options in our our places back at home.
Today we leave Ollantaytambo in the early morning by a chartered bus, climbing thru an Andean glacial pass to descend into the Peruvian Cloud-forest! A mid-morning hot spring soak at the Banos Termales de Cocalmayo will prepare us for an exiting botanical hike along the jungle stretch of the Rio Urubamba! By late afternoon we will have reached our lodging at Los Jardines de Mandor, a botanical reserve at the foot of Machu Picchu!
After a jungle breakfast, we will be guided through the gardens, then begin the ascent to The Lost City of The Incans.
After a long visit to the incredible ruins, we will return by train to our friends in Ollantaytambo for a home cooked meal, and our familiar beds!
The Sacred Valley still has much to explore! The old Incan town of Pisac is our next stop as we make our way back to Cusco. We will spend time at the Elipe Marin Moreno Botanic Garden and Choco Museo for sure and have an option here to explore the acres of ruins as well as connect with medicine makers and gather any last souvenirs from our journey. We will be staying in one of the local bed & breakfasts.
Brings us back to Cusco where we will venture out to the amazing park-like setting of Sacsayhuaman.
We will embark on an afternoon of exploring, botanical identification and foraging that will end in the making of several different items for our impending closing feast, reflection and ceremony.
We wrap up our time together in Cusco with a visit to the Coca Museo and closing ceremony where we will reflect on our travels and review what we have learned. Importantly we will all get clear on the wonder we have experienced and how to bring the lessons gained forward into the world at large. Options for further travels in the area are in development for those that may want to continue on to the Amazon or Lake Titicaca for example.
This affordable, all-inclusive trip of a lifetime was like a VIP backstage pass to meet various botanical movers and shakers. We achieved our goal of learning the main tropical plant families in their ethnobotanical context and had an epic time along the way.
We explored remote indigenous villages where we visited shamans and participated in healing rituals not usually shared with tourists. We went from the mansion of a wealthy CEO to stick huts in search of healing for people, cultures and the planet and returned with hope for the future.
Marc is truly an encyclopedia of plant knowledge, so any questions we had about plants and their uses were answered, usually with a book or other resource provided to expand our learning. I felt safe traveling with Marc and hope to do another Plants and Healers trip someday.
Frank Cook would be proud to see his legacy unfold thanks to Marc and the PHI board carrying on his mission of traveling the world studying plant medicine while joyfully networking with folks sharing the common goal of preserving plant diversity and cultural knowledge.
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Marc is an ethnobiologist. He has studied the people, plant, mushroom, microbe interconnection intensively while learning to employ the different kingdoms of biology for food, medicine, and beauty. His training includes a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies concentrating in Sustainable Agriculture with a minor in Business from Warren Wilson College and a Master’s degree in Appalachian Studies concentrating in Sustainable Development with a minor in Geography and Planning from Appalachian State University. He has spent over 15 years working at a multitude of restaurants and various farms.
His travels include adventures through 24 countries in North/Central America and Europe and all 50 of the United States. Marc has visited over 150 botanical gardens and research institutions during this process while taking tens of thousands of pictures of representative plants.
He is also Executive Director of Plants and Healers International www.plantsandhealers.org and on the Board of Directors of the Appalachian Institute for Mountain Studies. He has taught hundreds of classes and thousands of people about the marvelous world of plants, people and their interface while working with over 60 organizations in the last few years and online at the website www.botanyeveryday.com. Marc’s greatest hope is that his efforts may help improve our current challenging global ecological situation.
T 'Turtle' Turtlington
Turtle is a PHI Board Member currently living in Peru. He first visited the country with ethnobotanist Frank Cook in 2002.
Over several visits to both the Amazon Basin and the Andean Mountains, he began to formulate a vision incorporating principles of permaculture, health, nutrition, herbalism, alternative economics and community empowerment as tools for organizing peoples around the common goals of food security and cultural longevity.
His role in our trip will connect us to the larger picture of how the human/plant symbiosis has unfolded in The Sacred Valley, and where that is leading the peoples of today. His time and experience in the areas we will be visiting will help us ground and be able to see the finer details going on all around us.