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!
Days 6 - 7
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, for 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. Contact Christina Braid at email@example.com for more information on the Amazon trip 12/13-12/21. Christina first went to Peru with Frank Cook in 2002 and has spent the majority of her time there ever since.
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
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.