Journey Enhanced by Opportunities to Interact with Local Peruvians 

Andean trekking specialist Llama Expeditions http://www.llamaexpeditions.com/ sends love by way of dollars saved for booking a seven-day adventure, Machu Picchu by Train, between now and midnight Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day.

The savings multiply when couples book together.  A group of four will enjoy a $1000 discount overall. The only stipulation is that the trip must be taken during the 2013 calendar year.

Savings are $100 for the first booking, $200 for a companion, $300 off for a third person and $400 for a fourth. Before the discounts the cost of the trip is $3,548 per person double, inclusive of accommodations, some meals (all breakfasts, five lunches, three dinners), airport transfers, carbon-offsetting for domestic flights, English-speaking guides, entrance fees for scheduled tours and archeological sites and transportation (private cars, Vistadome trains, and buses). See: http://www.llamaexpeditions.com/exploration/machu-picchu-tour-by-train/overview

The program is offered on an open schedule basis, year round (except February). Llama Expeditions recommends a Saturday arrival in Lima (Day 1) and the return flight home the following Friday night. This ensures that all sites are open and travelers have an entire weekend to unpack before returning to work refreshed on Monday.

“In the Andean religion the llama stands for unconditional love,” explains Diane Valenti, founder of Llama Expeditions who makes a logical connection between Valentine’s Day and her programs in Peru.

“Llamas provide so much to the Andean people: meat for food, fur for warmth and transport for heavy loads. They were even sacrificed to the Andean deities,” she said.

Machu Picchu Tour by Train begins and ends in Lima. Guests then travel to the Colonial city of Cusco where they begin their exploration of Spanish and Inca sites. They dine at a restaurant called Aldea Yanapay that supports an alternative after-school program for local children and there’s a home-cooked meal in the home of a Cusqueña family. In preparation for a visit to a weaving community, guests purchase provisions for the community that augment their staple diet of potatoes. Enroute they stop to feed and pet llamas and alpacas.

A train journey stops at Aguas Calientes, the bustling pueblo that sits at the foot of Machu Picchu. From here the ruins are explored. An overnight at Ollantaytambo reveals over 500 years of culture, including original residential canchas, or blocks, each inhabited by several families during the 15th century. A private car transports guests to Salinas de Maras where the Incas diverted water to form thousands of pools where a thin crust of salt remains as the sun evaporates the water. These salt mines have been in continuous operation since the Inca Empire. A final day in Lima includes a cooking demonstration and lunch at a ceviche restaurant and a visit to Casa Aliaga, one of the oldest colonial mansions in Lima and the only one continuously inhabited by 17 generations of the descendants of its original owner.

Llama Expeditions offers a range of guided tours through Peru, from sightseeing and surfing to multi-day hikes along the Inca Trail. In addition to taking in the iconic scenery and experiencing the history of the Inca, these tours also allow travelers to make a personal connection to the country and its people.

“The company fills the spot between responsible tourism and voluntourism,” said Valenti. “This is a real vacation for people who work hard and want a chance to relax. But it’s also a chance for culturally curious travelers to make a meaningful connection with the people and the land of Peru.” Guests are encouraged to “pay-it-forward” by contributing to a variety of local community development organizations. See: http://www.llamaexpeditions.com/inspiration.

Image courtesy Widness & Wiggins PR

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