In this edition of ‘Notes from the field’ we head to the Peruvian region of Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The valley, created by the Urumbamba river, is a vast stretch of land with an abundance of spectacular archaeological remains, Inca terraces and traditional villages along with a breathtaking mountainous landscape. Our Latin America expert Elena, who is Peruvian, gives us her unique insight into this captivating region.

Details of your favourite property and why?

The Sol y Luna Hotel is located in the Urubamba district and is the only Relais Chateaux hotel in the valley. This property has been tastefully decorated in traditional Andean style to give an authentic feel, there are 42 stunning Casitas surrounded by well manicured gardens and magnificent views of the Andes. The Killa Wasi restaurant is well known in the area for offering authentic Andean food with organic produce grown in their own orchard and gardens. The hotel’s owners Franz and Petit have been living in the Sacred Valley for 20 years and through the hotel, they established their Sol y Luna Foundation, an institution dedicated to improve the lives of disadvantaged children in the area. In the last few years so many children have benefited from the care of this institution, even Franz & Petit’s children attend the same school.

Casita Room, Sol y Luna Hotel Casita Room, Sol y Luna Hotel
Sol y Luna Hotel Sol y Luna Hotel

Favourite viewpoint and why?

Ancasmarca ruins is located 23 km from Calca in the Sacred Valley and sits at 12,631 feet. After reaching the top of the ruins, we sat to admire the stunning views of the valley.

Views from Ankasmarca ruins Views from Ankasmarca ruins

Favourite activity and why?

The hiking was my favourite activity, especially in the Sacred Valley away from the crowds and the only people around were the local communities and llama herders.

Elena at Cruzccasa Pass Elena at Cruzccasa Pass
Llama herders Llama herders

Where you ate your best meal. What did you have? Why was it your favourite?

During the first day of our trek, we stopped at Viacha – a very small community. After a morning trek and feeling a bit tired, we were delighted to have the famous Pachamanca lunch. This is a typical Andean meal dating back to the time of the Incas. The name comes from the Quechua language ‘Pacha’ meaning earth and ‘Manca’ meaning cooking pot, there are various types of meat like beef, pork, lamb and even guinea ­pig combined with potatoes, corn and humitas. All the ingredients are cooked under ground and cooked over hot stones for approximately 2 to 3 hours.

Pachamanca meal Pachamanca meal

What was the highlight of your trip?

The hikes in the Andes, meeting local Quechua people, learning about their lives. Pampering myself by means of a warm Jacuzzi in my room after trekking at heights over 12,000 feet.

Meeting the locals Meeting the locals

General feel of the area?

I love the Sacred Valley, it is one of those places you can easily stay for three nights with numerous activities, such as: horse­riding, mountain­biking, kayaking or just relaxing at your hotel absorbing the beauty that surrounds you.


Elena Larkin

By Elena Larkin

29th June 2016



Talk to our Costa Rica expert

Elena Larkin
Elena Larkin

Elena, has been with Sunvil since 2014 and hails from Peru. She is very passionate about Central and South America which is understandable and she comes from those regions. She has a very broad experience of tailor made itineraries, having worked at Natural World Safaris, Best at Travel and Journeys Latin America. You would have thought that Peru would be her favourite destination but in fact it is Argentina. She also know a great deal about polar cruising.

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