If you're like me, the days of long hikes, followed by setting up your own tent, sleeping outside and eating some granola and beef jerky are long gone. Even the thought of it makes me cringe and wonders how I ever did it. However, quite the alternative now exists for hiking to Machu Picchu. This more luxury experience addressed all of my "less masculine" needs: the "Machu Picchu Lodge to Lodge" tour. You cannot do better than hiking up to your nightly lodge and having exotic juices, hot cocoa tea and a damp washcloth to wipe down your face waiting for you as you enter each majestic lodge. The fact that your heavy backpack has been carried by mule and is now waiting in your spacious, hot water, clean room is just icing on the cake.
After arriving in style, I would have been happy just taking a nap and having a bite to eat before heading to bed, but this tour takes things up a few notches. Coffee, tea and pastries await each traveler in the early evening, bird and flower tours can be had before dinner and then just sit back and have a 3-course gourmet meal brought your way with all the trimmings.
At this point, only a massage could have ended my day better- oh wait, they have an on-site masseuse at each lodge to cater to your aching body. Needless to say, I took advantage of every amenity possible before heading back to my heated bed where I could finish my day while sampling the best Peruvian chocolates.
In the morning, you are greeted to a full breakfast buffet of anything you can ask for, before heading out on that day's picturesque journey. One of the greatest advantages of the Salkantay Trail over the Inca Trail is that you virtually don't see other groups on your hike. You have Peru's Andes Mountains to yourself - for good or bad! With ample water and snacks provided and as much information from the highly educated guides, your focus is only on making that next step up the trail - just how I prefer it.