Includes everything except airfare and some meals.
Hi, I’m Lauren Haas, the founder of Indie Travel Guru. In May of 2013 I sold everything I owned and started traveling the world with all my possessions in a backpack. It’s been an incredible journey, and now I’m beginning to share my journey with small groups of women who want to see it the way I do. My travel style is rugged but not extreme, adventurous but not dangerous (I am 53 years old, after all). I love to walk, hike, take local transportation, get involved in local life, and learn about cultures from the inside out, through a region’s people, arts, food, music, dance, and culture. Come join me for an unforgettable adventure! Message me if you have questions: [email protected]
There is no place dearer to my heart than Peru’s Sacred Valley. I serve as U.S. Board Chair to a remarkable orphanage in Urubamba, so I spend a lot of time in Peru. I’m eager to share this place and its remarkable people with you.
I’ve created an entire week of adventures that costs less than many tourists would spend on a hotel alone. To keep costs down, we’ll share a house and all pitch in to prepare meals and wash dishes. We’ll eat some of our meals in and take public transportation alongside locals whenever possible.
The money we save on lodging will go into adventures and cultural experiences. We’ll hike all over the Sacred Valley, scramble over Incan ruins, meet women weavers and (of course) spend a day in the clouds at Machu Picchu!
This trip will include a lot of walking, on rough terrain, at high altitudes. You’ll need a reasonable degree of fitness. However, for those with foot/knee pain, I am able to provide foot-friendly alternatives to some of the hiking and walking.
If you set your expectations on “glamping” you’ll be very pleased with our accommodations. It’s a remote local house with solar systems, so we might struggle with wifi and hot water — although reviews say the hot water situation is really good!
Many days we’ll make the 20-minute walk to the main road and then travel by collectivo (local transportation vans) to neighboring towns. However, a van option will be available for those who can’t do the steep walk down or up the hill.
We’ll spend a day exploring the city that was the heart of both the Incan Empire and the Spanish presence in Peru. Depending on your interests, you can visit Spanish cathedrals, shop for souvenirs, hike above the city, or enjoy a coffee overlooking the spectacular plaza.
This remarkable museum is right at the foot of the hill by our house, and it does a remarkable job showcasing Incan and pre-Incan cultures of Peru, complete with life-size scenes of rituals and traditions. One of my favorite museums in the world!
We’ll hike among the Incan and pre-Incan ruins above Pisac. This is a glorious (but only moderately challenging) mountain hike that rivals Machu Picchu — some even like it better, because after the first couple of sets of ruins there are no crowds at all.
Foot-friendly option: The town is also home to a well-known market and a number of cute cafés with balconies overlooking the square. It’s possible to join the hike to see the largest sets of ruins (fairly accessible) and then return to the town.
We’ll visit a remote village and learn about the artistry and magic that goes into weaving the beautiful textiles of Peru. Meet the artists, enjoy a country lunch, and develop a better appreciation for life in the Andes.
Locals come to Urubamba from surrounding villages to shop in the giant covered markets, enjoy an ice cream in the plaza, and socialize. We will do exactly the same, with a guided tour of the market to introduce you to local produce and specialties that have been popular since pre-Incan times. After our tour, we’ll visit the Niños Del Sol Children’s Home. This remarkable home is raising a group of orphaned and abandoned children to adulthood in the Sacred Valley. The kids (all teenagers now) will be on their summer vacation, and most will be visiting relatives in the communities, but if we’re lucky you’ll get to spend time some of them. We’ll also people-watch in the plaza, see some gorgeous churches, and relax in one of my favorite restaurants.
On our way to Machu Picchu, we’ll stop off in the gorgeous town of Ollantaytambo, where we can explore some remarkable military, religious, and residential ruins. Ollantaytambo is considered a “living Incan village” and is a historic treasure.
Foot-friendly option: You can view the ruins from an outdoor café or balcony, and walk the portions of the ruins that are on level ground.
From Ollantaytambo, we’ll ride a scenic train to Aguas Calientes (a hot springs town) and spend the night there. Before dawn, we’ll take the most terrifying and remarkable bus ride of your life (guaranteed!) to the top of the mountain, where we’ll enjoy a guided tour of the mystical ruins at Machu Picchu. You’ll have time to explore on your own, too, and the opportunity to climb the neighboring mountain, Waynu Picchu, if you choose. If you’re up for a hike, make your way to the Sun Gate for incredible views like the one in the first photo below!
Foot-friendly option: Although you will want to walk the ruins as much as you can, especially during the guided tour, it’s also possible to find a nice vantage point and relax and enjoy the views. The entire site is full of stone steps and steep ridges. Trekking poles might help you feel more stable; we’ll see if we can rent or borrow some before we go.
I’m still working on more cultural activities and opportunities to get to know Peruvian people. I’m working on arranging a traditional ritual that will help you connect with Pachamama (the Earth Mother) and other aspects of the local spirituality. I’m also aiming for some encounters with local music and dance. And of course I have some favorite restaurants, foods, and views to share with you.
At the end of the week, you can choose to stay for an optional two-day, one-night excursion to Lake Titicaca, where you’ll visit some of the most unique floating villages in the world — where everything, including the island itself, is built of reeds!
We’ll take a comfortable bus from Cusco to Puno, at the edge of Lake Titicaca. On the way down we’ll see quite a bit of the Peruvian countryside, and we’ll make several stops to see a beautiful cathedral, a museum with mummies, and the ruins of an Incan “subdivision,” plus we’ll have a nice buffet lunch.
We’ll spend the night in a hostel. In the morning, we’ll take a boat ride onto the lake to meet the people who live there, on islands constructed from reeds. Everything on the island is made of reeds, including houses, boats, and furnishings! We’ll visit the islands, meet local people, learn about their cultures, ride in a reed boat, try their cuisine, and spend the night in a local home.
We’ll make our way back to our home in Urubamba by bus the next day and you’ll have an extra night in our beautiful mountainside home before you fly out.
If you have the time, I highly recommend this add-on, priced at just $250.
Lauren made me feel comfortable and safe traveling to a part of the world I had never been to previously. The personal experiences she shares regarding being a smart traveler and her cultural knowledge are valuable.
She is friendly, a good problem solver, respectful of personal space/time, and fun. I would definitely travel with her again.… Read more “Safe, comfortable, and fun!”
Lauren, our host, was a charming ambassador for Morocco; I don’t see how anyone could provide a better experience than she did for our group consisting of eight strangers (soon to become friends).
Thank you, Lauren, for planning such a wonderful trip and sharing so many fabulous experiences. Looking forward to your future retreats.… Read more “I don’t see how anyone could provide a better experience”
Lauren was a fantastic host —wonderful, full of life, giving, trustworthy and a ton of fun! Even though the stay was only a week long, we got such a beautiful, well-rounded immersion in the culture…
What this is not: your standard trip. We saved money along the way and got a fantastic cultural voyage. I can wholeheartedly recommend this experience and I will most definitely be joining Lauren again in the near future.… Read more “A well-rounded immersion in culture”
Cost of the Sacred Valley Women's Adventure: $1095
(5 installments of $219 if you start payments in August 2018)
Sacred Valley Women's Adventure PLUS Lake Titicaca Excursion: $1345
(5 installments of $269 if you start payments in August 2018)
Includes: Lodging, breakfasts, a few additional meals, all activities, guides, transportation, admission to Inkariy Museum, and touristic passes for the ruins at Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and Machu Picchu.
Excludes: Most lunches and dinners (usually around $10 each), additional hotel stays before and/or after the event dates, gratuities, travel insurance, airfare to Cusco**.
Important: We'll be in a mountain location. Lots of walking is necessary, and some of it will be over rough terrain. While I can offer some lower-impact options to hikes and transportation, I'm not able to make this particular trip viable for travelers who have serious mobility or breathing issues.
We'll also be at high altitude. Urubamba (9,420 ft) is somewhat lower than Cusco (11,150 ft) but the altitude can be challenging at either location. If you're not accustomed to the altitude, I recommend arriving a few days early and acclimating gently. I can recommend a hotel in Cusco for any budget!
Questions? E-mail me at [email protected]