The private jet for the “Around the World by Private Jet” tour of 11 countries in 22 days is extremely comfortable. The 757 has been reconfigured to accommodate 88 extra-wide, reclining seats with leg rests. We’ve all been provisioned with noise cancelling headphones for use on the plane, receivers with earpieces for all the tours, and a storage bag for anything we want to leave on the plane while we’re touring in country. We’re sitting in row 18, just in front of the trip physician and trip photographer. Youngest GeoKid is extremely happy with the fact that there’s enough leg room that he can get down on the floor to build Lego (he brought along a smallish bin of mostly Star Wars Lego parts and minifigs).
Our 6 hour flight to Lima went smoothly and we crossed south of the equator for the first time in our lives. We also overflew the Panama Canal, which was particularly interesting because Grandma and Grandpa GeoK will be cruising through the canal a month from now. Stepping of the jet in Lima was like walking into a sauna, primarily because of the high humidity. After touring the Larco Herrera Museum, we sampled pisco sours, in honour of National Pisco Sour Day!
Next morning, we headed back to the airport to board a local flight to Cusco, which ended up delayed on account of the weather. There were two benefits to the delay: the GeoKids took advantage of the wifi access to check email and update apps and Mrs. GeoK introduced herself to several members of our tour group. We finally arrived at the beautiful Hotel Montesario just in time for a buffet lunch (Mr. GeoK particularly enjoyed the spicy beef) and a cup of coca tea. A fairly quiet afternoon, with a short trip to Sacsayhuaman and the local cathedral, allowed us to acclimate to the high altitude (approximately 9,000 feet).
Finally, early this morning (Feb 7), we headed to Machu Picchu. There are almost no words to describe the day…we travelled more than 9 hours (bus, train, bus) to spend four hours doing our best to absorb every aspect of Machu Picchu…the guard house, the sun dial, the temples and houses. We went rogue…started out with the wrong group and then couldn’t ever quite manage to connect with our designated tour guide. Every now and then, we’d hear bits and pieces over channel 4 of our audio receiver, so it’s a good thing we watched a few documentaries on Machu Picchu over the past months. The upside to ending up not part of any group is that we were free to search for the sole geocache hidden within the site: GC19941 Para Emmy-n-Sapphie. Mr. GeoK spotted the hiding spot without difficulty, Mrs. GeoK retrieved the container and Youngest GeoKid investigated the contents, which included three travel bugs. After making note of the tracking numbers, we returned the travellers to the cache, as we had no idea what their missions might be.
The Inca stone work was amazing, the sun dial was one of the highlights and the stone work and water system under the temple were truly remarkable. We snapped literally hundreds of photographs and have our fingers crossed that at least a few of them managed to capture the sense of this World Heritage Site.
The Hiram Bingham train was fantastic…the height of luxury, with an upholstered booth, white table linens and elaborate fixed menu for both lunch and supper. There were a few tense moments on the final bus ride to the hotel. First, as we were leaving Ollantaytambo, our bus driver had to fold in the mirrors…first on the passenger side and then on the driver’s side, so that we could squeeze past a big truck. Then, just outside another village, we ended up driving in the clouds for about 15 minutes, with very limited visibility. Even so, we were safely back in Cusco well before 10 pm.