A Journey to “Middle Earth”… in Peru

This past weekend the Sacred Valley Health crew made their way through Peru’s version of every province of Middle Earth (of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy). We woke up at an obscene hour of the day to drive nearly an hour to the trail head in a rural town called Taucca. Naturally, we started walking uphill through what I would consider “The Shire” — complete with lots of green and llamas.

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Llamas peeking out behind an Incan stone wall
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The Peruvian version of “the Shire”

Once we hiked out of “The Shire,” we started our LONG ascent and eventually ended up in a glacial bowl (much like Rohan).  There was something comforting about being surrounded by a snowy mountain range, unknown by anything or anyone (I think being in that position sola would be a different situation).

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Just another snowy mountain range in the Peruvian Andes…

It was an amazing place.  I wish I had had a horse (like a real “Rider of Rohan“) to gallop through the wintry bowl and over the pass. It would have been so much nicer than walking (and sucking in the thin air).

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The air is quite thin at this high altitude

Our descent only lasted for a few hours.  As the altitude dropped, the temperature increased… and so we entered a new area (very much like Rivendell).  Sparkly leaves, vibrantly colored flowers and lush plants consumed the trail.

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Pretty Peruvian purple flowers

I half expected a fairy to jump out and surprise me while I was gawking at the pretty purple flowers. After leaving this area, we happened upon a set of less-than-remarkable Incan ruins.  The most incredible thing about this area was the view down to Lamay (the town we eventually arrived at after a 3 km descent).

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And down the mountain we go!

Sauntering to the main road (yes, I was in pain after walking downhill for 3 hours) the group caught a ride to a town a bit closer to Ollantaytambo to make a “fiesta-stop”.  The town of Huaran was celebrating the day of their patron saint with loads of dances, food and cerveza.  We were lucky enough to get an invite to one of 8 exclusive cargos (a house-party where they serve every guest massive amounts of food and beer).  After having eaten in the main plaza, none of us was very hungry…but that didn’t stop the Peruvians from serving us a mountain of suckling pig and potatoes.  Even though we were done with our mountainous journey, this meal brought me back to Middle Earth seeing as the pig was roasted on a spit!

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SVH staff enjoys a delicious post-journey beverage

Written by SVH Program Manager Julia Curry

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