Peru: Andean Women’s Culture

Peru: Seeing Andean Culture Through the Eyes of Women

A Sights and Soul travelling woman in Peru.
A Sights and Soul travelling woman in Peru.

By Max Hartshorne

To many people, South America is a mystery that they may never unravel.  Between the many language challenges, fears and hesitations, it is unfortunate to miss such a huge range of great countries.  For some, though, it just takes the right tour operator and a willingness to trust that their experiences there will lead to a wonderful travel experience.  That’s what many of the woman who have traveled to Peru with Sights and Soul Travels say.

“I experienced so many wonderful new things [in Peru] it would be hard to single out one best thing. Each day brought something new. I had so longed to experience Peru that I just literally soaked it all up. Marlene was great! She went above and beyond what I thought a tour leader would do.

In general, this tour exceeded my expectations! I learned so much and got to experience so much of the culture of Peru,” said Rexanna, a Sights and Soul traveler from Missouri.

Land of Many Treasures

Marlene Boyer, a guide who got a lot of great comments from the Peru trip last year.
Marlene Boyer, a guide who got a lot of great comments from the Peru trip last year.

Peru is a land of archaeological, cultural and natural treasures. From the soaring high peaks of the Andes to the tranquil Lake Titicaca, from the magnificent Inca heritage to the Spanish conquistadors’ colonial mansions, it fascinates with the allure of the ancient and the mysterious. Peru boasts the stunning legacy of the Incas and other sophisticated pre-Columbian civilizations, but it’s also a place of brilliant hand-woven textiles, exuberant celebrations, exotic animals, and intriguing people.

Melissa and her mom on a trip to Portugal with Sights and Soul.

Heather and Joanne, mother and daughter from Maryland, shared some insights into their previous travels with Sights and Soul.  “First-time mother/daughter travelers should realize that they are going to be spending a lot of time together,” Heather said.

“When you are in such close quarters with another person – regardless of relationship – you are bound to get on each other’s nerves at least a little bit.  Don’t let a petty argument ruin your trip!  Don’t sweat the small stuff, take some time to yourself each day, and appreciate the time and experiences you are able to share together.”

Learning New Things About Mom

The Peru trip is a Mother-Daughter trip, as are many of the Sights and Soul journeys.
The Peru trip is a Mother-Daughter trip, as are many of the Sights and Soul journeys.

Heather has traveled with Janet to Iceland before with Sights and Soul.  “<span “background-color: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0);”>This will not be our first trip together but I have definitely learned some new things about my mom.  In Iceland I learned she was more adventurous than I had given her credit for.

We went snowmobiling on a glacier– something I was really petrified of -– but she was all in and convinced me to do it, too.  We ended up crashing but instead of getting upset about it we both laughed.

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I was surprised again in Ireland where my mom had the worst experience possible while traveling abroad: being pickpocketed.  Despite that, which happened on one of the first days we were traveling, she was able to put it behind her and continue having a great time.  We ended up using the police report as a page in our scrapbook.  I always considered my mom to be more of a cautious worrier, the archetypical “mom,” but these events let me see her in a different light.”

Indeed, a Mother Daughter trip might just bring out things in one another that you never even thought of!

Through the Eyes of Women

Cuzco one of Peru's exciting cities.
Cuzco one of Peru’s exciting cities.

The Sights and Soul Travels’ exploration of Peru offers a look into the soul of the country and the role of women in Peruvian societies over the last two thousand years.

During the eleven-day trip, you will explore the grandeur of the cosmopolitan Lima, one of the world’s culinary meccas, with elegant Spanish architecture and world-class museums. At Larco Museum, you will be able to discuss the role of women in pre-Columbian Peru with its curator, and at Barbosa-Stern collection, you’ll meet with its founder and art restorer to talk about the artifacts.

While exploring the Sacred Valley, you can meet a woman who has devoted her life to the preservation of the native Andean weaving traditions, witness indigenous rituals and meet Andean artisans to gain an understanding of Peru’s deep cultural roots.

Getting to meet local people is a highlight of this trip.
Getting to meet local people is a highlight of this trip.

The highlight of any trip to Peru is visiting Machu Picchu. At its height, the Inca Empire was a highly developed civilization, as reflected by the magnificent remains of Machu Picchu.

What made you want to visit Peru with Sights and Soul?

Heather: “Two main things: I have always wanted to visit Machu Picchu and I heard too many good things from other S&S travelers to pass it up.  I think what makes this trip so alluring to me is that it doesn’t focus just on Machu Picchu or the Inca Trail like every other tour I looked at.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

Instead, the itinerary really makes sure you experience Peru itself.  When someone asks me what I did during my trip, instead of just saying “I went to MP,” I could tell them about native weaving and textile production or religious customs I learned about through active participation.

“What I like so much about S&S is that there is a good balance between group activities and solo activities.

You can arrive at a destination as a group, but after a brief introduction you are free to spend time doing what interests you: eat, shop, explore outdoors, etc.

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You have to regroup after a certain amount of time, but once you’re back on the bus you get to hear how everyone experienced the same place in a different way.

I also enjoy the group travel experience.  The S&S tours we’ve gone on have been a mix of older and younger ladies.

Despite the age differences and varied backgrounds, conversation never runs dry and you will always have at least one thing in common with a fellow traveler.  That’s important when you spend a couple hours a day on a bus to/from a destination.”

An Anthropologist on Board

A woman in the Andes.
A woman in the Andes.

As with many of Sights and Soul’s trips, an expert anthropologist guide will accompany the group during their visit to Machu Picchu. By staying overnight near the site, you will awake to the early morning sun bathing the stones and be able to explore Machu Picchu before the crowds arrive.

Lou from Florida said of last year’s trip: “The theme of Andean Women’s Culture was woven throughout and very evident.

The visits to see the ancient native communities of Cuyuni and the Uros reed isles people were outstanding.

The food was delicious (best & most consistent of any trips I can remember). The Andean scenery, animals and botanical flowers were a sight to behold.

I took over 600 photos. We were blessed with very good weather. The group of ladies were varied and fun. I made some special friendships. I came home satisfied and a smile on my face that I had seen/learned everything I had expected and much MORE.”

Sights and Soul’s Andean Culture trip to Peru includes ten nights in designer and four and five star hotels in Lima, Machu Picchu and Suasi Island, and daily breakfast, seven lunches and five dinners. There will be a maximum of just 16 travelers, and the prices include just about everything except the air to Lima.  Even tips and gratuities are covered!

Max Hartshorne

Max Hartshorne has been the editor and publisher of GoNOMAD Travel in South Deerfield Mass since 2002. He worked for newspapers and other sales positions for 23 years until he finally got what he wanted, and became the editor at GoNOMAD. He travels regularly, enjoys publishing new writers, and watching his grandchildren grow up.