Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

MAR-APR 2013

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Hotel Sumaq is the only fve-star hotel in Aguas Calientes, the town closest to Machu Picchu. Passing through the entry and into the complex was an amazing moment, only slightly marred by the feeling I was at Disneyworld because of the huge crowds and the multitude of languages being spoken. Sensing my slight disappointment, our guide told me, after our tour, he���d show us the perfect vantage point and if I���d wait until just before closing, I���d get to experience the view as it���s portrayed in countless books and magazines. One thing to keep in mind is there are no explanatory signs, which reduces visual clutter, but those without a guide are left looking at a lot of expertly engineered rock structures with no idea of their function or significance (I noted more than one group who expressed frustration at this trip planning misstep). For a primer, visit the small Museo de Sitio Manuel Ch��vez Ball��n, located at the end of a long dirt road near ruins detailing the history, culture, and rediscovery of the site. We peppered our guide with questions during our twohour tour, after which we adjourned for a late lunch at the Tinkuy Buffet Restaurant in Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, located just outside the ticket booth. The only other choice for those who don���t opt for the bufet is an expectedly overpriced concession stand, as outside food and drinks aren���t permitted (though we had no problem bringing in bottled water). Following lunch we took the trail-less-traveled to the Inca Bridge ��� a relatively easy hike that culminates at an impressive piece of architecture ��� a stone path cut into a clif face that is partially built up by a tower of stones. Te 20-foot gap in the path ��� with a nearly 2,000-foot drop in-between ��� was designed to be bridged by tree trunks that could easily be removed to stop intruders. After exploring every nook and cranny to our satisfaction, we sought out the spot recommended by our guide: a grassy terrace above the ruins and patiently waited, watching the interplay of light and shadow on the ancient stone structures. Just before sunset, the crowds dissipated and there it was ��� the magical moment I���d traveled so far to experience. Enveloped by towering, verdant mountains whose jagged peaks snag cotton-candy clouds, the town of Aguas Calientes caters to the throngs of visitors with a host of lodging and dining options at all levels of quality and service. Hotel Sumaq, positioned near the boulder-strewn banks of the Vilcanota River, has the distinction of being the only fve-star hotel in the small town. Committed to sustainable tourism, the property immerses guests in the local culture through its architecture and interior design, cuisine, and authentic custom-designed experiences. A coca sour in the Suquy Caf�� Bar proved to be a good tonic for our aching muscles, as was the hearty Peruvian- slmag.net 43

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