enjoying peru's age-old charms in new style
It’s a country beloved of backpackers, but it’s no longer one in which you need to rough it, as Drusilla Beyfus discovered on a two-week tour.
The Orient Express Hiram Bingham train is the no-sweat way to reach Machu Picchu. Named after the American explorer who is known for putting the Inca site on the map, the narrow-gauge train skirts the famous Inca trail as it chugs along and trekkers can be spotted.
One is well placed to raise a glass to them. The pre-prandial cocktail aboard is pisco sour, a national brew made from Chilean brandy, lemon juice, egg-white syrup and bitters.
Lunch aboard is served at a table nicely laid with linen, at your seat number. In the observation car that houses the bar, travellers may stand at the open end, watching the rails disappearing in the distance, imagining they are royalty or, perhaps, a sheriff in a Western.
At Machu Picchu, we stayed at the Sanctuary Lodge. The densely forested, towering mountains enfolding us were every whit as thrilling as the site itself - and the mystery that surrounds the origins of the ruins.
However, I felt oddly at home with some of the bigger constructions as they looked so modern. As Hugh Thomson wrote in his influential book The White Rock, "The Inca aesthetic was abstract in a way that chimes with 20th-century impulses."