Planning A Retreat For Ancient Explorers
At the moment, I am coordinating our very first retreat in Cusco, Peru, which will take place next year, and I confess that I am very excited about it! For a number of years, friends asked me about travelling to Peru and when I was going to organise a tour. At first, I was very reluctant to consider the idea. As much as I love exploring the ancient places of the Inka and their predecessors, the idea of putting together a run-of-the-mill archaeological tour simply didn’t appeal to me. Then, just over twelve months ago, out of the blue, a vision came to me. In that moment, I saw myself guiding a group of travellers through Cusco. Not only was I teaching them about the majestic towns and shrines of the Inka, but I was also introducing them to the Andean way of life. So inspired by this idea, I immediately began to contact people and plan. During this early stage, I decide that I wanted to facilitate unique and special experiences for fellow ancient explorers and for this, I drew on two key lessons I have learned from my own travels.
Lesson 1: Self-care is the Key to a Magical Experience
Travel can be hard on the physical, emotional and mental bodies, especially if you are a highly sensitive person like me. This is something I learned the hard way a couple of years ago when I took a two-week tour in Nepal and Northern India. It was a great tour, but it was go-go-go! There was little sleep, long days commuting from place to place by bus and train, and experiences were planned back-to-back, so there was little time to digest them. While I left India grateful for the experience, I was completely exhausted, as my senses were fried!
What I learned from this is that for me, the quality of the experiences is what is important and not how many tourist places I visit and can tick off my bucket list. Perhaps you are the same?
So, when planning the retreat, I began looking for a sanctuary, a place where explorers can rest after visiting amazing archaeological places, such as Machu Picchu and Pisaq and while researching, I stumbled onto a haven called Wilka T’ika, located in the Sacred Valley. Wilka T’ika is renown for its tranquil setting and medicinal and chakra gardens. To enhance our stay, my dear friend and creative, Keesha Goode, will hold daily kundalini yoga classes and several mandala workshops. Mandalas are a wonderful way to peel away the layers of the self and capture the essence of an experience while on retreat.
Lesson 2: Connecting With Place is Central to Making Memorable Moments
Connecting with others is essential to having wonderful experiences while exploring foreign places. As an archaeologist, I lived in different parts of the Andes extended periods of time and this afforded me the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with people. Over time, my respect and love for the Andean way has grown and inspired my growth personally and professionally. Importantly, I have learned that respect and honouring others are two key principles that Andean people live by and are essential to establishing and maintaining connections with people and places. Building respect for the Andean way asks you to be open and willing to immerse yourself in their world: this means learning about their ancient and modern traditions, rituals, ceremonies and listen to their stories with a non-judgmental mind.
An introduction to the Andean way not only requires an experienced facilitator but an introduction and welcome to community and country. Once again, the Wilka T’ika, as an established hub of its local community, is the perfect place for a group to begin the following the Andean way. Here, our group will participate in a number of beautiful cultural ceremonies, including the despacho, a traditional Andean Earth offering, during our stay. I will also give master classes on other critical aspects of the Andean world, including how to honour Pachamama, the Andean name for Mother Earth.
I am truly excited to be offering this unique retreat. If you are thinking of joining us, I invite to read our travel guideline