Language in Llamaland

Break the touristico bubble in which lots of us travel by speaking or at least studying the local language. But forget about the crazy conjugations.  You don’t have to be a linguist to absorb some of the basics, the surround sound, and rhythm of a new tongue when eager to intensify an adventure.

In Peru this fall, consider spending nine marvelous days under the wing of Llama Expeditions and your life could be transformed.  The have cleverly combined active adventure travel with living language lessons taught by Carlos Bazan, teacher and founder of  “Enjoy Spanish”, top-rated Spanish language school in San Francisco.

Andean trekking specialist, Diane Valenti, founder/owner of San Francisco-based Llama Expeditions says, “Carlos believes that a language is best learned when the whole self is engaged” and she has constructed a smart trip to accomplish just this.  An on-line Spanish language quiz helps determine skill level and, adds Valenti, advanced-beginners do best. Orchestrating the stimulation of an exotic environment under the baton of a skilled linguist, travelers will be encouraged to encounter each other and the locals communicating only in Spanish.

“Spanish Learning Vacation” highlights: tours of historic Lima, a culinary dip into authentic ceviche, visits to Pachacamac, the pre-Columbian archaeological complex, colonial Cusco, Inca ruins, a traditional weaving community in the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, and the salt pans of Maras. And not to worry, you’ll meet many cute llamas along the way.

Her company is philanthropically focused and guests are encouraged to donate gifts of food, school supplies and clothing. One great Spanish on-the-go trip only: Nov. 9-17, 2013 and designed for only six to ten people. The per-person double rate is $3,977 for all land arrangements and many meals.  Call 415-553-7731.

Higher Than A Kite In Peru

“Realm of the Incas” is an excellent new 7-day exploration of the former Incan kingdom, rich in natural beauty, culture, history and archeology.  On an Exertion Scale of 1 to 5, this trip falls on 2.5: easy hikes at medium elevations and overnights in top hotels.  The operator is award-winning Mountain Travel Sobek, an adventure pioneer since 1969, keen on offering unique experiences , trips that are inspirational and enriching, sometimes transformative.

Start off high and cool in the city of Cuzco (UNESCO World Heritage Site), former capital of the ancient Inca Empire and today the undisputed archaeological king of the Americas.  Just outside of the city, explore the Inca ruins and the spectacular mountain fortress of Sacsayhuaman.  See the terraced ancient aqueducts, canals and waterfalls in Tambomachay.  Visit Pisac, ancient hilltop ruins and vibrant market.  Hike into Chinchero, an adobe village overlooking the Sacred Valley of the Incas and believed to be the mythical birthplace of the rainbow. (Love this.)  Visit the village of Huilloc where weavers still speak the language of their Incan ancestors and still grow crops on tiny terraced plots 12,000 feet above sea level.  Whew.

Then two days in Machu Picchu, world-class grand slam travel finale and voted one of the “new Seven Wonders of the World.”  This iconic, mysterious and marvelous city was hidden in dense jungle-covered mountains for almost 500 years until discovered in 1911 by intrepid Yalie, Hiram Bingham.

Four departures in 2012: July 28, Sept. 1, Oct. 6 and Dec. 22 just in time to celebrate Christmas.  Pricing starts at $3,595 per person, double basis.

For the full scoop on “Realm of the Incas,” click: or call 888-831-7526.