Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Perú.

The Originality of the Goal

For the past 30 years, the French magazine Montagnes and the Groupe de Haute Montagne have been awarding the Piolet d’Or or “Golden Ice Axe” for achievements in the previous year. While it is considered mountaineering’s highest honor, I could never understand why it was given for the summits no one ever heard of – not the Mont Blancs, the Denalis or the Everests but rather for the climbs and traverses well away from the flashlights. 
I could not understand it until I started trekking leisurely in the Sacred Valley. Endless ridgebacks, one heading another, and when you think you approached the end of it, twenty more open up on the horizon, of which 15 are unreachable – or so it seems. This made me think more about one of the criteria piolet d’or uses, namely that of the “originality in the choice of the objective and the innovative nature of the manner of conducting the ascent”.

Originality refers to something novel. Creativity to multiple alternatives of creating something useful, where usefulness can be seen in terms of practicality or aesthetics. 

Do we care about something novel but not useful ? Do we care about something useful but not original ? My answer is “no” to both and that’s why I feel like Amudnsen every  time I go for a walk in the Valley.

Why Photograph the Nature ?

Nature photography never gets boring: the nature is in constant move and the photographer never faces exactly the same situation.

It is challenging – one need to not cross the boundaries between the curiosity and quest for an image, and respect for the wildlife.

But nature photography is rewarding, too. It depicts the beauty of nature, it is educative, it documents the irreplaceable value of our environment and it can trigger nature conservation and wildlife protection.

Whichever of those appeal to you most – you are welcome to come and try your skills with us !

Caring for Our Trees

Trees are the most valuable and hardest working parts of our landscape. They shade our homes, reduce air pollution and soil erosion, provide habitat for wildlife and add beauty to our everyday lives.

Since they are such a peaceful, serene part of the background, it’s easy to forget that trees require our care to thrive. 

A properly done pruning enhances the structure and strength of the trees, making thinning cuts (removing entire limbs at their origin) as opposed to heading cuts (cutting along the length of a branch or hat-racking). Pruning correctly and pruning at the right time can make all the difference.

Here is what the experts say.

Sharing the skies with the eagles


Our guests often ask us – what should I see in the Sacred Valley ? Which treks would you recommend ?

Hopefully, in the new world that will come after COVID we will start living a more conscious life, running less fast, taking time to discover places, and giving up on “on the surface” visits to be able to focus better on selected situations.

What you see in this video are the heights just above Hotel Molino. They are majestuous, silent and vast. To enjoy walking in these marvellous places located between 3,000-4,000 meters (10,000-13,000 feet) you would need to be fit. But please – no need to sweat in the gym or run marathons. Everyday exercise, good sleep, lots of walking rather than car driving, and good acclimatization once you arrive should help.

Let us know if you need tips on how to prepare your body to be able to do most of the treks that Sacred Valley offers. Our team is here to help so that you can go where only the eagles fly !

Happy New Year from Hotel Molino.In this video we share the singing of birds at the front door.Este año animate a visitar el Valle Sacrado !

Opublikowany przez Hotel Molino - Sacred Valley Peru Piątek, 3 stycznia 2020

What you see is what you get


Our guests often ask us questions – what places to visit, where to eat, how to get there, what’s the cost ?

We are mindful each of us has different interests and sees the world through a different lens. Look for instance at this tranquil spot near Hotel Molino. What is it that you see ? Lush vegetation ? Abandoned crop fields ? Family house of people who no longer are ? Inca trail leading to the ruins just 100 feet above?

As we run a boutique hotel, we have greater chances of providing our guests with tailored service and recommendations that fit more closely with their particular objectives.

Our approach is to treat each guest individually. This starts at the time of booking where you will receive a personalized email from us. We can help set up your program and logistics well before your arrival. We can then adjust them during your stay, if this would be beneficial to you.

What you see is what you get. Let us help you see more and discover more !

Travelling to Cusco ? Beware of cancelled flights


We are used to a world where many services are available 24/24 and 7/7. Cancelled flight is a bummer but hey, “they” will have to fix it, rebook you, pay your money back. Well, not always and quite unlikely when you travel in wet season to Cusco.

To avoid disappointment, missed onwards flights, unnecessary queues and extra cost – consider this one simple recommendation: between December and January, and sometimes neighbouring months, don’t book flights that land in, or take off from Cusco before (roughly !) 10am. During these months the morning mist is oftentimes so thick it doesn’t allow the planes to safely navigate and land in the imperial nest.

This picture was taken on January 2, 2020. The situation was exactly the same last year and every single early January ever since I started travelling this itinerary. My flight number was 2012, the first plane to be allowed to fly. It left on the ground a stressed mass of visitors frantically trying to secure expensive tickets for the next flight – the next day or even the day after…



We tourists tend to think of Peru in terms of breathtaking landscapes, friendly people, fabulous cuisine and holiday adventure. However while it is all of these things, Peru is also a “normal” country that faces the typical political, social and cultural challenges.

Early parliamentary elections were held in Peru today. The elections were called after President Martin Vizcarra dissolved the Congress in September 2019. The 130 members of Congress were elected in 25 multi-member constituencies using open list proportional representation. Shown here: voting in Ollantaytambo. 



Wow, today is a very symmetrical date !

Do you like symmetrical numbers ? Why ? How many of these will we have this year ? How about symmetry around us ? These beautiful fields. Imagine how much work went it maintaining them in this shape.

Do you really want to see the "authentic" Peru ?


One of the more terrible concepts in marketing, “curated”, slowly starts losing its teeth. Curated hotels, curated content, curated photos and curated itineraries. The process of curation is not dissimilar to that of carrot production in the European Union: any carrot that doesn’t fit within the specified range of length, width, weight and color is discarded. As a result we are exposed to a rosy vision of things which has nothing to do with the asymmetrical, unexpected, unpredictable essence of the world.

It is not easy to offer clients a real experience that corresponds to their preconceived idea of “authentic.” In our favorite coffee shop in Ollantaytambo, pictured here, you will not find displays of local textiles, you won’t be served locally consumed drinks and, be sure, you will not come across a single Quechua farmer. Moreover, you will be able to order your fresh coffee in English, enjoy it while looking at vintage plaques from the American fifties, and hang out with Harley riders. Is this authentic ? Is this “real Peru” ?

Nazca lines


Created by the Nazca culture 2,000 years ago, the Nazca lines, engraved in the ground on a vast coastal plain, can be grouped into straight lines, geometric designs and pictorial representations.

Out of over 800 straight lines, some are of up to 30 miles long. Over 300 geometric designs include triangles, rectangles, trapezoids, spirals and zig-zags.

Representations of about 70 animals and plants, some of which measure up to 1,200 feet; include a spider, hummingbird, cactus, monkey, whale, llama, duck, flower, tree, lizard and dog.

Nazca has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and even without that seal, it is one of the more impressive places to visit on a cultural trip to Peru.

What if you don’t make it to Nazca ?

Consider this Lascaux-like red sheep slope near Arequipa. Although not quite as elaborate as Nazca, it is live, contemporary and spectacular. Who knows how many other similarly simple, defying landscapes you can see “just like this” on the amazing South American continent

Works in Hotel Molino


Perched like a nest on a strip of land, Hotel Molino overlooks the Vilcanota valley, and faces massive mounts in three directions.

This privileged location comes at a cost. Being so close to the nature means we need to be very vigilant to what the nature brings, as it won’t forgive our negligence.

During the rainy season, just one day of consecutive rainfall causes the mountain lakes to overflow with water and inundate the land below. Even when it rains less, but the water channel that collects the water from the lakes happens to be blocked, that extra water will again bring down a mass of mud and stones that will destroy slopes, dirt roads and housing infrastructure.

In this particular place, rebuilding the dirt road and infrastructure requires agreement and cooperation of the entire community.

It is difficult to mobilize people for a social cause – they will find excuses to avoid you, and you don’t have leverage over them. It is difficult to mobilize people for a social cause anywhere, and the Valley is not an exception.

It took heavy pressure on local authorities and neighbors to start repair works of the damaged and unusable road. This time, the persistence paid off. Look at this group of men. Well equipped and professionally trained, they came with heavy machinery and spent the entire day working.

With effort and perseverance, good things can happen. Even in a remote Peruvian village.

Temptation of neverending leisure


In 1904-1905, Max Weber published The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

Of all of my university years which, with four degrees, sum up to more than a decade, I only remember four concepts. Weber’s views on the value of methodical, everyday work are one of them.

Others have written eloquently about the essence of Weber’s thoughts so I will let them speak. Here is the text adapted from

Protestantism offers a concept of the worldly “calling,” and gives worldly activity a religious character. One branch of Protestantism, Calvinism, believes in predestination – that God has already determined who is saved and damned. Calvinist looked for clues about whether one was actually saved in their success in worldly activity. Thus, they came to value material success as signs of God’s favor. Other protestant groups had similar attitudes to a lesser degree.

Weber argues that this new attitude broke down the traditional economic system, paving the way for modern capitalism. However, once capitalism emerged, the Protestant values were no longer necessary, and their ethic took on a life of its own. We are now locked into the spirit of capitalism because it is so useful for modern economic activity.

Throughout his book, Weber emphasizes that his account is incomplete. He is not arguing that Protestantism caused the capitalistic spirit, but rather that it was one contributing factor.

The concept of methodical work being a value on it’s own was horribly tweaked by the nazis.

It remains a simple principle which, if followed, could help us live a more balanced and fulfilling life.

A picture is worth a thousand words


Apparently, this saying was invented by an advertising executive, Fred R. Barnard, to promote his agency’s ads. I don’t know if this is factual or not. This is what says the Google search engine, the most accessible source of explanation of anything.

As is customary, that statement was repeated in multiple search results, reinforcing the impression it could actually be correct. Maybe it is ?

Not to make me drift away into my doubts, and not to bore me, the Google search pointed me to an adjacent territory with a more interesting statement. Apparently our brain can process images 60,000 times faster than it can process words. WOW !

But wait, what does that mean ? That if I see an image, I will digest its content in one second versus 60,000 seconds, or a little under 20 hours, it would take me to understand a word ?

That can’t be true. How many of us would actually do the math, though, to see the absurdity of that phrase ? It is catchy, and we like to quickly borrow and use catchy phrases rather than dissect them until the spell breaks.

Beware of catchy statements that are senseless. They are the younger brothers of populism

Animals on the go


El venado cola blanca, ciervo cola blanca o venado gris (Odocoileus virginianus) es una especie de mamífero artiodáctilo de la familia de los cérvidos.

Vive en diferentes ecosistemas de América, desde los canadienses, en la región subártica, pasando por los bosques secos de las laderas montañosas de México, las selvas húmedas tropicales de América Central y del Sur, hasta los bosques secos ecuatoriales del norte del Perú y otras áreas boscosas sudamericanas.

Se alimenta de arbustos y hierbas. Es muy perseguido por los cazadores en toda su área de distribución, pero no se considera en riesgo.

En 1993 el Congreso Nacional de la República de Honduras instituyó al venado de cola blanca como símbolo nacional de la fauna de este país. Así mismo, Odocoileus virginianus fue declarado símbolo patrio de la República de Costa Rica en 1995.