Jessica-Marie and Matthew Chung took along a Tentsile LUNA Ground Tent on their recent project in Peru, where they traversed the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu and camped along the way, exploring the Peruvian culture and meeting the local people and wildlife that call these mountains home. In partnership with Peakology, they set out to share the story of how the mountain communities steward the land and hope to inspire others to adventure more in a sustainable way. 

When choosing to explore Peru we knew Machu Picchu was a non-negotiable, but we wanted to travel in a way that digs deeper than this landmark. We meticulously curated our trip with a mission to bridge the gap between tourists and locals. To do this we needed to deepen our understanding of the culture and find a way to give back to the local communities as well as the environment.  

We felt that we should start our journey in Cusco, the capital of the Inca Empire. Upon our arrival, we learned that it was time for a big celebration, the winter solstice was here. We couldn’t believe how aligned we felt with our purpose to understand the region’s deep cultural history. Sitting at 3,399m.s.n.m. it’s also a great place to acclimatize before starting our 5-day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. 

During our acclimatization period we took a drive through the Sacred Valley of the Incas to spend the day with the Misminay Community. They welcomed us warmly with music and dancing before handing each of us a chef’s apron. We knew it was time for cooking lessons! Helping them prepare a delicious traditional dinner using only local products was one of my favourite experiences. We ate, we learned and we danced more! But this time, they dressed me up in traditional clothing. They told me “the community gained a new sister today.” This is exactly the kind of connection we were hoping to come across.  

Some gems along the Salkantay trek were Humantay Lake, Cocalmayo hot springs, coffee farms and Machu Picchu itself. But the most unforgettable had to be the Salkantay Pass. This trail led us to different perspectives of the snowcapped Salkantay Mountain until we reached the summit at 4600 m.s.n.m. Its beauty pulled us in while the challenge creates this beautiful opportunity to unlock deeper parts of ourselves. 

Our trip came full circle when we stayed in Ollantaytambo, the only Inca town that is still inhabited. Matt and I initially came here to wind down and reflect on our journey before heading home, but after a local shared with us his secret camping spot with hidden waterfalls, we just had to do one last adventure.  

A short yet steep 1km hike up to the ruins of Inkawatana-Intihuatana where we camped under the Milky Way in our Tentsile Luna and enjoyed the entire mountain to ourselves. With a sense of freedom and a still mind, we basked in nature’s pure state, and listened to the stories told by the land.  

None of this would be possible without Peakology. 

A true adventure with purpose. Their mission to create a paradigm shift in the rise of conscious leaders around the world through the spirit of adventure; to not only build better business cultures, but better communities and ultimately a better world. Bucket list experiences infused with culture, impact, challenge and personal growth. We want to emphasize connection by creating bonds with those around us, the locals, nature and most importantly ourselves. They lead impactful initiatives that give back to the local communities through crowdfunding and/or partnering with organizations.  

Moe and I have worked together during our Kilimanjaro adventure in 2021. I was on assignment to capture photo and video on our “March to Greatness” where he led The Slumcode Group non-profit to the summit. The team raised over 7000$ for the underserved communities in Kenya. Since then, we have co-created this trip itinerary to Peru while Matt joined our media team to help spread the message of sustainable travel.  

Some things we learned along the way 

Every place has something to teach you, and you also learn more about yourself. 

Water is the most important thing for life. The rainbow is the flag of Cusco because it represents prosperity from the rain. 

Quechuan words:  

Noqay Sutiy (my name is) Jessica-Marie, Iran Sutiki (what is your name)? 

I am from Vancouver, Canada. Maymantan Kanki (where are you from)? 

You have a sunakchtica (beautiful) energy.  

The Andes are still growing, in fact, faster than our fingernails grow. Yet, Machu Picchu is sinking due to the number of tourists that visit daily.  

Responsible Travel 

From our time in Ollantaytambo, Carlos, the owner of Stardome Peru showed us how to connect with a new place. He says there is a different energy in every place we visit, therefore to be welcomed by the light spirits we must take 3 Coca leaves (spiritual, mental & physical) held towards you in the shape of a lotus flower, give thanks to the gods then release them and watch them blow away with the wind.  

The Condor, in the three stages of the Inca Life represents the heavens. This bird used to be seen flying around Humantay Lake, but ever since a tourist flew his drone, we haven't seen them in this area again. With our actions, we choose if we want to impact nature in a positive or negative way. 

From what we learned, we'll leave you with actionable steps you can make as a traveller or adventurer.  

  1. Explore slower instead of jumping/rushing from location to location. Doing this avoids extra transportation and allows you to connect deeper with each place you visit. I love doing this because it allows time to discover the non-touristy places aka the local secret hidden gems
  2. Make conscious decisions! A few things to look for when booking a tour:  
  • Fair wages  
  • Locally owned or works with locals  
  • Supports green hotels 
  • Giveback programs  
  • Try an activity that brings you closer to nature such as hiking 
  • Practice leave no trace principles. 

2-3 key quotes about the journey:

  • Life is meant to be celebrated. It’s about gratitude, things bigger than ourselves; the connection to our land, our ancestors, and the spiritual world.
  • “And one for Pachamama (Mother Earth)”
  • Travel like a local.
  • The more conscious we are about ourselves, the more we can bring that consciousness into our life and the way we explore the world.

    Tentsile Range

    Jessica Reading