Willka T’ika Spa and Wellness: A Spiritual Journey to Peru

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Peruvian children in a classroom
Spending some of a day with children in their classrooms high in the Andes is part of the Willka T’ika experience. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

Peru is more than a place. It’s an experience for all the senses. Choosing a wellness retreat center while traveling in the Sacred Valley of the Incas is a way to deeply engage mind/body opportunities. Expand the exploration of the ancient sites in this region during a stay at Willka T’ika.

One trip to Machu Picchu did not satisfy me and I had to return. Willka T’ika guest house is part of the reason why.

This wellness retreat center in the lovely Sacred Valley of the Incas filled me with desire walking the gardens and grounds one afternoon, slipping away from my nearby hotel.

By the time I acknowledged my immense need to immerse there, 10 friends wanted to travel with me. I’m no travel agent, but I know an exceptionally special place when I see it.

This is a calming, healing place with gardens for beauty and for groceries, a thousand-year-old lucuma tree, yoga studios, solar baths and chakra gardens reflecting the seven body points.

Circular garden for healing at Willka T'ika wellness retreat in Peru
The Spiral Garden at Willka T’ika opens the senses. Photo courtesy Willka T’ika

Peru Wellness Retreat

“Heal the world by first healing yourself” is a Willka T’ika mantra.

Day trips in Peru’s Sacred Valley to sacred, historic, ceremonial sites kept my explorations on track while opening avenues to meet the Quechua neighbors, and participate in visits from Andes mountain healers with ancient wisdom.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Pack with care and take only a carryon. Luggage losses in Peru are legendary.

One afternoon I walked to the Maras salt mines, greeting local residents in Paradero Rumichaka in their yards and doorways. These neighbors are the Willka T’ika staff too.

Building friendships is highly possible.

Peruvian student in traditional dress
Sustainable travel Willka T’ika style helps visitors impact local students in positive ways. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

Inside a Peruvian Classroom

So is meeting schoolchildren and their teachers, higher up in the Andes.

Willka T’ika founder Carol Cumes opened that partnership decades ago, and the day I spent in the school showed me clearly how visitors and sustainability can honor and support local culture.

The Willka T’ika Children’s Fund connects visitors to direct, specific support to the school, the teachers and the students.

The school is higher in the Andes than the retreat center, and side trips to Cusco and Machu Picchu ask your body to deal with elevation too.

Exterior of guesthouse at Willka T'ika wellness retreat in Peru
Carefully, lovingly crafted, the cottages, yoga studios, spa spaces and music rooms with library set a healing tone throughout Willka T’ika. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

Pampering the Body and Spirit

Centering on light therapy and chakra gardens, floral solar baths and ancient Peruvian healing at this luxury wellness retreat center is a path to balance.

Sea-level breathing during the Lima airport arrival in Peru can change to shortness of breath when traveling higher.

That’s one reason the Quechua people chew coca leaves, and offer them in hotel lobbies with hot water so visitors can ease altitude symptoms with tea.

At Willka T’ika, coca leaves become insight. The healer reading leaves in private sessions has been guiding visitors to new understanding for 20 years. Her declarations about me were astounding, and give me much to contemplate ever since.

I shared a twin room with a girlfriend, both of us delighted with a hot water bottle at each bedtime. Foot warmer? Hip or knee comfort after hiking? Or yet another kind of spa service special at Willka T’ika.

Willka T'ika is mindful of the spirit of the mountains, the apu.
Keeping the apu–or mountain spirit–in mind is important in the Sacred Valley, and Willka T’ika guesthouses are perfectly situated. Photo courtesy Willka T’ika

Eco-friendly Sanctuary

Twenty-six garden rooms means more than just garden views. The invitation of Willka T’ika is to immerse in the gardens.

Some of them in greenhouses and outdoors form the basis of every vegetarian meal. The seven chakra gardens focus energy on specific body centers.

Mysticism is as much a part of the chakra gardens as is their immense beauty. Spiritual transformation is the opportunity here and ample time is available to create space for new thoughts and feelings.

There’s a spiral garden, with paths six-feet wide, defined with stones and brimming with flowers of indigo, lilac and purple. These are the colors to trigger intuition and clairvoyance.

Chakra Gardens Are Energy Centers

“Supporting people in their deep connections to the Source“ is Carol Cumes‘ intention for the gardens.

Proceeds from her book “Chakra Gardens: Opening the Senses of the Soul“ go to the Willka T‘ika Children‘s Fund.

I notice how many people in my home are touched by those senses when they pick up my copy of her book of photos and philosophies.

White is the dominant color of flowers in the Lucuma Tree garden. Believed to be 1,000 years old, the tree is a retreat center focal point for finding wisdom and profound insights.

Quechua people call that cosmic consciousness.

aerial view of Willka T'ika gardens in Peru
The Sacred Valley seen through a drone offers another concept of Willka T’ika’s gorgeous gardens. Photo courtesy Willka T’ika

The Urubamba River flows through the Sacred Valley of Peru, another day trip from the guest house and more interactions with the Quechua people.

They live lives of ayni, giving and receiving in balance and harmony. That reciprocity flows through all Willka T‘ika experiences, and side trips to Ollantaytambo, Pisaq and Salkantay as well as Machu Picchu and Cusco.

Always, the Andean mountains are in sight.

Focus on Wellness

Find wifi in a few designated spaces, because the focus on wellness and connection to Pachamama, or Mother Earth, is the point. Same for televisions or telephones in the rooms. Not a good fit.

The Healers of Willka T‘ika

Everything‘s an interesting package at Willka T‘ika–which means sacred flower. Terry Cumes wraps his role as director with skills earned with an MBA from Stanford, international relations degree from the University of California at Berkeley — and a childhood as the son of Carol Cumes.

“How would you like to feel when you return home?“ is one of his welcoming questions. “Why are you going? What do you expect to get out of it?“

Participating in ancient rituals with authentic healers was one of my goals in Peru‘s Sacred Valley.

Peruvian weavers in traditional dress near the Willka T'ika wellness retreat
This family of weavers walks long distances to share traditional skills and healing ceremonies with Willka T’ika guests. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

Don Benito was my guide and teacher with ceremonies on the Willka T’ika grounds and inside sacred spaces. He and his sons walk great distances from higher elevations in the Andes to share cosmology practices with retreat center guests.

They exude a different sort of patience and contentment and comfort than I had ever encountered. Perhaps that is why the memories linger more deeply.

Q’ero is the new word to learn about such people—elders with deep experience in ancient ceremonies.

Of course you can check in like a familiar boutique hotel, and find the front desk, but this wellness retreat opens different, deeply interesting possibilities.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Delve into the seven suggestions for a wellness retreat in Peru on the Willka T’ika website. Intention enriches this experience.

Since the neighborhood people of Paradero Rumichaka working here know they are walking in the shadows of Andes Mountain deities—called Apus, the tone of respect and awe is palpable. . . and gentle.

Macchu Picchu view in Peru
Machu Picchu triggers wondrous thoughts whether looking up or down, or through harmonious spaces. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

Visiting Machu Picchu

Every inch of Machu Picchu seems to have a purpose, and a specific fit. That means a feather will not fit in between massive stones.

The 15th century Inca people who believed deeply in balance and harmony were as ingenious as they were mystical.

Lots to point out to the kids (and the grownups!) and much to contemplate later.

Scholars consider Machu Picchu, sometimes called the Citadel, to have been an urban  retreat. That’s another connection to the wellness retreat details at Willka T’ika!

The view arriving at Machu Picchu is different from the iconic photo. That’s because that image of many terraces was taken from the top. Arriving by motorcoach or hiking—-the view is bottom to top, looking up.

Tour guides give great depth to the geometry and spiritual meanings of every shape. Wandering alone is stunning, but learning why a trapezoid-shaped window offers a view a certain way for a certain reason—-that’s the way to do Machu Picchu.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Get familiar with the simple map of the Sacred Valley to see the geography of Machu Picchu and Cusco with Willka T’ika, Urubamba and Ollantaytambo. Helps to understand the proximity.

Willka T'ika connects wellness guests to local marketplaces too.
Side trips in the Sacred Valley arranged by Willka T’ika give access to marketplaces, and people practicing traditional crafts. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts