Magic in the lagoon

Terra Explorer
December 15, 2020

Rafael Casabonne, Founder & CEO of Cusco Restaurants, tells us about his fascination for sleeping under the stars and surrounded by nature, yet with the comforts of a high-class hotel.


At three thousand meters above sea level, a shaman prepares an offering to the earth while my wife and I contemplate the landscape. We are at the shores of Huaypo lagoon in the local community of Eqqecco in Cusco region, and the afternoon sun is shining with that bright and golden light that depicts the Andes.



On the other side of the lagoon, a pair of bulls skillfully guided by a farmer prepares the land for planting and harvesting, everything happens in silence, as if time had suddenly stopped. Dressed in a white shirt and a colorful hat, the shaman begins the Andean ceremony. We sit next to him, and he starts by asking the Apus (Mountain Gods) for permission.


He then proceeds to choose different objects among flowers, seeds, cookies, sugar, colored paper, coca leaves, each with a specific purpose. With his hardened hands, he arranges them in an orderly manner with surprising tenderness.



Once involved in this process, one can only feel deeply grateful for being there, away from the urban and virtual life that we are all now so used too. The Andean shaman chooses a kintu, three coca leaves hold together, he blows them and then gives them to us so that we may transmit our intentions. After a few minutes, the ceremony ends with the burial of the offering.


I grew up in the outdoors. Since I was a kid, my old man took me camping all the time, we have been on road trips all around Peru, even before knowing Disneyland.


I have always loved the mountains, fishing, hunting, and the observation of nature in general. Every time I can, I escape to the mountain, the beach, or the desert, but it is not always easy. It becomes more comfortable if you just have to get to the place, without preparing anything previously, especially if what awaits you is a five-star camping site, like the ones organized by Terra Explorer in Cusco. The experience is beyond expectations, as a rock star once told me. Camping between the two mountain ranges of Vilcabamba and Urubamba is a privilege.


During the day, the deep blue sky is interrupted by the vast white clouds that look like cotton, you can combine the peace of these heights with outdoor sports such as Stand Up Paddle. Huaypo lagoon is perfect for this activity because you can paddle for hours in silence. You feel an absolute disconnection.


In these highlands, far from the noise, traffic, and anxiety, we can get away from that frantic pace and hyperconnection. Our stress and concerns about our jobs fade into the vastness of the landscape.


At night, we gather around a campfire that turns into a perfect grill for a barbecue that will be well accompanied by a delicious Malbec.


Living in Lima, always grey and cloudy, makes one realize how unbelievable it is to have such a night show in the outdoors.


A sky this black, covered with thousands of stars, is one of those images that bring us back down to our real dimension. We are nothing in this universe, the depth you face is hard to imagine, it is fascinating and terrifying at the same time. A silent and constant flickering of thousands of stars sporadically interrupted by a sudden shooting star.


The morning, with the first light of the day shining upon us, is perfect for another of my favorite hobbies: bird watching. Going out in kayaks with binoculars to spot native birds, is simply wonderful.


While we ride our kayaks along the shores of the lagoon, between the reeds, we observe more than fifteen different species of birds: flamingos, various types of ducks, herons, a pair of eagles and coots. Some are permanent residents and others migratory. Now it is time to return. At moments so special as these, I doubt whether to return to my day to day life.



Having the best company, a lagoon full of wildlife, a blue sky, and majestic mountains surrounding us, is more than we need to be happy.

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