07/21/2010 03:32 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Exploring Peru (PHOTOS)

I think there are a few trips in everyone's life that leave an indelible impression, the kind where, years later, you can instantly and vividly recall sights, sounds, smells and tastes. I just returned from a trip to Peru with my three sons and I know it had as profound an effect on them as it did on me.

I have always wanted to see the Andes and Machu Picchu. Words seem inadequate to properly express just how grand and truly majestic the Andes are or how humbling it is to stand in the immaculately preserved ruins of an ancient civilization.

My boys and I spent every day together outdoors--hiking, walking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The trip was filled with one incredible moment after another. An unbelievable sunrise over Lake Titicaca. The floating islands of Uros. A train ride through the Sacred Valley. Riding horses up impossibly steep and narrow paths in the mountains. Meeting people wherever we went who welcomed us not as tourists but as friends. A special ceremony where my family was blessed by descendants of the Incans.

It was as much a physical journey as it was a spiritual one. While the boys took the higher elevations in stride, I did spend a few minutes with the oxygen mask on one occasion. Walking sticks in hand (don't try it without them), we spent a day climbing up to Machu Picchu where we walked through the ruins. We marveled at the feats of 15th Century Incan engineering--the farmed steppes, intricate fountains and irrigation systems and the perfectly laid-out city. We soaked up the unparalleled views of the Huayna Picchu mountain and the verdant valley below. I have a mental snapshot of the four of us sitting and taking in the incredible scene. I can't imagine that it gets much better than that.