Day 1: Depart US – Arrive in Lima
Upon arrival into Lima International Airport, we will be met by our representative and private driver and transferred to our hotel. Our representative will assist with check-in procedures and provide a detailed itinerary, vouchers covering all the services included in our tour and additional information on the organization of the trip. Lima, the “City of Kings”, is famous for its Spanish Colonial architecture, extraordinary museums and cuisine. Internationally recognized as the “Gastronomic Capital of the Americas”, its cuisine is considered among the most diverse and exquisite in the world.
Day 2: Lima
Enjoy a half day guided sightseeing tour to the most attractive and important sites in Lima. Visit Lima’s Historical Center, passing by Plaza San Martin, Plaza Mayor, the Government Palace, the City Hall, the Cathedral and its Religious Art Museum (closed on Sunday and Saturday afternoons; Santo Domingo Convent is provided instead on these days) as well as San Francisco Monastery and its famous underground crypts known as the Catacombs.
Continue through the residential districts of San Isidro and Miraflores, passing by the Huaca Pucllana, a ceremonial and administrative center of the Lima Culture, built in the II Century A.C. and considered as ‘Ñaupallaqta’ or Sacred Town by the Incas. Also visit El Olivar Park with olive trees brought from Spain in the 15th Century, the Central Park of Mira Flores and El Parque del Amor, or Peruvian Love Park. The Love Park, located on the cliffs of Mira Flores overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is a beautiful natural lookout. See the waves of the Pacific rolling in towards the coast below and the Morro Solar in Chorrillos at a distance, with the coast extending further along the bay until the port of Callao. This is also the perfect spot for a romantic view of the setting sun in the late afternoon.
We will stop at the Larco Museum, for an excellent overview of Peru’s ancient past. This museum holds the best private collection of pre-Columbian art in the country, housed in an old Hacienda built upon a pre-Incan sacred site (huaca). The art is the private collection of a great Peruvian scholar: Don Rafael Larco Hoyle. The museum chronologically exhibits hundreds of ceramic, textile, metal and stone pieces and includes a vault that safeguards precious pieces of gold and silver with semiprecious stones. It is one of the few museums in the world that allows such intimate access to its collection, in this case around 45,000 pieces. Of great interest to many visitors is the exhibition of erotic pre-Colombian art. (B)
Day 3: Lima / Cusco / Sacred Valley
Departure transfer to board our domestic flight to Cusco. Upon arrival into Cusco International Airport, we will be met by our representative and private driver and transferred to our hotel in the Sacred Valley with visits on route.
We will stop at Awanacancha to admire Andean camelids such as alpacas and llamas and learn from local inhabitants about their traditional dyeing and knitting techniques.
The town of Pisac is famous for its ruins, but even more so for its market. Originally held only on Sundays, the Pisac Market was the place of reunion for all artisans of the region to get together and exchange or buy and sell their products. It is now held daily, and is a favorite destination for visitors, who enjoy the colorful ambience and variety of goods and crafts typical of the Cusco area. You will have time to leisurely roam through the market, and if you feel like tasting something traditional, stop by the wood ovens for a delicious empanada or a piece of bread. Lunch at a local restaurant.
Continue through the Sacred Valley for a visit to the Inca Fortress and Citadel of Ollantaytambo. The fortress was built just as the Spaniards arrived, and evidence of how it was constructed is still visible. Its purpose was to guard the entrance to the valley and protect it from possible invasions by tribes from the jungle lowlands. Later in 1537 it served as a temporary capital for Manco Inca, leader of the Inca resistance, during the Spanish conquest of Peru. Additionally, Ollantaytambo is a ceremonial center dedicated to the purification and worship of water, with 150 steps built with perfectly carved stones. The main settlement has an orthogonal layout with four streets crossed by other seven parallel streets, and a large plaza at the center. The views from the fortress are breathtaking. The colorful town of Ollantaytambo is referred to as a “Live Inca Town” because inhabitants still live according to customs and traditions inherited from their ancestors. (B,L)
Day 4: Sacred Valley
Today we set off to the town of Chinchero, an authentic Andean village with lots of character, where we will find the colonial church that houses a large collection of painting from the Cusqueñan School of Art. We will enjoy a brief exhibition of the town’s traditional textiles, famous for their quality and beauty.
We continue to Moray to admire the Moray Terraces, believed to be a former gigantic agricultural laboratory, an astronomical observatory, a place of worship, or maybe all three. The view is impressive thanks to the colossal terraces, which simulate a large, concentric amphitheater, where it is possible to create 20 different types of microclimates. This ensured the agricultural production of the empire.
After lunch, we will continue through the Sacred Valley of the Incas to the salt fields of Maras and its seemingly never-ending terraces, where salt extracted from springs is stored. The Spanish founded Maras in 1556 and these waters have been used for centuries, even before the time of the Incas. The salt fields are inherited from generation to generation and managed communally. The salt is produced naturally in about 5,000 pools of 5 square meters each, forming different levels of terraces, nourished by salty water from a creek and then evaporated by the intense sun to form thick crystals. They are extracted once a month, as soon as they have reached a height of 10 cm. It is impressive to see the variety of colors created by the reflection of the sun’s rays on the salt. (B,L)
Day 5: Sacred Valley / Machu Picchu
Early in the morning, we will go to the Ollantaytambo train station, where we will depart for an amazing train journey to one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. The Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu is a great mountaintop city abandoned by the Inca Empire, reclaimed by the jungle and lost to humanity until its rediscovery in 1911. Along the way you will enjoy the changing landscape as you travel from Andean highlands to the beginnings of the jungle (“eyebrow of the jungle”), before finally arriving at the town of Aguas Calientes, where we will board the bus to go up the winding road to Machu Picchu. Enjoy a spectacular view of the Urubamba River and its canyon. The Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu, will astonish us with its terraces, ceremonial shrines, steps and urban areas. A guided tour of the Citadel includes the Main Plaza, the Circular Tower, the Sacred Sun Dial, the Royal Quarters, the Temple of the Three Windows and various burial grounds. We return to our hotel in Aguas Calientes where we will dine and spend the night. (B,L,D)
Day 6: Machu Picchu
Excellent opportunity to wake up early and enjoy a beautiful sunrise. Second visit to Machu Picchu (entrance fees included/guide is not included). See the areas of the Intipunku or Door of the Sun, the Inca Trail entrance to the citadel. For those looking for a more intense adventure and wish to visit Huayna Picchu, it is important to have in mind that there are only 400 daily spots to climb the mountain, all of which have to be reserved in advance. Dinner included at the hotel. (B,D)
Day 7: Machu Picchu / Cusco
In the morning, departure to the train station to board our train to Ollantaytambo from where we will be transferred to our hotel in Cusco. Afternoon at leisure. (B)
Day 8: Cusco
Morning at leisure. In the afternoon, we will climb up the Archaeological Park of Sacsayhuaman, and start our visit to the fortress with the same name, a beautiful, ceremonial place that radiates peace and quiet. Admire the huge rocks measuring up to 4 meters high that were used in its construction, and enjoy the panoramic views. We will then head for Q’enqo, and ancient temple of the Puma, where we will see an altar that was used for sacrifices.
On the way to the Inca Baths of Tambomachay, sacred fountains of life and health, we will have a panoramic view from Puca Pucara, a red fortress watchtower that controlled the entrance to the city. After that we visit the Temple of the Sun “The Korikancha”, on top of which the Saint Dominique Convent was built. A legend tells that his temple was entirely lined in gold sheets that marveled the Conquistadors upon their arrival. Finally, we will go to the Main Square of Cusco to visit the Cathedral, built with great slabs of red granite in renaissance style, which contrasts with the baroque style silverwork of its interior. Within the Cathedral are invaluable colonial paintings and other works of art. (B)
Day 9: Cusco
Day at leisure to explore and enjoy the many excellent cafés, bars and innovative restaurants in Cusco or for any last minute shopping. (B)
Day 10: Cusco – Lima – Depart to US
At the appropriate time, our representative will meet us at the hotel for transfer to Cusco Airport to board our connecting flight back home. (B)
* Itinerary Subject to Change