Day 1: Depart Home
Depart the home this evening on an overnight flight to Peru.
Day 2: Arrive Lima, Peru
We arrive at the airport in Lima early in the morning and transfer to our hotel. Here, you’ll get acquainted with our Trip Leader and fellow travelers. Small group 10-16 travelers guaranteed. After an included lunch, we take an orientation walk through the boulevards and plazas around our hotel—situated in the stylish Miraflores district, which is a cultural and artistic center full of small cafés, fine shops, and art galleries. After our walk, we’ll return to the hotel. The rest of your day is at leisure, with dinner on your own this evening.
Day 3: Explore Lima
After breakfast at our hotel, we embark on a tour of Lima's colonial sites. Founded by the conquistadors in 1535, Lima became Spain’s largest and wealthiest city in the New World. The city has a proud history, including the founding of one of the first universities in South America, the Universidad de San Marcos, in the middle of the 16th century. Today, Lima’s historic city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We begin with a guided visit to Lima’s National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology, and History at Bolivar Square, where we can view the eras of Peru’s history through art, from pre-Incan turquoise figurines to Incan textiles and Spanish paintings. The museum contains an impressive collection of ceramics, gold and silver items, and textiles from the ancient cultures of Chavin, Mochica, Chimu, Tiahuanaco, Pucara, Paracas, Nazca, and Inca. A local guide will then join us as we explore Lima’s colonial streets and architecture—evidence of the city’s Spanish heritage—concluding with a private tour of San Francisco Church, a distinctive yellow building constructed in the Baroque style, known for its beautiful painted ceilings and extensive catacombs.
We return to our hotel and lunch is on your own. You'll be free to make your own discoveries in Lima this afternoon. We gather for a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant this evening.
Day 4: Fly to Cuzco, Explore Sacred Valley and Pisac
After breakfast this morning, we continue our travel in Peru with a flight to the mountain-ringed city of Cuzco. Situated at an elevation of 10,909 feet, this city was the capital of the Incan world and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Upon arrival, we descend into the Sacred Valley of the Urubamba River, the lower elevation of which eases our transition to high altitudes of the Andes before our visit to Machu Picchu and our return to Cuzco.
After a boxed lunch, we drive to the top of a switchback road leading to the ancient upper city of Pisac, the mythic ruins of which are situated in a spectacular location atop a buttress ridge, with agricultural terraces—constructed by the ancient Inca people—curling around the hill in graceful curves, and gorges on either side. We take a short trek into the ancient city, where we explore its well-built stone dwellings and temples, and enjoy sweeping vistas both up- and downstream in the Urubamba Valley. Pisac's highly defensible site guarded both the Valley and a high jungle pass to the northeast. From Pisac, we depart for our hotel in the Sacred Valley. We arrive there this evening, and enjoy dinner at our hotel tonight.
Day 5: Raft the Urubamba River, Explore Ollantaytambo ruins with home-hosted lunch
After breakfast, we head for the banks of the Urubamba River, where we embark on a float trip aboard inflatable rafts—an enjoyable way to experience the enchanting Andean landscape. It's little wonder that the Incas regarded the Urubamba Valley as sacred ground. Here their culture was born, and here they found a true life-source—the area's mild climate and fertile soil, which yielded an abundance of fruits and vegetables. As we float along the river, we’ll observe the networks of terraces on either side, constructed entirely by hand, which transformed steep mountainsides into acres of arable land that helped feed a civilization, and which remain in use today, centuries after their construction. Following our rafting excursion, we continue to the splendid Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo. We’ll walk amid the remains of this ancient fortress of gray and rose-colored granite, discover its ancient baths, and climb up the huge terraces guarding its hilltop temples. Then, we'll enjoy a chance to meet some of the local people who dwell in the traditional town nearby.
We depart from Ollantaytambo and then join a Peruvian family for a Home-Hosted Lunch. We'll try our hand at preparing a traditional appetizer and dine on Peruvian specialties—be sure to ask your hosts about cuy, a local delicacy! Later, we return to our hotel.. Dinner tonight is at a local polleria restaurant, where we will have the opportunity to taste one of Peru's most popular dishes, pollo a la brasa(rotisserie-style chicken).
Day 6: Train Ride through Sacred Valley, Discover Machu Picchu
Today we wake up early for a train trip into the gorge of the Urubamba River and on to Machu Picchu, the legendary “Lost City of the Incas.” En route to the train station, we stop in Ollantaytambo for a short tour of the village and its charming central plaza. We'll enjoy lunch on board the train. After a scenic train ride through the Sacred Valley, we arrive in the village of Aguas Calientes, where we’ll return after our exploration of Machu Picchu this afternoon. Most travelers visit Machu Picchu on a day trip, which makes for a hectic pace and only limited time at this unique archaeological wonder, while our overnight stay in Aguas Calientes allows us to explore at a more relaxed pace and return to continue our discoveries of this famous city the next morning. We travel by bus to Machu Picchu, which—like Lima and the city of Cuzco—is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This ancient city was a place little known not only to foreigners, but also to the Inca people—only a select few were ever allowed to visit this mysterious sanctuary. Even though it was “discovered” by Hiram Bingham in 1911, Machu Picchu remained inaccessible until the 1940s, when the Inca Trail was found by an archaeological expedition. Ensuing explorations uncovered relics indicating that the "Lost City of the Incas" may have been the religious center of Inca life. The temples, astronomical observatory, and a remarkable solar clock named Intiwatana, or "hitching post to the sun" are all signs of the Incas' devotion to their sun god. (The fact that nearly all the unearthed human remains are female also points to Machu Picchu as a site of religious sacrifice.) As for the fate of Machu Picchu's people, the theories are even more far-reaching (and theory is all we have, for the Incas left no written record). It is known that smallpox decimated the population in the early 16th century, but the remainder may have succumbed to drought or disease, been conquered by the Spanish, or simply abandoned the site.
We can consider this mystery as our own expedition alights on this mountaintop site this afternoon, as our expert Trip Leader and a local assistant give us a complete and compelling look at this fabled "Lost City," explaining the speculation surrounding Machu Picchu’s place in the Inca world. We’ll trek across its terraced landscape, stroll its ancient streets, and discover remnants of its Ritual Baths, Palace of the Princess, Main Fountain, and Sun and Condor temples. We'll have ample time to explore, reflect, and ponder the enigma of this man-made wonder, both with our Trip Leader and on our own.Late this afternoon, we return to Aguas Calientes and check in to our hotel, then enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 7: Explore Machu Picchu, Train Ride through Scared Valley, Cuzco
We rise early to drive back to Machu Picchu after breakfast, ascending toward the ruined city as the sun crests the peaks of the Andes. You can remain at the hotel if you wish, but most travelers appreciate this second chance to see the ruins in a different light, well before other visitors arrive on the train from Cuzco later this morning. Among the enigmatic remnants of this Incan sanctuary we find an observatory meant for solstice worship and a stone altar marking the holy center point between the nearby sacred peaks.
You can wander the sprawling ruins on your own, or, depending on which trails are open, choose between two hikes. One brings you to the Inca Bridge, where a trail built with impressive Inca engineering crosses a cliff face. In one spot, the Incas left a deep gap, which they bridged with logs that could be removed to render the trail impassable to enemies. The second option is an ambitious hike to the Sun Gate at the Machu Picchu end of the Inca Trail, which offers a fine view over the ruins. We descend to the village below and have lunch at a local restaurant. Then we return by train to Ollantaytambo, a ride of about 1.5 hours through the spectacular Urubamba Gorge. We continue traveling by bus for about two hours to Cuzco. This evening, we enjoy dinner together at our hotel.
Day 8: Explore Cuzco at Leisure
This morning, we explore Cuzco on a walking tour. Called "the navel of the world" by the Incas, Cuzco was laid out in the shape of a puma, a sacred beast in Inca lore. We'll visit the site of the Qoricancha Sun Temple, Cuzco's most important ceremonial structure during the Inca era. Historical records of the time note that its walls were once covered with 700 sheets of gold studded with emeralds and turquoise. When sunlight streamed through the windows, the reflection of light off the precious metals was blinding. Then we'll stroll through the heart of the city at the Plaza de Armas. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived here, they often built atop Inca structures, leaving behind a fascinating architectural blend. At the Plaza de Armas, you'll view the outside of the 17th-century cathedral that was built on the foundation of an Inca palace. This massive structure is one of the significant colonial buildings in the city. See whether you agree with many that it is also one of the most beautiful churches in Latin America.
Lunch and dinner are on your own today, and you have the afternoon at leisure to make your own discoveries. You could spend more time at the cathedral and go inside to view its many interior paintings and sculptures, as well as its collections of colonial art and religious relics. Head for the San Blas neighborhood to see more of Cuzco's historic architecture and the shops of artisans along picturesque hilly, narrow lanes. Or take in the city's Inca Museum (Museo Inka), which is housed in a colonial mansion and known for its collection of Inca mummies.
Day 9: Discover Izcuchaca, A Day in the Life of Chinchero village
This morning, we begin a day filled with Peruvian cultural discoveries as we journey to Izcuchaca, a small village in the Anta Province of Cuzco, where we'll visit a local market and uncover the region's rich history. Although the village features a pottery center and several humble hot springs, it is best known for its historic stone bridge. According to legend, Incan ruler Huáscar defended the bridge against his brother (and opponent), Atahualpa, during the Inca Civil War. As the brothers fought for control of the Inca Empire, they were unaware that their greatest threat was yet to come: the Spanish conquistadors.
Then, we travel to the mountain weaving village of Chinchero, which—at an elevation of 12,500 feet—is a literal high point of our exploration of the Sacred Valley, and provides excellent views of the surrounding mountains. Chinchero was also the site of a 16th-century Inca emperor's estate, as well as a resting place on the Inca Royal Road. While there, we'll enjoy A Day in the Life of the Chinchero community, beginning with a spirited encounter with some of the children at a local elementary school (when in session) that is supported in part by donations from Grand Circle Foundation. The children welcome us warmly with a presentation on Peru's culture—including traditional songs and dances—which is followed by a discussion with their teachers and families and some free time with the children one-on-one. Many travelers find this chance to meet the children of Peru to be the emotional high point of their adventure as well. Please note: Today's school visit may occur on an alternate day to accommodate weekends or holidays.
From the schoolhouse, we travel to the center of Chinchero, where we'll enjoy a walking tour of the community and visit a weaving cooperative. Here we observe a demonstration of making traditional textiles, and learn how Peru's weavers create complex patterns in colorful cloth as their ancestors have for centuries. We have lunch with the community in Chinchero—our Trip Leader will help us converse with the local people, providing another excellent opportunity to learn about daily life in Peru—before we return to Cuzco. Dinner is on your own this evening.
Day 10: Discover Oropesa, Tipon, Sacsayhuaman & Kenko
After breakfast, we explore the valley south of Cuzco, beginning in Oropesa. This small town is known for special bread called pan chuta, made in loaves as big as a wheel and traditionally offered as a gift to the host when visiting a home in the Cuzco area. After we visit a bakery and enjoy samples, we continue on to Tipon, the site of ancient Inca waterworks. The maze of irrigation channels and ritual baths here is a marvel of ancient engineering—water continues to flow in them, 500 years after their construction.
After lunch in a local restaurant, we drive into the hills surrounding Cuzco to visit two important Inca sites. First we'll explore the massive Sacsayhuaman archaeological site on a hilltop overlooking the city, which the Incas built from huge stones, some weighing nearly 300 tons. Then we visit the Incan ceremonial center of Kenko, an ancient worship site that also displays impressive stonework.
We are in for a special treat later this afternoon when we get an up-close glimpse of a curandero ceremony, a healing ritual with Inca roots—performed by a mestizo medicine man—that draws on an assortment of ancient and modern substances and symbols, combined with coca leaves and the energy of the sacred mountains and Mother Earth. Afterwards, we return to our hotel. This evening, gather with your traveling companions to enjoy a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 11: Fly to Lima, Return Home
Enjoy a last morning to explore Cuzco at your own pace, with your hotel room remaining available until mid-afternoon. Perhaps you’ll discover the cultural treasures of the Inka Museum or visit the Artisan’s Market for a memento of your stay. Your Trip Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. After lunch in a local restaurant, we’ll check out of the Cuzco hotel and transfer to the airport for your flight to Lima, where you’ll connect to your overnight flight back to the U.S.Please note: There is no overnight hotel stay tonight.
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Travel to Peru to explore the handiwork of the Incas in depth. The legacies of this ancient empire remain a marvel, from astronomical observatories in the lost city of Machu Picchu to limestone carvings of indigenous animals at the ceremonial site of Kenko. And the timeless streets of Cuzco bustle even now with traders and artisans, as they have since the 16th century. We bring you close to Peru's diverse offerings on this comprehensive South American adventure: rafting on the Urubamba River, encountering today's Peruvians in the Sacred Valley, and visiting the immense Sacsayhuaman ruins in Cuzco, In the heart of this Andean nation, our small group encounters a a curandero medicine man who practices traditional healing arts. Join us to experience a country whose long history blends Inca and Spanish colonial influences.
What to Know
- Not appropriate for travelers using wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids
- You must be able to walk 3 miles unassisted and participate in 6-8 hours of physical activities each day
- 5 full days at altitudes between 7,000-12,000 feet
- Temperatures in the Andes vary due to high altitudes; prepare for temperatures in the mid-60s during the day and as low as 35°F at night
About the Destination
Peru is the land of the Incas, an incredible civilization that learned how to tame its geography and live in harmony with the rivers, the Sun, the rain, the ocean, the mountains and the cold dryness of the Andes, adapting to their surroundings and surviving thanks to Mother Earth’s gifts. Part of this ancient society still lives today in each town and can be seen through the customs of the people and the Peruvian culture. A trip to Peru takes you back in time and allows you to rediscover facts about Peru such as the exciting lives of the Incas, Chancas, Chachapoyas, Mochicas, and Wari, as well as their great works of art, their fiestas, the roots of their social strength and the energy of their people. Experience Peru and discover a wealth of different worlds, all with their own individual landscapes, sounds, colors and tastes; travel back in time to ancient civilizations and share the great cultural heritage of the Peruvian people. Many destinations and experiences such as Peru’s coast and mountains can only be explained by seeing them in the flesh. The beating heart of its roots and destinations. Caral, the first civilization in the Americas; pre-Hispanic cultures; the Inca Empire; the fusion between the Inca and Hispanic worlds; Peru and its Western, East Asian and African influences; deserts, mountains, forests, the Amazon and the sea; flora, fauna and a wide variety of cultural expressions. Peru is all of this.
Things to Do
The bustling capital of Peru has turned into quite an interesting city. It is now known as having world class cuisine, the Ceviche will make your tongue sizzle (in a good way). Make sure to stay in the trendy Miraflores district along the Pacific Coast to experience the best nightlife, restaurants, and shopping. When you have extra time step into one of the most impressive colonial city centers in the world. Sitting on a striking cliff, Lima is also a great place for paragliding.
The historic city and its culture will certainly enthuse the senses as you wander aimlessly along the city streets. Make sure to visit Plaza de Armas which is the extremely impressive center part of the city. There is great nightlife to be found and also trail walking nearby.
How to get there
We reccomend flying into Lima, Peru. That is where your adventure will begin and end.
- 10 Sleeps
What is Included
Rates from $1,995 Include
- Airport transfers, government taxes, fees, and airline fuel surcharges unless you choose to make your own air arrangements
- All land transportation and 2 internal flights
- Accommodations for 9 nights
- 24 meals—10 breakfasts, 8 lunches, and 6 dinners (including 1 Home-Hosted Lunch)
- 16 small group activities
- Services of a resident, English-speaking Trip Leader
- NEW for 2015: Gratuities for local guides, drivers, and luggage porters
Rates Do Not Include:
- International Airfare from Home- Can be Arranged
- This tour doesn't have fixed departure dates. Instead, the departure dates can be customized. The final departure dates will depend on the client's preferences and availability of accommodations and/or other components of this tour.
- The rates of this tour can be changed without prior notice
- This tour is offered by the Tour Operator, not by aSuiteStay
- All information about this tour is provided and updated by the Tour Operator, not by aSuiteStay.
Peru tourist visa is not required for citizens of United States, United Kingdom or France for a stay up to 183 days.
Rate of $1,995 USD is subject to change.
Rates are based on availability and season. All rates are quoted in USD. Some packages are customizable. Final pricing depends on add-ons.
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