Portrait of Peru

Remnants of ancient civilizations, lofty snow-capped peaks, and a long Pacific coastline define the fascinating country of Peru. Its capital Lima has a wonderfully intact colonial district, around which modern life continues apace.

Trace ancient Inca pathways to Cusco and on to the archaeological sites of the Sacred Valley, before your train journey still higher towards the astonishing forgotten citadel of Machu Picchu. Perhaps the most spectacularly-sited ruins in the world, both the scale of the stone walls and the peaks overlooking them will take your breath away.

Learn about the long-vanished empire that built this incredible royal stronghold, but watch out for llamas and condors as you explore this mystical ancient site. The chance to visit Machu Picchu twice in two days allows you to wander through the ruins at a more leisurely pace and make the most of one of the manmade wonders of the world, before starting your descent down the coast.

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Day 1

Welcome to Peru! On arrival after clearing customs and immigration, you will be met by a Luxury Trips representative for your private road transfer to the JW Marriott Hotel Lima where you will stay for two nights.

Founded in 1533, Lima, also known as the “City of Kings” is a mélange of colonial structures, pre-Columbian sites and modern conveniences. Lima’s historic center has many fine examples of Spanish-American baroque architecture dating from the 17th and 18th centuries and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The capital city of Peru combines old world grandeur with new world hustle. It boasts an impressive repertoire of class museums and landmarks highlighting the country’s cultural heritage. The city is also a center for the culinary delights that Peruvian cuisine is well known for.

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Day 2

After breakfast, you will be picked up at your hotel for a full day private guided tour of Lima.

Lima’s colonial downtown is a World Heritage site listed by UNESCO. You will visit the historical San Martín Square and then continue on to the Main Square to see the Presidential Palace and the Lima Cathedral, impressive constructions that are still being used. You will then visit the Aliaga House, an ancient viceregal construction delivered by Francisco Pizarro to one of his captains (Jerónimo de Aliaga) when he founded the city. It may be the only house that still belongs to the same family until today. Next, you will visit the Santo Domingo Church, built along forty years and completed at the end of the 16th century. It is also known as the Minor Basilica and Maximum Convent of our Lady of the Rosary. The church has several altars and viceregal sculptures, and exhibits different times and aesthetic expressions.

Your full day tour also includes a visit to the Pucllana Temple (Huaca Pucllana).

This adobe ceremonial center was likely built around 500 A.D., during the cultural height of Lima’s history. Much of the site has been restored and excavations continue to uncover artifacts and the occasional mummy. Enjoy an included lunch at the on-site restaurant that serves haute cuisine prepared by an internationally trained chef.

Take in the bohemian neighborhood of Barranco. Once a wealthy beach resort, Barranco today is inhabited by artists and young people who flock to this neighborhood for its tremendous character. The Dedalo Artisan Store in the Barranco neighborhood is well worth the visit. Staged in an old refurbished house in Barranco, a block away from the sea, it offers Peruvian non-traditional workmanship at its best.

A highlight of this full day tour is a visit to the Larco Herrera Museum, with its collection of pottery, gold and silver works, mummies and erotic ceramics from the Chimu, Mohica and other pre-Inca civilizations. The museum is the only one of its kind in the world, housed in an 18th century colonial mansion. It has one of the most extensive collections of pre-Columbian art in Peru.

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Day 3

Today, you will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight to Cusco. On arrival, outside baggage claim, you are met by your private guide and driven to the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Tambo Del Inka Resort & Spa where you will stay for two nights.

Prior to arriving to your hotel, enjoy a visit to the Pisac Indian Market with lunch following at Wayra Ranch in the Sacred Valley.

Arrive to Pisac where authentic shopping and photographic opportunities abound. Pisac’s market will allow you to see merchants offering for sale all sorts of handicrafts, the most important of which are the textiles and ceramic goods such as ceremonial goblets called “Q’eros,” plates, ashtrays, necklaces and replicas of pre-Hispanic pottery. There are also ponchos, sweaters and bags.

Enjoy a Sacred Valley lunch at Wayra Ranch. As you walk up to the entrance of the ranch, you will see that the flowers and landscape are enough to grace the cover of any travel magazine and as you enter front doors you soon realize this is not your typical ‘ranch’. The decor inside the Wayra Ranch is one of a 5-star hotel, boasting local colors, crafts and animals. The ranch is equipped with a full bar, fireplace and enough room to entertain a full wedding party. In the terrace, a feeling of personal paradise overcomes you. You’ll be surrounded by wafting aromas of freshly baked bread from the ranch’s traditional wood ovens, as well as tasty empanadas with various fillings, served with lemon juice and hot pepper sauces, just to whet your palate. You will also enjoy a variety of potatoes grown in remote Andean communities, whose inhabitants preserve these potatoes as a part of their own histories. You will be amazed with the many varieties and their unusual tastes, which reveal themselves in sauces, prepared with local herbs grown in the ranch gardens. In the summer, the ranch will have recently harvested corn. With this same maize, you get to sample delicious chicha de jora and frutillada, typical local alcoholic beverages. As you enjoy your appetizers and drinks, dishes including local tamales, anticucho kebabs, roast lechón (sucking pork), baby chicken and salmon trout baked with local herbs will be served at your table, cooked to your taste, with abundant house salad made with products from our organic garden.

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Day 4

After breakfast, meet your guide in the lobby of your hotel for your private full day visit to Huilloc and Ollantaytambo for off the beaten path cultural visits.

Huilloc is specifically outstanding for its charming textiles with genuine designs. It sits at 11,480 feet above sea level and is part of the network of weaving communities in the region of Cusco. From their ancestors, the people of Huilloc inherited a rich tradition of textiles that they carry on. They continue to weave a range of textiles following the knowledge, techniques, and usages of their ancestors. The women have preserved this unique and ancestral tradition of weaving by hand colorful designs. On their looms, they make some of the most beautiful and exquisite weavings in Peru, a country of weavers. In the textiles, they depict images of the world in which they live including the flora and fauna of the place. They weave into their cloth images of cougars, condors and the huallata (wall-yáh-tah) birds that are typical of the place. These birds are so important that people perform a dance in their honor that is much celebrated in Cusco in its different festivities. The dance, like the bird, is called huallata. In contrast, men dedicate themselves to helping Mother Earth produce.

On this tour, enjoy off the beaten path cultural visits including: Allin Pachacuy (The Garment’s Trail. Learn ancient weaving skills.); Willaq Uma (Priest of the Inca Empire. Witness an ancient ritual.); plus lunch at Misky Mihuna (delight yourself, get a taste of the Andes).

After lunch, head to Ollantaytambo where you will find the best surviving example of Inca town planning. Many of the building foundations in old town Ollantaytambo were built by the Inca, and the majority of the Inca canchas, or blocks, are still intact, making for a nice walk indeed. The snowcapped mountain surroundings make for a most picturesque setting. Because of its strategic location in the Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo became a prime center within the Inca Empire. The Ollantaytambo Fortress was first a place of worship, as well as a location for studying astronomy. It was here that Manco Inca defeated the Spanish in 1538 before fleeing to the mountains of Vilcabamba. The 16 massive terraces spread before you are a testimony to the magnificent Inca masonry. Climb the steep stone steps up to the imposing fortress at the top of the mountain – around 260 steps! From there, the view down the valley is superb and you can admire the huge monoliths that form the Temple of the Sun.

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Day 5

Along with your private guide who accompanies you to Machu Picchu, you will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the Ollantaytambo Station. Board the Vistadome Train to Aguas Calientes Station, Machu Picchu.

The Vistadome is the ideal train for those who want to be in contact with the environment and appreciate the wonderful journey to or from Machu Picchu. Surrounded entirely by glass with wagons that feature large panoramic windows offering incomparable scenic views and innumerous opportunities to capture amazing pictures, Vistadome travelers feel connected to and part of the impressive landscape of Peru. Perurail provides travelers on board personalized and first-level service to give them an unforgettable life experience. The Vistadome also has air conditioning, heating, and leather seats that adjust to the body to provide comfort and relaxation during the entire trip.

On arrival to Aguas Calientes Station, you will be taken to the Machu Picchu ruins for your first visit. Round trip shuttle bus tickets between Aguas Calientes and the ruins are included. Lunch is included at Sanctuary Lodge’s Tinkuy Restaurant.

After your tour you will be brought to Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel where you will stay for one night.

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Day 6

This morning, return to the ruins with your private guide for a second visit, including a hike to Huayna Picchu.

Huayna Picchu which means ‘Young Peak’ in Quechua, is the large mountain that sits directly behind Machu Picchu, and can been seen in all it’s glory in most pictures of Machu Picchu. For many trekkers, climbing Huayna Picchu is one of the highlights of a visit to Machu Picchu. The views of the Citadel and surrounding landscape are extraordinary from the top and well worth the climbing effort.

From a distance, Huayna Picchu looks like a technical climbing endeavour, but is in fact just a steep hike with some sections that will require the use of both hands and feet to scramble upwards, but no technical skills or climbing tools. The climb itself takes about 1 to 1 ½ hours to ascend and approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour to descend. There are sections that include railings and cables for support. Anyone with a decent level of fitness and moderate constitution for heights can climb Huayna Picchu. There are areas that are exposed to steep drops, so caution should be taken throughout the climb, keeping a good distance between climbers in front and behind you. This is particularly true if the trail is wet. Note: if you are afraid of heights or susceptible to vertigo then this climb is probably not for you. We would suggest the Intipunco Sun Gate hike instead which we can offer as a replacement for no additional cost.

The total ascent is just over 1,000 feet (360m) with the summit at a steep angle above the city. As Huayna Picchu is so close to the city complex, it provides a fantastic birds-eye view and the climb itself provides brilliant vistas of the city from various angles. This perspective is very difficult to appreciate whilst walking within the Citadel. From the summit, the scale and ingenuity of Machu Picchu and its various structures and terraces is fully revealed. The sheer magnitude and complexity of the site provides for a humbling view. There are also terraces and temple remnants that crown the mountain’s summit and will leave you questioning how the Inca managed to build these structures.

After lunch at Inkaterra Café, you will travel to Ollantaytambo Station on the Vistadome train. On arrival, you are met and driven to Cusco and the JW Marriott Hotel Cusco where you will stay for two nights. Drive time is about 1 ¾ hours.

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Day 7

You will be picked up at your hotel this morning by your private guide for a half day tour of Cusco.

See the labyrinth of the four famous Inca ruins on the outskirts of the city. Sacsayhuamán, a UNESCO World Heritage site, offers a wonderful view over Cusco and boasts massive stones – measuring up to 13 feet tall – placed tightly together, creating a fortress-like structure. Learn about the site’s history and defensive purpose. Marvel at the way the Incas built the site so soundly, and admire the different shapes and sizes of the stones, some of which have designs of the condor, puma and snake, symbols of the three Inca worlds. You will also visit Qenqo (or Kenko), the ancient temple of Puma and its sacrificial altar. Puca Pucara, a site of military ruins that was once used for defense of the Inca Empire and Tambomachay, a series of aqueducts, canals and waterfalls that may have been a spa resort of wealthy Incas.

In Cusco’s historical center, see the Temple of the Sun at Koricancha, one of the Inca’s most important temples, on top of which sits the Convent of Santo Domingo. The stones of this temple were once covered with gold! In the main square, you have the beautiful Plaza de Armas. Here you’ll see two striking churches – Cusco Cathedral (also known as the Cathedral of Santo Domingo) and the Iglesia de La Compañía de Jesus (the Church of the Society of Jesus). Tour Cusco Cathedral with your guide, learning about its rich history and admire its exquisite late-Gothic and Baroque architecture. See some of its renowned art, including Pintura Senor de los Temblores, the oldest surviving painting in Cusco.

Your afternoon is at leisure to explore on your own or arrange for an optional tour or experience.

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Day 8

After breakfast, meet your driver in the lobby of the hotel for your private road transfer to the airport and your flight to Lima. On arrival, you will be met and transferred to JW Marriott Hotel Lima where you will stay for 1 night.

The remainder of the day is at leisure.

This evening, dinner reservations will be included at one of Lima’s best restaurants of your choosing. Round trip transportation to/from the restaurant is included.

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Day 9

Early this morning, you will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight to the USA.

Included

• Hotel accommodations as indicated, inclusive of hotel taxes.
• Meals as indicated.
• Private guided tours as indicated, inclusive of entrance fees and expert English speaking local guides.
• Rail tickets in Peru to/from Machu Picchu.
• Flights within Peru: Lima – Cusco – Lima.
• All airport transfers. Airport transfers in Peru are private accompanied by a transfer representative (no guide). During any included transfers, baggage handling assistance and gratuities to porters at airports who assist with loading/unloading luggage in/out of transfer vehicles are included.
• 24/7 emergency handling assistance and local concierge service assistance by our in-country representative.

Excluded

• Any international airfares between USA and Lima.
• Any passport and visa expenses. No visas are required for travel by USA citizens to Peru for visits less than 90 days. However, USA passport holders require a passport to be valid for at least 6 months from the entry date into any country in South America.
• Costs of obtaining any inoculations. No vaccinations are required for travel to Peru.
• Any excess baggage charges.
• Any items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar and beverage charges (unless specified otherwise as included above) and internet/telecommunication charges.
• Any gratuities to guides, drivers and porters at hotels.
• Any meals and services not specified.