Day 1: Lima, city tour
Arrive in Lima from your home city. We'll welcome you at the Jorge Chávez Airport and take you to your hotel for check in.
The capital of Peru, Lima overlooks the Pacific Ocean, and ranges to over 5,000 ft. A beautiful city, Lima has a wonderful mixture of Colonial and elegant modern architecture with numerous flower gardens, fabulous museums, elegant homes, delicious cuisine, fine hotels and restaurants, and an active nightlife. After settling in we will take you on a guided city tour to show you the highlights of this beautiful city. Dinner together at a fine restaurant.
Day 2: Lima, museums, Barranco
We will visit the National Museum of Archaeology Anthropology and History which has the largest Peruvian collection of Pre-Hispanic art and relics, well preserved mummies, and a superb collection of archaeological and historical artifacts from the Moche "Lord of Sipán" site in northern Peru, plus a scale model of the Machu Picchu complex. Then we'll view the exceptional collection of Pre-Columbian ceramics, Andean gold and silver, erotic pottery and Paracas textiles at the Larco Herrera Museum. The museum, located in an 18th Century building, was built over a 7th-Century pyramid so even the site holds historic mystery. We will tour the delightful Barranco area, known as the city's most romantic and bohemian district, the home of many of Peru's leading artists, musicians and photographers. We'll visit folk art shops and walk the Bridge of Sighs. Dinner in Barranco on your own and transportation to your hotel.
Day 3: Lima-Cusco/Cusco City Tour
We will leave early for a one-hour flight to Cusco, the center of the Inca Empire and a "World Heritage City." Ancient Cuzco was known to the Incas as "the belly button of the world," the source of life. Our trip to Cusco begins the heart and soul of the trip.
Your guide will meet you at the Cusco airport and take you to your hotel. You will have time to rest to acclimatize to the altitude. Cusco is over 11,000 ft.
A trip briefing will be given followed by a tour of the astonishing cobbled-stoned, red-roofed city rich in Incan and Colonial history. We'll visit the Coricancha, the partially restored Sun Temple, whose interior walls, once covered in gold and studded with emeralds and turquoise were stripped by the Conquistadors. In the patio stood a life-sized garden made of solid silver and gold. We'll also visit Plaza de Armas and see the 17th century Baroque Cathedral, built on the site of the palace of Viracocha, largely from the materials pillaged from the Incan sites. We'll also visit the Archbishop's precious private collection of Colonial and Indian art and the charming artisan's quarter and stop at the 12-angled stone on Hatunrumiyoc Street. Later, we return to our hotel and have a Cultural Expeditions Signature Cultural Immersion Evening with dinner
Day 4: Mercardo Central Market, Sacsayhuaman
After breakfast, we'll pick you up at the hotel and visit the Mercado Central (Central Market). This large open-air market has everything from Band-Aids to live poultry to a vast array of colorful vegetables, flowers and fruits. The colors, the sounds, and the smells immerse you in the culture of Peru. We'll visit the Inca Museum which shows a history of the Inca Empire. This will provide useful insights to prepare for our Inca-immersion portion of the tour.
We'll enjoy lunch at the highly-regarded Pachapapa Restaurant where the adventurous can even try Alpaca kabobs. This charming restaurant also has an outdoor patio.
After lunch we'll drive into the surrounding hills to the great walled complex of Sacsayhuaman, which means "Decorated head of the Puma” a sacred Inca site. This fortress/temple complex was the ruling palace of the Inca where the living god directed his people. Its large grounds were used for celebrations, pageants, and sporting events. The Europeans called it a fortress because of the immense stones that were used in its construction. Cusco's oral tradition claims that around 70,000 people worked 50 years to build the palace. The double zigzag wall is said to symbolize a puma's teeth, and the stones used to erect this massive fortification weigh up to 125 tons each. How ancient peoples could construct the walls with such huge stones is still a mystery today. The size and intricacy of the formations are magical. Even today, starting on June 24th, Sacsayhuaman is the site of the Incan Festival of the Sun, a week-long Indian celebration with folk dancing and pageantry. We will stop and see Kenko a small site whose name in Quechua means "zig-zag" consists of a huge carved boulder with tunnels and an altar dug below it. Before heading back to Cusco we'll be treated to a special ceremony conducted by a shaman.
Dinner on your own in Cusco
Day 5: Machu Picchu.
We'll depart from the hotel early for the Ollantaytambo train station to board the train to Machu Picchu. This rail journey is one of the most spectacular in the world. The rail line follows the Urubamba river through the spectacular Canyon of Vilcanota to the Lost City of the Incas. We will tour Machu Picchu in all its splendor and mystery, then we'll drive to the Sacred Center. Our expert guide, fully knowledgeable about the history and meanings of each aspect of Machu Picchu, will share the most current information and insights into this world-renown marvel. We check into the hotel and have an early lunch on your own before we take a special tour of the archaeological site. Machu Picchu is a remarkable work of art and a jewel of Inca architecture. It is a city in harmony with its environment perched atop a narrow crest high above the meandering Urubamba River and surrounded by the rugged, green slopes of the forested Andean mountains. Our visit to the Lost City of the Incas (discovered in 1911 by the American historian, Hiram Bingham and never reached by the Spanish Conquistadors) will include the Temples and Tombs, the ceremonial water fountains and baths, and the Sacred Plazas. We will take a thirty minute walk that leads to the Inca Drawbridge before returning to the hotel for dinner. Overnight in Machu Picchu.
Day 6: Machu Picchu to Cusco
You can rise at dawn with the sun's first light and experience the mystical magic of this sacred city and its sublime beauty. After breakfast there are several optional activities available. Huayna Picchu or Young Peak, (8,860 feet) which looms over the citadel and a one hour climb (one way) along a steep trail of stairs that ends at the terraces and ruins on top, providing an excellent "bird's eye" view of Machu Picchu citadel. Or, take an hour and a half hike downhill through the forest which ends at the partially excavated temple site. These hikes vary in length and difficulty and your guide can help you decide which option is right for you. Those who prefer may simply stay back and explore the hotel's orchid gardens or meditate on the archaeological wonders before we return to the bus and take the train (Snacks are served on board) back to Cuzco. We arrive in Cuzco early in the evening. Dinner at the Limo.
Day 7: Cusco, Lima and home or other expeditions
Morning in Cusco, free time for shopping and exploring. Flight to Lima to catch your flight home or on to other expeditions.
Machu Picchu was AMAZING!!! It was everything we imagined it to be and more!! A definite highlight.
I also really enjoyed the jungle. Our accommodations were wonderful. The place was beautiful, yet simple. Perfect for what we were after…Also, thank you for being willing to work around my schedule to extend to Ecuador. Even though, I didn't decide to extend I appreciate that you were willing to help me work out the logistics.
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The Must Sees of Peru
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