A Taste of Peru (2019)
Discover Peru’s museums, churches and Inca fortresses, as well as explore the
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Leisurely / Moderate
Group Size Small Group
This journey from Lima to Cuzco is the perfect introduction to Peru’s vibrant culture and fascinating heritage. Lima’s historic centre is replete with impressive colonial architecture, and home to the ornate Basilica Cathedral and catacombs. To the south lies Cuzco, the ancient Inca capital, nestled on a plateau surrounded by the Andes. This charming city is awash with Inca ruins and museums juxtaposed with Spanish churches and buildings, not to mention its bustling markets. Beyond Cuzco rural life continues much as it has done for centuries and we’ll meet some of these traditional communities in the Sacred Valley before visiting the colossal fortresses at Pisac and Ollantaytambo. No trip to Peru is complete without journeying through cloud forest to visit Machu Picchu, majestically perched on a mountaintop, or travelling into the dense jungles of the Amazon Rainforest.
* All breakfasts, 4 lunches and 2 dinners
* All accommodation
* All transport and listed activities
* Tour leader throughout. Groups of normally 4 to 16, plus tour leader. Min age 16 yrs.
* Airport arrival and departure transfers (at designated times)
- Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)
- Lima’s historic centre, including the Basilica Cathedral and catacombs
- Guided tour of Machu Picchu, set against its dramatic Andean backdrop
- Walk a section of the Inca Trail via Wiñay Wayna
- Vibrant markets, Inca museums and Spanish churches of Cuzco
- The imposing Inca fortresses of Sacsayhuaman, Pisac and Ollantaytambo
- Traditional lunch in one of the Sacred Valley communities
- Spend two nights deep in the Amazon Rainforest
- 7 nights Hotels and 2 nights premium jungle lodge
- Travel by private bus, train and two internal flights
- Time spent at altitude
The tour starts in Lima; those on the group flights arrive in the morning but there are no excursions planned so land only travellers can arrive throughout the day (please note that hotel check-in times are usually from 3pm). Our hotel is based in the residential Miraflores District, within walking distance of the coast.Your leader will be on hand to help you get your bearings and can help make arrangements should you want to visit somewhere in particular. There will be a group briefing at the hotel this afternoon/evening.*Hotel Antigua Miraflores (or similar)*
Tour of Lima's historic centre, visiting the Larco Museum, Basilica Cathedral and catacombs.
Today we have a tour of colonial and modern Lima. We visit the modern residential district and then explore the historical downtown area. We will discover the Plaza de Armas, Basilica Cathedral and Presidential Palace on a short walk around the colonial centre, and we visit the incredible church of San Francisco, which houses one of the oldest libraries in the Americas and sits on top of a labyrinthine network of catacombs. These still house the bones of Lima’s wealthy 18th and 19th century residents.*Hotel Antigua Miraflores (or similar)*
Fly to Puerto Maldonado; travel by boat into rainforest; afternoon jungle walk and twilight river excursion.
We leave Lima early today as we take a flight to Puerto Maldonado, a small town in the rainforest. On arrival, we transfer to the dock for a boat trip to our lodge in the Tambopata Reserve – this journey takes around 30 minutes. On the way, we may see caimans, river turtles and waterfowl. After some time to settle in and lunch, we will take a short walk along the forest trails near the lodge followed by a twilight river excursion to look for nocturnal animals.*Hacienda Concepción (or similar) *
Jungle exploration by boat and on foot.
Activities today generally include a mixture of walks along the forest trails, time spent in canoes to explore rainforest lakes, and the opportunity to go high into the canopy for a completely different view of the forest. In the evening we will take a short walk through the Amazon rainforest to look for nocturnal animals. The resident guides are normally around in the evening to answer questions.*Hacienda Concepción (or similar)*
Fly to Cuzco; orientation walk and visit to Koricancha, the 'Sun Temple'.
We return to Puerto Maldonado after breakfast today and board our flight to Cuzco. Upon landing we transfer to our centrally located hotel. Set amidst hills in the altiplano, the imperial city of the Incas, Cuzco was the geographic, cultural and political centre of a vast empire which, at its peak, stretched from present day Quito in Ecuador to Santiago in Chile. After the Spanish Conquistadores invaded the city they started building on top of the Incan structures, resulting in unique architecture, a fusion of the Incan and Spanish colonial styles. It is among the most attractive cities in South America.We will have a short walking tour around the compact city centre to get our bearings, and will visit Koricancha – the Sun Temple, located in the Santo Domingo Church and Monastery.It is recommended to take it easy upon arrival into Cuzco and to drink plenty of water to allow your body time to acclimatise to the altitude (3,400m). *Hotel San Agustin Plaza (or similar)*
Cuzco city tour, including San Pedro Market, the San Blas District and the Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman.
We have a full-day tour combining the highlights in and around the city. Outside the town are Inca ruins, notably the fortress of Sacsayhuaman where the Inca armies made their last stand against the Conquistadores. In the centre we visit the Plaza de Armas, and see many examples of the famous Inca stonework. One of Cuzco’s most picturesque areas is the San Blas District, where many artisan workshops are found. It’s a bit of a climb up the cobbled streets but a fascinating neighbourhood to visit and affords some great views over the city. We will also go to San Pedro Market, which is the place to try some local produce, and we will visit the Cusco Cathedral.*Hotel San Agustin Plaza (or similar)*
Explore the Sacred Valley and have lunch with a family in the Chichubamba Community; train to Ollantaytambo.
We visit the magnificent Sacred Valley, which runs along the Urubamba River near Cuzco, and is the true heartland of Incan culture and tradition. The high-Andean scenery is dotted with old towns and villages dating back to pre-Columbian times.We first head out of Cuzco to the colourful handicraft market at Pisac, at the entrance to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. After some free time to browse the stalls, we take a walking tour of the huge Inca ruins above the village. We then head to Chichubamba community, where you can see local activities such as pottery and chocolate making, as well as enjoy a hearty traditional lunch.After lunch, we drive down the valley to Ollantaytambo and visit the immense Inca fortress. This was the royal estate of Inca Emperor Pachacuti as well as being of religious and defensive significance. We will also explore the village, whose streets still follow the pre-conquest grid plan.*Pakaritampu Hotel (or similar)*
Day walk along Inca Trail via Winay Wayna ruins.
Today we have a day walk along a section of the Inca Trail. The trail passes the ruins of Wiñay Wayna and ascends a stone staircase to the Sun Gate for the iconic view of Machu Picchu and its magnificent backdrop. A packed lunch is included today.*Hotel Casa Andina – Aguas Calientes (or similar)*
Guided tour of Machu Picchu; return to Cuzco by train and by road.
In order to beat the day-trippers coming from Cuzco, we wake early this morning and catch the bus (approx. thirty minutes) up the winding road to the greatest ruin in the world – Machu Picchu.This is one of the architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world, in a mountain setting of staggering immensity. The Spaniards never found it; the Incas left no records of it, so Machu Picchu remains a great enigma, a city lost for centuries in the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham.The well-preserved Inca architecture, combined with its spectacular location on a mountain spur high above the Urubamba River, makes Machu Picchu one of the world’s most impressive ruins. Your leader will give you a two/three hour guided tour of the ruins and afterwards there will be free time to explore at your leisure. There are some spectacular walks around the site that you may wish to do, including following the path to the Inca Drawbridge.Once you’ve had your fill, return to Aguas Calientes in time to catch an afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo, and continue by road to Cuzco (approx. two hours drive). *Hotel San Agustin Plaza (or similar)*
For land only travellers the tour ends after breakfast.**
Hotels & Lodge
This trip spends 7 nights hotels and 2 nights premium jungle lodge, all with en suite facilities.
The hotels normally used are indicated within the itinerary however accommodation may differ from those stated depending on your departure date. All accommodation is centrally located and within waking distance of the main sites and have en suite bathrooms. Most hotels have a safety deposit box in the room but if not, there will be one at reception.
In the rainforest we stay in the beautiful Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion, located between the Tambopata National Reserve and the shores of the Madre de Dios River. The lodge is located about 30 mins by boat from Puerto Maldonado, and has a main building surrounded by private cabanas sitting on stilts. Each cabana is usually for two people sharing, and all have a private bathroom with a shower, as well as individual mosquito nets over the beds. There is limited electricity in the cabanas, and each room has both reading lights and a ceiling ventilator The main building has a dining room and bar, as well as a small library of books relating to the rainforest and its flora and fauna.
Please note that central heating is very rare in Peru, even in good standard hotels. Most hotels provide plug in heaters and spare blankets. Additionally while all of the hotels have a hot water supply, it can be temperamental when there is high demand.
A railway line runs straight through the centre of Aguas Calientes and whilst we try to allocate rooms away from it whenever possible, you might hear the trains from some rooms.
We recommend the early booking of single supplements and of pre/post-tour accommodation. Single rooms can be booked for an optional single supplement.
All breakfasts, 4 lunches and 2 dinners are included in the price of the tour.
The tap water in Peru is not safe to drink but often your leader will offer to look after a group kitty and buy large containers of drinking water that you can refill a bottle from.
Hotel breakfasts are normally simple buffet-style affairs, usually including bread/toast and jam, cereal, sometimes eggs or a cooked dish, sometimes fruit, tea/coffee and fruit juice. Regrettably we can not guarantee that wheat/gluten free products will be available for breakfast in all locations – if you have an intolerance you may wish to bring your own breakfast food from home.
Where lunch and dinner is not included we’ll visit a variety of cafes and restaurants.
Peruvian cuisine has developed a reputation for its flavours and originality and it’s well worth trying out a few of the local delicacies. Amongst these are ceviche (a spicy dish of seafood or fish marinated in lime juice), lomo saltado (a Peruvian take on a beef stir-fry) and various hearty soups such as the delicious quinoa soup. Other dishes include roasted cuy (guinea pig), Alpaca steak, and to drink, the national beverage: Pisco Sour.
This tour has been graded Leisurely/Moderate (Activity Level 2). There is nothing too strenuous planned but there is some sightseeing on foot; including a walking tour of Cuzco, and walking around other sites such as Sacsayhuaman, Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu. It is worth noting however, that most of the Inca sites are built on terraces into the hillsides so there will be some steps to climb but we will do this at a leisurely pace.
Cuzco is the highest place that we stay, and lies at an altitude of approx. 3,400m, as such you may notice the air is thinner upon arrival. .
New List of Regulations for visiting Machu Picchu (which apply from July 1st 2018).
The main points impacting your visit are the following:
- The tickets are valid only for one entry which means that you cannot leave the site and re-enter.
- Once you have done the chosen circuit with your guide, you cannot walk back to view anything already visited and once you finish the circuit, you will have to leave the site. You can no longer explore the site further after the guided tour.
- The two visit times for visiting the site, either 6am-12pm or 12-16.30pm.
These new regulations will affect how long you are able to spend at Machu Picchu. In the past, after the guided tour passengers could stay longer to explore the site, this is not possible anymore. The alternative that we are implementing on our visits to allow you further time, is to explore the upper part of Machu Picchu (Sun Gate and Inca Bridge) before starting the guided tour. The guided tour will be about 2 hrs in duration, and unfortunately at the end of it, you will need to exit the site.
Schedule of visit to Machu Picchu on this itinerary:
- Early bus to Machu Picchu and explore upper part with the tour leader
- Between 9-10am start the guided tour
- Between 11.30am-12.30pm passengers leave Machu Picchu