Discover the breath of Peru’s diverse heritage, from the gorgeous Spanish colonial architecture of Lima to the Aymara and Quechuan Indian cultures of Puno. Marvel at the mother of all Inca cities, breathtaking Machu Picchu. Enjoy a guided tour of the ruins and free time to explore on your own. Enjoy plenty of time in gorgeous Cusco, the perfect place to launch into further outdoor adventures or simply relax and take in mountain views with a pisco sour in hand. The floating reed islands of Uros on Lake Titicaca are astounding in concept, construction and history. Take a boat tour on the world’s highest navigable lake and stay with a local family there
Fall in love with Peru’s lofty beauty and discover the grand history and resilient ancient cultures that continue to thrive in its cities and mountains on this 10-day tour. Explore the ornate Cusco Cathedral with a celebrated academic, wonder at the stark white salt pools set into the hillside of the Sacred Valley and take a guided tour of the awe-inspiring Inca citadel that is Machu Picchu.
Breakfast Included: 8 Lunches Included: 2 Dinner Included:
Welcome to Peru. On arrival to Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport you will be transferred to your hotel. Meet your leader and fellow travellers for a pre-trip briefing, usually held at 2 pm. Please check the noticeboard near the hotel reception for confirmation of the location and exact of the meeting. You will be required to provide your next of kin and insurance information during this meeting, so please make sure you have these on hand. After the meeting, your leader will take you on a brief orientation tour of the Miraflores area. Your in-depth city tour will be tomorrow morning. Lima has some of the best cuisine in South America and is especially renowned for its seafood. Perhaps sample Peru's national dish of ceviche this evening, raw fish marinated in lime juice and often served with hot peppers.
Sacred Valley of the Inca
Take a flight from Lima to lofty Cusco today, then make a two-hour minivan journey to Urubamba. Set in the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Inca, Urubamba is a small town named for the river that cuts through the mountains and mainly functions as a transport hub and base from which to explore the surrounding ruins.
Sacred Valley of the Inca/Aguas Calientes
Some of the region’s most captivating historical sites are on the itinerary today. First up is the small town of Maras. Known for the thousands of individual salt pools set into the surrounding hillside that date back to Inca times, these white terraces stand out even in an environment known for its physical and man-made beauty. From here, continue to Moray, an Inca archaeological site on a high plateau featuring a series of concentric terraces that are sure to stun in their design and scope. Enjoy lunch at the small community of Chichbamba, then continue by train to the town of Aguas Calientes in preparation for tomorrow's visit to mighty Machu Picchu.
Rise early for a 5.30 am for a 30-minute bus ride along the winding road to Machu Picchu. The first views of Machu Picchu against a backdrop of forested mountains will likely stun even experienced and worldly travellers. Enjoy a 1.5- to 2-hour guided tour through the magnificent ruins and learn about the site’s known history and the ancestral people of the region. The true purpose behind Machu Picchu may always be a mystery, since no historical records of the complex exist. In fact, none were made in the first place, since the Inca had no written language. Some historians have argued it was a place of spiritual worship; others, a military stronghold, and some even think it was a prison. Most archaeologists, however, believe it to be the 15th-century headquarters of ‘he who shook the earth’, Emperor Pachacuti. Later return by bus and train to Cusco, where you'll spend the night. At 3450 metres (11,150 feet) above sea level, it’s important to take time to acclimatize to the city’s altitude, so perhaps take it easy this evening.
Today, enjoy a comprehensive guided tour of Cusco. This city is South America's oldest continuously inhabited city, and was the home of the Inca for two centuries before the Spanish invaded and built their first capital here. Today Cusco is a fascinating combination of both cultures. This tour includes a visit to the Cusco Cathedral with specialist guide, Professor Alfredo Hinojoza Galvez, a born and raised Cusconian and academic considered an icon in the colonial art and tourism world. Alfredo is uniquely placed to offer special insight into Cusco Cathedral, which is also a World Heritage site. Following the tour, perhaps ask you leader for a restaurant recommendation or seek out aji de gallina (creamy chicken) or Quechan classic causa (potato casserole).
Enjoy a free day to explore Cusco at your own pace. Perhaps visit the San Pedro market in the morning and wander among the colourful produce and early-bird crowds. You could pick up some fruit and other snacks and make the 45-minute walk to Sacsayhuaman. Another incredible example of Inca ingenuity, Sacsayhuaman was an important religious site that features imposing stones stacked together to form a wall complex. Photographs do not do these towering walls justice. If you are still struggling with the altitude or simply prefer to relax, maybe take a seat at a cafe overlooking the Plaza de Armas and watch the world go by with a pisco sour or two.
Depart today for Puno, the ‘Folklore Capital of Peru’, which lies on the shore of vast Lake Titicaca. The journey will take around seven hours, though there will be a stop en route at Juliana, a lively town known for its traditional street dancing. Upon arrival in Puno at around 3.30 pm, take a lead-led orientation walk around town. Puno is known for the vibrant celebration of many festivals, particularly February’s Virgen de la Candelaria, a blend of town-wide feasting, Catholic devotion and flamboyant carnival. Even if your visit does not coincide with a festival, Puno is sure to delight with boundless joviality and good cheer year-round. In the evening perhaps head out for dinner with the group, your leader will be able to recommend some fantastic places to eat.
Depart the hotel before 7 am and set off to explore Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable body of water in the world. Be enchanted by the striking scenery and encounter waterfront communities on a cruise around the lake today. Stop in at the incredible floating Uros Islands, constructed by the Uros people as a form of protective isolation in ancient times. Built completely from multiple layers of totora reeds, the structures are constantly replenished with fresh material as the reeds beneath rot away. Next call into Taquile Island, where knitting is a strictly male pursuit and women do the spinning, resulting in famed woollen handicrafts. Return to Puno for a final evening in the Altiplano.
Today, on the way to the airport, visit the crumbling chullpas (funerary tours) of Sillustani, the tallest of which is 12 metres. Spend some time wandering among the remnants of this pre-Inca cemetary and look closely for the ancient carvings that are still visible on many of the structures. Later, catch a flight to Lima. Perhaps head out for a final meal with your fellow travellers and toast to the adventure that has been.
Today your Peruvian adventure comes to an end after breakfast. Flights out of Lima can be booked anytime, as there are no planned activities following check-out. If you're planning to spend a little more time in Lima, consider booking an Urban Adventure tour to get beneath the city's skin. Fallen in love with Peruvian food? Perhaps learn some tricks of the cuisine on a Lima Home Cooked Tour. Find out more at urbanadventures.com/lima-tour-lima-home-cooked.