Discover the best sights of Lima, from the colonial architecture and excellent museums to the mysterious catacombs and their ornate displays of human bones. Delve into the untouched world of the Amazon rainforest. Hike jungle trails in search of monkeys, parrots, otters and caymans and sleep in a nature lodge lit by candles and kerosene lamps. Meet the local artisans, farmers and townsfolk of the Sacred Valley – not forgetting the cute alpacas and vincunas. Be mesmerised by the mother of all Incan cities, the mysterious Machu Picchu. Enjoy a guided tour of the site plus an extra day of free time to explore
Gaze up at Peru’s dazzling peaks and into picturesque valleys to understand why the Andean mountains were sacred for the Incas. This well-paced holiday combines time in the fascinating historic cities of Lima and Cuzco with time exploring some of Peru’s most amazing settings. Enjoy a memorable train journey through the heart of the sacred valley to Machu Picchu and breathe in the magical spirit of the Incas.
Breakfast Included: 9 Lunches Included: 3 Lunches Included: 2
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Peru.
If you have pre booked your complimentary arrival transfer you and your family will be met at the airport and driven to your hotel. There is an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. Afterwards, enjoy an (optional) dinner with the rest of the group. If you arrive early, be sure to take a stroll and check out the city. Lima was in its prime during the Spanish colonial days and much of its attraction now lies in the well-preserved historical centre. Alternatively, go to Parque del Amor (Love's Park) and check out its mosaics and El Beso statue. Pachacamac, home to the Temple of the Sun, is also well worth the trip (approximately 30 km from downtown Lima). Limenos (Lima's residents) are friendly, and there are plenty of great restaurants and cafes at which to sample delicious ceviche, a local seafood speciality.
Notes: This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information on this.
Enjoy some breakfast, then explore Lima with a local guide. Your tour takes you through the National Museum of Archeology, Anthropology and History, the largest and oldest public museum in Peru. Check out some of its 100,000 pre-Incan artifacts – there are ceramics, textiles, tools and ruins from as far back as 1,000 BC. You will also visit the infamous catacombs underneath the San Francisco church. Here you'll find the bones of an estimated 75,000 bodies arranged in ornate patterns in stone pits. While it can get a little claustrophobic down there, it's a fascinating display. The church itself is also quite a sight, built in the Baroque style of the late 17th century.
In the evening, relax and unwind with an optional dinner and folklore show.
This morning you will transfer to the airport for your flight to Puerto Maldonado, the gateway to the Amazon. After you arrive, the lodge staff will take you to their office in town. Here you will leave most of your luggage in safe storage and continue travelling with a small pack with just the necessary items for your next two nights in the jungle. Take a motorised canoe upriver to your jungle lodge in the Madre de Dios area. Once you're settled in, head out into the jungle with your local, multilingual guides and encounter some magnificent fauna and flora in their natural habitat. The guides can also teach you about the medicinal properties and practical uses of the plants. Your lodge is eco-friendly, combining low-impact architecture with traditional native style. Rooms are simple but comfortable, with flush toilets (en suite), showers (cold water only) and mosquito nets. Kerosene lamps are used for light.
Transfer by boat back to Puerto Maldonado this morning. Here you will take a short flight to Cuzco (approximately 1 hour). On arrival in Cuzco, check into your hotel and enjoy your first evening in this delightful old city. It really does feel like the heart and soul of Peru. Perhaps explore the Inca walls of the Plaza de Armas or some of the many fine churches around town. Lots of the elegant colonial buildings are built on or around Inca foundations, and indeed the city is a combination of both Spanish and Incan heritage. Be sure to take it slow as you adjust to the altitude (3,450 m). Check out some of the many outdoor activities on offer, which you can always take up later when you return to Cuzco towards the end of your trip.
Enter the beautiful Sacred Valley. Today you will head to Awanancancha to see Llamas, alpacas and vicunas. Your next port of call is Pisac, a charming little village nestled at the base of an Inca fort. Start by exploring the famous local market (Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday). It's a colourful bazaar with hundreds of local artisans selling their wares. You might find anything from hand-knitted Alpaca jumpers to ornately decorated Andean ceramics here. Next you will tour a local farm to gain some insight into another facet of daily life. Here you will earn about old techniques of dyeing, spinning and weaving the alpaca wool. After lunch, it's off to explore the Inca ruins, which are spread out on the mountains above the town. They are roughly as old as those of Machu Picchu. Enjoy a night in at the Royal Inn in Pisac, which has a swimming pool.
Venture deeper into the Sacred Valley and discover Ollantaytambo. This awesome spot was built over an ancient Inca town, and it's a great example of Inca urban planning. This is one of the few places where the Incas defeated the Spanish. Ollantaytambo's archaeological site is located to the east of the Plaza de Armas. The upper terraces offer great photo opportunities of the square grid town below. Once you've done some exploring here, you'll take a midday train up to Aguas Calientes, taking in gorgeous Andean scenery along the way. In Aguas Calientes you can get an early night if you like, in preparation for tomorrow's visit to Machu Picchu. There are some beautiful local hot springs around here, hence the name of the town.
Machu Picchu - Cuzco
Take an early bus up to the stunning 'lost city' of Machu Picchu. This is one of those genuinely magical places, and your first glimpse of these ruins in the mist is something to remember. The site is perched high in the Andes, surrounded by verdant cloud forest, with the river Urubamba running through the gorge far below. Hidden away on a ridge, Machu Picchu is invisible from below, so it's no surprise it remained a secret for so many years (until 1911). You will explore the ruins with a local guide, learning more about these 200 or so houses and temples. It's fascinating to be able to gaze down on the city from above and imagine how it would have looked during the height of the Inca empire.
After today's excitement, we head back to Cuzco for the night.
This morning you will enjoy a stand-up paddle boarding experience on the Piuray Lake. Once you have mastered this activity, head back to Cusco city.
The rest of the day is yours to explore the city as you please. Armed with a full boleto turistico (tourist ticket), you'll have access to the premier museums and sights in town. Perhaps start your day at the local market – a great chance to mingle with the locals, sample some street food or some pastries, and perhaps browse for some strange items such as 'Dragon's Blood' (medicinal tree sap). Some great museums to visit are the Pisco Museum, the Museum of Inca Culture and the Museum of Popular Art. There are also many adventure activities on offer, from trekking and mountain biking to via-ferrata climbing and zip-lining. All are great ways to take in the gorgeous neighbouring hills.
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast this morning. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are free to depart the accommodation at any time.