From its amazing archaeological treasures to its gastronomic delights and from its rich history to its melting pot of cultures, Peru offers visitors a wide array of attractions—and on this tour, you’ll experience its highlights. Plus, you’ll have the thrilling opportunity to cruise through the Galápagos Islands. Start in Lima, a cosmopolitan city steeped in history with pre-Columbian ruins, Spanish colonial buildings, and remnants of colonial mansions. On your sightseeing tour, you’ll see many of its famous sights. High in the Andes Mountains, Cusco is the oldest continuously inhabited city in South America and is sure to please history buffs. Learn about the Incas’ struggles with the invading Spaniards on your tour of Cusco and visit the Temple of Sacsayhuaman, built in the early 12th century with some stones weighing more than 350 tons. Try to figure out how it was built so precisely without the help of modern machinery and technology! Of course, no vacation to Peru is complete without visiting Machu Picchu. Built around 1450 at the height of the Inca Empire, Machu Picchu is located in a gorgeous mountain setting above the Urubamba Valley. Stand in awe as you witness it—it is one of the most majestic images in all of South America!Not only will you visit the must-see sights, you’ll also have an opportunity to learn about Peruvian life. Experience a Mother Earth ceremony performed by a local shaman. These ceremonies thanking Mother Earth and asking for good health and safe travels have been practiced in Peru since before the arrival of the Incas. You’ll also stop at a local Peruvian food market and visit a home to meet some of the locals and experience their way of life. Conclude your vacation by cruising through the Galápagos Islands, where you will witness blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, sea lions, land iguanas, and much more. For even more spectacular beauty and fun, you can swim or snorkel in search of sea life such as octopus, sea horses, and starfish. Afterward, spend time in Quito, where a sightseeing tour shows you its highlights—a perfect conclusion to an amazing adventure!
Day #1 Arrive in Lima, Peru. Welcome to Lima!
Day #2 Lima. This morning, your Local Guide focuses on the city’s colonial heritage during a walking TOUR. Start at the Plaza de Armas to see the Government Palace and the cathedral. From here, stroll to the venerable SAN FRANCISCO MONASTERY with its splendid 17th-century cloister murals. For a special treat, stop at a [LF] LOCAL PERUVIAN FOOD MARKET to get a real taste of life for the local people. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner at one of Lima’s finest historic homes, CASA GARCIA ALVARADO, with your fellow traveling companions. (B,D)
Day #3 Lima–Cusco–Sacred Valley. Fly to Cusco, the impressive Andean city that was once the capital of the Inca Empire. Spend the day in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, starting with a visit to the TEMPLE OF SACSAYHUAMAN, perched on a hillside overlooking Cusco. It remains unfathomable how and when this fortress of gigantic stones—with some blocks weighing more than 350 tons—was built. While at the ruins, experience an [LF] El Pago a la Tierra, or MOTHER EARTH CEREMONY, performed by a local shaman. These ceremonies thanking Mother Earth and asking for good health and safe travels have been practiced in Peru since before the arrival of the Incas. Next, stop at the semi-circular KENKO Amphitheater with its stone altars and labyrinth of passages. See the ancient site of Puca Pucara before continuing to PISAC, an old mountain village where you will have free time to shop for local wares such as alpaca sweaters and blankets, jewelry, or hand-painted ornamental dishes and vases. Stay in the Sacred Valley tonight, and enjoy a special dinner outing with a PERUVIAN PASO HORSE SHOW. (B,L,D)
Day #4 Sacred Valley–Machu Picchu. This morning, visit the Inca Fortress of OLLANTAYTAMBO followed by the opportunity to visit a [LF] HOME, meet some of the locals, and experience their way of life. Next, board a TRAIN for a short journey through the lush Urubamba Valley. Then, transfer to a motorcoach for the ascent to legendary MACHU PICCHU, the “Lost City of the Incas,” high above the steep valley overlaid with dense tropical jungle. Your Local Guide will bring you closer to the lives and mysteries still hidden in these amazing structures built by the pre-Columbian masters of this sacred land. Tonight, stay at a nearby hotel. (B,L,D)
Day #5 Machu Picchu–Cusco. Your entrance to MACHU PICCHU is included for a second day. Enjoy the tranquility of the morning with free time to wander the ruins at your own pace and experience the magic that is Machu Picchu. After lunch, return to the Sacred Valley by TRAIN and continue on to Cusco. (B,L)
Day #6 Cusco. This morning, learn more about the Incas and their struggle against invading Spaniards on your Cusco city TOUR, with visits to the imposing CATHEDRAL and the SANTO DOMINGO MONASTERY. The remainder of your day is free to explore at your leisure. Tonight, enjoy a special farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)
Day #7 Cusco–Lima. Bid farewell to your Tour Director in Cusco and board a flight to Lima. Meet a Local Guide and transfer to your hotel. The afternoon is at leisure to explore the city. (B)
Day #8 Lima–Guayaquil, Ecuador. Fly to Guayaquil, where the remainder of the day is at leisure. (B)
Day #9 Guayaquil–Baltra–Santa Cruz (Embarkation)–Cruising. Fly to Baltra and transfer to SANTA CRUZ Island and the highlands. While here, visit a private farm where giant tortoises are found in their natural habitat. You can also explore lava tubes and pit craters. Board the Galápagos Legend for your 3-night CRUISE. (B,L,D)
Day #10 Cruising: Santiago & Bartolomé Islands. Wake up at SANTIAGO and Puerto Egas, once a buccaneer supply base. Watch for yellow-crowned night heron, Darwin’s finches, iguana, and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Encounter a Galápagos fur seal grotto, one of the few places in the archipelago where fur seals can be seen. From here you can swim and snorkel in search of octopus, sea horses, starfish, and other sea life. After lunch on board, visit BARTOLOMÉ to discover a fascinating moonscape formed by volcanic parasitic cones. Take a hike to the summit for impressive views of the surrounding islands. Bartolomé offers some of the best snorkeling in the archipelago, thanks to clear waters and abundant sea life. (B,L,D)
Day #11 Cruising: Santa Cruz & North Seymour Islands. Back at SANTA CRUZ, walk by a brackish lagoon, where feeding flamingos are often found. Climb DRAGON HILL, an important nesting ground for endemic land iguanas, offering lovely views of the neighboring islands. The forest is home to mockingbirds, Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers, and Galápagos doves. At NORTH SEYMOUR, take a walk amidst large nesting colonies of blue-footed boobies, magnificent and great frigatebirds, and swallow-tailed gulls for an in-depth encounter with sea bird breeding cycles. You will also encounter sea lions and land iguanas. (B,L,D)
Day #12 Cruising: Baltra (Disembarkation)–Quito. After breakfast, fly to Quito, where the remainder of the day is at leisure. (B)
Day #13 Quito. On a city tour, see INDEPENDENCE SQUARE with its CATHEDRAL and SAN FRANCISCO PLAZA CHURCH, and the BASILICA. (B)
Day #14 Quito. Your tour ends with breakfast this morning. (B)