On this amazing tour, you will visit some of the most historical treasures in South America—and the world—including Machu Picchu and the moai on Easter Island. Start first in Peru, where you’ll be dazzled by its archaeological treasures, gastronomic delights, rich history, and melting pot of cultures. Lima is 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, including the San Francisco Monastery. 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 Cusco tour 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 South America, if not the world!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. Then head to Easter Island, one of the most isolated islands on earth, for even more remarkable sights. By about 300 AD, a small group of Polynesian seafarers settled on the island, and they eventually began carving the hundreds of giant stone head statues—called moai—that still pepper the island. You’ll have an opportunity to see the moai as well as visit the volcano and caves. If you desire to learn about new cultures and see amazing historical treasures, this tour to Peru and Easter Island is for you! Pack your camera and get ready for a trip of a lifetime!
Day #1 Arrive in Lima, Peru. Arrive in Lima, where you will be met by your Tour Director.
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–Easter Island, Chile. Fly from Lima to Easter Island, considered the world’s largest open-air museum. (B)
Day #9 Easter Island. Your first stop is AHU VAIHU, where eight large moai lie in ruins, then on to AHU AKAHANGA, also known as the platform of the king. According to legends, this is where the first king of Easter Island is buried. Continue to RANO RARAKU, the volcano where 95% of all moai were carved. Today you’ll find 394 statues remaining in various stages of completion. Hike to the top of the volcano to reveal many statues and admire the spectacular view of the lake. Next, visit restored AHU TONGARIKI. This magnificent platform is the largest on the island, with 15 moai. Continue along the north coast through La Perousse Bay and stop at AHU TE PITO KURA, site of the largest moai ever transported and erected. Last stop is the beach of Anakena, where King Hotu Matua first landed on Rapa Nui (Easter Island’s local name). (B,L)
Day #10 Easter Island. This morning, visit the volcano RANO KAU. Its caldera contains one of the island’s freshwater lakes. Next, continue to the nearby village of ORONGO, best known for the birdman cult celebrated here. Here, 47 houses have been restored. In AHU VINAPU you will see two major ahu where moai once stood. The next stop is ANA KAI TAGATA, a beautiful cave with wall paintings that depict the Manutara bird. The arrival of this bird in spring would initiate the Tangata Manu (birdman) competition. Later, visit AHU AKIVI, with seven restored moai built in the middle of the island. According to legend, the statues on this ahu represent the seven scouts sent to Rapa Nui by the first king. Continue to the ANA TE PAHU CAVE, one of the biggest caves on the island, created by lava tubes. Finally, visit topknot-quarry PUNA PAU with its red scoria stone, where all the pukaos that were placed on top of the moai were made. (B)
Day #11 Easter Island–Lima, Peru. Fly to Lima for connections to your homebound flight. The flight from Easter Island arrives in Lima late this evening and may require a post night in Lima, depending on international flight schedules. Please schedule flights after 12:30 am of Day 12. (B)