Peru is one of the great originating centers of ancient culture, and on this vacation, you’ll discover its archaeological treasures, visit its ancient ruins, and learn about its ancient culture. A highlight of your vacation is a tour to Machu Picchu, where you’ll visit this amazing Inca city. Stand in awe as you witness the ancient ruins surrounded by soaring peaks—one of the most majestic images in South America! Also, see the Temple of Sacsayhuaman, which was built in the early 12th century. Some of the stones used to build the fortress weigh more than 350 tons, and the stones were fit so tightly together that a piece of paper will not fit between the stones. Try to figure out how it was built without the help of modern technology and machinery! While at the ruins, experience a Mother Earth ceremony by a local shaman to thank Mother Earth and to ask for good health and safe travels. Of course, no trip to Peru is complete without seeing the Nazca Lines. When seen from the air, the lines form precise geometric shapes that number in the hundreds, as well as 70 figures, which include a monkey, whale, hummingbird, shark, spiders, and plants. Archaeologists remain puzzled about why the ancient Nazca people, who thrived here from 200 BC to 500 AD, created illustrations that could only be seen from far above the earth.These are just some of the many highlights you’ll see on this wonderful Peru vacation. For travelers ready for a new adventure, this tour is not to be missed!
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, make a stop at a [LF] LOCAL PERUVIAN FOOD MARKET to get a real taste of the lives of 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 dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)
Day #7 Cusco–Juliaca–Puno (Lake Titicaca). Board a flight to Juliaca, where you will continue to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca. (B,D)
Day #8 Puno. Excursion to Lake Titicaca. Today, take a motorboat trip to some of the more unique islands of LAKE TITICACA. Start with TAQUILE ISLAND, which was once part of the Inca Empire and was one of the last areas of Peru to be conquered by Spain in the 16th century. The Spanish banned traditional dress on the island, which is why the Spanish peasant dress can still be found today. Next, travel to the fascinating UROS ISLANDS, home to the Uros Indians, who were forced to live on the lake as the Inca Indians pushed farther into their territory. These islands are completely made by reeds and are continually added to as they disintegrate to the bottom of the lake. (B,L,D)
Day #9 Puno–Sillustani–Juliaca–Lima. Depart for Juliaca this morning, visiting the ruins of SILLUSTANI en route. At this pre-Incan burial ground, see where the ancient Aymaras buried their high priests in chullpas—above-ground, cylinder-shaped tombs dating back to the 1400s. While here, [LF] spend some time with the locals, see their HOMES, learn how they work, what they eat, and gain a better understanding of their lives. Fly from Juliaca to Lima this afternoon. (B)
Day #10 Lima–Paracas. Ballestas Islands Cruise & Nazca Lines. Enjoy a scenic drive south along the Pan-American Highway to the Bay of Paracas. CRUISE out to the Ballestas Islands, which are inhabited by a wide variety of sea mammals and exotic birds, including boobies, sea lions, and Humboldt penguins. The huge Candelabro, a candelabra-shaped etching on the Paracas cliffside, can also be seen as you cruise back to shore. Continue to the town of Pisco, the wine capital of Peru. Have your camera handy today as you board your aircraft for a FLIGHT over the Nazca plains, which can only be appreciated by air. Your pilot will point out the mysterious markings known as the NAZCA LINES, a series of drawings of animals and geometric figures etched into the parched soil—some up to 1,000 feet long! Theories vary, but the most accepted belongs to German mathematician Maria Reiche, who dubbed the land the “astronomical calendar” of the ancient Peruvians. Enjoy dinner this evening at your hotel. (B,D)
Day #11 Paracas–Lima. After some free time in Paracas, return to Lima today. Tonight, your Tour Director hosts a memorable farewell dinner at a local restaurant by the sea. (B,D)
Day #12 Lima. Your tour ends with breakfast this morning. (B)