Day 1: LIMA
Welcome to Lima and to Peru! On your arrival at the Lima International Airport, you will be met by your private chauffeur who will transfer you to the Casa Andina Hotel, located in the Miraflores neighborhood of Lima, among art galleries, upscale restaurants and leafy parks, and the perfect location to begin your Peruvian adventure. In the evening, we'll start with a welcome dinner at La Huaca Pucllana Restaurant, one of the places that put Lima on the map of the world's culinary capitals. Here, we'll get a chance to appreciate the famous Peruvian cuisine, presented as we dine in a beautiful setting of the magnificent pre-Incan ruins veiled in a mesmerizing glow, as if on fire.
Day 2: LIMA
Today, we'll dive into Peruvian art and history. We'll start with a visit to the Larco Herrera Museum, the largest private collection of pre-Columbian art in the world, where we'll be graciously hosted by its head curator, whose special interest is the role of women in pre-Columbian Peru. After the insightful tour of the museum's collections, we'll relax at a gourmet lunch at the museum's cafe, and have some free time to browse through the high-quality items at the museum's gift shop. We'll follow the pre-Columbian museum with another highlight of the tour: a visit to the private Barbosa-Stern Private Collection which will be presented to us by its founders, who are passionate collectors and art restorers. The collection provides an insight into the Peruvian School, the highest exponent of colonial art in Latin America, and a fascinating blend of the Andean and European cultural traditions.
Day 3: LIMA - CUZCO - URUBAMBA
This morning, we'll leave Lima and take a short flight to Cuzco. From here, we'll explore the Sacred Valley, treasured by the Inca for its wealth and mild climate. The highlight of the day will be meeting with Nilda Cañallaupa and learning about her native weaving project. Nilda is the founder of the Center for Traditional Textiles and a native of the village of Chinchero who by age 15 was presenting at the Smithsonian Institute and at the American Museum of Natural History. She will share with us her life story and her passion for preserving the weaving heritage of the Andean people. The Center also provides shelter for women, ensures that young girls connect with their elders, and helps native weavers control the marketing of their textiles. Afterwards, we'll enjoy a colorful picnic lunch and participate in the Andean religious ritual “Tribute to the Mother Earth” which is a special ceremony to renew life energy, performed by the Shaman or Paq’o and accompanied by Andean music. In the afternoon, we'll arrive at the luxury Sol y Luna hotel, our home for the next 3 nights.
Day 4: MACHU PICCHU
After breakfast, we'll take the Vistadome panoramic train to Machu Picchu. On arrival, we'll enjoy an in-depth, guided visit to the stunning Machu Picchu citadel, "The Lost City of the Incas". The ruins of Machu Picchu, rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, are one of the most beautiful and enigmatic ancient sites in the world. While the Inca people certainly used the Andean mountaintop from the early 1400s, erecting hundreds of elaborate stone structures, legends and myths indicate that Machu Picchu was revered as a sacred place since a far earlier time. The special tour of Machu Picchu will be guided by Jean Jacques Decoster, the director of Casa Concha Museum of the Inca Cultures and an anthropologist, who devoted his life to studying the Inca cultures. Our small group will have the privilege to absorb the beauty and the history of Machu Picchu, whose original purpose remains a mystery, with a true scholar passionate about sharing his insights with us. After the extensive tour of Machu Picchu, we'll enjoy an elegant lunch, before taking the Vistadome train to Ollantaytambo, where we'll get to appreciate the mystic Inca fortress set on stone terraces on a hillside. We'll return to our wonderful hotel in the evening, just in time for dinner.
Day 5: SACRED VALLEY
Today, we'll further explore the Incas' Sacred Valley, surrounded by the towering Andes Mountains. We'll start with the enigmatic Moray circles, three groups of circular terraces, built by the Incas who excelled at building such masterful compositions in harmony with nature. After viewing this ancient engineering wonder, we'll continue to the town of Maras, where we'll admire the Maras salt pans, consisting of 2,000 pools that have been mined since pre-Inca times as a means of economic exchange. We'll be able to buy the famous pink salt of Maras, which gets its color from the natural minerals found in the spring water that fills the pools: magnesium, calcium, potassium, and silicium. We'll also visit a hat-making workshop run by the local women before we enjoy lunch at a colonial mansion in Maras. Today, the afternoon will be at leisure to enjoy the amenities of the hotel.
Day 6: URUBAMBA - CUZCO
As we continue our journey today, and travel to the city of Cuzco, we'll be experiencing more astonishing sights of the Sacred Valley, of a special spiritual significance to the Incas. As such, the area is awash with some of the most intriguing archeological sites of the ancient world. Our first stop will be the Inkariy Museum, Peru's first experiential museum, showcasing the ancient societies that have lived here: Caral, Chavin, Paracas, Moche, Nazca, Wari, and Inca. Then, we'll continue to the town of Pisac with its colorful local market, and we'll visit the Cochahausi Animal Sanctuary. In the afternoon, we'll arrive at our luxurious hotel in the center of Cuzco, a city that is synonymous with South American lost civilizations, and later, we'll enjoy a gourmet dinner at the hotel's atmospheric restaurant.
DAY 7: CUZCO
In the morning, we'll enjoy a guided tour of the historic city of Cuzco, once the most powerful capital of the Inca Empire. We'll start our visit with the baroque Cuzco Cathedral; stop at the Koricancha, the most revered and sophisticated temple of the Inca Empire which is dedicated to Inti, the Sun God; and finally, the walled fortress of Sacsayhuaman, built with large rocks fitted together with absolute accuracy and considered a masterpiece of Inca architecture. Our last stop will be the colorful local market of San Pedro, where we'll admire the mind-boggling variety of local produce and creative handcrafts. We'll end the day with another memorable dinner at a wonderful, intimate restaurant in the center of Cuzco, part a Peruvian gourmet kitchen and part a sophisticated wine bar.
DAY 8: CUZCO - PUNO
Today, we'll ride the Andean Explorer train on one of the world's most spectacular train journeys. After settling into our elegant 1920’s Pullman-style carriage, we'll follow a scenic route leading through the captivating scenery of high plateaus dotted with small villages, grazing llamas and alpacas, and with the backdrop of the snowcapped Andean peaks. A gourmet lunch will be served onboard as we are entertained with live music, traditional dancing, pisco sour preparation class and a fashion show of traditional Peruvian dress. After a short stop in La Raya, the highest point on the route, where we'll be able to meet the locals, we'll board the train again and enjoy an afternoon tea before reaching the town of Puno, located on the peaceful shores of Lake Titicaca and close to the Bolivian border. We will check into our hotel, situated on its own island, and enjoy dinner at the hotel's restaurant with views of the sun setting over the tranquil waterscapes of the lake.
Day 9: LAKE TITICACA
After breakfast, we'll board a boat for a tour of Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake, to visit the islands where time seems to have stood still. During the journey over the deep blue waters of the lake with the striking backdrop of Bolivia's snowcapped Cordillera range, we'll discover the fascinating way of life on the lake. We'll first visit the floating islands of Los Uros, where we'll enter the world of the Aymaras, the bowler-hatted people who live on islands made of reeds growing in the lake's shallows. We'll continue to Taquile Island, known for its high quality textiles, where we'll meet with one of the native families who will share with us their traditions and customs. After lunch at a local home, we'll stop at Amantani Island, home of the best medicine men in the region, and visit the legendary Inca remains of the Throne of the Inca and the Hide of the Inca, before returning to Puno. The evening today will be at leisure.
Day 10: PUNO - LIMA
After an early breakfast today, we'll transfer to Juliaca airport for our flight back to Lima. Here, we'll spend our last afternoon in Peru touring Lima's historical center, including the Plaza de Armas, Santo Domingo Convent, Casa Aliaga and the Cathedral of Lima, and ending at the picturesque oceanside promenade, where we'll enjoy our farewell dinner at an ocean-view restaurant. In the late afternoon, we'll transfer to Lima International Airport. Your return flight from Lima will likely leave late in the evening or in the early morning hours.
Itinerary specifics subject to change.