Peru, like much of Latin America, has been called the “New World” which belies the true legacy of its ancient cultures. The irony lies in the fact that temples of a 4, 000 year old vintage have been discovered beneath walls if Incan construction, which were themselves subsumed by Spanish colonial buildings. See stunning extravagant works of pre-Columbian craftsmen displayed in a museum built atop a 7th Century pyramid. View the remains of a once thriving metropolis of thousands, constructed of entirely adobe in Chan Chan, and the extravagant artifacts from the Lord of Sipan’s tomb. See the lofty precipitous walls of Machu Picchu and the formidable fortress of Sacsayhuaman in Cusco. In Peru, it becomes clear that one does not have to travel to Egypt to be awed by the feats of ancient civilizations.
Very Active. May involve strenuous hikes, severe stair climbing, arduous activities, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.
The only thing predictable about Peru's weather is its unpredictability. In fact, it's not uncommon to experience all four seasons in a single day. Generally speaking, Peru has two seasons, wet and dry, but in a country as geographically diverse as Peru, local weather patterns vary greatly. In the highlands, the dry season is between June and October. The desert coast is arid. From January to March the sky is clear and the air tends to be hot and sticky. Peruvians go to the beach at this time. The rest of the year the gray coastal mist known as garua moves in. For the Inka Trek, it’s best to travel during the drier season, between April and October. The Amazon experiences rain, heat and more rain and heat – the wettest months are December through May, but even then it rarely rains for more than a few hours at a time and the water levels are high, meaning you do more boat activities, as opposed to the dry month when you can do more trekking.
Arrive in Lima, where you are escorted to your hotel in the sophisticated suburb of San Ysidro. Next day, delve into a history that stretches back thousands of years. Begin with the Plaza Mayor, the center of colonial Lima with colonial era government buildings and cathedral. Continue on to the Larco Museum, a compendium of pre-Columbian and pre-Incan artifacts housed within the former vice royal mansion built over a 7th Century pyramid. Afterward, see a private collection of religious art at the Barbosa Stern home. Your welcome dinner features Peruvian foods at La Huaca Pucclana, located in a pre-Columbian temple in the 15-acre archaeological site. ATTON SAN YSIDRO. (B,L,D)
Fly to Trujillo, a place that was occupied by the Moche and Chimu cultures prior to the rise of the Incan Empire or Spanish contact. For lunch, relish traditional Peruvian dishes at Mono Marino. Explore Chan Chan, believed to have been the largest adobe city in the world. Built primarily by the Chimu culture, it is believed to have been inhabited by as many as 100,000 people at its peak between 850 AD and 1470 AD, when it was finally conquered by the Incan Empire. Exploration of the deep past of Peru continues with a visit to the Huaca (temple) of the Sun which was the largest pre-Columbian adobe structure in the Americas. View also the smaller Huaca of the Moon. Enjoy lunch at Palo Marino then watch a review of the Peruvian Paso, a breed of horse known for its paso llano or side step. View a traditional marinera dance then tour Trujillo and see remains of the Wall of Trujillo. HOTEL LIBERTADOR. (B,L; B,L,D)
A day of archeological exploration begins in the El Brujo Archeological Complex, a Moche site that dates back to 1 AD, where the Senora de Cao, the first governess in Peru, was discovered. Lunch at Los Patos and continue to the Sipán site where mummies dating back to 100 AD have been discovered and view the actual site of the tomb of the Lord of Sipan. Continue to Ventarron, site of a 4,000 year old temple with painted murals. CASA ANDINA SELECT. (B,L,D)
Delve deeper into Peru’s pre-Columbian past in Chiclayo, occupied in the 1st Century AD by the Moche culture then by the Sican culture which rose to prominence between 700 AD and 1375 AD. Take in a delicious lunch at Fiesta. Spend the afternoon engrossed in the richness of Peru’s history at the Royal Tombs Museum of Sipan, designed to resemble an ancient Moche tomb, located in nearby Lambayeque, housing the astounding cache from the Lord of Sipan’s tomb found at Huaca Rajada, including the Lord of Sipan and his entourage. Discovered in 1987 and excavated by Dr. Alva, it rivals that of Tutankhamun’s in Egypt. Gold, silver, copper and semi-precious stones adorn the pectoral, face mask and head dresses that were found intact at his undisturbed grave. More tombs were discovered in the same Huaca, including that of the shaman and the Old Lord of Sipan who died more than a century earlier. CASA ANDINA SELECT. (B,L)
A morning flight takes you via Lima to Cusco from where you will drive into the Sacred Valley and immerse yourself in Incan history. Also known as the Urubamba Valley, it is considered to be the heartland of the Incan Empire. See Ollantaytambo, the personal estate of the 15th Century Incan emperor Pachacuti built over a city razed in his conquest of the area. Next day, visit Chincheros; see adobe houses built over Incan foundations and breathe in Pisac where the sound of Quechuan, a descendent of the Incan language, intermingles with that of the pan flute in the busy market place. Time permitting, visit the Incan salt mines at Maras and the circular terraces of Moray. SOL Y LUNA. (B,L,D; B,L)
Board your train for a scenic journey to Machu Picchu, the mountain-top city of the Incas that remained hidden from the world until 1911. Machu Picchu straddles a precipitous ridge with sheer cliffs on three sides, and the Urubamba River curves around it to fill the canyon with its roar. In all directions there are Andean peaks covered in green cloud forest, a spectacular setting for these ancient ruins. There are temples, houses, crop terraces, gardens and a sacrificial altar. INKATERRA MACHU PICCHU. (B,L,D)
For those who wish, awaken early and experience the magic of Machu Picchu at dawn (at additional cost.) Return to Cusco by train and bus in the evening. Next day, stroll down the streets of Cusco, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Western hemisphere. Take a guided tour of the Inca Temples of the Sun and the Moon, the gigantic Incan fortress of Sacsayhuaman, the Kenko amphitheater with its unusual stone carvings, and Tambo Machay, the traditional bathing place for Incan royalty. Enjoy a farewell dinner at the Incanto Restaurant. ARANWA CUSCO BOUTIQUE HOTEL. (B,L,D; B,D)
Fly back to Lima this morning where you will be provided a day room at the ATTON SAN YSIDRO until your overnight flight back to the United States, having lived through 5,000 years of history in fascinating Peru. (B)
Take the all-day Andean Explorer train passing through spectacular countryside, to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Visit the Island of Taquile and the “floating” Uros Island, built on layers of totora reeds, where the inhabitants live just as they have for generations. Venture into Colca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world, and experience the extraordinary traditions of the Quechuas whose agricultural practices are virtually untouched by time. Visit the Cross of the Condor and watch the condors soaring at speeds of 200 mph. Travel to the high Andean desert and the city of Arequipa with its monuments of white sillar reflecting Spanish and indigenous influences.
Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.
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