Peru combines ancient Incan ruins, majestic mountain peaks, spectacular scenery, fantastic culture, and a rich tradition through the ages; Spanish colonial art, amazing museums, Andean weavings, and the world’s highest navigable lake – Titicaca, make this the trip not to be missed. From Coast to Mountain, from on top of the clouds in Machu Picchu, to the sprawling metropolis of Lima, this is the extraordinary country that has it all! Our women’s program includes many of Peru’s fantastic sites… and more! We invite you to learn from prominent Peruvian women who come from different walks of life about their culture, enjoy traditional cuisine and cooking lessons, visit Cuyuni, an Andean village that has changed little through the centuries, and enjoy it all in the company of like-minded women.
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 Cusco and continue by car to the Urubamba, the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Explore Ollantaytambo, an Incan temple turned fortress against the Spanish, located in the highest point of the mountain, offering stunning views of the town below. Continue to Pisac, famous for its colorful market and barter for handcrafted jewelry, leather, woolens, carpets and alpaca products. Visit Nilda Callanaupa in Chinchero for a weaving demonstration and typical lunch, and end your day with a seminar in ceramics at the Seminario. Your home is built on a 17th century colonial hacienda and offers a museum and art gallery featuring a permanent collection of Cusco indigenous paintings and contemporary art. ARANWA SACRED VALLEY HOTEL & WELLNESS. (B,L,D)
Begin with an optional yoga class in the hotel’s lush gardens before stepping back in time with your visit to the rural Andean community of Cuyuni. Here, natives are, in many ways, still living as they’ve been doing for centuries. The proud villagers will show (teach may be a more appropriate term) you how they have managed to “tame” nature and survive in extremely adverse conditions: at over 13,000 ft. above sea level, only wild grass grows naturally. The community leaders will accompany the group as you learn not only about their daily activities, but also experience ancestral traditions that date to pre-Inca times. Enjoy a buffet lunch here. Return to your hotel early enough to refresh the soul with a revitalizing spa treatment in the first Wellness Center in Peru. Next day, enjoy an optional soft rafting excursion down the Urubamba River with picnic lunch, before your very special cooking demonstration at your hotel in the evening. Visit a market to pick the food you will cook and eat, and learn how to make the best ceviche in town. ARANWA SACRED VALLEY HOTEL & WELLNESS. (B,L,D Daily)
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)
Awaken early to experience the magic of Machu Picchu at dawn or to hike to the citadel of Winaywayna. Return to Cusco by train and bus in the evening and check into your charming hotel, built in a colonial mansion of the XVI century, displaying paintings, colonial sculptures and carvings that transport you to the greatness of that time. ARANWA CUZCO. (B,L)
Stroll down the streets of Cusco past Inca descendants dressed in traditional clothes and speaking Quechua (a derivative of the Incan language). Tour some of Cusco’s treasures such as the Inca Temples of the Sun and the Moon, the gigantic Incan fortress of Sacsayhuaman, the Kenko amphitheatre with its unusual stone carvings and Tambo Machay, the traditional bathing place for Incan royalty. Then, attend a very special ceremony – “Payment” to Mother Earth, performed by the Shaman or Paq’o to the accompaniment of Andean music, followed by dancing and singing by all participants. Lunch at the Inka Grill and in the evening, enjoy the wonderful views of Cusco by night in the company of local women who will share their stories with you in the observatory of the hotel. End at the bar and get your certificate after completing a pisco lesson, tasting and recipe preparation. ARANWA CUZCO. (B,L)
Board your Andean Explorer/Orient Express train for the day-long journey (10 hours) to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Between mountains, clouds and rolling plains, enjoy the incredible views of herds of alpaca and llamas grazing on the highland pampas, interspersed with small villages, and the majestic backdrop of the Andes. Mentioned as one of 25 greatest rail journeys in the world, your luxury train is exquisitely decorated in the subtle, delicate style of the great Pullman trains of the 20’s with dining cars and a car-bar outdoor observatory. Next day, delve into infamous Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Your 3-hour boat ride brings you to the Island of Taquile; a challenging hike of 600 stone steps rewards you with views of the Lake, the surrounding mountains, and meeting the local people. Also visit the “floating” Uros Island, built on layers of totora reeds, where the inhabitants live just as they have for generations, eking out a living by fishing and selling handicrafts. CASA ANDINA P.C. PUNO. (B,L,D Daily)
Leave the altitude behind and fly back to Lima. Your farewell gala dinner will be at Casa Aliaga, built on top of an Indian temple by conqueror Jeronimo de Aliaga in 1535, the oldest home on the continent still family owned after 17 generations. Afterwards, you’re escorted to the airport for your overnight flight home. (B,D)
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