Peru: Machu Picchu & the Sacred Valley (2015)
Luxury Small Group Journeys: The finest small-group travel experience
This itinerary is available as an independent journey led by local guides.
- Day 1: Arrive Lima, Peru
Arrive in Lima this evening and transfer to your hotel. Founded in 1535 by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizzaro, the “City of Kings” is a mélange of colonial structures, pre-Columbian sites and modern conveniences.Miraflores Park Hotel
- Day 2: Lima | Artifacts and Archaeology
Explore Peru’s capital, visiting the Plaza Mayor, which is the birthplace of the city of Lima, and the beautiful Cathedral, built in the 16th century. Continue with an journey into the past, enjoying Casa Aliaga, Lima’s oldest colonial mansion. Built in 1535 by the illustrious Spanish conquistador Jeronimo de Aliaga, this incredible relic of colonial splendor has been home to 17 generations of his descendants ever since. Note the grace of the wood and marble staircase leading up to a fine entrance patio. View its beautiful rooms, the family chapel, the Golden Salon, with incredible golden mirrors and a beautiful upper gallery, which is home to some important paintings from the Cusco School. Spend time exploring the Larco Herrera Museum, one of the city’s best museums for pre-Columbian artifacts. This evening, visit the impressive Huaca Pucllana archaeological site before a welcome dinner of contemporary Peruvian cuisine at the on-site restaurant.Miraflores Park Hotel | Meals: B D
- Day 3: Sacred Valley | Peruvian Culinary Experience
After breakfast, fly to Cusco, an Andean city located at over 11,000 feet above sea level. Upon arrival, transfer to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the vast green valley that sprawls out far below Machu Picchu, and where an ancient way of life lives on. En route, visit Awanakancha, a center where South American camelids, such as llamas and alpacas, are bred. Learn about the renowned fibers created from their coats. Spend the balance of your day acclimatizing to the altitude. Tonight, in the kitchen of Wayra Restaurant, join the chef for a Chef’s Table culinary experience, as he demonstrates the step-by-step preparation of a variety of Peruvian dishes, such as quinoa soup and lomo saltado de alpaca, and then savor the mouthwatering results.Hotel Sol y Luna | Meals: B L D
- Day 4: Sacred Valley | Inca Fortress
Start your exploration of the Sacred Valley of the Incas with a visit to the imposing fortress of Ollantaytambo, a formidable stone structure of massive terraces that hug the mountain slopes. Imagine the scene as your guide paints a vivid picture of the Spanish and Incas who fought here, the site of the Incas’ greatest victory over their invaders. This afternoon, prepare for your visit to Machu Picchu with a private lecture and question- and- answer session with a dedicated expert on the Inca ruins.
Delve deeper into the rich local culture when you visit the Kuychi Center, to visit, play a game and share a barbecue lunch with the underprivileged children at Niños del Arco Iris (Children of the Rainbow), a project supported by A&K Philanthropy.Hotel Sol y Luna | Meals: B L D
- Day 5: Machu Picchu | Hiram Bingham’s Discovery
Journey deep into the Andes toward Machu Picchu on board the glass-topped Vistadome train, passing through the spectacular Peruvian countryside along the way. Arrive to begin a thrilling overnight stay at the only hotel located at Machu Picchu, exploring the breathtaking Incan city from sunrise to sunset. Overlooking the raging Urubamba River and discovered in a hidden tangle of trees atop a mountain by American historian Hiram Bingham in 1911, Machu Picchu forever holds the secret of its passing — its Incan inhabitants left no written records of its purpose. Built in the 15th century at the height of the Inca empire, it may have been a religious center or the estate of an emperor. Curiously, excavations here have revealed skeletons, artifacts and woolen clothing, but no gold. Tour the ruins with your expert guide, and then enjoy exploring on your own. You may view the Temple of the Sun or Intihuatana, a ritual stone that may have been a kind of astronomical clock or calendar. As you wander, sense the majesty of the age-old stone walls and picture life as it might have been for the leaders, warriors, priests and craftsman who once inhabited this seemingly uninhabitable Incan citadel some 8,500 feet above sea level. This evening, rest easy in luxurious accommodations designed to echo the soaring natural surroundings and the sense of adventure they so stylishly enhance.Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge | Meals: B L D
- Day 6: Machu Picchu/Cusco | Walking the Spectacular Ruins
Rise with the sun to walk through Machu Picchu in the early morning mist before the crowds arrive, for an experience some consider the spiritual highlight of the journey. You may opt for a hike to Inti Punku (Sun Gate), the entry point to the ruins from the Inca Trail, or trek up to Huayna Picchu, the high mountain that forms the backbone of the ruins, to enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding area. After your explorations, bid adieu to this “Lost City of the Incas” and return to Cusco aboard the Vistadome train, savoring incomparable views of the mountain scenery that surrounds you.Hotel Monasterio | Meals: B L
- Day 7: Cusco | The Immense Stone Marvel of Sacsayhuaman
Discover Cusco on a city tour that includes the Cathedral on the Plaza de Armas and the Santo Domingo Temple, a Dominican church built on the foundations of the Koricancha, the Incas’ principal religious building. Later, explore the well-preserved ruins of Sacsayhuaman, a testament to Incan architectural skill. Compiled of massive stones, the largest of which may weigh as much as 200 tons, the walls were cut and placed together with incredible precision and without a single drop of mortar to hold them in place. See for yourself whether a single sheet of paper will slip between the ponderous blocks of stone. This ancient fortress, which witnessed the greatest battle between the Spanish and the Incas, overlooks the red-tiled roofs of Cusco. Later, visit San Pedro market and spend the remainder of your afternoon at leisure. This evening, enjoy an Andean music presentation by regional expert Tito Leon, to learn the history and stories of a wide array of musical instruments. Afterward, enjoy a farewell dinner at the elegant MAP Café.Hotel Monasterio | Meals: B D
- Day 8: Lima | At Your Leisure
Return to Lima for an evening at leisure. Perhaps get in some last-minute shopping in a local crafts market or sample some of Peru’s culinary offerings. You may also enjoy viewing the city’s buildings, noting their mix of architectural designs, including colonial and Baroque styles.Miraflores Park Hotel | Meals: B
- Day 9: Depart Lima
After breakfast, board your homebound flight or begin the Galápagos Post-Tour Extension.Meals: B
- Galápagos Post-Tour Extension
8 days, priced from $6,495; internal air priced from $995
Available on the Feb 12, Mar 12, Apr 9, May 21, Jul 2, Jul 16, Oct 22 and Dec 3 departures.
Begin this inspiring journey of discovery in Guayaquil, Ecuador, enjoying an evening to rest after your inbound flight. The next morning, fly to Baltra in the Galápagos Islands, where you are met by your naturalist guides and board luxurious ‘Eclipse,’ your home for five nights that form the heart of your experience.
The Galápagos Islands are a haven for some of the world’s most varied wildlife. It was this diversity that first led Charles Darwin to propose that species evolve in response to their environment. Tourism is closely managed to protect the islands’ endemic species, ensuring that you experience this unique ecosystem, much as Darwin himself did.
Embark on twice-daily shore excursions that take you up close to sunbathing sea lions, skittering Sally Lightfoot crabs, tangles of marine iguanas and amusing blue-footed boobies. Marvel at the determined dignity of the Galápagos tortoise, specimens of which have been known to live for more than a century.
Scout out flora and fauna along one island’s rocky coastline aboard a panga (rubber raft). Snorkel, swim or kayak, or bask in the sun if you choose. Back on board ‘Eclipse,’ relax and enjoy evening lectures on astronomy and other topics. Return to Guayaquil for a day at leisure, departing the following day.