Arrive Lima, Peru
Arrive in Lima this evening and transfer to your hotel. Founded in 1535 by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizzaro, this “City of Kings” is a mélange of colonial structures, pre-Columbian sites and modern conveniences.
Lima | Colonial Splendor and Inspiring Artifacts
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 a journey into the past, exploring 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, see the impressive Huaca Pucllana archaeological site before a welcome dinner of contemporary Peruvian cuisine at the on-site restaurant.
Sacred Valley | Cusco and Cooking, Peruvian Style
This morning, fly to Cusco, located more than 11,000 feet above sea level. Enjoy lunch in the central square before proceeding to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. In this vast green valley that sprawls out far below Machu Picchu, an ancient way of life lives on. En route, visit Awana Kancha, a center where South American camelids, such as llamas and alpacas, are bred. Learn about the valuable fibers created from their coats, and feed these iconic animals. Next, explore the interactive Inkariy Museum that showcases Peru’s amazing pre-Columbian societies. Then, acclimatize in your relaxing accommodations — a charming Andean-style casita set amid gardens teeming with flowers. Tonight, join the chef of Wayra Restaurant for a Chef’s Table culinary experience, as he deftly demonstrates the preparation of a variety of Peruvian dishes.
Sacred Valley | Like a Journey Back in Time
Start to explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas with a visit to a remote village seemingly frozen in time. Experience the ancient agricultural methods they have used for centuries to support themselves in this challenging Andean mountain environment. Then, delve deeper into local culture with lunch at a local hacienda. This afternoon, prepare for your visit to Machu Picchu with a private, interactive lecture from a renowned scholar and certified expert on the Incan ruins. When school is in session, visit the Kuychi Center to meet the underprivileged children at Niños del Arco Iris (Children of the Rainbow), a project supported by A&K Philanthropy.
Machu Picchu | Bingham’s Stunning Discovery
Today’s exploration begins with a visit to the imposing fortress of Ollantaytambo. A formidable structure of massive stone terraces that hug the mountain slopes, it is the site of the Incas’ greatest victory over the invading Spanish. Next, journey deep into the Andes toward Machu Picchu on board the glass-topped Vistadome train, gazing out at the spectacular Peruvian countryside. Arrive to begin a thrilling overnight stay at the only hotel located on site at Machu Picchu, exploring the breathtaking Incan city from sunrise to sunset. Overlooking the 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 was most likely 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 an 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 Incan citadel some 8,500 feet above sea level. Tonight, rest easy in your accommodations, designed to echo the soaring natural surroundings.
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.
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. This ancient fortress, which witnessed the greatest battle between the Spanish and the Incas, overlooks the red-tiled roofs of Cusco. Visit San Pedro market, and then spend 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 handmade musical instruments. Afterward, enjoy a farewell dinner at the elegant MAP Café.
Lima | Colorful, Bohemian Barranco
Return to Lima by late morning to explore the intriguing Barranco neighborhood, with its intimate art galleries, eclectic museums and the famous Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs). After lunch, return to the lively Miraflores neighborhood to enjoy the many comforts of your luxurious hotel or perhaps visit a local crafts market.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport and depart.