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peru classic

12-Day Expedition through Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu, and Paracas!

Peru Classic takes you to Lima, Cusco, The Sacred Valley of the Incas, Machu Picchu, and Paracas in 12 days. Peru is most famous for the sacred archaeological site of Machu Picchu – visited each year by scores of intrepid hikers who brave the Inca Trail’s arduous slopes to explore the age-old ruins. But the country’s attractions extend far beyond the mystical allure of this legendary location, and include palm-fringed beaches, quaint Andean villages, and archaeological treasures that predate Machu Picchu by hundreds of years – all imbued with the nation’s rich melange of indigenous and colonial cultures. Equally enticing are Lima’s superb eateries; exquisite architecture and effervescent nightlife; and the vibrant city of Cusco, referred to by the Incas as ‘the centre of the world’.

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Day 1 – Lima: Upon arrival at Lima Airport, you will be welcomed by our local representative and transferred to your hotel. After check-in, you will be briefed on your trip and handed your “Travel kit” which includes all travel documents such as your itinerary, flight, train and bus tickets, and hotel information. Overnight in Lima.

Day 2 – Lima: At 9 am, you will be picked up from your hotel to visit historic downtown Lima, also known as “the City of Kings”. Stops include the Main Square of Lima, upon which sits the Government Palace, the Cathedral, the Archbishop’s Palace and the Municipal Hall. The Cathedral is located in the Main Square, in the exact location of the original that was built in 1555. After the earthquake in 1746, the Cathedral was rebuilt on the same site under the direction of Jesuit priest Juan Rehr. Both its facade and interior are austere with its remarkable wooden choir stalls, altars and the tomb of Francisco Pizarro, who died in 1541.

You will continue through the old streets, where you will have a spectacular view of traditional mansions and Moorish style balconies. Later you will visit the Church of San Francisco, its convent, Art Museum, cloisters, and catacombs. You will then continue through classic and modern Lima with a brief stop at the “Parque del Amor” (translated as love park) where you will enjoy an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean.

Then, you will visit the Larco Museum. Founded in 1926, it has the largest private collection of Pre-Columbian art in the world. The collection concentrates on the refined ceramics of the Moche Dynasty and the people who lived along the northern coast of Peru between 200 and 700 AD. You can learn about their religion, agriculture, transport, dance and music through their ceramic designs and shapes.

Afterward, you will be transferred to the restaurant Huaca Pucllana for typical Peruvian lunch. Huaca Pucllana combines innovation and the traditional flavors of Peruvian cuisine. It’s located by a wonderful pre-Columbian site. You will also have the opportunity to visit the ruins. Later you will return to your hotel. Overnight at your hotel.

Day 3 – Cusco: This morning, you will be picked up from your hotel to visit some of the prominent art galleries in Lima: Lucia de la Puente, Dedalo & MAC (Contemporary Art Museum). At 12:15 pm, you will be transferred to the airport to take your flight to Cusco. Upon arrival, you will be met by a local representative and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure to acclimatize. Overnight at your hotel.

Day 4 – Cusco: This morning at 9 am, you will be picked up from your hotel and taken your City Tour, visiting Cusco’s Historical Inca and Spanish Colonial Monuments. You will visit the Main Square, known in Inca times as Huacaypata or the Warrior’s Square; it was the scene for many key events in Cusco’s history. Then on to the Cathedral, originally built on the site of the old temple of Suntur Wasi (House of God), now the church of El Triunfo. A particular interest at the Cathedral are the choir cloisters, the pulpit, the engravings on the altar and furniture.

You will then continue on to the Church and Convent of Santo Domingo, a Spanish construction belonging to the Dominican Order built upon the foundations of the Inca temple of Koricancha or Temple of the Sun. Koricancha (in Quechua means: site of gold) was the main religious building of the Incas dedicated to the worship of the Sun and whose walls, according to the chroniclers, were plated with sheets of gold. Magnificent blocks of finely carved stone were used in its construction. Next, you will visit the Pre-Columbian Art Museum, where you can see the collections of pottery, ornaments and gold jewelry of the ancient cultures of Peru predating the Inca.

Following, you will visit the surrounding ruins of the city of Cusco: Sacsayhuamán, this huge Inca fortress is built on three overlapping platforms, each of them over 1,180 feet long. Then onto Tambomachay, known as the Inca baths. It is said to be a site dedicated to the worship of water and a resting place for the Inca monarch and Kenko, which was said to have been a worship site. There is a huge 19 feet high stone block that looks like a puma. There are also passages, canals, and stairways with stone engravings representing animals. Next, you will visit, Puca Pucará, which was an administrative and military center formed by terraces, stairways, passages, turrets, and vaulted niches. Finally, you will return to your hotel. Overnight at your hotel.

Day 5 – Cusco: This morning, at 6 am, you will be picked up from your hotel and transferred to visit Huacarpay Lake. The lagoon is surrounded by Inca, and pre-Inca ruins. Here we will see a variety of high Andean waterfowl including puna, yellow-billed, cinnamon teal, yellow-billed Pintail, Andean duck, and other wetland associated birds.

You could also see white-tufted grebe and Andean coot too. Depending on the time of year migrant North American shorebirds (waders) may be present. Many-colored rush-tyrant, yellow-winged blackbird, puna ibis, plumbeous rail and Andean negrito. Birds of prey that you may see, includes aplomado falcon, cinereous harrier, variable hawk and black-chested buzzard-eagle. In the arid scrub around the lake, you’ll look for the endemic rufous-fronted canastero and also streak-fronted thornbird. You should find the pretty, endemic bearded mountaineer feeding in the tree tobacco with giant hummingbirds and trainbearers. Peruvian ash-breasted and mourning sierra-finches will also be seen with greenish yellow-finch and blue and yellow tanager. Finally, you will return to your hotel. Overnight at your hotel.

Day 6 – The Sacred Valley Of The Incas:  In the morning, at 8:30 am, you will be picked up from your hotel and will head towards the archaeological complex of Pisac, a journey which takes approximately 1 hour and 35 minutes. We will stop en route to take pictures, and admire the Pucara bulls on the roofs of Andean houses. These small bulls are thought to be amulets that bring wealth to each family who owns them; they are usually given as gifts on weddings. Once inside the archaeological complex of Pisac, the guide will give a brief explanation of the site, then you will be able to appreciate the magnificent Andean terraces, which were built to expand agriculture land, containment terraces, and paths. Next, you will proceed to the artisan market of Pisac, where you will have the opportunity to interact with local people and appreciate their craftsmanship.

Next on the itinerary is Urubamba, a 1-hour trip, in which you will be able to enjoy the scenery of the Sacred Valley. You will visit the local market where you can see the different types of products and fruit that are grown locally. Lunch is included. Following, you will travel to the town of Ollantaytambo. Here you will visit the religious, astronomical and military complex of the town. Ancient Peruvians moved boulders of nearly 60 metric tons from one mountain to another across the river and valley. Finally, you will be transferred to your hotel in the Sacred Valley, where you will spend the night.

Day 7 – The Sacred Valley Of The Incas: Today, you will visit Chinchero, a small traditional village located on the way to Urubamba from Cusco. At Chinchero, you will visit a traditional weaving workshop where you will be given a presentation on how the local artisans use natural products to obtain the varied selection of colors used to dye their textiles. Next, you will visit the Maras Salt Mines. These salt mines have been used since long before the Inca times. The extraction method employed involves using an ancient drying process, whereby saltwater, flowing from an underground stream, is left in thousands of wells until it has evaporated, leaving behind only the salt, which is then ready to be sold or exchanged for provisions.

Following, continue towards the archaeological site of Moray, which features these unusual Inca constructions, mostly consisting of several enormous terraced circular depressions. They have been built in such a way that the temperature difference from the highest and the lowest terrace can be of up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Moray seems to have been an Inca agricultural experiment station to adapt crops to different microclimates. Lunch is included. Following the tour, you will return to your hotel. Overnight at your hotel.

Day 8 – Machu Picchu Pueblo: This morning, at 7:50 am,  you will be transferred to the train station to board the first-class train to Aguas Calientes, a small town located south of Machu Picchu. You will enjoy a spectacular train journey crossing valleys, mountains, and communities. The altitude will descend to 1,900 m.a.s.l. crossing from the sierra to the cloud forests. Upon arriving at Aguas Calientes, you will be met by a local representative at the train station and transferred to the bus station to board your bus uphill to Machu Picchu (approximately 20 minutes). This stone citadel, located 70 miles from Cusco, was discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. The citadel was built on a remarkable location covered in vegetation between two mountains: the Machu Picchu (old mountain) and Huayna Picchu (young mountain), at the foot of which meanders the Urubamba or Vilcanota River (lower Jungle featuring abundant flora and fauna). Upon arriving, you will be taken on your tour of the sanctuary. After completing the tour, you will be transferred to your hotel in Aguas Calientes where you will spend the night.

Day 9 –  Cusco: Enjoy a morning at leisure. Activities included at your hotel are:

Nature Walk: Walk along the hotel’s trails, and discover the fascinating yet fragile ecosystem of the Machu Picchu cloud forest, and learn about its many indigenous plants and animals. The nature walk offers guests a glimpse of cloud forest flora: ferns, bromeliads and orchids and fauna -an interesting variety of birds; as well as an introduction to the Vilcanota river system, the observatory, the tea garden, and house. (2 hours)

Orchids: Walk through the orchid garden to observe some of the hotel’s 372 different native orchids in bloom. Discover this extraordinary plant family, which has captured the human imagination for centuries. From the largest orchid flower in the world – the Phragmipedium caudatum to tiny flowering specimens properly appreciated only through a magnifying glass, there are orchids to amaze both the newly inquisitive and the expert, including species new to science which have been discovered on the hotel grounds. (1-2 hours)

Tea: Visit our organic tea (Camellia sinensis) plantation and tea house to discover the wonders of the traditional tea making process. Take part as the freshly picked leaves are pressed over wooden blocks and finally seal your own tea bag. A glass of fresh iced-tea direct from Inkaterra Machu Picchu’s tea house completes the experience. (1-2 hours).

Birds at Machu Picchu: Walk early in the morning to take advantage of the optimum time for cloud-forest bird watching. Begin at a river observatory, with the possibility of sighting the sought-after torrent duck and the white-capped dipper. Then proceed to a productive tanager feeding area, where silver beaked, blue-necked, fawn-breasted and saffron-crowned tanagers can be found. Along the hotel’s pathways, be on the lookout for the cock-of-the-rock, the golden-headed quetzal and many of the 18 different hummingbirds identified on the grounds, including the booted racket-tail and the green and white hummingbirds, which are native to the area.

In the afternoon, you will be transferred by a local representative to the train station to take the deluxe class train Hiram Bingham to Poroy. Departure at 5:50 pm. Dinner is included onboard. A local representative will pick you up at the train station and transfer you to your hotel in Cusco for an overnight stay.

Day 10 – Paracas: This morning, you will be transferred to the airport at Cusco to board your flight back to Lima. Upon arrival at Lima, you will be met by a local representative and transferred to the beachside town of Paracas via private transport. On arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel for an overnight stay.

Day 11 – Paracas: At 6 am, depart from your hotel to begin your transfer to Palpa to begin your tour (approx 2 1/2 hour drive). With more than 600 geoglyphs, these are enormous zoomorphic and phytomorphic geometric drawings similar to the Nazca Lines and serially overshadowed by the more famous, buy less abundant Nazca Lines. They are located in between the towns of Sacramento, Pinchango, and Llipata. According to recent archaeological studies, these lines are older than the Nazca Lines. They represent a series of human and animal zoomorphic figures, including the Familia Real (Royal Family), among which the highlight is the deity of the Paracas culture during late development period (600-100 BC).

After the tour, you will be transferred to Nasca airport to take the 1 hour and 40-minute flight over the Nazca Lines. A once in a lifetime experience to view and photograph this immense Pre-Incan astronomical calendar comprised of extraordinary and mysterious designs that were discovered in the 1930s. The lines are known as geoglyphs – drawings on the ground made by removing rocks and earth to create a “negative” image. The rocks which cover the desert have oxidized and weathered to a deep rust color, and when the top 12-15 inches of rock is removed, a light-colored, high contrasting sand is exposed. Because there’s so little rain, wind, and erosion, the exposed designs have stayed largely intact for 500 to 2000 years. Finally, return to your hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure.

Day 12 – End Of Itinerary: This morning, transfer to begin your visit to the Paracas National Reserve. The reserve sits within the Paracas Peninsula, filled with untouched coast and tropical desert. The pristine and secluded coastline begins to rise, giving a steep drop into the sea. The red sands of the desert coast have a luster like an orange moon. The water is a sapphire blue, the mist rising along the sunken coast and brushing your cheeks. Return to your hotel. At the appropriate time, transfer to the Lima airport to take your international flight home.

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Quick Facts

Perfect for:

  • Perfect for Cultural Visits
  • Perfect for Active Travelers
  • Perfect for Historical Sightseeing
  • Duration 11 Nights
  • Departures Anytime
  • Fitness Rating Easy
  • Safari Type Cultural/Historical
  • Style Deluxe
  • Land-Only Price* $$

*Pricing is per person and an estimate. Contact a Journey Specialist for a customized quote.
$ = Call for Pricing | $$ = $5,000 – $9,999 | $$$ = $10,000 – $20,000 | $$$$ = >$20,000

Contact a Journey Specialist