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. 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 the exotic reaches of Peru’s Amazon rainforest; Lima’s superb eateries, exquisite architecture and effervescent nightlife; the glittering, mountain-ringed waters of Lake Titicaca; and the vibrant city of Cusco, referred to by the Incas as ‘the centre of the world’.
Days 1 - 3
Peru’s capital is a fantastic city to tour, dotted with a multitude of cultural sites and beautifully preserved architecture. Founded by the conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535, Lima was first named ‘City of Kings’ – a biblical reference to the ‘Three Wise Men of the East’ – before its name was changed by the Spanish colonialists. The most significant historical buildings are located around the Plaza Mayor, the most notable being the Government Palace, where one can still observe the changing of the guard performed by the Húsares de Junín. The beautiful Cathedral and the various small palaces and colonial balconies also play also their part in the beauty of the city. Another highlight is the famed Larco Herrera Museum, documenting the millennial cultures that preceded the Inca civilization and containing a priceless collection of pre-Columbian artifacts, including some of South America's finest pre-Inca erotic pottery.
Days 3 - 5
Once called the ‘Navel of the World’ by the Incas, Cuzco remains a city that blends colonial Spanish charm with older, more austere remains of pre-Columbian glory – one can still see the foundations of Inca structures on many of its city streets today. Cuzco’s most important landmarks include sites from both Inca and colonial times, such as the Korikancha (the ancient Temple of the Sun), the Inca street of Loreto with its 12-cornered stones, the cathedral, the Museum of Colonial Art, the archaeological park of Saqsaywaman (the fortress-temple), the nearby funerary shrines of Kenqo, and the water-worship site of Tambomachay.
The Sacred Valley of the Incas
Days 5 - 7
Also known as Urubamba Valley, the Sacred Valley of the Incas is located in the Peruvian Andes, beneath the world-famous site of Machu Picchu and not far from Cuzco, the unofficial Inca capital. This fertile valley is fed by a network of waterways and encompasses a wealth of archaeological sites, including Ollantaytambo, renowned for its extensive Inca ruins; Tipon, which features ancient agricultural terracing and a working irrigation system; and Pisac, with its ancient vestiges and colourful weekly market.
Days 7 - 8
Located more than 6000 feet above sea level in Peru’s mountain peaks, Machu Picchu is one of the world’s most impressive archaeological sites. This legendary lofty city was abandoned by the Inca Empire, reclaimed by the jungle and lost to humanity until its rediscovery in 1911. Built by the Incas on the summit of "Machu Picchu" (Old Peak), in the middle of a tropical montane forest overlooking the canyon of the Urubamba, the 'Lost City of Machu Picchu' is a site of extraordinary beauty and enormous archeological significance. The complex reflects the Inca Empire at its height, with giant walls, terraces and ramps that appear to have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments. The phenomenal technological skills of the Incan engineers can be seen in multiple facets of the site: the exacting precision of the massive stone buildings, the water channels that reveal a deep understanding of hydraulics, and Intihuatana ("the highest point of the Sun"), which served as a solar calendar that regulated planting and harvesting.
Days 8 - 9
Days 9 - 10
Machu Picchu Pueblo
Days 10 - 11
Perched high up in the Andes, Machu Picchu Pueblo is a riverside town known for its proximity to the famous Machu Picchu ruins. This cloud-forest town is encircled by towering forested cliffs and boasts an endless array of hotels, restaurants, markets and labyrinthine streets. Machu Picchu Pueblo, also known as Aguas Calientes, serves as an excellent base to explore the renowned ancient archaeological site of Machu Picchu. Visitors can enjoy various other activities, including having a relaxing massage after a long day of exploring, taking a stroll through lush rainforest to the Mandor Waterfalls, embarking on an adventurous hike up the Putucusi Mountain or soaking in the relaxing thermal baths with the Andes as your backdrop. Don’t miss the Machu Picchu Museum and Botanical Gardens, displaying the area’s history and diversity of indigenous flora.
Days 12 - 15
Puerto Maldonado, a port city in Southeastern Peru, is primarily a kick-off point to some of Peru’s most pristine Amazon jungle destinations. However, the town’s laid-back atmosphere, vibrant nightlife and unique cultural flavour is making it an increasingly popular tourist hub. It’s a bustling town that offers easy access to the virgin jungle along the Tambopata River, as well as through the Inketerra Ecological Reserve, Bahuaja-Sonene National Park, and Tambopata National Reserve. These protected areas encompass some of the most pristine primary rainforests on the planet, and are home to an astonishing array of exotic animals, birds, trees and flowers.