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Essential Peru

ITINERARY OVERVIEW

  • 7 nights of luxury accommodations in Lima, the Sacred Valley and Cusco.
  • Private airport transfers.
  • English-speaking private guide & driver for touring.
  • Advance itinerary customization and restaurant reservations, as well as in-country support.

Download this itinerary as a PDF.

Day 1

  • Welcome to Lima!


    Upon arrival this evening (flight not included), your local Almaz Journeys representative will meet you after you exit Customs for a private arrival transfer to your luxurious hotel ideally located in the heart of Lima.

    Almost all trips to Peru begin and end in Lima, the sprawling capital city of more than 9 million inhabitants. Although the area was inhabited long before the arrival of the Spanish, conquistador Francisco Pizarro chose the area for the capital of the lands he conquered under the name City of the Kings in 1535. The name Lima quickly became the city’s name of choice, and is believed to be the Spanish version of Limaq, by which they area was known by visitors due to the Rimaq river that flows through Lima.

    Lima is a thriving, modern city that has received an interesting mix of immigrants since the 19th century, including the largest Chinese community in Latin America and a Japanese community that has exerted strong influence on Peruvian cuisine seen most notably in the tiradito take on the classic ceviche dish.

    A couple days here is a great way to experience modern Peru, enjoy some world-class dining, and see some of the country’s best contemporary art as well as colonial monuments before heading to up the Sacred Valley and Cusco. Lima is undergoing a veritable culinary boom, with numerous restaurants regularly counted among the world’s best, so foodies will want to be sure to allow enough time to sample all the best the city has to offer.

    After check-in at your luxury hotel, you’ll have the remainder of the evening at leisure to settle in. If your flight arrives early enough into Lima, we’d be delighted to make reservations for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. (Cost of dinner and evening transportation not included.)

Day 2

  • Peru's Modern and Tasty Capital


    After breakfast, meet your guide and driver to begin your exploration of Lima with an overview drive en route to the historic center.  Most visitors don’t realize there are hundreds of pre-colonial sites across the Lima region, and along the way to the center you’ll see one of the more impressive examples, Huaca Pucllana. Your walking tour of the historic center–a UNESCO World Heritage site–begins of course with the main square or Plaza de Armas, surrounded by the most important buildings including the Cathedral of Lima, with its splendid carved stalls and silver laden altars surrounded by fine woodwork.

    Not far from the main square, you’ll visit the oldest mansion in the city, built in 1535 by one of the most important figures of the first colonial government established by Pizarro. Still privately owned by the first owner’s descendants, it is a stunning and well-preserved example of the mansions that were built in Lima during the colonial period. You’ll also want to see Baroque-style Convento de San Francisco (St. Francis Monastery) completed in 1774 and restored after extensive damage from a 1970 earthquake; of particular note is the monastery’s highly regarded library, one of the oldest of the Americas with more than 25,000 volumes.

    You will have some free time for lunch (not included), and we would be happy to make a table reservation at one of our favorite restaurants serving the classic ceviche. Traditionally, the cevicherías were lunch-only establishments since fish was caught in the morning and served the same day, and you’ll still find many that maintain this tradition despite reliable modern refrigeration.

    After lunch, you’ll have a curator-led visit of the Larco Museum, located in a unique 18th century mansion and housing Peru’s largest collection of pre-Colombian art. Although the Incas are its most well-known indigenous civilization, Peru’s human history extends back many centuries before the Incas and here you will see fine examples of pottery, textiles, and gold and silver objects from various preceding civilizations.

    Late afternoon return to your hotel and evening at leisure. We would be happy to make reservations for dinner at one of the city’s top restaurants for you. (Cost of dinner and transportation not included.)

Day 3

  • Chinchero, Moray and Urubamba


    Early morning check-out and transfer to the airport for your flight (not included) from Lima to Cusco, the former capital of the Incan empire. Your English-speaking guide and private driver will welcome you just outside baggage claim. Cusco is located just over 11,000 feet above sea level, while the nearby Sacred Valley of the Incas is several thousand feet lower. In order to help you adjust to the altitude, your guide and driver will first take you down to the Sacred Valley and you’ll return to explore Cusco in a few days. The Sacred Valley is a spectacular area of fertile farmland and stunning mountain vistas stretching roughly 40 miles, and the ideal base from which to explore the nearby Incan ruins and natural beauty.

    You’ll first arrive at Chinchero, one of the twelve Andean communities that still keep the traditional social structure from Inca times. Here your guide will show you the impressive ruins of Incan terraces built for farming and agricultural purposes, while also taking in the beauty of the surrounding mountain range.

    Note: Your guide will go at the pace most comfortable for you, to help you gradually and comfortably adjust to the altitude. Please wear comfortable walking shoes.

    In Chinchero, the traditional pre-Hispanic techniques and natural dyes are an art form that has been revived and given the value that it deserves by Andean weavers. We will take you today for a private visit to the nonprofit collective that began this revival and today offers the most authentic presentation of these lush, colorful textiles.

    Continuing your descent into the Sacred Valley, you’ll stop next in Moray, a unique Incan archaeological site where enormous natural depressions or hollows in the ground were used for constructing irrigated farming terraces around them.  After Moray, you’ll arrive in Urubamba, located 9,420 feet above sea level and set along the river of the same name. You’ll have some free time for lunch (not included) at one of our favorite restaurants before arriving at your hotel in the heart of the valley.

    Optional Picnic Lunch
    For an unforgettable experience today, we can arranged for you a gourmet multi-course catered picnic lunch, set alongside Lake Puray surrounded by mountains (but under a canopy to protect you from the sun!). Please inquire for additional cost and options.

    Check-in and remainder of today at leisure to rest and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of your hotel.

Day 4

  • Exploring the Sacred Valley of the Incas


    You’ll depart after breakfast with your guide and driver for the approximately one-hour drive to the Incan ruins of Pisaq and its nearby market. It is believed that the Incas built Pisaq on this hilltop to protect the southern entrance to the Sacred Valley, and the ruins are divided into four sections which your guide will show you, including the massive agricultural terraces on the hillside. These terraces were built using richer soil from the lower lands in order to produce surplus food that otherwise would not have been possible at such a high altitude. You’ll have time to explore at your own pace as much of the ruins as you wish based on interest and physical ability. Please Note: full exploration of the ruins involves climbing and descending many steps, so you may wish to bring walking sticks today. Please wear comfortable shoes.

    After, you’ll return to your hotel, with the opportunity to stop along the way for photos or shopping. If you are interested in traditional ceramics, we can arrange a visit today to a local artisan’s studio where you’ll have the chance to paint your own pottery.

    Evening at leisure at your hotel.

Day 5

  • Journey to Machu Picchu Pueblo via Ollantaytambo


    Check out of your hotel this morning and meet your guide and driver to begin today’s journey toward Machu Picchu. (Please note only carryon-size luggage is permitted aboard the trains, so any large suitcases will be sent today with your driver to be delivered to you tomorrow night at your Cusco hotel.)

    Your first stop today will be the town and Incan ruins of Ollantaytambo. It is believed to have been built as a fortress to protect the northern end of the Sacred Valley, and later served as the stronghold for the leader of the Incan resistance to the Spanish. Equally impressive as the ruins themselves are the spectacular views you have over the surrounding valley as you climb higher in the ruins. Please Note: full exploration of the ruins involves climbing and descending many steps, but your guide will go at the pace most comfortable for you. Please wear comfortable walking shoes, and you may wish to bring walking sticks.)

    Following your visit, you’ll walk to a nearby organic farm and hotel where we've made reservations for you to have lunch (not included) in their excellent restaurant before your train departs to Aquas Calientes.

    Optional Traditional Incan Lunch

    Or, if you'd like something more special this morning, we can organize for a private pachamanca lunch, a traditional Incan meal cooked with hot rocks in the earth. (Please inquire for additional cost). Lunch will be served in a covered outside terrace, in the shadow of the nearby ruins.  While your lunch is cooking, your host will give you a tour of their farm and talk about traditional and contemporary farming practices, including their production of spirits at their distillery. The cost of lunch is included, and the menu typically includes your choice of seasoned meats, Andean potatoes and vegetables, and homemade salads, but most dietary requirements can be accommodated by advance request.

    The farm and hotel are located adjacent to the train station, so after lunch you’ll easily board the Vistadome train for the 90-minute journey down to the Machu Picchu town of Aguas Calientes.  As you descend, you’ll see through the train’s panoramic windows how the valley narrows and the landscapes grown more lush and spectacular.  Arrival in Aguas Calientes, where staff from the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel will welcome you and escort you to the hotel.

    After check-in, you’ll have the remainder of today to enjoy the extensive and lush grounds of the exquisite Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo hotel, including an orchid garden and a tea plantation. Dinner (except alcoholic beverages) is included at your hotel this evening.

Day 6

  • Incan Citadel in the Clouds


    After breakfast, check out of your hotel and store your luggage before departing for today’s activities. The Inkaterra staff will meet you later today with your luggage at the train station, before you depart to Cusco aboard the exclusive Hiram Bingham train.

    Your guide will meet you at your hotel early this morning for your visit to one of the world’s most extraordinary places, the 15th-century mountaintop Incan citadel of Machu Picchu. From Aguas Calientes, you’ll board the shuttle bus (not private) for the approximately 25-minute journey up switchback roads with astounding views. Machu Picchu stands nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, amid an extraordinarily beautiful tropical mountain forest. It was abandoned by the Incas in 1572, and it remained largely unknown to the outside world under overgrown jungle until American explorer and researcher Hiram Bingham was led there in 1911 by a local farmer. After exploring the citadel with your guide, you’ll have a reservation for lunch (not included) at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge before some time to return and explore Machu Picchu further on your own. For a fairly easy hike, we recommend the Inca Bridge trek as it’s shorter and mostly level. For something more challenging, head up to the Sun Gate (approx. 2-3 hours round-trip) high above Machu Picchu, or to Huayna Picchu (advance reservations required).

    Later this afternoon, enjoy the private afternoon tea at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge (included in your train journey) before returning by shuttle bus down to the train station. There, you’ll be met by porters with your luggage and a welcome drink, before being escorted to your reserved table aboard the luxurious Hiram Bingham train. During the approximately 3.5-hour journey up to Cusco, you’ll enjoy pre-dinner cocktails and canapés followed by a multi-course gourmet dinner in an elegant setting. Many special dietary restrictions can be accommodated with advance request.   

    Evening arrival into Cusco’s Poroy station, where your driver will meet you for a private transfer to your boutique luxury hotel facing one of Cusco's historic squares.

Day 7

  • Former Capital of the Incan Empire


    After breakfast at the hotel, meet your guide and driver to begin your half-day exploration of Cusco with a visit to the nearby ruins of Saksayhuaman. Site of the greatest battle between the Spanish and the Incas, these nearby ruins are also the best place to get sweeping views over the red-tiled roofs of Cusco.

    You’ll then head back town to the historic center, and spend the rest of your morning exploring on foot with your guide. Almost everywhere you look, you’ll see colonial structures built by the Spaniards on top of the still-visible remains of the Incan stone structures they destroyed. Your guide will show you the Cathedral on the main Plaza de Armas, and as you walk the streets you’ll notice the beautiful, intricately carved wooden balconies built by the Spanish.

    Don't miss the baroque Santo Domingo convent, built on the foundations of the destroyed Koricancha, the principal Incan temple dedicated to worship of the sun.

    Time permitting, your guide can show you a bit of the picturesque San Blas neighborhood, site of many of the city’s artist studios and artisan workshops. (Please note that reaching San Blas requires a moderately steep walk up from the Plaza de Armas). Your guide can assist you should you have interest in visiting the shops of one of the city’s top artisans, whether for ceramics, textiles, or silver and gold.

    You’ll then have the afternoon and evening free to explore Cusco’s narrow streets, pedestrian areas, and artisan boutiques.

Day 8

  • A Delicious Farewell Meal and then Onward

    Ingredients for a private cooking class in Lima

    Early morning checkout and transfer to the airport for your flight to Lima (not included). Upon arrival in Lima, your English-speaking guide and driver will welcome you again outside baggage claim and will remain with you until you return to the airport this evening for your departure back to the U.S.

    To cap your visit to Peru with one more unforgettable meal, we’ve arranged for you to have a private cooking class led by one of our favorite local chefs!

    Your host will meet you and your guide at the San Isidro market in the city, where you’ll walk through the stalls to select the best fresh ingredients for your lunch today.  (The cost of lunch is included, with water and coffee.  Alcohol may also be included for an additional cost that must be prepaid. The menu is determined in advance to ensure it accommodates any dietary requirements or restrictions you may have.) 

    After finishing your shopping, you’ll head back to the chef’s kitchen, throw on an apron, and get right to work learning how to prepare various Peruvian dishes. You’ll have plenty of time to talk with your host chef about Peruvian cuisine throughout, and of course to enjoy every delicious bite of lunch.

    After lunch, your driver and guide are at your disposal until your transfer to the airport for your flight back to the U.S.  If interested in contemporary art, you may wish to explore the Barranco district, once a summer retreat outside the city limits but now a bohemian neighborhood home to many of the city’s contemporary artists and their galleries including the Mario Testino Museum (Mate).

    Prefer to focus on eating rather than cooking today? We can have a local foodie insider (a chef, sommelier, or local foodie) take you on an extended walking and eating tour of Barranco!  You'll hit up to 7 different stops over the course of about 6 hours exploring the Barranco neighborhood – from a hidden 2nd floor bakery to a family-owned cevichería and delicious street food, you'll taste the best Barranco has to offer and see a fantastic neighborhood in the process.

    Evening transfer to the airport in time for your flight home to the U.S.

PRIVATE JOURNEY PRICING

PER PERSON

Pricing Level
From Price Per Person
2 Guests Traveling Together

5600

4 Guests Traveling Together

5150

Included

  • Two (2) nights accommodations in Lima – double City View Junior Suite at Belmond Miraflores Park OR double Aposento room at Hotel B
  • Two (2) nights at Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba - Superior Deluxe room. Additional hotel options and upgrades at an additional cost.
  • One (1) night in a Superior casita at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo. Additional upgrades, or accommodations at Belmond Sanctuary Lodge available at an additional cost.
  • Two (2) nights in a Patio Suite at Inkaterra La Casona in Cusco. Upgrades available at an additional cost, as well as other hotel options
  • Upgraded rooms available at all hotels at an additional cost
  • Breakfast daily and service charge in all hotels
  • Two lunches (alcohol not included)
  • Dinner at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (alcohol not included)
  • One-way journey on the Vistadome train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu Pueblo
  • One-way journey on the Belmond Hiram Bingham train, including afternoon tea and dinner, from Machu Picchu Pueblo to Cusco (Poroy)
  • Private local English-speaking guides for all sightseeing included daily
  • Private transportation for sightseeing and arrival/departure transfers by air or rail, with bottled water. Evening transportation available at an additional cost
  • Entrances for all sights and experiences specifically included in your itinerary
  • 24-hour local emergency contact
  • Full-service tailoring of your itinerary and assistance with restaurant reservations

Not Included

  • Air travel
  • Lunches or dinners other than those specifically included.
  • Gratuities
  • Medical or travel insurance.
  • Any other items or services not specifically included in the itinerary

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Get in touch with us with us today to start planning!

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