About Peru Luxury Travel
Lima: Peru’s capital city stretches along the Pacific Ocean. Founded in 1535, it was the seat of Spanish power in the New World for three centuries. In the 17th century, it had a trading network that stretched to Europe and the Philippines. The old city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site honored for its large number of buildings from the Spanish colonial era such as Plaza de Armas, presidential palace, the ornate 16th-century cathedral and the catacombs of the Convento de San Francisco. Lima is home to the nation’s finest museums, including the Rafael Larco Herrera Archaeological Museum, which has a captivating collection of pre-Inca artifacts, the Museum of Art, and the Museum of the Inquisition. Lima has developed renowned cuisine that fuses Andean and Spanish culinary traditions, as well as some African, Asian (mainly Chinese and Japanese), French, Italian and Muslim cuisine.
Cusco & Urubamba (Sacred) Valley: At about 11,000 feet, Cusco basks in the bright, cool high-altitude sunlight. It was the capital of the Inca Empire from the 11th century until 1532, when it was conquered by the Spanish. It is masterfully laid out, brimming with Incan and Spanish treasures, cobblestone streets, lovely plazas and small shops offering everything from upscale clothing to traditional crafts. It has fine hotels and excellent restaurants. Urubamba Valley boasts a wealth of Inca sights. Many descendants of the Incas carry on the cultural traditions of their ancestors. The popular Pisaq Indian Market is open daily, but the best day to visit is on Sunday when locals go to the market after church. The village of Chinchero is home to local artists skilled at back-strap weaving, a technique handed down through generations. Some designs date back 2,000 years. Willoq is another small Andean community, where guests learn about the life of the village and see the textile designs produced by the women and girls. Ollantaytambo Fortress has extensive Inca ruins.
Machu Picchu: The 15th-century Lost City of the Incas is more than just a place to visit. At a breathtaking 8,000 or so feet, these stone ruins are as much about an experience as about a destination. For many, it is an extraordinary, spiritual experience; and for everyone, it is dazzling and dramatic. It was built around 1460 A.D, but abandoned as an official site for the Inca rulers a hundred years later during the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. It is classical Inca style with polished dry-stone walls. Mysteries still linger such as how the Incas moved the large rocks they used to construct the city. Each stone block was carefully carved to fit with the other stones without cement or mortar. Machu Picchu is simply mesmerizing.
Nazca Lines & Paracas: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the fascinating Nazca Lines are mysterious drawings in the desert that are some 2,000 years old. Many questions remain as to their origins and purpose. The pattern of lines is put into perspective from the air, when they transform into monkey, spider, bird, fish and reptile, ranging in size up to 1,000 feet. Scenic flights from Ica (weather permitting) fly above these ancient earth drawings. The resort town of Paracas, nearby, is where desert and ocean come together. The Paracas culture was an important Andean society that existed in Peru between approximately 750 B.C. and 100 A.D. It was known for the high quality of its textiles and weavings. The town’s beaches are rimmed by cliffs that are home to millions of birds, both resident and migratory species. From here, boats take travelers out to see the Islas Ballestas, where the wildlife has been likened to the Galapagos. Unlike Galapagos, however, no boats may land on these islands to avoid disturbing the wildlife of sea lion colonies, Humboldt penguins and huge colonies of seabirds.
Arequipa & Colca Canyon: Arequipa, the second largest city in Peru, is often acclaimed as the most beautiful. This ‘”white city” was built using volcanic stone. It sits at an altitude of 7,627 feet with a backdrop of snowy volcanoes. Arequipa was founded by the Spaniards in 1540. The city’s colonial landmarks include Santa Catalina Convent, dating from the 16th century, and the Plaza de Armas, surrounded by double-storied, arched colonial buildings and a huge cathedral. Its lovely twin towers collapsed in the 2001 earthquake. Here, too, in the high Andes of southern Peru is Colca Canyon, which reaches staggering depths of 11,000 feet, making it twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. This is the land of the great Andean condor and never-ending vistas.
Lake Titicaca: On the border of Bolivia and Peru, Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable body of water at more than 12,000 feet. In addition to its altitude, this scenic lake is known for its indigenous cultures. This is the home of dozens of the floating reed islands of the Uros culture. Established in 1668, Puno spreads along the shores of the lake. It is called the folklore capital of Peru for its wealth of artistic and cultural expressions, especially in dance. The Indian weavers of Taquile Island live on a hilly island located about 20 miles from Puno. It was used as a prison during the Spanish Colony and into the 20th century. Pre-Inca ruins are found on the highest part of the island.
Amazon Jungle: The Amazon rainforest is one of the most biologically diverse locations remaining in the world. Traveling along the Amazon and its main tributaries is an extraordinary adventure. Cruise options include four, five and eight days. Wildlife is abundant such as herons, jacanas, macaws, howlers and squirrel monkeys, primates and sloths. River trips explore the confluence of the Ucayali and Maranon Rivers, and the point where the Amazon River takes its name, 2,400 miles from the Atlantic. Riverbank settlements offer the opportunity to get acquainted with indigenous people. Daily activities may vary due to season or prevailing conditions for each day, but the list of options includes birding-watching treks, boat journeys, swimming, fishing, walking on a hanging bridge in the treetops or paddling native canoes. Another option is to explore the Amazon rainforest from a jungle lodge in the depths of the wilderness. Here, guests set their own pace; be that a siesta in a hammock, a guided botanical walk, or a nighttime stroll to see caimans and the Southern Hemisphere stars.
Tambopata National Reserve: Tambopata National Reserve is part of the great Tambopata Madidi Wilderness on the Peru-Bolivia border. The Tambopata River watershed is one of the world’s richest ecosystems in terms of biodiversity. The area includes forest species of economic importance such as cedar, mahogany and palm trees as well as endangered giant river otters and vulnerable species such as the anteater, giant armadillo, black spider monkey, jaguar, pink river dolphin, yellow-headed river turtle and the anaconda. Tambopata National Reserve is also strikingly beautiful with lush vegetation, rivers and cascading waterfalls. The reserve and Bahuaja-Sonene National Park have been listed as vulnerable due to a variety of threats that include gold mining, illegal logging and excessive extraction of other natural resources.
Inca Trail: The six-day Inca trail hike travels the Piscacucho/ Huayllabamba route along some of the very same trails used by ancient Incas. This high-altitude hike crosses rivers, cloud forests, valleys and mountain passes as high as Warmiwañusqa Pass (13,776 feet). Trekkers encounter Inca ruins, cross cactus gardens and fields of corn. The final section of the trail is a stunningly beautiful traverse leading to the Gate of the Sun overlooking Machu Picchu. Hiking the Inca trail has become a grand challenge to many adventurers. The high altitude requires walkers to be in good physical condition.
Suggested Peru Tour Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive Lima, Peru
Day 2: Lima
Day 3: Lima / Cusco / Sacred Valley
Day 4: Sacred Valley / Machu Picchu
Day 5: Machu Picchu / Cusco
Day 6: Cusco
Day 7: Cusco / Lima / Depart
Custom Tour Options
Lake Titicaca (3 days)
In addition to the lake’s fame as the world’s highest navigable lake, it is also home to distinctive cultural groups.
Nazca Lines & Paracas (3 days)
The fascinating 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines in the high desert still present countless unanswered questions. The resort town of Paracas is where the desert and the ocean meet.
Trujillo & Chiclayo (4 days)
Several ancient cultures occupied the region overtime, leaving behind pyramids and the amazing royal tomb of the Lord of Sipan with its wealth of gold, silver and precious objects that had remained hidden for 2,000 years.
Arequipa & the Colca Canyon (4 days)
Built of white volcanic stone, Arequipa is the gateway to Colca Canyon. Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, it is the world’s deepest, reaching depths of 11,000 feet.
Amazon Jungle (3-8 days)
Whether by cruise ship or jungle lodge, discovering the Amazon Rainforest, one of the last truly undomesticated places on earth, is a remarkable experience. Tambopata National Reserve is a vital ecosystem in terms of biodiversity, and is also strikingly beautiful with lush vegetation, rivers and cascading waterfalls.
Inca Trail (6 days)
The Inca Trail is a popular hiking adventure that follows in the footsteps of the ancient Incas. The reward at trail’s end is magnificent Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas.