Peru experiences two very distinct seasons, wet and dry - terms that are more relevant than "summer" and "winter." Peru's high season for travel coincides with the driest months: May through September, with the most visitors in July and August. May and September are particularly fine months to visit much of Peru.
Peru is in the same zone as U.S. EST (GMT -5 hours).
Nuevo Sol (S/), divided in 100 cents. Coins come in 5,10,20 and 50 cents. Banknotes are in denominations of 10 20 50 100 and 200. US dollars are welcome at most shops, restaurant and services stations at the current exchange rate.
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Day 1: Arrive Lima, Peru
Upon arrival in Lima, please proceed through immigration and customs. After claiming your luggage, exit the Customs Hall where a representative from Big Five will be waiting to assist you and escort you to Lima’s Miraflores Park Hotel in the fashionable residential and commercial district of Miraflores, about 40 minutes from the airport. Miraflores Park Hotel –Executive Oceanview Suite
Day 2: Lima
Lima, the center of Spanish power in the New World for three centuries, is the focal point that draws the country into one land. The capital is the starting point for most visitors to Peru. It enjoys a considerable legacy of art and architecture from its colonial period, while its museums are bursting with artifacts of gold, ceramic and weavings unearthed from the country's ancient settlements. Your half-day sightseeing includes Lima’s superb colonial churches, palaces and promenades. Then continue to the Larco Herrera Museum, with its excellent collection of pottery, gold and silver works, mummies and ceramics from the Chimu, Mohica and other Pre-Inca civilizations. Of unusual interest is the museum’s erotic pottery collection, the only one of its kind in the world. This evening you will dine at Huaca Pucllana Restaurant for dinner. Located within the compound of a 1,500-year-old adobe pyramid built by the original inhabitants of Lima, this is one of the city's greatest dining surprises. This beautiful and serene upscale restaurant, with knockout views of the pyramid, is secluded in the midst of Lima's chaotic jumble, making for a memorable night out. Miraflores Park Hotel –Executive Oceanview Suite (B,D)
Day 3: Lima / Cusco / Urubamba Valley (Sacred Valley of the Incas)
This morning, you are transferred for the flight to the colonial city of Cusco. You are met on arrival and transferred to Pisaq in the fertile Urubamba Valley, sacred to the Incas for centuries. Your full-day tour begins in the Andean village of Pisaq, home to one of Peru’s most famous and colorful, Indian markets. After lunch, enjoy a tour to Ollantaytambo - a beautiful and tranquil village, where you discover some spectacular and extensive Inca ruins, most of them enclosed with a Temple Fortress. The unfinished temple contains some of the largest stones ever used by Inca builders. The village itself is constructed on top of ancient Inca foundations, and reveals typical Inca stonework down almost any street. Hotel Rio Sagrado – Junior Suite (B,L,D)
Day 4: Urubamba Valley
Depart by vehicle this morning to the ruins of Moray. Your guide will take you down into these ruins and explain their function. It is said that the ancient agricultural terraces of circular and concentric shape, built by the Incas, were used as a seed-producing area for the principal crops of the empire: maize and potato. Walk towards the town of Maras through the countryside, surrounded now by farmlands. The views of the mountain ranges are never far away. Once you get to Maras, you have the opportunity to go to a local pub 'Chicheria' where they brew the famous corn beer. Patterned after the Spanish conquerors, some of the doorposts are in colonial style and beautifully worked. At the salt flats, you’ll spend some time as your guide explains how the Incas, past and present, carry out the salt-draining process. You might even have the opportunity to try making salt yourselves. Finally travel to Willoq, one of the most fascinating Andean communities, which remains largely unchanged in its social structure, customs and dress. Enjoy a visit to the weaving workshops where some of the finest textiles of the region are produced. You will learn about the complex weaving process, from wool gathering through to the finished product. Afterwards, visit a local family's house and the local elementary school (If you choose, you may bring pens, pencils, or notebooks for donation, the kids will appreciate it!) Hotel Rio Sagrado – Junior Suite (B,L,D)
Important Note: This evening you will need to pack a small bag for your rail journey tomorrow. For all Perurail journeys, each passenger is allowed 1 bag or backpack which must not exceed 5kg/11pounds and/or 62 inches/157cm (length + height + width). Please pack light. Baggage that exceeds these measurements will not be allowed. Your additional luggage will be stored by your Big Five representative.
Day 5: Urubamba Valley / Machu Picchu
Depart this morning on a private land transfer to the Ollanta train station. Here you will board the Vistadome Valley train to Machu Picchu, a highlight of any trip to the Andes. The scenery is simply spectacular during this two hour journey as your train rumbles through a changing landscape of mountains and a dramatic canyon with the beautiful Urubamba River running into the Sacred Valley. On arrival in Machu Picchu, you transfer by a bus to the entrance of the ruins. Upon entering this mountain fortress, you are immediately struck by the mystical power of Machu Picchu as it rises to an altitude of 7,900 feet above sea level. It nestles between Huayna Picchu (young peak) and Machu Picchu (old peak), and is framed by the exuberant vegetation of nearby jungle and the rugged landscape. The ruins are situated on the eastern slope of Machu Picchu in two different areas: the agricultural and the urban. The latter includes the civil sector (dwellings, canalizations), and the sacred sector (temples, mausoleums, squares, royal houses). Construction shows different levels of architecture. The religious buildings exhibit a high degree of perfection. All the construction used stone for the walls, tree trunks and ichu straw for the roofs. It is interesting to note that the builders constructed the walls with an inward inclination for protection against earthquakes. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel – Superior Room (B,L,D)
Day 6: Machu Picchu
Today is at leisure to explore the area. Your private guide is available to assist with the many leisure options that are offered. You may choose to visit the Indian market in Aguas Calientes village or explore the hotel’s cloud forest trails including the Orchid Garden which features some 372 species of the exotic flower as well as endemic birds as the Cock of the Rock, Peru’s national bird and 18 types of hummingbirds. For those who wish to return to the archaeological site, your guide will provide you with a round trip bus ticket and admission fee, and will privately accompany you back to Machu Picchu. For a truly mystical experience, those early risers who like to hike can climb Huayna Picchu peak, situated opposite of Machu Picchu, for breathtaking views of the imposing ruins and the Urubamba Valley below. You may also walk along to the Sun Gate, the last segment of the famous Inca Trail. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel – Superior Room (B,L,D)
Day 7: Machu Picchu / Cusco
After breakfast, you will return to Ollanta station via the Vistadome Valley train, where you will be met and taken to explore some of the Inca ruins on the outskirts of Cusco. The archaeological capital of South America is rich in pre-Columbian remains such as the Tambomachay, the Inca Baths with their sophisticated canal system; Qenqo ceremonial altar; Puca Pucara (Red Tower Fortress), which took more than 80 years to build; and the vast Sacsayhuaman Fortress site of ancient religious celebrations. Here, you will see three parallel levels of fortifications constructed out of enormous rocks - some weighing an estimated 30 tons - which fit flawlessly together without the use of any mortar. Across the parade ground is the solid rock throne where Sapa Inca Atahualpa, emperor of the Inca Empire, is reputed to have sat while viewing his troops. You will then continue to Cusco and your hotel. High in the Andes, about 11,400 feet above sea level, Cusco is considered the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Western Hemisphere, and as such is of major historical importance. The Incas first began to emerge in the 12th century around Cusco, with their power at its peak in the 1440s to early 1500s. Over time, they built their capital in the shape of a Puma with the river serving as the spine, and Sacsayhuaman the head and the main city center the body. Almost every central street has remains of Inca walls, arches and doorways. Many streets are lined with Inca stonework, which now serve as foundations for more modern buildings. Inca stonework is tapered upwards (battered) and every wall has a perfect line of inclination towards the center, from bottom to top. The stones have each edge and corner rounded. Cusco was conquered by Spain in the mid-16th century, and much of the city’s architecture reflects the dramatic Spanish style known as Cusco Baroque. In many instances, the Spanish built on top of Incan foundations. The colonial-era treasures include mansions and churches such as the Cathedral, La Merced Convent, and La Compania are examples of this practice. Churches are full of marvelous works from the Cusco School of painting, distinguished by its mix of Catholic and pagan imagery. Hotel Monasterio – Deluxe Oxygenated Room (B,L)
Day 8: Cusco
This morning, your half-day discovery of this magical city takes you on a drive through the main streets. Visit the Qorikancha, Sun Temple, now referred to as Santo Domingo Church. The curved stonework of the temple is probably unequaled in the world. During the Inca period, the stones were covered with gold. You will then visit the San Pedro local market where you see the everyday life of the city. Proceed to “San Blas,” the Artisans’ Neighborhood of narrow and high streets, beautiful little plaza, where the artists craft wool, clay and wood into real art pieces. Continue to see the famous Twelve Angles stone, part of the largest Inca wall in Cusco. This used to be the Hatunrumiyoc, “Big Stone” palace built by Inca Sinchi Roca. This is a fine example of Inca skill with polygonal masonry. Drive to Villa Tipón, located in Cusco Valley, where you have the chance to meet a local Peruvian family. Enjoy lunch at the farm with your hosts. Hotel Monasterio – Deluxe Oxygenated Room (B,L)
Day 9: Cusco / Lima / Depart
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to Lima. Upon arrival you will be met and assisted to your day room at your hotel, located conveniently at the airport. You have the remainder of the day at leisure to explore on your own or just relax. This evening, you will be met and assisted with check-in to your international departure flight. Costa Del Sol Ramada – Jr. Suite Day Room (B)
Land price, per person, double occupancy: Starting from $5,190
Internal Airfare (subject to change until ticketed): $580