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.
“Whether I am at home or traveling abroad, I always seek connections – connections with my surroundings, with nature and animals, and with the people of other cultures. This journey is all about connectedness, opening up to the wider world. I included opportunities to practice one of my passions – yoga. There will be opportunities to participate in an old Inca ritual with an Andean healer, to soak in outdoor solar baths, savor massages, meet local people to learn something of their lives, traditions, and communities. Of course, no Peru journey is complete without a visit to Machu Picchu, the ancient Inca mountain fortress. Seeing it at sunrise was for me a spiritual experience. Even if it is misty and cloudy, I still recommend it. Peru is such a welcoming country and has so much to give us if we are open to the possibilities.” Usha Sanghrajka, CFO
Day 1: Arrive Lima, Peru
Welcome to Peru! Upon arrival in Lima, a representative from Big Five will be greet you and escort you to your hotel, located conveniently at the airport. Costa Del Sol Ramada
Day 2: Lima / Cusco / Sacred Vally of the Incas
This morning, you fly to Cusco, at an elevation of approximately 11,400 feet. Your private guide will be waiting to take you to the village of Chinchero, among the loveliest in the Peruvian highlands and in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Located in a high valley, this Andean village dates from before the Spanish conquest, and was once the country estate of a 15th-century Inca ruler. Encircled by lush farming terraces, the houses are built on the foundations of Inca buildings, including the remains of a palace. The 17th-century church has lovely frescoes and mural paintings. Visit the authentic market, alive with color and a cacophony of sounds. Chinchero's market is held in the shadow of the church within the central plaza, and is one of the best places in the entire valley to find Andean textiles. This afternoon, continue to Ollantaytambo – another beautiful and tranquil village. Here are some spectacular and extensive Inca ruins, most enclosed within a temple fortress. The unfinished temple contains some of the largest stones ever used by the Inca builders. Spend the next two nights are at Willka T’ika, ‘sacred flower’ in Quechua, the language of the Andean people. This property is unique in that it was established as a garden retreat. The gardens are laid out as ‘Seven Sacred Gardens.’ Each is dedicated to a different energy center, or chakra, to encourage personal meditation, healing and rejuvenation. The house, intricately merged with the gardens, was constructed in colonial style using local materials. There is also a large sunlit studio, designed for yoga, but also used for any practice including concerts with local musicians and dance groups. This evening, you will enjoy an introduction to the old Andean cultures. From their perspective, their culture and the world around them are not separate. They are intricately interwoven and nurture life as a whole. Willka Tika House (B,L,D)
Day 3: Sacred Valley of the Incas
Begin today with a visit off the beaten path to Moray. You won't bump into too many tourists here. The Moray amphitheater is a series of circular terraces worked into the ground. Local people refer to it as the greenhouse of the Incas. Historians believe it was an agricultural research center. As you descend each layer, so too does the temperature. The Incas used Moray to test and develop new crops. Not only will you visit the agricultural fields, you may also participate or observe an old Inca ritual with an Andean healer. The ancient salt mines of Maras, nestled in amongst the green fields of the Sacred Valley, is a huge white area of terraces where salt has been collected for centuries. You can wander in between the salt-pans and watch the locals gathering salt just as workers have done for hundreds of years. Return your hotel for lunch. The afternoon is at leisure to use the yoga facilities, and sacred gardens and meditation areas. There are also outdoor solar baths, massages, and a Crystal bed available at an extra charge. Willka Tika House (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 05kg/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 4: Sacred Valley of the Incas / Machu Picchu
Travel to Willoq, a small Andean village that is, like so many places around the globe, struggling to balance old-world traditions with modern realities. Willoq dates back to the 1500s, when people fled into the mountains to escape the Spanish conquistadors. It remains a quiet village not on any tourist’s maps. Here you mingle with the descendants of Incas, visit some of their stones and thatched roof houses, and see the unique textiles woven by the women of the village. After lunch by a stream, you will be transferred to Ollanta Station to board the Vista Valle train to Machu Picchu, a highlight of any trip to the Andes. The scenery is simply spectacular as this hour-and-a-half journey takes you through changing mountain vistas. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 5: Machu Picchu
Early this morning, small buses take you to the entrance of the ruins in time for sunrise. Even if it is misty and cloudy, it is still an exquisite experience. Machu Picchu rises to an altitude of 7,900 feet above sea level. The fortress sits between the Huayna Picchu (young peak) and Machu Picchu (old peak). It lies within a spectacular framework of exuberant jungle vegetation and the beautifully rugged landscape. The ruins are situated 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). Although constructions show different levels of architecture, religious buildings exhibit a high degree of perfection. The construction was with general use of stone, and the roofs were built of tree trunks and thatched with ichu straw. The walls were made with an inward inclination for protection against earthquakes. You have the entire day to explore the ruins with your private guide. When you are ready to return to your hotel, you will take the bus back to the town of Aguas Calientes and then walk to your accommodations. Although Machu Picchu is your main focus, Inkaterra Machu Picchu can be used as a quiet retreat for the mind and body or a base for numerous excursions. On the hotel grounds, nature trails wind past waterfalls and gardens; trained guides explain the fascinating cloud forest ecosystem. Discover a working tea plantation, and the world’s largest private collection of indigenous orchids. What could be more enchanting than the vibrant Waqnaki orchid with its legend of a lovesick Inca princess whose sadness was transformed into colorful teardrop petals? Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 6: Machu Picchu / Cusco
After breakfast, return via Vistadome Valley train to the Ollanta Station. On your way back to Cusco, you will stop to visit the archaeological sites that surround Cusco: the Saqsayhuaman Fortress, an amazing site with huge stone constructions. The site is said to have a great cosmic energy, which is why many people think it was an astronomic observatory and an Inca oracle. Also visit Q’enqo, a place that was used for worship and ceremonial center. Then continue to your hotel for check in and lunch. This afternoon begin your sightseeing of Cusco. The curved stonework of the Temple of the Sun (Koricancha) is probably unequalled in the world. Colonial treasures include mansions and churches (the Cathedral, La Merced Convent, La Compania), built on Inca foundations. Churches house marvelous works from the Cusco School of painting, distinguished by its mix of Catholic and pagan imagery. Stroll the high, narrow streets of “San Blas”, the artisans’ neighborhood, where artists create pieces using wool, clay and stone. Continue to the famous Twelve Angles stone, part of the largest Inca wall in Cusco, which used to be the Hatunrumiyoc (Big Stone) palace, and demonstrates the Inca skill with polygonal masonry. Monasterio Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 7: Cusco
Early this morning, set out to Anta Valley (northeast from Cusco City). After approximately an hour drive, arrive to the lesser known archaeological complex of Killarumiyoc, consisting of huge Inca remains including farming terraces, water channels and enormous walls built in the same way as Saqsaywaman in Cusco. Encounter the most important site – the representation of the Moon Calendar carved in limestone. Mama Kill, Mother Moon, is one of the most important Incan deities, and was the sister and wife of the Sun. The Incas built temples to worship the Moon and the main altar was the Moon Calendar. Continue to Zurite archaeological complex where you will find gigantic Inca-built terraces, perhaps some of the largest in the world. Tumibamba is another Inca temple built in the shape of a ceremonial knife. The temple was hidden by Inca in order to save it from destruction by the Spanish conquest. Enjoy a picnic lunch with great views of the Anta Valley and the Andes. This afternoon, visit the colonial town of Huarocondo, where you will walk the old colonial streets and the main plaza and meet local people. Late afternoon, you return to your Cusco hotel. Monasterio Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 8: Cusco
The San Pedro local market is a wonderful place to encounter the everyday life of Cusco before you drive to Tipon, an Incan archaeological site with it well-known Temple of the Water. Its impressive agricultural terraces, sacred fountains and aqueducts are still in use. This 500-acre, self-contained walled settlement served as an estate for Inca nobility. It was nominated recently by the American Society of Civil Engineers as a “Water Engineering Masterpiece of the Inca Empire.” Tipón has been farmed and partially irrigated for more than 450 years, and reveals the Inca to be masters of irrigation and hydraulic technology. They designed buildings, waterworks, and massive structures to be visually and functionally in harmony with the natural environment. Your guide will take you on a tour of Tipon´s canals, plazas, aqueducts and fountains –infrastructure that transformed a remote mountainside into a true engineering marvel. While here you will have the chance to participate or observe an Andean ceremony with a native healer. Afterwards enjoy lunch before returning to Cusco and your hotel. Monasterio Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 9: Cusco / Lima / Depart
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to Lima. Upon arrival, you are met and transferred to your hotel. Your room is available for day use. 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 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 program will include Lima’s superb colonial churches, palaces and promenades. You will then continue to the Larco Herrera Museum, with its collection of pottery, gold and silver works, and mummies. Its collection of erotic ceramics from the Chimu, Mohica and other Pre-Inca civilizations is of unusual interest and is the only pottery collection of its kind in the world. After dinner, transfer to airport for your homebound flight. Miraflores Park Hotel – Day Use Room (B,L,D)
Land price, per person, double occupancy: From $5550