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.
Adrenaline Factor: 4
Day 1: Arrive Lima, Peru
Welcome to Peru! After clearing the customs hall, you will be met by a representative from Big Five, who will assist you with your private transfer to your hotel. Miraflores Park Hotel – Junior Suite
Day 2: Lima / Pisco / Nazca / Paracas
This morning, you fly by private charter flight to the town of Pisco, where you board your private light aircraft for a one hour and 45 minute flight over the famous Nazca Lines. These lines are a series of geoglyphs in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau that stretches more than 50 miles. They are largely believed to have been created by the Nazca culture between 200 BC and 700 AD. There are hundreds of individual figures, ranging in complexity that include stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks or orcas, llamas and lizards. The lines are shallow designs in the ground where the reddish pebbles that cover the surrounding landscape have been removed, revealing the whitish earth underneath. More than 70 drawings are natural or human figures. The largest are over 600 feet across. The true nature of their meaning might never be known, but many believe the lines have religious significance. Spiders, birds, and plants could be fertility symbols. Other possible explanations include: irrigation schemes, and giant astronomical calendars. The dry, windless, stable climate of the plateau has preserved the lines to this day, for the most part. The origin and significance of the Nazca markings still puzzle archaeologists. Maria Rieche, a German scientist who has devoted her life to the study of these fascinating markings, has a more prosaic theory. That they made up a huge calendar employed for agricultural purposes by the people who lived in the area thousands of years ago. After the flight, you will be transferred to your hotel for check-in and to freshen up. This afternoon, combine nature with adrenaline as you set out in a Toyota Land Cruiser with your experienced driver to explore one of the driest desert environments in the world. Enjoy sunset on the desert followed by an unforgettable dinner under the stars. Libertador Paracas Resort & Spa – Suite (B,L,D)
Day 3: Paracas
This morning, board your private deluxe yacht for a short cruise to the Ballestas Islands, where you will see the Candelabro, one of the largest of all geoglyphs. It is a 700-foot-high trident on the mountain side at the bay of Paracas. No-one knows for certain the age of the original carving. From you boat, you watch for sea lions, Humboldt penguins, cormorants, boobies, pelicans and maybe even condors. You may also glimpse dolphins and whales. Return to your hotel where the remainder of the morning is at leisure until your lunch.
This afternoon we have a tour for brandy lovers. You will be taken to “Hacienda Hoja Redonda” in Chincha where you can learn about Pisco. Stroll through the vineyards and enjoy sampling varieties of Pisco. Libertador Paracas Resort & Spa – Suite (B,L,D)
Day 4: Paracas / Cusco / Urubamba (Sacred) Valley
Fly by private charter this morning to Cusco. Upon arrival, you will be met and driven into the fertile Urubamba (Sacred) Valley. Tour the village of Pisaq, which boasts one of the most colorful Indian Markets in Peru. After lunch at a local restaurant, you continue to Ollantaytambo to discover a beautiful and tranquil village, which is the site of spectacular and extensive Inca ruins. Most of them are enclosed with a Temple Fortress. The unfinished temple, begun by the Pachacuti, contains some of the largest stones ever used by the Inca builders. Aranwa Hotel – Junior Suite (B,L,D)
Day 5: Urubamba Valley
This morning, you are in for a special treat! You have the opportunity to experience the Peruvian Andes as one of the magnificent condors might… paragliding over the landscapes on a tandem flight. The mild climate, the varied and dramatic scenery of snow-capped mountains, flowering meadows, lush green hills make the valley an excellent area for paragliding.
The focus this afternoon is a whitewater rafting adventure. The river starts gently with time to practice the maneuvers required, then builds up with more fun rapids through a beautiful canyon where you will hopefully see torrents ducks and views of the surrounding peaks. Aranwa Hotel – 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 5 kg/11 pounds 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 6: Urubamba Valley / Machu Picchu
You are driven to Poroy Rail Station to board the Hiram Bingham train bound for Machu Picchu. The train journey to Machu Picchu is a highlight of any trip to the Andes. The Hiram Bingham will depart Poroy Station at about 9:00 a.m. You will enjoy brunch on board while watching the spectacular scenery as it unfolds through the large windows. The 3 ½-hour journey takes you through the Urubamba Valley, passing by lush, green fields and colorful villages, through rugged mountain passes before it arrives at the train station of Aguas Calientes around 12:30pm.
Your private guide greets you and transfers you by small buses to the entrance of the majestic ruins. Machu Picchu rises to an altitude of 7,900 feet above sea level, and nestles between the Huayna Picchu (young peak) and Machu Picchu (old peak). It lies within the spectacular framework provided by the exuberant vegetation of nearby jungle and the rugged mountainous landscape.
The ruins are situated on the eastern slope of Machu Picchu. Although constructions show different levels of architecture, the religious buildings exhibit a high degree of perfection. The buildings were constructed with stone and the roofs were built with tree trunks and thatched with ichu straw. The walls were made with an inward inclination for protection against earthquakes. Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge – Suite (B,L,D)
Day 7: Machu Picchu / Cusco
You are at leisure to relax or, you can return to Machu Picchu. This will allow you to experience the ruins at sunrise (weather permitting). Even with the blue-gray mist many mornings, it is still worth going early to watch the rolling layers of mist slip across the face of the ruins… a site you will long remember. For a truly mystical experience, we advise those early risers energetic enough to also hike to Huayna Picchu peak, opposite Machu Picchu, or even walk to the Sun Gate, the last section of the famous Inca Trail. Late this afternoon, board the Hiram Bingham for your return journey to Cusco. Once on board, pre-dinner cocktails and live entertainment will be in the bar. After drinks, savor a delightful four-course dinner. Upon arrival into Poroy station, you are met and privately transferred to your hotel. La Casona Cusco – Suite Balcon (B,L,D)
Day 8: Cusco
High in the Andes at nearly 11,400 feet above sea level, Cusco is considered the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Western Hemisphere. Founded in the 15th century by the Incas, it was later conquered by Spain, and much of its architecture reflects the dramatic Spanish style of what is known as Cusco Baroque. The Inca influence is also found throughout the city. The Incas conceived their capital in the shape of a Puma with the river serving as the spine, 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, now serving 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.
Savor the ambiance of the city as you drive its main streets. Visit the Qorikancha (Sun Temple) now referred to as Santo Domingo Church. The curved stonework of the temple is probably unequalled in the world. During the Inca period, the stones were covered with gold. Then, visit the archaeological sites that surround Cusco: the Saqsayhuaman Fortress, an amazing site with huge stone constructions. The site is said to have great cosmic energy; and many believe that it was an astronomical observatory and an Inca oracle. Also visit Q’enqo, a ceremonial center used for worship. Return to the city, and visit the San Pedro local market where you observe the everyday life of Cusco. Travel on to “San Blas,” an artisans’ neighborhood of narrow and high streets, and a beautiful little plaza, where the artists create works of art using wool, wood, clay and other materials. Continue to see the famous Twelve Angles stone, part of the largest Inca wall of Cusco, which used to be the Hatunrumiyoc (Big Stone) Palace, built by Inca Sinchi Roca. This is an example of Inca skill with polygonal masonry.
This afternoon, you are invited to visit to Villa Tipon, the private farm house of Big Five’s Peru In-Country Manager. Here, you welcomed to enjoy a light, home-cooked lunch hosted by the owners, Mr. and Mrs. Marco Bustamante. This evening dine at Chicha Restaurant, part of Gaston’s restaurant chain known for low-key charm and wonderful menus that incorporate traditional local and regional flavors of Peru. La Casona Cusco – Suite Balcon (B,L,D)
Day 9: Cusco / Lima
Transfer to the airport for your private charter flight to Lima. Upon arrival, you are met by your private guide and driven along the Pan-American Highway with its views across the beautiful Pacific Ocean beaches. Travel to the pre-Inca ruins of Pachacamac and its Temple of the Sun and the Palace of the Virgins. In the afternoon transfer to Hacienda Tres Cañas to visit the museum and little church located in the Hacienda before enjoying a delicious Creole buffet lunch while watching an exhibition of the famous Peruvian Paso Horse. You will then be transferred to your hotel where you have the remainder of the day at leisure to explore the city on your own. Miraflores Park Hotel – Junior Suite (B,L)
Day 10: Lima / Depart
Transfer to the airport for your international flight home. (B)
Land price, per person, double occupancy: From US$4000 per person per day