Arrival in Lima and transfer to your hotel. Today we cover the history of Lima from Pre-Columbian times to the present, starting in the downtown historic district. Our guide will take us to beautiful Plaza Mayor (“Main Square”), surrounded by the Government Palace, the Archbishop’s Palace, and City Hall. While strolling the old streets, lined with colonial mansions and Moorish balconies, you will also visit a convent that is an icon of colonial architecture. Then we head to the modern districts of San Isidro and Miraflores. San Isidro, an upscale residential and commercial neighborhood, houses a pre-Hispanic sacred structure (Huaca Huallamarca). Next we visit the modern neighborhood of Miraflores, with its chic shops, restaurants and casinos. Return to your hotel.
Early morning transfer to the airport to board your flight to Cusco. Upon arrival begin your full day tour. We start by heading to Pisac, one of the most important Inca sites in the Urubamba Valley. On the way we visit Awana kancha, literally “the palace of weaving,” a camelid farm with typical animals of the region: alpacas, llamas, guanacos, and vicunas. Here we learn how the indigenous people use plants and natural elements to dye and weave the wool. Then we visit the store to discover beautiful examples of their craftsmanship. From here we visit Pisac, a pretty village that has plenty of small handicraft shops and a famous Sunday market, followed by Ollantaytambo, an Incan military, religious, and agricultural center high on a mountain peak. From this impressive archaeological site, we can look down over the town’s amazing narrow streets and canals that have remained unchanged since Incan times. We will stop for a delicious lunch at a local restaurant. (B, L)
Our adventure begins with an early departure by car to the Urubamba train station, where we board the Vistadome train to Aguas Calientes. Upon arrival, a short bus ride takes us to the awe inspiring Machu Picchu archaeological site. You will never forget this guided, comprehensive and mind-blowing journey through the history of the Inca civilization. You will fully comprehend why Machu Picchu was designated by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage site, and voted one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Afterwards, we will have free time to explore on our own, to relax, or meditate. Later, we descend to Aguas Calientes for lunch at a local restaurant before boarding the train for the return journey and transfer to Cuzco. (B, L)
Morning at leisure. This afternoon we explore Cusco, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. After pick-up at our hotel we head for the Koricancha temple, an ancient Inca palace and worship center of the Sun God that was once entirely covered in gold. Here, the Dominicans built a beautiful church that still stands. Next stop is the Plaza de Armas to see the Cathedral and the beautiful Church of the Society of Jesus, among other colonial buildings. Then we continue to the colonial church of San Cristóbal to enjoy a spectacular view of the city, followed by a stop at the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, an Inca building known for its mysterious, immense 30-foot tall walls of hewn stone. Strategically built on a hill, the fortress offers a broad panorama of Cuzco. We top off the tour with a visit to the archaeological complexes of Qenko, with its stone labyrinth and sacrificial altar, and Puca Pucara, an architectural marvel of rooms, waterways and aqueducts. (B)
Private transfer to board your flight back to Lima with connections. (B)