- Explore metropolitan Lima's eclectic neighborhoods and markets
- Visit Tacama Vineyard to learn about centuries-old winemaking traditions
- Discover ancient Inca ruins and culture in the imperial city of Cusco
- Test your adventurous side on a via ferrata and zipline
- See the famed 15th-century Machu Picchu ruins
|Day 1||Arrival in Lima, Transfer to Hotel||Lima|
|Day 2||Lima City & Food Tour||Lima|
|Day 3||Tacama Winery Tour||Lima|
|Day 4||Free day in Lima||Lima|
|Day 5||Arrival in Cusco, Transfer to Hotel||Cusco|
|Day 6||Free day in Cusco||Cusco|
|Day 7||Sacred Valley Tour: Cusco—Pisac—Ollantaytambo||Ollantaytambo|
|Day 8||Via Ferrata, Ziplining, & Train to Aguas Calientes||Aguas Calientes|
|Day 9||Machu Picchu Guided Tour: Aguas Calientes—Machu Picchu—Cusco||Cusco|
|Day 10||Transfer to the Cusco Airport for Departure|
Day 1: Arrival in Lima, Transfer to Hotel
¡Bienvenidos! Welcome to Lima, Peru's largest city and central metropolitan hub, and home to one-third of the country's population. Located at the site of a pre-Columbian indigenous Ychsma settlement, which was conquered by the Inca empire in the 15th century and later by the Spanish conquistadores, Lima has a fascinating history and a diverse mix of cultures. Amerindian, European, Afro-Peruvian, and Asian—especially Chinese and Japanese—influences make Lima a dynamic and exciting city to explore.
Settle into your hotel before sitting down to a delicious meal. With some of the worlds' top restaurants and an eclectic mix of culinary styles, there is no shortage of delightful and exciting dining options.
Day 2: Lima City & Food Tour
Spend the day discovering Lima through its food. With a vibrant combination of Indigenous American, African, Asian, and European culinary influences, Lima is one of the world's most impressive gastronomic and cultural centers.
Start the day early in Lima's Historical center to visit a local mercacado—a fresh food market—to taste the local produce and sample spices, fruits, and various baked bread. Taste different types of Piscos—a high proof brandy produced locally in the wine-making regions of Peru and Chile. Attend a cooking class and learn how to make ceviche, a fresh seafood dish marinated with salt and lime juice, and the traditional pisco sour—a Peruvian classic.
Stop for lunch at one of Lima's top restaurants and enjoy a delicious meal on a patio overlooking the Pacific ocean. Stroll to the bohemian district of Barranco—a popular oceanside neighborhood for artists, tourists, and locals alike—for a relaxed afternoon drinking coffee and sampling Peruvian desserts.
Day 3: Tacama Winery Tour
Today you will experience the wine-making traditions of Peru at Tacama Vineyard, one of the oldest vineyards in America. Meet your driver in the hotel lobby in the morning and depart early for the drive south along the coast. The 4-hour drive brings you onto the Panamerican highway toward Pisco, and then east into the hills.
Originally the home of the local people, this oasis was conquered by the Quechua people—also known as the Inca— in the 15th century and turned into farmland for the sacred coca plant. A century later, after the conquest of the Spanish, the land was converted into a vineyard and a traditional Spanish hacienda—a complex of buildings, including the stables, church, belfry, tree-lined avenue, and large open main patio.
Enjoy a two-hour guided tour of the wine-making process, facilities, and internationally famous wine cellars. After the tour, wander the grounds on your own and discover panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and the extensive network of irrigation channels, built by the Inca Pachacutec in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Relax with a glass of wine at the restaurant before heading over to catch a performance of the world-famous Peruvian Paso horses. Shows take place on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and showcase the stunning Paso horses and local Marinera dancers.
After the show, head back to Lima for a relaxing evening in the city.
Day 4: Free day in Lima
Today is a free day to explore the city. Lima's breezy location on the Pacific Ocean and mild desert climate make it the perfect city for exploring on foot. Head downtown to mingle with locals, stretch your legs, and grab a bite to eat in one of the many award-winning restaurants.
Suggested activities include:
- Explore the historic center of Lima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site packed with fascinating Spanish architecture. Start with a scenic tour of the colonial downtown, which emanates from the main square. Stroll over to the 16th-century Cathedral, which took 80 years to construct and was built in the grandiose style of the Spanish Empire.
- Visit the Casa Aliaga, a colonial mansion granted by chief conquistador Francisco Pizarro to Jerónimo de Aliaga, one of his captains, in 1535. This is the only house from that era that still belongs to the same family.
- Stroll around the Pueblo Libre district to the privately owned Larco Museum of pre-Columbian art, housed in a beautifully restored viceregal mansion built over a 7th-century pre-Columbian pyramid. The museum boasts a vast pre-Colonial collection of gold and silver artifacts, as well as pieces of erotic art.
- In the evening, head to the eclectic "Love Park" in the upscale coastal district of Miraflores, where you can admire a huge kissing statue and beautiful mosaic walls. The park is built on the cliffs of Chorrillos and is a perfect place to enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Pacific.
- Enjoy a nightcap at an open-air cafe or restaurant in the diverse Miraflores neighborhood.
Day 5: Arrival in Cusco, Transfer to Hotel
Head to the Lima airport for your transfer flight to Cusco. After settling in, head out for your day tour of the former capital of the Inca empire, which reigned from the 13th to 16th centuries after conquering the Killke settlement on the same location.
Remember: you will be 11,000 feet (3,000 m) above sea level, so take it easy and remember to drink lots of water. Take a walk through the plaza — if the weather is beautiful, it's a perfect place to sit and have a cup of coca tea while adjusting to the elevation.
In the evening, take the opportunity to experience Cusco's celebrated culinary heritage at a local restaurant.
Day 6: Free day in Cusco
Today you will explore Cusco and the surrounding ancient ruins. Since Cusco was designed by the Incas as a city for walking, start your exploration of the narrow stone alleyways on foot.
Suggested activities include:
- Visit the Coricancha, also known as "The Temple of the Sun." The temple was built by the Incan Emperor Pachacutec (1438 - 1572), and after the arrival of the Spaniards became the basis for the construction of the Santo Domingo Convent.
- See the Cathedral, the most imposing monument in the central Plaza de Armas and a repository for Cusco's colonial art. Its construction lasted for almost 100 years, beginning in 1560 and ending in 1654.
- Walk to Sacsayhuamán and next-door Quenqo, both archaeological complexes used mostly for religious and agricultural rituals, located 2.5 miles (4 km) from the city of Cusco. Built by the Killke people, Sacsayhuamán is a marvel of ancient architecture, a monolithic fortress built from giant blocks of stone, the origins and assembly of which remain a mystery.
- Discover the elaborate Puca Pucara ruins—an architectural complex of alleged military use with multiple plazas, baths, aqueducts, walls, and towers. It is believed that the entourage of the Incan emperor used it while he stayed at Tambomachay, the elaborate estate and baths nearby.
- Explore San Blas, an old bohemian quarter famous for its picturesque white walls, blue doors, and creative artisan community.
- Experience the legendary Mercado Central de San Pedro, a large and diverse market famous for its mouth-watering juices, home-style meals, medicinal herb stalls, and rows of various meats, loaves of bread, vegetables, and other necessities.
- Eat lunch at a local Peruvian restaurant and sample local flavors and cooking techniques—crackling pork, pickled vegetables, seasonal flavors, bread baked in earthen ovens, roasted vegetables, and sweet donuts make for a delicious and filling meal.
Day 7: Sacred Valley Tour: Cusco—Pisac—Ollantaytambo
In the morning, head to the Awana Kancha Llama Sanctuary, located halfway between Cusco and Pisac. Visit with the alpacas and llamas, then head over to the weaving and textiles exhibition. Local artists demonstrate the process of cleaning, spinning, dyeing, and weaving the intricate details on the colorful textiles. Afterward, browse the shop to select a piece of your own to bring home—each one is a unique and handmade treasure.
Continue to the town of Pisac, famous for its bustling textile market. Select from a wide assortment of colors, styles, and designs for gifts and souvenirs to take home with you.
Relax in the afternoon at Cerveceria del Valle, a family-owned craft brewery producing Andean-inspired ales and lagers. Join a guided tour around the brewery before a tasting session to sample the selection of beers on tap. The beer is made using the highest-quality ingredients and brewed with glacial spring water from over 13,000 feet above sea level.
From here, head to the ancient Incan city of Ollantaytambo. Explore the tranquil plaza and surrounding ruins and Inca Fortress, which offer an unparalleled view into the lives of the Inca.
Day 8: Via Ferrata, Ziplining, & Train to Aguas Calientes
Today is an adventurous day full of unexpected views and fun challenges. This morning you will be picked up early to begin your journey to the Sacred Valley. You will arrive in Pachar where you will start by climbing 1,312 ft (400 m) up the side of the cliff on the via ferrata—a series of metal steps built into the wall. From the top, descend into the valley on a series of exhilarating zip-line rides. You will then have lunch at the Skylodge Adventure Suite while enjoying the beautiful views of the Sacred Valley. After lunch, you will descend the mountain by ziplining or rappelling your way down before arriving safely at the valley floor far below you.
Later, head to Ollantaytambo to take the local train to Aguas Calientes, the base for most Machu Picchu adventures. The ride takes you through a valley and into the Urubamba River canyon, then into the cloud forest as you near the Machu Picchu sanctuary.
Aguas Calientes contains the train station, a craft market, restaurants, and a variety of hotels for those who prefer to spend the night at the foot of the mountain and climb it early in the day. Settle in and relax before your exciting day tomorrow.
Day 9: Machu Picchu Guided Tour: Aguas Calientes—Machu Picchu—Cusco
After an early breakfast, take the first bus up to the Machu Picchu ruins to catch the sunrise at the ancient site. This 15th-century Inca citadel is located at 7,970 ft (2,430 m) and is a masterpiece of engineering that served as a sanctuary and retreat for the Incan Emperor Pachacutec and his royal court. Machu Picchu, which means "Old Mountain," is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
Built as a seasonal residence for the Inca family, Machu Picchu was rarely home to more than 800 people, and during the royals' absence, a mere 100 servants would remain at the site to maintain the grounds. Machu Picchu was abandoned 100 years after construction due to the Spanish conquest and remained largely hidden to the outside world until the early 20th century.
Your guide will lead you around the site and explain the different buildings and curious corners of the building complex. Approximately one-third of the site has been reconstructed into its original structure, giving visitors a sense for the grandeur and artistry of the original citadel.
If you feel like an uphill challenge, you have the option to climb the infamous Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. It is important to know that to climb these peaks, you need to buy separate tickets in advance.
After the two-hour tour, take the bus back to Aguas Calientes to connect to your train to Ollantaytambo and your connecting transfer to Cusco.
Day 10: Transfer to the Cusco Airport for Departure
On your final day, transfer to the Cusco airport for your flight back home. ¡Buen viaje!