Experience the natural highlights of Peru with two weeks of adventures that will take you from the Amazon River to Machu Picchu and beyond. After marveling at street art in Lima, fly north for a three-day luxury jungle cruise on the mighty Amazon, which includes wildlife spotting, visits to Indigenous villages, and a stop at a manatee rescue center. Then head south to Cusco for hikes around the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu before enjoying resort-style fun on the desert beaches of Peru's Pacific coast.


  • Let a private guide introduce you to Lima's street art and impressive food scene
  • Cruise the Amazon River, stopping for nature hikes and trips to local villages
  • Immerse yourself in Andean culture, from ancient Inca ruins to ceremonial music
  • Hike around Peru's showstopping highlights, like Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Lima, Optional Activities Lima
Day 2 Half-Day Barranco Art & Food Tour Lima
Day 3 Fly to Iquitos, Deluxe Amazon Cruise (Day 1) Iquitos
Day 4 Deluxe Amazon Cruise (Day 2): Jungle Activities Iquitos
Day 5 Deluxe Amazon Cruise (Day 3): Jungle Activities Iquitos
Day 6 Manatee Rescue Center, Fly to Cusco Cusco
Day 7 Transfer to the Sacred Valley, Andean Music Ceremony & Hacienda Lunch Sacred Valley
Day 8 Hike to Ollantaytambo & Andean Cooking Workshop Sacred Valley
Day 9 Train to Aguas Calientes, Visit Machu Picchu, Train to Cusco Cusco
Day 10 Day Trip to Sacsayhuamán & City Tour, Dinner at MAP Café Cusco
Day 11 Fly to Lima, Transfer to Paracas & Horseback Riding Paracas
Day 12 Day Trip to the Ballestas Islands, Pisco Distillery Tour Paracas
Day 13 Visit a Scallop Farm, Ride Dune Buggies, Sunset Picnic Paracas
Day 14 Transfer to Lima, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lima, Optional Activities

Relax at your peaceful hotel in Barranco between activities in Lima (photo courtesy of Hotel B)

Welcome to Peru! This South American nation's highlights are well-known. It's the historical homeland of the Incas, a country of immense natural beauty, from the Andes to the Amazon, and the site of the ancient Machu Picchu citadel. It's also filled with colorful and dynamic cities, many of which feature well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture in their historic downtown areas. You'll arrive in the most famous one of all, Lima, the nation's capital.

A driver will pick you up at the terminal for the 1.5-hour ride into the city and Hotel B. This 4-star hotel in the Bohemian Barranco district is a piece of Lima history in its own right. Built in the Belle Époque style, this mansion was originally a seaside retreat for an aristocratic family in the 1920s. It retains its Art Deco charm, featuring elegant suites outfitted with smart TVs and king beds. You can dine at the hotel's gourmet fusion restaurant, which serves contemporary Peruvian cuisine with international influences. The menu celebrates locally sourced ingredients prepared by a talented chef using ancestral techniques.

After checking in, you can stretch your legs after the long flight on a self-guided city tour. Start in the historic center, which is filled with Spanish-colonial landmarks, like the 18th-century Lima Cathedral. For culture and history, head to Museo Larco, which is housed in a restored viceregal mansion and offers a vast collection of pre-Columbian art and artifacts. Later, head to the coastal suburb of Miraflores and Parque del Amor (Love Park), which sits on coastal bluffs and is the perfect spot to enjoy a memorable sunset over the Pacific. 

Day 2: Half-Day Barranco Art & Food Tour

See street art from renowned muralist Jade Rivera, who combines dreamscapes with pictorial realism

As one of Lima's most romantic neighbrohoods, it only makes sense you spend the day discovering Barranco's wonders. After a leisurely morning at the hotel, meet a local guide around 10:30 am and embark on a half-day walking tour around Barranco. During this jaunt, you'll not only appreciate Barranco's historic and colorful architecture, but it also highlights the art and cuisine in the area.

As you walk, pop into local cafés, eateries, and shops to try Peruvian snacks and drinks. This includes the renowned ceviche and causa limeña (layers of mashed potato filled with chicken or fish). Each dish tells a story of Peru's history and culinary evolution. One highlight is a stop at El Cacaotal for a tasting of decadent chocolate. Here, you'll sample four different types of artisanal chocolates, learning about their origins deriving from rich Peruvian cacao (cocoa).

The walking tour culminates with a visit to the Museo Jade Rivera. This museum/gallery showcases the work of urban artist and muralist Jade Rivera, known for incorporating dreamlike images with pictorial realism. A museum curator will guide you through the gallery, providing insights into Rivera's artistic journey and the stories behind his masterpieces. Depending on the day, you might also get to meet the artist himself and witness his creative process in the gallery workshop. At the end of the tour, you'll return to your hotel and have the rest of the day free.

Day 3: Fly to Iquitos, Deluxe Amazon Cruise (Day 1)

Board your luxury cruise and set sail (photo courtesy of Delfin Amazon Cruises)

Rise and shine because this morning, you're off to the Amazon! Your driver will pick you up early for the ride back to the airport, where you'll board a two-hour flight to the far north of Peru and Iquitos. This port city sits on the Amazon River, the longest river in the world by volume. It's the gateway to the natural wonders, exotic wildlife, and tribal villages that define this lush corner of South America. There's much to recommend Iquitos; its bustling marketplaces are hotbeds of culture, and its cuisine is influenced by the rich biodiversity of the Amazon, featuring freshwater fish, exotic fruits, and native plants.

Over the next few days, you'll experience the wonders of the region on an adventurous river cruise. Upon arrival at the airport, transfer to the port where your Delfin cruise ship awaits. Delfin is the first name in luxury Amazon cruises, featuring deluxe suites with king beds and fine Peruvian linens, plus private terraces complete with your own personal Jacuzzi. As for cuisine, expect 5-star service in the opulent dining room, or enjoy your gourmet meal by candlelight on your private terrace, served in sparkling china and crystalware.

After settling into your suite, you can head to the top deck to admire the riverine scenery as the ship pulls away from the port and your grand Amazon adventure commences. It's a great opportunity to enjoy a golden sunset over the river while keeping an eye on the treeline to spot exotic animals like monkeys, macaws, toucans, and more.

Day 4: Deluxe Amazon Cruise (Day 2): Jungle Activities

Keep an eye out for wildlife like sloths, tropical birds, and primates in the trees

Your first morning in the Amazon begins with a stroll over the rainforest on the thrilling Canopy Walkway. This network of suspension bridges is perched over 115 feet (35 m) above the ground and extends one-third of a mile (500 m), offering a bird's-eye view of the rainforest. Needless to say, this vantage point is ideal for observing wildlife and the diverse vegetation, including tropical birds and primates.

After your "skywalk," you'll return to terra firma and visit a local Indigenous community. Along with your group, you'll be welcomed by a respected local shaman known for her healing and spiritual guidance. Her role in the community as a healer and spiritual guide offers rare insight into the traditions and cultural practices of the Amazon.

The adventure continues later in the afternoon when you board a smaller tour boat for cruise cruise through the Yanayacu and Pucate rivers, which are tributaries of the Amazon. This journey will take you through the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, an unspoiled protected area where you can do some kayaking, paddleboarding, and even fish for piranhas. The day concludes with a night walk after dinner to witness the nocturnal wildlife of the Amazon. Afterward, you'll return to the cruise ship and continue down the river.

Day 5: Deluxe Amazon Cruise (Day 3): Jungle Activities

Spend your last evening in the Amazon relaxing in your suite's private Jacuzzi

After breakfast, you'll board another small tour boat and visit Nauta Caño Creek. It's another great opportunity to observe the Amazon's rich biodiversity, as within this riverine ecosystem, you'll spot a variety of exotic wildlife. This includes squirrel and tamarin monkeys, numerous bird species, three-toed sloths, and more. As you skim the river in your smaller boat, you'll also spot aquatic animals like caimans, pink river dolphins, and river otters.

Then, leave the boat and embark on a journey along the Fundo Casual jungle trail. Your expert guide will lead you through this rainforest, highlighting the dynamic flora and fauna as you go. Keep an eye out for anacondas, rainbow boas, tarantulas, poison frogs, and porcupines. This area is one of the few in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve where you might even spot the rare two-toed sloth.

In the afternoon, you'll hop in a skiff and visit a river community. During a cultural exchange, you'll meet villagers who have lived on the Amazon for generations. One highlight is a visit to a local schoolhouse to meet local children, plus a stop at an arts and crafts market featuring handmade items produced by the community's women. The day culminates with a visit to the Union de los Ríos, a confluence of rivers known for its distinct colors. At the end of the day, you'll return to the Delfin and your suite.

Day 6: Manatee Rescue Center, Fly to Cusco

Get settled in Cusco and take a dip in the heated pool (photo courtesy of Belmond Palacio Nazarenas)

With a heavy heart, it's time to bid farewell to the natural beauty and untold wonders of the Amazon. In the morning, the ship will pull into port, and from there, it's about a 1.5-hour drive back to the airport in Iquitos. On the way, you'll stop at the Centro de Rescate Amazonico, an organization dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of river mammals. During a tour, you'll meet baby manatees and learn about these wonderful and docile creatures and why they're on the endangered species list.

At the airport, you'll board a plane for the three-hour flight into southern Peru and Cusco. Located in the Andes highlands, this area has been settled for thousands of years. However, it wasn't until 1200 CE that Cusco was officially founded as a center for Inca rule. It was the capital of the Inca Kingdom until the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. Today, the city features an incredible mix of Spanish-colonial architecture and ancient Inca archaeological sites.

Your luxury hotel is also part of Cusco's rich history. The Belmond Palacio Nazarenas is a 5-star hotel in the historic center, a short walk from landmarks like the Plaza de Armas, Cusco's main square. It's located in a 16th-century former palace that has been meticulously restored. It features spacious and elegantly appointed rooms and suites with colonial-era architecture, modern amenities, and luxurious furnishings. There's also a heated pool to combat that highland chill, plus a spa & wellness center, various gourmet restaurants celebrating Peruvian cuisine, and 24-hour personal butler service.

Day 7: Transfer to the Sacred Valley, Andean Music Ceremony & Hacienda Lunch

Spend the day learning about Peru's Sacred Valley from local hosts

After breakfast, you'll meet your driver and transfer about 9 miles (15 km) north of Cusco to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Extending along the Urubamba River, the valley encompasses picturesque villages, archaeological sites, and gorgeous highland scenery. Your destination is the town of Pisac, where you'll be welcomed into the home of Vicente Rayo.

Sr. Rayo runs Sonidos del Ande, a music project that preserves and promotes the heritage of prehispanic instruments in Peru. The ancestral melodies produced by these ancient instruments, which include clay whistles, represent the sounds of the Andes and the spirit of cultures dating back to Inca times and before. Sr. Rayo and his wife will lead you on a walk around the property with their animals (mainly llamas and alpacas), followed by joining in a "sound ceremony" where you'll learn to play ancient instruments.

Afterward, you'll visit Hacienda Sarapampa, a country estate near Pisac. Here, you'll sit down with Maria del Pilar and Jussef, your friendly hosts, for a private lunch followed by a guided tour of the hacienda grounds. Later, head to the town of Urubamba and your hotel, Sol y Luna. Another historic estate, each of the forty-three casitas (bungalows) at Sol y Luna is surrounded by gardens and faces the soaring Andes Mountains. The suites feature high ceilings, terra cotta tile floors, spacious marble baths, Spanish colonial-style furniture, and king king-size bed with goose-down duvets.

Day 8: Hike to Ollantaytambo & Andean Cooking Workshop

Apart from Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo is one of the most well-preserved Inca sites in Peru
Plan your trip to Peru
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Leave this morning on a trek to the ancient city of Ollantaytambo. This highland town and archaeological site is one of the few remaining places in the Sacred Valley that has retained its original Inca urban planning. It begins with a transfer to the town of Pachar. At the trailhead, set off on an easy, hour-long hike to Ollantaytambo, passing local farms and traditional mud-brick houses. Once in Ollantaytambo, you'll visit well-preserved ruins, including ancient canals and Inca-era homes. Then, hike up the hillside agricultural terraces to enjoy sweeping views of the valley and surrounding towns.

Afterward, dive deeper into Andean culture in a cooking workshop. This 1.5-hour experience focuses on the practice of Pachamanca, which means Earth Pot. It's an ancient cooking technique that involves preparing food underground using leaves and preheated stones. After a welcome cocktail, learn about the history of Pachamanca as your local instructor prepares a few traditional dishes. At the end of the demo, everyone will sit down to a meal featuring Andean staples like potatoes, aromatic herbs, and lamb.

Day 9: Train to Aguas Calientes, Visit Machu Picchu, Train to Cusco

Take a tour of the UNESCO-listed Machu Picchu for a once-in-a-lifetime experience

All aboard the exclusive Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu! This luxury Belmond train departs from the station right by your hotel in the Sacred Valley and is decked out with Art Deco cars with gleaming wood-panel interiors and brass finishes, evoking the 1920s Orient Express. During the 3.5-hour relaxing ride, you'll enjoy first-class service as you marvel at views of the Urubamba River and Andes peaks through the windows. You can spend the journey in the train's observatory bar car, sipping a smart cocktail like a pisco sour before sitting down to a gourmet three-course lunch.

Your destination is the town of Aguas Calientes. This is the main hub for excursions up the mountain to the UNESCO-listed Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Upon arrival, you'll board a bus for the 25-minute ride up the mountain to Machu Picchu at 7,970 feet (2,430 m), which dates to around 1450 CE.

During a tour led by an expert guide, you'll hike around the complex and visit its famous landmarks, including astronomical/ritual stone structures like the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon. Many landmarks, like the Sacred Plaza and Inca Bridge, showcase the Incas' architectural prowess. The agricultural terraces are also impressive, demonstrating the Incas' skill at cultivating crops on steep hillsides. After the tour, you'll return to the terminal and board a train for the four-hour ride back to Cusco, where you'll check back into the Belmond Palacio Nazarenas.

Day 10: Day Trip to Sacsayhuamán & City Tour, Dinner at MAP Café

Learn how Sacsayhuamán was an intimidating defense structure during Inca times

Machu Picchu is just one of many famous archaeological sites throughout Peru. This morning, you'll meet a local guide and transfer 2.5 miles (4 km) outside the city to Sacsayhuamán. This former Inca religious center and military complex is a marvel of ancient architecture—a monolithic fortress built from giant limestone blocks. Even to this day, the exact century of its construction remains a mystery. After exploring Sacsayhuamán's vast terraces and high walls, you'll hike down an ancient Inca road back to Cusco, passing through small villages with excellent countryside views.

The route will lead you to Cusco's bohemian neighborhood of San Blas, with its cobbled streets and artisan workshops. Nearby is the historic city center, where you'll visit iconic landmarks like the Plaza de Armas and Qoricancha (Temple of the Sun). During Inca reign in the 15th century, this was Cusco's religious and political center. From here, walk down Hatunrumiyoc Street and admire the ancient Inca walls, particularly the 12-Angle Stone, so named because its dozen angles fit perfectly in the surrounding stones. It's a shining example of the ancient Incas' stonemasonry prowess. 

In the evening, you'll sit down for a very special dinner at MAP Café. One of the most dazzling culinary experiences in the city, this restaurant is inside the Pre-Columbian Art Museum, surrounded by an impressive collection of pre-Columbian artifacts and artwork. Over a couple of hours, you'll enjoy a seven-course tasting menu highlighting the best of Peru and paired with fine wines sourced both locally and internationally. Famous dishes here include ceviche, quinoa risotto, and MAP Café's take on the classic Peruvian stir-fry dish, lomo saltado.

Day 11: Fly to Lima, Transfer to Paracas & Horseback Riding

Enjoy the serenity of Paracas' coastal cliffs and desert beaches

Say goodbye to the Andes, as this morning, you'll take the popular hour-long flight from Cusco back to Lima. At the airport, a driver will pick you up for the 3-4-hour ride down the Pan American Highway to Paracas. It's a scenic drive that follows along the gorgeous Pacific coast. Plus, there will be a stop on the way at a local ranch to visit the stables of a local breeder who raises Peruvian Pasos, the famous breed of light saddle horse.

After a brisk horseback ride, you'll continue on to Paracas, a resort area in the secluded coastal deserts of central Peru. Famous for its golden sands fronting turquoise waters, Paracas is also rich in biodiversity, as the offshore Ballestas Islands are known as the "Galápagos of Peru," home to thousands of seabirds, including Humboldt penguins, pelicans, and boobies, as well as colonies of sea lions and fur seals. Also here is Paracas National Reserve, a protected area known for its dramatic desert landscapes, pristine beaches, and diverse wildlife.

As it happens, you'll be staying right next to this protected area at Hotel Paracas. Located on the water, this beach resort has its own private jetty used to run boat tours into the reserve. As for amenities, the resort features multiple pools surrounded by lush gardens and a spa & wellness center. Plus, all its suites all offer jaw-dropping views of the Pacific coastline and offshore islands. 

Day 12: Day Trip to the Ballestas Islands, Pisco Distillery Tour

Look for fur seals and other wildlife during your speedboat ride

Indulge your inner naturalist on a half-day adventure to the Ballestas Islands. The speedboat leaves in the morning right from your hotel pier, and from there, you'll zip across the water on a quick trip to the "Galápagos of Peru." As you cruise around the Ballestas' three main islands, you'll observe exotic marine life and avian species such as sea lions, penguins, marine iguanas, Inca terns, Peruvian boobies, oystercatchers, and more. Keep your camera ready, as you'll have plenty of opportunities to snap epic shots of the area's wildlife in its natural habitat.

Throughout the trip, your knowledgeable guide will impart fascinating information about the islands and their resident wildlife. You'll learn all about the history of the Ballestas Islands, their geological formation, and the importance of protecting this biodiversity hotspot. The boat will also pass by The Chandelier, a mysterious geoglyph etched into the surface of a hill. The Chandelier is visible only from the sea, and its purpose and origin remain a mystery to this day.

After returning to the pier, you'll transfer by vehicle inland to La Caravedo. This distillery produces pisco, the grape brandy regarded as Peru's national spirit. Morever, it's the oldest such distillery in the nation, dating to the 17th century. On a tour of the vineyards and production facilities, you'll enjoy a tasting of the top five piscos produced on-site. Capping the tour is a traditional lunch, after which you'll return to your hotel.

Day 13: Visit a Scallop Farm, Ride Dune Buggies, Sunset Picnic

Picnic Sunset Desert Adventure
Finish your adventure in Peru with a sunset picnic right on the dunes

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast followed by some relaxation by the pool or perhaps a kayak ride or standup paddleboarding session along the coast. Around midday, you'll meet a local guide, hop in a vehicle, and transfer to Paracas National Reserve. During this outing, you'll stop at prime viewpoints to snap photos of secluded beaches where rocky desert cliffs collide with the Pacific Ocean. For lunch, you'll visit a nearby restaurant and scallop farm. Not only will you sample some of the best (and freshest) shellfish anywhere, but you'll also tour the operation and learn all about the process of scallop farming.

Afterward, return to your hotel for a bit of free time in the afternoon. A little later, you'll meet another guide for the 30-minute ride inland, where the coastal cliffs give way to huge rolling dunes. Upon arrival at this "California Desert," you'll meet a team of expert desert drivers and trade your regular vehicle for a dune buggy. After loading sandboards into the buggy, you'll set off on a thrilling ride up and over the dunes like you're on an arid rollercoaster.

Along the way, your team will stop at the best spots to carve sand on the board. Then, just before sunset, you'll transfer to a special lookout point on the dunes, throw down a blanket, and enjoy a picnic and sundowner glasses of wine as the last rays of light gild the Peruvian coast, punctuating your time in this ancient and beautiful country. After the sunset, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 14: Transfer to Lima, Depart

Enjoy the last few hours of your oceanside hotel (photo courtesy of Hotel Paracas)
It's been a wild two weeks in Peru, but now it's time to make the journey home. Your driver will pick you up in the morning at your hotel in Paracas for the pleasant three-hour drive up the coast to Lima. You'll arrive just in time to catch your departing flight. Until next time!

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