You will be arriving to Lima, Peru, where I will personally welcome you at the airport. From there, we will travel to our accommodations, located in Barranco. Barranco is considered Lima’s most romantic and bohemian areas in the city, being the home of workplace of many of Peru’s leading artists, musicians and designers. After you have settled in, I will take you on a walking tour of the neighborhood, as well as give you an introduction to the city.
On our second day, we will visit the well-preserved historic center of Lima, recognized by UNESCO at a World Heritage Site. Here, I will take you on a walking tour that includes a visit to the Larco Museum, whose private collection shows more than 3000 years of pre-Columbian history. Our day will conclude with a visit to the main pre-Incan ancient temple, Pachacamac. With its impressive pyramidal temples, this enormous sacred site will amaze you.
On our third day, we fly from Lima to the city of Cusco, a city known for its archeological Incan remains and Spanish colonial architecture. From the airport, we will head to our accommodations in San Blas, situated only a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas, Cusco’s main square. San Blas is known as the artisan’s quarter and features charming café views.
Cusco’s altitude is 11,152 feet, so we will plan on taking things slowly, allowing your body and lungs to adjust to the high altitude. A casual walking tour will commence around the historic center. We will plan on calling it an early night, so you can get plenty of rest and wake up ready and well-adjusted for day 4.
We begin our fourth day by visiting Sacsayhuaman, on the northern outskirts of Cusco. Sacsayhuaman, or Saksaywaman as it is known in English, is an Incan fortress that guarded the imperial city and perhaps one of the most impressive Incan infrastructures. Like many Incan sites, its walls are constructed from massive, irregularly shaped boulders that fit seamlessly together. A single boulder is estimated to weigh between 120 to 200 tons. The ruins of Sacsayhuaman predate the Incas themselves. From here, we will visit other important archeological sites, like Quenko, Puca Pucara and Tambomachay. The day’s tour will conclude with a city tour of the historic center of Cusco and its museums.
On day 5, we visit the best of the Incan sacred valleys, beginning in the village of Pisac at the colorful Pisac Market. Open every day, the market is most famous for its Sunday market, where indigenous Quechua communities from the surrounding highlands come to sell their produce and stock up on supplies. From Pisac market, we head to Ollantaytambo, one of the most monumental architectural complexes of the ancient Incan empire. Here we walk through this lively and unique Incan town down narrow cobblestone streets and shadowed by two massive Incan ruins. Our accommodations for the evening will be in Ollantaytambo. This is quite literally the end of the road in the sacred valley and is our last stop before we head to the lost city of Machu Picchu.
On our sixth day, we begin with a train ride to the village of Machu Picchu. This train ride is special, because we begin our journey in the Andes and in just two hours we arrive to the Amazon rainforest. This is the point of departure to ascend by vehicle to the stone city. Machu Picchu stands 7,000 feet, or 2,200 meters, above sea level in the middle of the Amazonian jungle near the Andes Mountains. This is truly an extraordinarily beautiful setting. It was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Incan empire at its height. Its giant walls, terraces and ramps seem as if they were cut naturally into the continuous rock escarpments. Once we finish our exploration of the Machu Picchu sanctuary, we are going to end the day with rest and relaxation at the hot spring pools of the Mountain Jungle. Our accommodation for the evening will be here in the town of Machu Picchu.
On day 7, we continue our adventure through the sacred valley. From Machu Picchu, we take a train back to Ollantaytambo, where we will continue by road to Chincheros, a beautiful Incan village. It’s a place with stunning views, where traditional customs are preserved and celebrated by families in the area. You will witness the ancestral way of weaving that includes the processing of wool and creation of the vivid colors you see in their textiles. After, we will visit Maras, a site of Incan salt mines, where thousands of salt pools line the hillside. West of this is Moray, an Andean village that features the most amazing Andean circular terraces, reminiscent of a Roman amphitheater. Their circular shaped stairs will lead us to the valley floor above. From here, we travel to Cusco where we will spend the evening in the beautiful and artistic center of San Blas.
On day 8, we visit San Pedro, Cusco’s main local market. The market runs the length of about three wide blocks and is filled with unique vendors. Here, you will find aisles upon aisles of fruit, vegetables, food stalls, pastries, juices, herbs, textiles and much more! The selection of local meats is also very impressive and very interesting. Once we conclude our visit to the San Pedro market, you will have the rest of the afternoon free to relax and explore this wonderful UNESCO World Heritage city on your own.
On day 9, we fly back to Lima where we will round out our trip with a visit to another very important archeological site called Huaca Pucllana in Miraflores. Huaca Pullcana has a pyramid that is 25 meters (82 feet) high, situated in a complex of plazas. We will also visit Huaca Mateo Salado, located in the center of Lima. This Huaca is highlighted by 5 truncated pyramids. Lima has over 54 huacas throughout the city, some of them dating back over 4,000 years. The majority of the huacas are located in the middle of modern construction. For the rest of the day, we will walk through the Miraflores boardwalk. This stunning cliff top walk will give us breathtaking views of the Pacific coast.
On our final day, I will be accompanying you to the Lima Airport from where you will be returning home, concluding the end of our Secrets of the Empire tour.