Irresistible Peru (9n/10d)

Lake Titicaca, nestled high in the Andes

Lake Titicaca, nestled high in the Andes

Day 1: Arrival in Lima
Upon arriving in the city of Lima, you will be welcomed by one of our representatives, who will give you a brief introduction to the city and to our services while en route to the hotel. You will have the afternoon free

Day 2: Lima city tour
At the scheduled time, you will be picked up at the hotel to begin a tour of the city’s main avenues, boulevards, and squares. The tour will begin with an exploration of Colonial Lima. First, you will stop off at the Plaza de Armas (Main Square). There, you will explore the square by foot and admire the exteriors of the Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace), the Cathedral of Lima, and the Municipalidad (City Hall), all examples of Lima’s still-present colonial architectural opulence. Afterwards, you will visit La Casa Aliaga, a colonial mansion that currently holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously inhabited private residence in the Southern Hemisphere. Next, you will make your way to the Convento de Santo Domingo (Santo Domingo Convent), a religious and architectural gem that houses holy paintings, images, and relics of Peruvian saints, as well as written accounts of the endeavors of the Dominican Order across the country. Finally, you will leave behind Lima’s Historic Center and begin your journey through the streets of modern Lima as you head toward the most traditional of the residential zones of the capital: San Isidro and Miraflores. In San Isidro, you will pass through the heart of the city’s financial district and then enjoy a panoramic view of the Huaca Hullamarca Pyramid, an important pre-Inca and Incan ceremonial center and cemetery built out of adobe mud bricks. Soon afterwards, you will travel to the district of Miraflores, a perfect spot to enjoy wonderful views of the Pacific Ocean. You will complete your tour of Lima with a visit to the Bohemian neighborhood of Barranco, a neighborhood called home by countless artists, photographers, and authors. Walk along peculiar streets lined with Republican houses, admire the splendid views, and visit the Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs), witness to untold numbers of past and present romances, and source of inspiration for one of Peru’s great composers, Chabuca Granda. Remaining day at leisure.

Day 3: Flight Lima – Arequipa and city tour
At the scheduled departure time, you will be met by the transport service and escorted to the airport to board the flight to Arequipa. Upon your arrival, you will be welcomed by one of our representatives, who will give you a brief introduction to the city and to our services en route to the hotel. Fiercely guarded by three volcanoes the Misti, the Chachani, and the Pichu Pichu the magnificent Ciudad Blanca (White City) awaits you with its extraordinary architecture and surreal landscapes. Discover one of Peru’s most beautiful colonial cities. You will begin your tour with a visit to the Convento de Santa Catalina (Convent of St. Catherine). Founded in 1579 as a cloister, in its early days the convent was home to a small group of clergy who came from the local elite. Walk through its beautiful buildings as your guide takes you on a journey back in time through one of the largest holdings of colonial art in the Americas.  The tour of the city will continue as you visit the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús (Church of the Society of Jesus). With its imposing size and fascinating appearance, this magnificent church will take your breath away. Be sure to pay special attention to the Baroque façade and the amazing sacristy, meticulously decorated with vividly-colored murals. After finishing your tour of the church, you will move on to the Mirador del Carmen (a natural lookout point), ten minutes from the city center. From there you will be able to enjoy a spectacular view of the Chili River Valley and of the majestic Misti. Next, you will stop off in the upscale neighborhood of Yanahuara and get a chance to walk along its wide cobblestone avenues and see its old ashlar stone mansions, which still preserve their traditional gardens. You will also be able to admire a beautiful church constructed in 1750 and a quaint plaza with a gorgeous ashlar stone lookout balcony.  You will have the rest of the day free.

Day 4: Road trip from Arequipa to Puno
We will depart early in the morning on a breathtaking journey of approximately six hours, through the most unique landscapes of the Altiplano. After arriving in Puno, you will have the rest of the day to yourself, in order to rest and adapt to the change in altitude.

Day 5: Uros & Taquile Island excursion
This day, you will enjoy an extraordinary journey across the world’s highest navigable lake, Lake Titicaca. Travel to legendary places where time seems to have stood still. Your first stop will be the Uros floating islands. These are a peculiar grouping of around 40 small islands made totally of totora, a natural reed that grows around the lake. The cheerful inhabitants will invite you to get to know their traditional lifestyle and customs. You will continue your voyage across the placid waters of the lake until you come to the picturesque island of Taquile, a peaceful place where old Quechua traditions live in perfect balance with modernity. Discover a landscape distinct from the other islands thanks to the Incan terraces filled with local flowers and crops. The rich colors of the clothing worn by the local inhabitants will amaze you; admire their beautiful hand-made fabrics. Most importantly, enjoy the unbelievable hospitality of the islanders, known as Taquileños, who will make your visit to the island a memorable one. Before making your way back to Puno, you will have lunch at a local home.

Day 6: Road trip from Puno to Cusco
Early in the morning we will depart from Puno to Cusco on board a comfortable vehicle, as we enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the Andes. During our trip, we will make a brief stop at Pucará, known as the place where the Toritos (little bulls) of Pucará are made. The famous torito is believed to have magical and religious qualities among the inhabitants of the Andes as a symbol of procreation for the flocks, for happiness in marriage, fertility at home and as protection for the house. We will then cross the La Raya Pass, which lies at 14,222 feet (4,335 meters) above sea level. There we will see herds of vicuñas and llamas. Our following stop is Racchi, one of the most important constructions of the Inca Empire, known for its extraordinary architecture.  Our last stop will be the town of Andahuaylillas, a friendly, warm-weather town which is home to one of the most unique churches in the Andes, known as Peru’s Sistine Chapel. You will be dazzled by the beautifully decorated murals and frescoes covering walls, baseboards, ceilings and façades. Buffet lunch at a country-style restaurant, where we will enjoy the regional cuisine. Overnight in Puno.

Day 7: Cusco city tour
History-filled alleys, churches, walls and archeological treasures await you in the magnificent Incan capital. You will begin your tour as you enjoy the best view of the city of Cusco from atop Cerro Pukamoqo (Red Peak), a natural scenic overlook from which the outstretched arms of Cristo Blanco, a massive white statue of Christ, embrace the city in a benevolent gesture. You will then visit the nearby Fortaleza de Sacsayhuamán (Fortress of Sacsayhuamán), a colossal structure of enormous stones, carved and fitted together with incredible precision. As you return to the lower part of the city, you will stop off at the Mercado de San Pedro (Market of St. Peter), which being the city’s main street market, will give you an opportunity to get to know the products of Cusco, overwhelming you with the sights, aromas, tastes, and colors of the region. Just a few blocks away, you will discover one of the most impressive buildings of Incan Cusco: the Korikancha (the Golden Temple) – a temple dedicated to the worship of the Sun God, whose interior walls were said to have been covered in gold. You will complete the day with a stroll through the Cusco Plaza de Armas (Main Square), where you will visit the Cathedral and admire its exquisite vestibules and priceless paintings from the Cusco School of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Day 8: From Cusco to the Sacred Valley
This morning, we will continue or trip toward Valle Sagrado (Sacred Valley), you will soon reach the must-see stop of Awanakancha. Here, you will learn about the various types of camelids (Llamas, Alpacas, Vicuñas, and Guanacos) that live in the Andes region. Additionally, the local villagers will teach you about the ancestral methods and techniques used to produce their textile art.  A few miles farther along, you will reach Pisac, a beautiful place where Incan and Colonial influences have reached a perfect balance and created the unique way of life of the local inhabitants. You will get a chance to explore this quaint town, famous for its artisan markets where you can find extraordinarily fine jewelry and ceramic and textile craftwork. You will have lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, you will visit one of the last remaining Incan towns, Ollantaytambo, which was once fiercely guarded by a massive fortress. Discover the large archeological complex of what used to serve as a wayside inn for royal delegations on long journeys. Surviving structures here include multiple walls and towers that were used to protect the citadel from possible invasions. Time permitting you will get a chance to mingle with the locals at a typical Peruvian Andes establishment, either at a “chichería” (establishment for the brewing and sale of chicha, the famous traditional Andean drink made of germinated corn) or a bakery with still-functioning traditional ovens. Return to Cusco and overnight.

Day 9: Machu Picchu excursion
This day, you will visit the Santuario Histórico de Machu Picchu (Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu). Aboard a comfortable train, you will depart for the Aguas Calientes train Station, enjoying a spectacular view along the way. Upon arrival, you will transfer to a bus that will take you to the entrance gate of the citadel of Machu Picchu. Rediscovered by Hiram Bingham more than a century ago, Machu Picchu is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Its architectural beauty, spectacular natural landscapes and the energy held in its enigmatic structures will take your breath away. You will follow in the footsteps of the ancient Incans as you explore this magical citadel along with your guide. After the tour, you will stop at a local restaurant for lunch. Time permitting you will be able to head back to the site for a second visit. At the scheduled time, you will be picked up and taken to the Aguas Calientes train Station, where you will board your return train. Upon your arrival at the station just outside of Cusco, a private transfer service will be waiting to take you back to your hotel in the city.

Day 10: Flight Cusco – Lima
At the scheduled departure time, you will be met by the transport service and escorted to the airport or station, as needed.

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