Thumbnail Description: On this week-long tour of the “Land of Hidden Treasures,” you will experience everything from Peru’s capital city of Lima (the “City of Kings”), to the enigmatic Nazca Lines, the Galapagos-like Ballestas Islands, colonial Cusco and finally the Machu Picchu citadel. In Lima, you will experience an unbeatable blend of ancient and modern: visiting ancient Inca archeological sites, colonial-era gems like the Cathedral, and upscale modern districts such as Miraflores and San Isidro. Traveling to the arid Nazca region, you will then be able to witness, marvel and contemplate the huge representations of geometric patterns, animals, human figures and thousands of perfectly straight lines that go on for kilometers. Heading on to the Ballestas Islands, that group of rocky islands located off the Pacific coast near the town of Paracas, you will motorboat out to what have been dubbed the “Poor Man´s Galapagos,” as these islands too are home to thousands of birds and mammals – including penguins, sea lions, Inca terns and pelicans. A completely different destination will then await you in the ancient and colonial city of Cusco. Still referred to as the “Sacred City of the Incas,” you will discover Inca walls in the streets of this urbane center that is cosmopolitan to the extreme – as you’ll note through the grand variety of restaurants and shops – while brimming with fine colonial plazas, splendid churches and striking republican architecture. Finally, you will complete this pilgrimage with your journey to the citadel of Machu Picchu – the Holy Grail of world travelers. After visiting the enigmatic lost city of Machu Picchu, the most famous archaeological site in all of South America, you will be set to return home with a new perspective on humanity and yourself.
“We had a great time in the jungle. Our experience was amazing. Can’t wait to tell you more about it.”
AM: Upon your arrival at the Lima airport, a host will meet you and drive you to your hotel.
PM: In the afternoon, we will begin our tour of Lima with a visit to the famous Parque del amor (“Love Park”) situated in the upmarket Miraflores district; this area also has a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. Afterwards, we will visit Huaca Pucllana, an archeological site constructed in the 4th century A.D. Here, you can observe the world famous pyramid structures, typical of the pre-Columbian epoch, situated off the coast of Peru. Then we will visit the traditional residential area of San Isidro, where the scenic El Olivar Park is located. The tour will then continue with a visit to Lima’s historic district, with its striking republican architecture and colonial-era mansions with their Moorish balconies. We will enter the San Francisco convent, which houses the largest display of colonial religious art in the Americas, and also visit its subterranean crypts, which are considered catacombs by some due to their similarity to the Roman catacombs. After this, we will visit the Main Square, the Archiepiscopal Palace, the Cathedral and the Municipal Palace. Afterwards, you will be taken back to your hotel, where you will spend the night.
AM: Following breakfast at your hotel, you will be driven to the bus station to begin your scenic trip to the town of Nazca, situated to the south of Lima.
PM: Upon our arrival, you will be welcomed and driven to your hotel for the night.
AM: After breakfast at your hotel, you will be driven to the aerodrome to board a light aircraft and fly over the mysterious Nazca Lines. Also known as “geoglyphs,” these gigantic geometrical figures consist of outlines of animals, plants, objects, human beings and deities. The immense lines and drawings that are found in Nazca are one of the most inexplicable enigmas of our continent’s archeology. Your pilot will provide a short explanation.
PM: This afternoon, you will travel by bus to the coastal town of Paracas, where you will be welcomed and driven to your selected hotel.
AM: After an early breakfast at your hotel, you will board a motorboat for a marine excursion to the Ballestas Islands. During this extraordinary adventure, you will view the famous “Candelabro,” an enigmatic design in a hill of sand that faces the Nazca plain. Once you land on the islands, you will enjoy the marine wildlife refuge, as the Ballestas Islands are inhabited by sea lions and a variety of birds that survive off of the abundant marine life of the Pacific Ocean. This will be an opportunity for you to get in tune with nature as you listen to the diverse sounds of the area’s sea lions and birds – particularly the Humboldt penguins, the only species of penguin that inhabits Peru. Later you will return to the wharf.
PM: During the afternoon, you will head out by bus to Lima. Upon your arrival, you will be met and driven to your selected hotel.
AM: Following breakfast at your hotel in Lima, you will be driven to the airport for your flight to the city of Cusco. Upon landing, you will be met and driven to your selected hotel, where you will be welcomed with a traditional mate de coca, a typical infusion that helps one to the city’s high altitude. The rest of the morning will be at your leisure, giving you time to rest or explore.
PM: This afternoon, we will go on a tour of imperial Cusco, visiting some of the best archeological remains of Inca times in areas in and around the city. We will visit sites such as Qoricancha, “the Temple of the Sun”; the Sacsayhuaman temple and fortress; Qenqo, with its passageways and canals; Puca Pucará, an Inca storehouse; and Tambomachay, the place of the water rituals. Returning to Cusco, you will also have a chance to visit some great colonial sites, such as the Cathedral, which is famous for its baroque style with inlaid gold and silver.
AM: After breakfast at your hotel, you will be accompanied to the Ollantaytambo train station, where trains depart for Machu Picchu City (a.k.a. “Aguas Calientes”). After a two-hour trip, we will head to the bus station for a 30-minute ride up the mountain to reach the entry of the fabulous citadel of Machu Picchu. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the “Seven New Wonders of the World,” we will begin our tour of this citadel, admiring its steps, temples, sanctuaries and terraces. There is still no known explanation as to how the Incas could move 20-ton stones to the top of Machu Picchu, making this a uniquely spiritual as well as a beautiful site.
PM: We will then have lunch and return to Cusco in the afternoon.
AM: Following breakfast at your hotel, you will be driven to airport in Cusco for your return flight to Lima.
“The trip to the Galapagos was really fantastic! Although it was quite short, the trip itinerary made time for us to do quite a lot of things. Everything went very smoothly, too.”