DAY 1: LIMA
From 7 p.m., join the 4-star LS hotel for diner. Overnight at the hotel.
DAY 2: LIMA
Lima was founded by Pizarro on January 5, 1535, the evening before the feast of Epiphany. Its original name was "Ciudad de los Reyes” (City of the Kings). You will discover the country’s capital, which includes a historic center, many museums, and numerous colonial structures. It has a very rich architectural heritage. Its historic center was even classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll visit the cathedral and the Monastery of San Francisco, a jewel of colonial Lima. The highlights of the city’s historic heart are the Government Palace done in a French baroque style, the Archbishop's Palace, the town hall, and the Club de la Unión. We’ll have lunch in the city before taking a stroll through Lima's center to see the Plaza Mayor, Plaza Saint-Martin, and the Central Market. After our tour, we’ll return to the hotel for dinner and the night.
DAY 3: LIMA - TRUJILLO
At Plaza Bolivar, you will visit the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History. This is one of the most fascinating museums in all of South America due to its extraordinary collection of ceramics, fabrics, and goldsmith work from Incan and Peruvian cultures. There are also examples of colorful Nazca pottery and objects in gold and silver from the Chimú period. We’ll then visit the Larco Museum, which houses a collection of 45,000 ceramic pieces, mostly from the Moche culture. Archaeologist Don Rafael Larco Hoyle put this collection together. We’ll enjoy lunch in the top-notch museum restaurant. You’ll then be transferred to the airport to fly to Trujillo. Once you arrive at the end of the afternoon, you’ll check into a 4-star LS hotel and have dinner.
DAY 4: TRUJILLO
We’ll leave for a tour of the Huaca del Sol and the Huaca de la Luna, both built by the Moche people. Moche society was a sophisticated, agriculturally based culture which flourished in northern Peru from about 100 AD to 800 AD. The Huaca sites have yielded immense archaeological information about this civilization. The stunning Huaca del Sol (Temple of the Sun) is the largest adobe structure in South America and easily the most impressive of the many pyramids on the Peruvian coast. The smaller Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon) is more complex and brilliantly frescoed. We’ll enjoy lunch before visiting Chan Chan, the largest Pre-Columbian city in South America and the capital of the ancient Chimor Empire from 900 AD to 1470 AD until it was defeated and incorporated into the Inca Empire. The capital consisted of 10 walled citadels, housed an estimated 60,000 inhabitants and contained a vast wealth of gold, silver and ceramics. After our tour, we’ll return to the hotel for dinner and the night.
DAY 5: TRUJILLO - CHICLAYO
We’ll take the Pan-American Highway along the Pacific Coast towards Chiclayo. Our first stop will be the El Brujo Archaeological Complex. Although it might not look like much from the outside, these ruins house historical archaeological treasures. The complex contains the famous Cao Viejo and Huaca Cortada pyramids. The discovery of the Lady of Cao, a female Moche mummy, had the biggest impact on the El Brujo complex. Visitors can tour both the burial chamber and the museum, where the Cao mummy is displayed along with the many precious artifacts that were found buried with it. We’ll enjoy lunch at a seaside restaurant before spending the afternoon at the Royal Tombs of Sipán Museum. Considered to be one of the most important archaeological discoveries in South America in the last 30 years, the main tomb of the Lord of Sipán was found intact and untouched by thieves. The museum contains most of the important artifacts found at Huaca Rajada, including the Lord of Sipán and his entourage. We’ll have dinner and spend the night at a 4-star LS hotel.
DAY 6: CHICLAYO - TUCUME
We’ll begin the day with a visit to the Chiclayo market, full of esoteric products. It’s a fascinating window into life in this part of the world, and the herbalist shops sell everything from herbs and charms to whale bones and hallucinogenic cacti. We’ll then cross the once-colonial city of Lambayeque before arriving in Ferreñafe for a visit to the Sican National Museum. We’ll have lunch and explore Tucume in the afternoon. There are at least 26 pyramids, along with enclosures and mounds, in the 540 acres of the area. Local shaman healers invoke power of Tucume and La Raya Mountain in their rituals, and local people fear these sites. Although once a major regional center, the area is now referred to as Purgatorio (purgatory) by Peruvians. We’ll have dinner and spend the night at the hotel.
DAY 7: CHICLAYO - IQUITOS
This morning, you’ll be transferred to the airport to catch a flight to Lima. Upon arrival in Lima, we’ll set out to discover the port of El Callao located in a peculiar district with ancient houses and a decidedly vibrant and faraway feel. We’ll visit the Real Felipe Fortress and enjoy a lunch of seafood before flying from Lima to Iquitos. You’ll be transferred to the port to board the ZAFIRO 5-star ship LS (or similar ship) and settle comfortably in your cabins. We’ll have dinner and spend the night on board.
DAY 8: MARANON RIVER - PACAYA-SAMIRIA National Reserve
The morning will start with an excursion in small boats on the Amazon River. You’ll have your first glimpse of the wildlife and exuberant nature that makes its home between the Ucayali and Maranon Rivers, which come together to form the Amazon River. We’ll have lunch on board. In the afternoon, we’ll cruise to the heart of the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. The reserve is the second biggest protected natural area in Peru, and one of the best spots for nature tourism lovers. We’ll have dinner and spend the night on board.
DAY 9: YANAYACU and PUCATE RIVERS - SAN JACINTO
This morning, we’ll leave for a trip on the Yanayacu and Pucate Rivers to a protected natural reserve. Our guide will show us the tremendous biodiversity in this bird-filled area. If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the boto, a freshwater river dolphin. We’ll have lunch on board. This afternoon, we’ll walk to the Laguna San Jacinto, known in the area for its vast diversity of plants—especially medicinal ones. Here, you'll learn how traditional medicine healing has been passed down from generation to generation. We’ll then return on board to cruise through some of the most magnificent scenery in the world. At nightfall, you’ll find yourself in the heart of an evening cacophony as the jungle noises begin to emerge. Join us for a nighttime boat ride to observe the jungle in the dark. With a bit of luck, we’ll spot one of the caimans that populate this incredible forest or maybe a huge tarantula web. We’ll have dinner and spend the night on board.
DAY 10: SAMIRIA RIVER - SAN MARTIN
This morning, we’ll explore the Samiria River and its tributaries in small boats. We’ll be able to observe kingfishers and toucans as we glide through the marshes, brooks and abandoned channels. We’ll also certainly run across fishing boats busily carrying out their daily activities. After our tour, we’ll have lunch on board. This afternoon we’ll visit San Martin, one of the many provinces in the Amazon rainforest. This will be a great opportunity to meet the native population and learn about their way of life. We’ll have dinner and spend the night on board.
DAY 11: NAUTA - IQUITOS - LIMA - CUSCO - YUCAY
In the morning, you’ll disembark and be transferred to the airport for a flight to Cusco (with stopover in Lima). On arrival, you’ll leave by coach for the Sacred Valley of the Incas. You’ll get to take in the Andean countryside, the colorful villages, and the terraced crops. We’ll first stop at Awanakancha, a traditional textile artisan center. Here, you can admire intricate textiles made of lama and alpaca wool. We’ll then continue on winding roads through the Urubamba Valley and stop at Písac. There will be a panoramic tour of this village, reputed for fishing spots, a Sunday market, and the ruins overlooking it. From here, you will go on to the small village of Yucay at the valley’s center. We’ll have dinner and spend the night at the hotel.
DAY 12: YUCAY - MARAS SALT PONDS - OLLANTAYTAMBO - YUCAY
We'll start the day by visiting a pre-school in Yucay and meeting the village students and teachers. Our next stop will be the Maras salt ponds. Used since the Inca times, these thousands of uneven, square-shaped ponds collect water for harvesting salt. They are set into the mountainsides, and today, 800 families live off of the 200 tons of salt produced each year. We’ll enjoy lunch and then take to the road for Ollantaytambo, where the Inca’s city planning is evident in the street layout, plazas, and foundations of homes. You will explore the fortress, left unfinished when the Spanish arrived. It protected the entrance to the Sacred Valley and the Sun Temple. You will enter the fortress by climbing a steep rock staircase. You will then reach the Enclosure of the Ten Niches and the Sun Temple made of six enormous rectangular monoliths towering over the village. We’ll have dinner and spend the night at the hotel.
DAY 13: YUCAY - OLLANTAYTAMBO - AGUAS CALIENTES - MACHU PICCHU
You'll be transferred this morning to the Ollantaytambo train station to take a panoramic train ride to Aguas Calientes. The Vistadome train will take you to the foot of Machu Picchu by crossing through stunning landscapes. We’ll have lunch in Aguas Calientes. Afterwards, we’ll take a small bus to Machu Picchu’s entrance. This structure was abandoned after the collapse of the Incan empire. It was forgotten for centuries, but today, this 15th-century city will reveal its secrets to you. Seven thousand feet above sea level and perched between mountain cliffs, the structure was re-discovered in 1911. We'll return to Aguas Calientes in a small bus. We’ll have dinner and spend the night at a hotel in Aguas Calientes.
DAY 14: AGUAS CALIENTES - CHINCHERO - CUSCO
You'll be transferred this morning to the Aguas Calientes train station to journey through the Urubamba Valley. After arriving in Ollantaytambo, we’ll stroll through the magnificent village of Chinchero and sample a few of the country’s large variety of potatoes. We’ll have lunch in a local restaurant. On our return trip, we’ll visit the archaeological site of Quenco which contains an amphitheater and a 16-foot-tall monolith representing a puma. Next, we will see the awe-inspiring Sacsayhuaman fortress. At its best, the citadel included three enormous towers and a labyrinth of rooms that could house 5,000 soldiers. Intended to only be defensive, this military complex was made of massive blocks of stone that form a double rampart in a zigzag pattern reminiscent of a puma’s teeth (a sacred animal to the Incas). After our tours, we’ll arrive in Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire and the most beautiful city outside of Spain according to the conquistadors. With mountains on all sides, the city is set at an altitude of 11,000 feet. We’ll have dinner and spend the night at a hotel in Cusco.
DAY 15: CUSCO
We'll start the day with a stroll through San Pedro market. In Cusco, conquistadors started building structures after putting aside their weapons. They left a rich heritage of stunning works of art to future generations, including the famous Plaza de Armas. Legend has it that Manco Capac’s golden staff sank into the ground here, indicating where to found this sacred city. This magnificent plaza is surrounded by colonial arcades. It was the setting for many important events in Peru's history. The cathedral was built on the foundation of Viracocha Inka’s ancient palace. It was created in the shape of a Latin cross in red andesite. Its Renaissance-style exterior contrasts with the Baroque- and Plateresque-style interior. We’ll then continue on to the Coricancha Temple, or “Sun Temple,” the most important temple in the Inca Empire. Today, the site includes the Convent of Santo Domingo, too. We’ll have lunch in the city. Enjoy some free time in the city this afternoon, where maybe you’ll be lucky enough to run into one of the many annual processions. . We’ll have dinner and spend the night at a hotel.
DAY 16: CUSCO - PUNO - LAKE TITICACA
This morning, we'll leave by coach for Puno. We’ll first visit Andahuaylillas, a small town featuring an incredible church from the colonial period. Built by the Jesuits in the 17th century, the church is nicknamed the "Sistine Chapel of the Andes." We’ll have lunch on the road. We’ll then continue on to the Raqch'I archeological site, dedicated to the Inca creator of the world: the god Wiracocha. It is one of the rare two-storied relics of Incan architecture. It used to be 300 feet long and 50 feet high, making it easily the most immense covered building made by the civilization. We’ll travel through amazing Andean landscapes along Peru’s Altiplano. We’ll stop for a photo op at the Abra la Raya pass (13,780 feet in altitude) and contemplate the snow-capped Andes Mountains. Next, we’ll arrive in Puno, the capital of the region, located on the shores of the legendary Lake Titicaca. This town sits at an altitude of over 12,000 feet. The tremendous lake is said to be the highest in the world and has mysterious origins. It is the birthplace of Incan culture, and it contains a multitude of floating islands. We’ll have dinner and spend the night at the hotel in Puno.
DAY 17: LAKE TITICACA - UROS FLOATING ISLANDS - SILLUSTANI - PUNO
We'll leave by boat in the morning for a full-day excursion on Lake Titicaca. We’ll visit the floating islands which are inhabited by Uros Indians. Their way of life and traditions are fascinating. They live on islands made of living reeds that float around the lake. Legend has it that the natives were forced to take up residence here by Incan emperors exploiting them. We’ll boat around the islands, meet some of the local inhabitants and participate in their daily activities. You’ll be able to help pull in the fishing nets, try your hand at building with reeds, and even learn to embroider. We’ll enjoy lunch with a local family. After our trip, we’ll return to Puno by boat, stopping off for a quick visit of Sillustani, a pre-Incan burial ground on the shores of Lake Umayo. The “Chullpas” of Sillustani are imposing circular towers, which served as tombs for nobles from the pre-Incan era. At an altitude of 13,000 feet, they are set in a stunning highland landscape among the mountains bordering the lake. We’ll have dinner and spend the night at the hotel in Puno.
DAY 18: PUNO
Breakfast will be served at the hotel this morning. At the hotel in Puno, end of our services. For your information, the nearest airport to Puno is located in Juliaca (at about 45minutes - transfer not included).