Arrive to Lima on the flight of your choice today. After picking up your luggage and clearing customs, walk across the street to the comfortable and conveniently located Ramada Costa del Sol Hotel. Settle into your room and rest up for your Peru travel ahead, including ancient ruins, local markets and the beautiful Andes Mountains!
We suggest taking an early morning flight from Lima to Cusco today so that you will be able to explore the wonders of the San Pedro Market. San Pedro is Cusco's largest open market. Explore with your guide as you peruse the stalls and discuss the ingredients that have comprised the traditional Peruvian cuisine as well as the local produce that remains a staple of Novoandina cuisine. Fill up the shopping bag and make your way to A Mi Manera Restaurant that specializes in platos tipicos from the Andean highlands as well as creative dishes. Here you will actually go into the kitchen for a cooking demonstration and help prepare your own lunch with the help of some of Cusco's finest chefs. Sit back and enjoy your beautiful and delicious creations! To learn more about traditional dishes and view Peruvian recipes before your Peru vacations begin click here.
After lunch, it's off to explore the city! Andean history comes alive in Cusco. Quechua speaking descendants of the Incas fill the streets and markets, colonial churches sit atop bases of smooth stonework laid centuries before the Conquistadors, and campesinos (Peru's rural farmers) in colorful dress move busily back and forth across the plazas. Explore the main sites and sounds of Cusco with your guide this afternoon.
The day begins with a visit to Chinchero, a typical Andean village known to the Incas as the birthplace of the rainbow. There is a beautiful combination of Inca ruins, a colonial church, traditional market (main market day is Sunday), and mountain landscapes. Visit the education facility in Chinchero for the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, a local organization committed to preserving the region's weaving traditions. Watch weavers demonstrate their craft and learn about the history and processes of Peru's most well-known art form. Take a short walk through the countryside to the seldom-visited town of Maras and its pre-Columbian salt mines (still in use today with salt being collected in traditional fashion) as well as the Inca agricultural terraces of Moray, thought to have been a nursery to experiment with and modify different varieties of crops. Optional: Contact us about having lunch in Moray at the Parador de Moray, a restaurant boasting views of the Moray Inca site and an exciting menu.
This afternoon, we will have lunch at a local restaurant and taste the campesino dishes and ingredients that have contributed to the rise of Peruvian's cuisine. This experience will provide insight on how the Incas prepared food and the stories behind the traditional dishes. You will learn about the sustainable agricultural practices that have transcended generations, and the combination of flavorful, natural, and healthy ingredients that are found in the Andean highlands. We also have the chance to taste chicha and see how this ancient drink is made. Chicha is a fermented beverage made from corn, barley, and berries of the pepper tree, and it comes in both alcoholic (similar to beer) and non-alcoholic forms (chicha morada), Schinus molle. Chicha was an important part of many rituals feasts and daily consumption and is still an influential part of today's local traditions and customs.
Eventually, you will make your way to the living Inca city of Ollantaytambo where you can relax for the evening.
This morning, you will travel to Urubamba where you will meet with a local family to make the most sacred of traditional Peruvian cuisine: Pachamanca. Pachamanca is a dish based on the baking of lamb, pork, chicken or guinea pig, marinated in spices. The dish is baked under the earth with the aid of hot stones (the earthen oven is known as a huatia). Pachamanca is based on two Quechua roots: "pacha" and "manca" meaning "earthen pot". This meal has existed since the time of the Inca Empire and has evolved over time.
After meeting with the family, you will travel to the Urubamba Market. Here, you will purchase all of the ingredients to make Pachamanca and get to see the sights and sounds of this truly local market. Return to the house in the country-side to partake in making this sacred meal. While the baking is being done, travel to nearby Wayna Capac ruins to do some exploring and return to the home for a pisco sour and today's highlight: Pachamanca!
In the morning, visit the ruins and town of Ollantaytambo. During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo served as a royal estate and later a refuge after the Spanish conquered Cusco in 1537. The ruins feature expansive terraces and well-preserved architecture, and the town is still laid out as it was during the Incan empire, allowing its visitors to glimpse the history which still exists within its boundaries.
Follow the Urubamba River as it tumbles its way towards the Amazon and the sacred city of Machu Picchu. Ancient canals still bring water from the high mountains to the baths used by Inca priests. As visitors, you're welcomed to respectfully dip your hands in the cool water. After your tour of Machu Picchu, you'll return to Machu Picchu Pueblo (formerly called Aguas Calientes) for dinner. Your guide will give you some good recommendations for tonight!
Today is your chance to watch the sunrise at Machu Picchu and to listen to the spirits of the city's past inhabitants before the hikers from the Inca Trail arrive. You can choose to book a permit to climb the sacred peak of Huayna Picchu, hike to the Sun Gate which overlooks the ruins or take a walk through the lush cloudforest to the Temple of the Moon. Enjoy an included lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge, near the Machu Picchu Ruins. In the afternoon, you'll return by train to Cusco with your guide. (Let us know if you would like help arranging entrance fees or hiking permits for today – these are not included and sell out in advance!)
This morning you will fly to Lima where you will be met by your guide to explore the colonial section of Lima, the City of Kings. Visit Lima's principal attractions such as the colonial area's Plaza de Armas with the Government Plaza, the Cathedral of Santa Domingo, San Francisco Convent, and the Archbishop's Palace. A short distance away by car is the Museo Larco Herrera, a private museum situated in an 18th century mansion that was built on an archeological site. The most extensive private collection of pre-Columbian art in Peru is on display. See more than 45,000 ceramic pieces, making it one of the largest ceramic collections in the world, and enjoy a superb variety of fine weavings and textiles.
After free time for lunch, you will meet back up with your guide for the afternoon to explore Lima as you wish. Your guide can give you recommendations on neighborhoods to visit (like Barranco or Miraflores), taverns to taste Pisco Sours (such Queirolo Tavern in Pueblo Libre), and where to dine in the evening. Lima is known for its fusion cuisine of Andean, Asian, and rainforest ingredients. A traveler favorite is Huaca Pucllana, an adobe pyramid built in 400 AD that served as a ceremonial and administrative center due to its proximity to fertile agricultural land and the bounty of the ocean, a great combination that maintains a place in modern Peruvian cuisine.
With more time, extend your Peru tours to include Lake Titicaca, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Nazca, Pisco, or the Amazon!
We thought long and hard about including meals for the culinary tour but decided that we wanted to promote flexibility for our travelers to choose their restaurants and menu items. For that reason, some lunches and most dinners are not included. The establishments listed in the itinerary are great recommendations, and the guide will help personalize your experience and discuss the various options based on your preferences so that you can have a taste of Peru! Learn more about Peruvian cuisine and recipes for dishes you can experience in Peru by clicking here to read this article.