The coast of Northern Peru is home to one of the most archaeologically rich regions in all of the Americas. This area was once home to the empires of Moche, Chimu and Sican - master artisans, celebrated for their metal-work, jewelry and pottery. These impressive empires created adobe metropolitans centuries before succumbing to the Incas in 1470. Visit this area's most important ruins and the museums that shelter their most prized treasures. Then we'll make our way south to colonial Cusco, visit the important Incan ruins of Sacsayhuamán, Pisac and Ollantaytambo, and we spend two days exploring the Lost City of Machu Picchu in this tour. A great off-the-beaten-path Peru holiday!
Visit the Tomb of Sipan, the richest tomb discovered in the Americas
Walk through Chan Chan the ruins of the largest pre-Incan empire, the Chimu
Marvel at the adobe pyramids bulit by the Moche civilization
Finish your tour with a visit to the most iconic ruin in Peru, Machu Picchu
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 Wyndham Costa del Sol Hotel. Settle into your room and rest up for your Peru tour ahead.
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.
Walk across the street to the airport in Lima for your domestic flight to Cusco. A driver meets you at the airport in Cusco and takes you to your hotel to drop your luggage and rest. In the afternoon, you'll explore Cusco's largest open market and the adjacent witches' market on a walking guided tour of the city. After tasting a few unique local foods, visit the Center for Traditional Textiles in Cusco, a local organization committed to preserving the region's weaving traditions (If visiting the Sacred Valley on Sunday, you will visit their center in Chinchero instead). Watch weavers demonstrate their craft and learn about the history and processes of Peru's most well-known art form.
Day 3: Sacred Valley
This morning, journey into one of the most beautiful areas of Peru. The Sacred Valley often becomes one of the highlights of your trip and you will soon see why! The day is flexible based on your interests, market days, and the weather. You'll test your bargaining skills with the locals while visiting one of the great textile markets in the area. You may also hike to the inspiring ruins of Pisac or take a short walk through the countryside to the seldom-visited town of Maras, where pre-Columbian salt mines still operate today. Visit the Inca agricultural terraces of Moray, thought to have been a nursery to experiment with and modify different varieties of crops. Eventually, you make your way to the living Inca city of Ollantaytambo and overnight.
Day 4: Ollantaytambo Ruins | Train to Machu Picchu
In the morning, visit the under-rated ruins of Ollantaytambo before the larger groups of tourists arrive. During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo served as a royal estate and later a refuge after the Spanish conquered Cusco. The ruins feature expansive terraces, giant building blocks and well-preserved architecture. Even the town itself is still laid out as it was during the Inca empire, allowing its visitors to glimpse the history which still exists within its boundaries.
Board the train late this morning and follow the Urubamba River as it tumbles its way towards the Amazon and the sacred city of Machu Picchu, Peru. After checking into your hotel and enjoying lunch in Aguas Calientes, enter Machu Picchu and begin exploring this amazing site - the former retreat of Inca kings. Walk along ancient canals that still bring water from the high mountains to the baths used by Inca priests. As visitors, you are welcomed to respectfully dip your hands in the cool water. After walking amongst the massive complex of ruins, receiving a guided tour of Machu Picchu, you'll return to the village of Aguas Calientes (located at the base of Machu Picchu). Enjoy one of many excellent local restaurants after exploring one of the most magical archaeological sites in the world.
Today you can return to the ruins at Machu Picchu for further exploration. Depending on your preference in permits, return early with the hope to watch the sunrise at Machu Picchu or arrive in time to hike to the top of Huaynapicchu for incredible views of the entire area. Other options within the citadel include the ability to walk the relatively easy routes to the Sun Gate or the Temple of the Moon. Alternatively, just walk among the vast expanse of ruins and listen to the spirits of the city's past inhabitants. (This basic re-entry permit is included in the cost of this tour. Further permits may require additional costs.)
Once you've had your time in the ruins, return to Aguas Calientes to catch an afternoon train toward Cusco. Settle into your hotel or head out on a famous Cusco culinary adventure.
Today is free to relax and explore with your guide or on your own. You can visit the churches and surrounding ruins, such as the enormous Sacsayhuamán ruins that overlook Cusco (these ruins showcase building blocks the size of pickup trucks). You can also wander through the bustling Plaza de Armas in the heart of Cusco, shop for love potions in the local markets, or people watch from the cafes and restaurants that line these lovely streets. For those bursting with energy, horseback riding, mountain biking, or even whitewater rafting (Class III-IV) can be arranged. The evening is yours to take in some of Cusco's varied and exciting nightlife where live folk music and excellent food abounds! Enjoy your last night of your Peru vacation.
Arrive at Lima Airport. A transportation service will pick you up from the airport at the scheduled time to transfer you to your hotel in Lima. The Peruvian capital is a modern metropolis full of history, currently undergoing an exciting process of cultural and economic changes.
Wake up to breakfast in the hotel before hitting the streets of Lima’s old town; a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site packed with fascinating historical buildings. Start with the Larco Museum, located in the traditional Pueblo Libre district, which is housed in a beautifully restored viceregal mansion built on a pre-Columbian pyramid. The museum boasts the world’s most complete pre-Hispanic collection of gold and silver objects, as well as pieces of erotic art. Then visit Casa Aliaga, a colonial mansion granted in 1535 by chief conquistador Francisco Pizarro to Jeronimo de Aliaga, one of his captains. This is the only house from that time that to this day has always been owned by the same family. Continue to a scenic tour in the colonial downtown, which originates and spreads out from the Main Square. Here you can appreciate the grandiose architecture of the Spanish Empire and be amazed by Lima´s Cathedral. Erected in the 16th century, this building took more than 80 years to complete. After the tour, you’ll be transferred back to the hotel.
After a tasty breakfast, enjoy a comfortable transfer from your hotel to Lima Airport to catch a flight to Trujillo. A transport service will take you to the selected hotel. In the afternoon, enjoy a brief tour of the attractions of Trujillo. As an important city during the colonial era, Trujillo has managed to conserve its beautiful buildings and mansions of the time. Make a visit to the Santa Clara andEl Carmen churches, and their cloistered convents, as well as to the Church of San Francisco. Then visit the Church of La Merced and the Superior Court of Justice. Continue to the Main Square and the Cathedral, where you can see rococo altarpieces and paintings from the Cusco and Quito schools of art. Next, visit the Archbishop’s Palace and Casa Calonge, a colonial residence where the liberator Simon Bolivar stayed. Continue to the House of Emancipation, the Iturregui Palace, the Plazuela El Recreo, and the old city wall. Then head to the National University of Trujillo’s Museum of Archaeology Anthropology and History, where objects from different cultures that were developed in the territory of La Libertad are exhibited. After the tour, return to the hotel.
Day 10: Trujillo | Huacas del Sol & la Luna, Chan Chan and Huanchaco
Today you will meet the most famous tourist attractions in Trujillo. Early in the morning, transport will pick you up to take you to the outskirts of the city where the huacas del Sol and de la Luna are located - two magnificent buildings of Mochica culture. According to the investigations, the Huaca del Sol was political while the Huaca de la Luna was religious. Among them, a series of streets, passages and houses are proof that middle and upper-class people inhabited the area. Although the Huaca del Sol is the largest, the Huaca de la Luna is the one the most impressive because of the level of conservation and study. It has incredible murals that remain until today that show the different Moche deities and other scenes of religious connotation.
Continue your walk through history in Chan Chan - the impressive mud city declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. Considered the capital of the Chimu culture, it is composed of nine citadels that cover an area of more than 20 square kilometres and make it the largest in America. The details on its walls reflect the great work done in its construction and that has remained more than a thousand years until today.
Before returning to your hotel, you will take a walk through Huanchaco, one of Trujillo's most traditional beaches and famous for totora horses: boats made of vegetable fibres used by artisanal fishermen to navigate among the waves of the Pacific.
Day 11: Trujillo - Chiclayo | El Brujo archaeological complex.
The El Brujo Archaeological Complex is of great importance to learn about the Moche culture. Located in the valley of the Chicama River, 60 kilometres from Trujillo, it's the house of one of the most impressive discoveries of recent years: the mummy of the Lady of Cao, the Mochica ruler that changed the perception of women in ancient Peru. The complex consists of three pyramids: Huaca Prieta, Huaca Cao Viejo and Huaca Cortada. Huaca Cao Viejo is the main enclosure, with decorative friezes and a ceremonial square. It was there where the funeral bundle of the Lady of Cao was found, in a tomb denoting her importance. The body was almost intact thanks to the techniques used for mummification and adorned with tattoos and jewellery such as necklaces, earmuffs and filigree nose rings, made with gold, silver, copper, semi-precious stones and shells. After the visit, you will follow the road by road to your hotel in the city of Chiclayo.
Day 12: Chiclayo | Tucume, Tumbas reales and Huaca Rajada | Departure
1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
After a delightful breakfast at the hotel, head towards the archaeological complex of Tucume. With more than 200 hectares, the complex houses 26 monumental buildings associated with lower-level structures such as plazas, murals, courtyards and canal systems, reflecting a policy of planned growth and the unique social structure of Lambayeque. Visit the site museum to have a better idea of what life was like during that period. Then transfer to Lambayeque to visit the Royal Tombs Museum. Due to the discovery of the Lord of Sipan, whose importance was demonstrated in the complexity of his funeral and its apparent semi-divine condition, a new museum was created. After lunch in a typical restaurant, head to the archaeological complex of Huaca Rajada, an inspiring set of huge adobe pyramids. The place gained special notoriety in 1987 when Dr Walter Alva, then director of the Brünning Museum in Lambayeque, became aware of the clandestine excavations that were taking place. And what then began as a protection plan ended with the magnificent discovery of the tomb of the Lord of Sipan, one of the most impressive pre-Columbian burials in Peru. Afterwards, go back to your hotel to collect your belongings and enjoy a transfer from your hotel to the Chiclayo airport for your onward travels.
This was our first trip to South America and we were a little nervous. But Adventure Life made things so easy! All our questions were answered before we left, and our guide, Vidal, was amazing! He gave us enough space to explore without rushing us along. He also knew where the best picture taking opportunities were, which was great.