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Luxury Peru: Andes to Amazon

14 days from £8,861pp

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Luxury Peru: Andes to Amazon

 

Private Journey

 

Day 1

Arrive in Lima and transfer to hotel on the Pacific coast in Miraflores.
 
You will be met at the airport and escorted to your hotel by one of our local representatives. The half-hour drive through Lima is not the most enchanting introduction to this city of extreme contrasts, but it does encapsulate the invigorating buzz of a modern-day Latin American capital. The Belmond Miraflores Park (formerly Orient Express) is situated in a dramatic location on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
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Miraflores Park Hotel

Day 2

Tour colonial Lima, visit Larco pre-Columbian art museum. Fly to Cusco.
 
Lima is a vast, complex metropolis, with a history dating from the era of its wealth and importance to Imperial Spain to its current status as a dynamic, growing city of trade, industry and tourism.

In the morning visit the impressive Larco  Museum, one of the finest museums in Latin America, housing a vast collection of pre-Columbian pieces. The majority of artefacts in the museum are ceramics, depicting a number of Peruvian cultures including the Moche, Sicán and Chimú and there is also an excellent collection of textiles, gold and silver work, and mummies.  We love this museum, so we have included just for you a special  guided tour.

Transfer to the airport for a 1hr flight to Cusco in the Andes; on arrival you’re met and driven to the Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (formerly Orient Express).

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Larco Museum

Day 3

Half day city tour of Cusco; visit Sacsayhuamán Inca fortress ruins.
 
The name Cusco derives from the Quechua word for navel, indicating its location at the centre of the Inca Empire. Today its many impressive original Inca walls display extraordinary craftsmanship, while the bustling squares are dotted with ornate baroque colonial churches. It’s a vivacious city, where shoeshine boys and postcard sellers jostle for your attention in cobbled streets lined with handicraft shops and cafés. In the evening, the town centre fills with people flocking to the many restaurants, bars and cafés. 

Today  a half-day tour of the city. You visit Q’oricancha, once the principal Inca Sun Temple, with intricate stonework, and then explore the colossal zigzag walls of Sacsayhuamán, brooding on a hillside above Cusco. The first conquistadores to see it were awestruck, and centuries later it is still an extraordinary and imposing sight.

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Cusco

Day 4

Excursion to Chinchero indian village, Maras saltpans and Moray Inca site.
 
Drive through stunning countryside, against a backdrop of the purple, snow-capped Andes to Chinchero, 28km from Cusco. Chinchero is an attractive Indian village with a colourful Sunday market. The central square has a splendid Inca wall on its western side, etched with 10 trapezoidal niches, each large enough to hold a human being. Also on the square, sitting on its upper level, is the town's colonial church, built of adobe and decorated internally with beautiful floral designs.

Continue to the Maras saltpans, a series of terraces where a natural source of saline water is evaporated by the strong Andean sun. In use since Inca times, the saltpans continue to be worked by the local community. You’ll also visit Moray, an Inca experimental agricultural centre. It comprises numerous terraces carved into a large, natural amphitheatre, each one with a different microclimate from those above and below.

Time permitting, you can also visit a traditional weaving project, where local women demonstrate the weaving technique and you can learn about the use of natural dyes and patterns unique to the numerous mountain communities surrounding the Sacred Valley – also a great opportunity to buy excellent quality products, directly from the producers.

Continue down to the Sacred Valley of the Incas for two nights in Urubamba.

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Moray

Day 5

Explore the Sacred Valley, including Pisaq market.
 
Explore the fertile Sacred Valley of the Incas. Once the bread-basket of the Inca empire, it was heavily populated in imperial times and scores of archaeological sites remain, where well-preserved ruins bear witness to the highly developed society that the Incas created. The drive passes through or close to several of the villages and temple-fortresses that pepper the valley.

You visit Pisaq, both the village, and the terraces and fort high above. The engineering and preservation are unrivalled. From the flat valley floor the sculpted hillside rises up like a green staircase to the heavens.

Continue along this picturesque, patchwork valley to the temple of Ollantaytambo. The snow-frosted Andean cordillera forms a stunning backdrop. Ollantaytambo, sitting strategically at the gateway to the Amazon basin, was never captured by the Spanish conquistadores, but the inhabitants decided that the settlement was too vulnerable and would eventually fail, and so they abandoned it. The fortress, the colonial grid plan and the Inca foundations are still intact and there are wonderful views down over the sloping hillsides and into the fertile valley.

You’ll take lunch at the excellent Hacienda Huayoccari, probably the best eatery in the valley.

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Sacred Valley

Day 6

Transfer to Ollantaytambo. Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu. Guided tour of the ruins.
 
Embark the Hiram Bingham luxury train. All the stops are pulled out to give you a wonderful top quality experience, with  gourmet cuisine and commentaries by expert guides. Travelling for 90mins by train from Ollantaytambo, you reach the ruins of Machu Picchu. As the river Urubamba enters its narrow gorge between thickly-forested granite hills, there is room only for a single track, which hugs the right bank and passes through hamlets that are no more than a collection of shacks beside the railway. Close to the foot of the mountain on a saddle of which the citadel was built is the bustling village of Machu Picchu.

The majestic ruined city, reclaimed from tropical cloud forest, is reached by minibus up a sinuous road, or on foot up a near vertical rocky path. The American explorer Hiram Bingham discovered it in 1911, by which time it was completely buried beneath jungle vegetation. It is the ruins’ location, on a ridge spur amid forested peaks and above a roaring river canyon, that most ignites the imagination.

You will have a guided tour of the ruins and, since you are staying overnight at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge (at the ruins), and so not restricted by the small window of opportunity offered by a day trip, there’s time later to take one of the many trails within the site itself. It’s a short hike to the vertiginous Inca Bridge, carved into a cliff edge; or wander amongst the stone buildings and llama-dotted grassy ledges soaking up the atmosphere.  You can climb the torturously steep Huayna Picchu mountain the other side of the valley, but you need to book in advance.

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Hiram Bingham train

Day 7

Revist Machu Picchu, return to Cusco by Vistadome train.
 

Revisit the ruins in the morning , before returning to Cusco by Vistadome train service, where you'll spend the night at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas.

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Machu Picchu

Day 8

At leisure.
 
At leisure in Cusco, based at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas . You might continue to explore the city, its markets and museums; or venture further afield to lesser known but enchanting historic sites such as the frescoed colonial church at Andahuaylillas. If you fancy something more active, you might choose to go white-water rafting, horse riding or mountain biking in the lovely countryside around the city.
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Cusco

Day 9

Fly to jungle city of Iquitos, board the Aria Amazon for 5 day Amazon cruise.
 
Fly to Lima and connect to the port of Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon. Embark on the luxury cruise vessel Aria Amazon. Not only does this stylish ship follow the Amazon's vast main channel, but on expeditions by launch, you penetrate small estuaries in the rainforest and Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. Here, accompanied by experienced naturalists, you will get acquainted with the diversity of bird, animal and plant life in this most vigorous and undisturbed eco-system.

Cruises operate throughout the year - in the high water season (December – May) you can venture further into the flooded creeks, in the low water months (June - November) you can stroll along sandy beaches exposed by the lowering water-line. There are opportunities to encounter local communities, and wildlife you may see includes pink dolphins, black caiman alligators and giant river otters. Other excursions include trying your hand at piranha fishing and night jungle trips.

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MV Aqua

Days 10-12

M/V Aria Amazon cruise with daily excursions.
 
Excursions by small launch and on foot to visit the rainforest. Each day’s programme includes many optional 2 to 3hr excursions into Amazonia. You will have the chance to explore remote Amazon river tributaries, spot monkeys and birds along a jungle trail, visit a local village, go fishing on one of the beautiful lakes, and much more.

The M/V Aria is equipped with auxiliary aluminium skiffs which will take you along the waterways, or will ferry you to the landing point for onshore excursions. Each of the excursions is led by a trained and knowledgeable naturalist guide who speaks good English. We allow plenty of time for you to explore, listen to your guide’s explanation, and photograph the wildlife.

If there are days when you choose not to go onshore for an expedition, you can stay on board. Lie back in a lounge chair, breathe in the Amazon air, soak up the sun, read a good book, watch the ever-changing view, and simply experience total relaxation in the heart of the Amazon jungle.

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Aria excursion

Day 13

Fly to Lima, overnight in Miraflores.
 

Return to Iquitos and fly to Lima. Transfer to Belmond Miraflores Park.

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Day 14

Transfer to Lima international airport.

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