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Signature Peru: The Inca heartland

8 days from £1,557pp

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Signature Peru: The Inca heartland

8 days from £1,557pp
 

Private Journey

 

Day 1

Arrive in Lima. Transfer to hotel.
 

You will be met at the airport and escorted to your hotel in the cliff-side Pacific residential and commercial district of Miraflores.  The half-hour drive to the hotel through Lima’s outskirts and along the coast encapsulates the invigorating buzz of a modern-day Latin American capital.

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Lima

Day 2

Panoramic Tour of Lima. Fly to Cusco and drive to the Sacred Valley.
 
Return to the airport for the one hour flight to Cusco. Upon arrival you continue by road to 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. Overnight in the heart of the valley for two nights, beneath the dome of a vast, clear Andean sky.
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Sacred valley of the incas

Day 3

Visit Pisaq ruins, market and Ollantaytambo Inca ruins.
 

A guided tour exploring the valley. The drive takes in 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 fortress/temple of Ollantaytambo where snow-capped Andean cordillera forms a stunning backdrop

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.

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Pisac ruins

Day 4

By train to Machu Picchu, guided tour of the site.
 

Travelling for just 1.5hours 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 dedicated to serving the many visitors with artisan markets, bars and restaurants.

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 sits on a ridge spur amid forested peaks and above a roaring river canyon.You will have a guided tour of the ruins and there is time later to take one of the many trails within the site itself, such as the 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. 

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Machu Pichu

Day 5

Return to Cusco by rail and road.
 

There’s the opportunity to return to the site of Machu Picchu. Getting up early and taking the first buses up to the Machu Picchu is well worth it...  The site is virtually empty and the early morning mists swirl around the surrounding mountain tops. There’s an option to climb the torturously steep Huayna Picchu mountain (must be booked in advance); alternatively enjoy the thermal baths or walks in the village below. Return to Cusco by rail and road.  

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Cusco

Day 6

Guided tour of the city.
 

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 take a guided tour of the city. You explore Q’oricancha, once the principal Inca Sun Temple, with extraordinarily intricate stonework, and then visit a traditional textiles museum before walking to San Pedro market where you’ll find a vast array of meats, fruits and vegetables.
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Sacsayhuaman

Day 7

Day at leisure.
 
Cusco is a compact city, easy to explore on foot independently. You are at leisure to discover the colourful markets, the many churches and museums, and to wander the attractive narrow streets. 

There are optional excursions in the surrounding region, including a trip to Maras and Moray, about an hour’s drive from Cusco. Moray is a system of ancient agricultural irrigation paths which now form circular depressions in the earth, with wonderful views into the Sacred Valley and in the shadow of the snowy peak of Mount Veronica. From here it is a short walk to the salt pans at Maras, circular pans of glistening white carved into the mountainside. Feeling you’d like to be active? White-water rafting, cycling and horse riding are on offer. 

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Moray

Day 8

Fly to Lima and connect with international flight home.

8 days from £1,557pp

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