Perfect for the first-time visitor to Peru, this trip will appeal to travellers who are ready to embrace Peru's culture and history, getting under the skin of one of South America's most enticing countries and diving fork-first into its world-class gastronomic scene, without having to compromise on comfort. Visit iconic sites,including the amazing Inca settlement at Machu Picchu and Valley and roam dynamic cities steeped in history like Cuzco and Lima before venturing into the Amazon Rainforest to search for native wildlife in nature reserves aboard a luxury cruise. This itinerary stays in luxurious and boutique accommodation throughout and offers the opportunity to enjoy the very best that Peruvian cuisine has to offer.
Arrive in the historic city of Lima - home to Peru's fast-growing fine-dining scene. Some of South America's best restaurants are found in Lima and an array of world-leading chefs are based here, producing irresistible menus that fuse ancient ingredients with modern culinary techniques. Spend time absorbing the modern culture and ancient heritage of Peru before heading to the Peruvian Highlands around Cuzco and the Sacred Valley. This beautiful undulating landscape is filled with ancient tradition and colourful local communities. Learn about traditional ways of cooking, like Pachamanca, admire the intricately weaved fabrics and explore the ancient Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo. Machu Picchu is the highlight of any Peru holiday and the ancient Inca citadel is a truly magnificent spectacle. Beautifully restored, this magical archaeological wonder will engross.
In the far north, board your luxurious Amazon cruise ship in the gateway town of Iquitos. This cruise slips gently through the majestic rainforest at a leisurely pace allowing you to look out for monkeys, sloths and local fishermen as they pass by on their daily routine. Complete this holiday of a lifetime with walks in the Amazon where you will spot exotic wildlife. Your jungle experience is complemented by fine Amazonian style cuisine produced from locally sourced ingredients and overseen by executive chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino.
Day 1 Depart the UK for your flight to Lima where on arrival you will be transferred to the fashionable, arty area of Barranco. Many of the houses have a distinct colonial and republican feel, surrounded by pretty flower-filled parks and streets. Lima's contemporary art museum, the MAC, is located in Barranco, as well as the Museo Pedro de Osma, which hosts one of the best collections of colonial art. The district includes numerous restaurants, bars and peñas, where one can appreciate Peruvian music shows.
Day 2 Travel to the picturesque Peruvian Highlands and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Visit the colourful town of Chinchero where the locals dress in a traditional way and create vivid textiles. At Ollantaytambo fortress, a monumental architectural complex dating back to the ancient Inca Empire and one of the few places where the Spanish conquistadors lost a major battle. The quaint town of Ollantaytambo, with its charming cobbled streets has been inhabited since the 13th century and is a lovely place to be. Immersive yourself in the history of the region.
Day 3 Free day in the Sacred Valley where you can enjoy a host of activities. Sol y Luna has a fantastic excursion program where you chose to be as active as you want. Learn about local cooking methods, weaving and pottery or for the more active hiking, mountain biking or paragliding. Take the option to visit the ancient Inca agriculatural terraces at Moray or the dazzling white salt pans at Maras. At the end of a action packed day enjoy a typical Peruvian meal in the a la carte restaurant with a traditional Pisco Sour.
Day 4 Transfer to Ollantaytambo station for the Vistadome service to Aguas Calientes. From the panoramic windows enjoy the changing scenery and you get ever closer to the majestic Machu Picchu. Tour the citadel and learn about the Inca history and how this site was discovered in 1911 by American explorer Hiram Bingham. After your awe inspiring day retreat to your luxurious hotel in the village of Aguas Calientes where you can relax and enjoy a delicious Peruvian inspired dinner.
Day 5 Free morning to return to Machu Picchu with the opportunity to climb Huaya Picchu, the backdrop to the citadel. Explore the expansive site at your leisure or enjoy one of your hotels included excursions such as nature walks, orchid trails, birding or even learning about medicinal plants. Return to Cuzco in the afternoon, travelling through the scenic Sacred Valley by train, then by road to Cuzco. Immerse yourself in the history of this Inca city from the fascinating museums to colourful local markets.
Day 6 Explore the captivating city of Cuzco, a city founded from Inca Palaces. Highlights include Koricancha (Temple of the Sun) with its intricate masonry of the Incas, the Cathedral flanking the Plaza de Armas main square and the imposing fortress of Sacsayhuaman which overlooks the city. After visiting the key highlights, take in the charming artists neighbourhood of San Blas - an atmospheric, picturesque area with pretty blue and white colonial buildings. As night falls, dine at one of Cuzco's great restaurants indulging in the unique flavours and textures of the highlands.
Day 7 Fly via Lima to Northern Peru and the Amazon gateway of Iquitos, the largest city in the world with no road access. For the next three nights you will sail through this majestic rain forest along the two largest tributaries of the Peruvian Amazon, the Ucayali and the Marañon, and on the mighty Amazon river itself. As you depart the port in Iquitos for your Amazon adventure, toast the beginning of a beautiful journey and savour the innovative Amazonian cuisine created by Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffi. In the evening, enjoy a nightcap under the stars to the sounds of the jungle.
Day 8 Before breakfast take your first wildlife trip on the Amazon River. Morning is a fantastic time for wildlife spotting as the rain forest comes alive. Navigate the Yarapa River, past local fishermen keep you binoculars ready to spot wildlife. Look out for terns, orioles, blackbirds, black collared hawks, monkeys and sloth. At Lake Clavero there is the opportunity to swim in the lake's calm waters and visit the indigenous Amazon community who offer a warm welcome. Back on board, take to the upper deck for a spectacular sunset.
Day 9 Morning boat trip to explore a fascinating black water stream which is part of the vast Amazon flooded forest withing the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. The dense vegetation creates a tunnel of leaves, home to wildlife such as parrots, macaws and fluffy monk saki monkeys. On board there is the option to take a Peruvian cooking lesson and learn about the region from the naturalist guides. Afternoon excursion through the 'Jungle of the Mirrors', where the towering trees are reflected in the dark water. At the Dorado River you can observe parrots, macaws and a variety of primates along with alligators, frogs and fishing bats. In the evening continue upstream, toward the headwaters of the Amazon River, where the Ucayali and Marañon Rivers merge.
Day 10 The M/V Aria continues it’s journey, skirting the edge of the immense Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, here you will see one of the great spectacles of the Southern Hemisphere, the birth of the Amazon River. Your dawn excursion will be accompanied by abundant bird song, as you glide in small boats past large-billed terns, laughing falcons, exotic short-tailed parrot, and dozens of other birds. Visit a local community to learn about their traditions and folklore. Learn about medicinal plants from the Shaman or local medicine teacher, whose knowledge is passed down thro...
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