From one ancient civilisation to another, this Peru and Chile holiday explores two iconic regions of South America in which the cultural history still plays a huge role. Step back in time at the mist-soaked Machu Picchu to discover the world's most famous Incan ruins and tour Peru's major highlights before rounding off the trip with a few days on Easter Island, Chile, to meet the Moai statues that gaze out across the island.
Explore the Peruvian Highlands, visiting famous ruins and alluring museums in Cuzco and meet colourful local people in the Sacred Valley to learn about their traditional way of living from the land - you'll even have the opportunity to watch the intricate weaving techniques with alpaca wool. Rather than embarking on a hike, take a scenic train through the lush, fertile valley to reach the impressive ruins of Machu Picchu in style and comfort. We suggest adding a dash of vibrant Peruvian ceviche in Lima to complete the experience.
Travel south to Chile, a beautiful country blessed with extreme, contrasting landscapes - including one of the remotest inhabited islands in the world. Although small in size, Easter Island packs in plenty of Polynesian style culture to entice and entertain any visitor, and of course the mysterious Moai stone head statues for which the island is famous. At Anakena Beach, join the seven Moai statues in overlooking the ocean as the sun dips below the horizon for a spectacular sunset. Back on the Chile mainland, this itinerary introduces you to colourful Valparaiso, with its labyrinth of streets adorned with street art. Dine on the freshest seafood with a glass of cold Chilean chardonnay in full view of the rolling Pacific Ocean.
Day 1 Arrive in Lima in the evening and transfer to the upmarket, residential area of Miraflores. This bustling hub is full of restaurant and shops intermingled with ancient culture at Huaca Pucllana. This restored adobe ceremonial centre dates back to 400AD, yet is overlooked by modern apartment buildings. Miraflores overlooks the Pacific Ocean with its dramatic rugged cliffs, with sophisticated Larcomar shopping centre offering spectacular views. Venture south to the bohemian neighbourhood of Barranco with its great selection of museums and cafes.
Day 2 Visit the narrow streets of the historic centre and the vast Plaza de Armas dominated by an impressive bronze fountain dating back to 1650. The Presidential Palace is a grand baroque style building where you can watch the changing of the guard at noon. In the colonial area you can also visit the Cathedral, the Archbishop’s Palace and the Metropolitan City Hall. After a short stop in modern San Isidro, visit the Larco Herrera museum to learn about the history of the Incas so you can fully appreciate the background to their ancient civilisation along with the pre-Inca period of Moche and Chimu.
Day 3 Transfer to the airport for the short flight to the Peruvian Highlands and city of Cuzco. Explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas including Chinchero, followed by a visit to the Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo. This site was built just as the Spaniards arrived and evidence of how it was constructed is still visible. After admiring the site's magnificent past, stroll through the quaint streets of today's town. Later, you will have the opportunity to haggle with vendors at the local handicrafts market. Stay in the heart of this lush valley with its mild climate and scenic backdrop.
Day 4 Free day in the Sacred Valley. Relax at the hotel and admire the wonderful Andean scenery or take a further excursion perhaps to the agricultural crop circles of Moray or the Salt pans of Maras, a dazzling white spectacle in the bright highland sun. Other activities possible in the Sacred Valley include white water rafting, trekking, horseback riding, ziplining, pottery classes and cooking lessons. The hotel also features a relaxing spa where you can indulge in a range of treatments designed to soothe and restore your energy.
Day 5 Travel on one of the world's most scenic rail journeys through the Sacred Valley of the Incas to the town of Aguas Calientes. Here you board the bus which will take you via the switchback road to the famous 'Lost City of the Incas', Machu Picchu. Often shrouded in a cloud of mist this magical Inca Citadel enthrals visitors with it's scenic mountain backdrop and dramatic setting. Learn about the history of the Incas and how the city was the centre of the Inca Empire for many years until it was abandoned. Left undiscovered, the city was stumbled upon by Hiram Bingham at the start of the 20th century and painstakingly restored to its current condition.
Day 6 Free morning to return to the citadel of Machu Picchu and explore on your own. There is also the opportunity to climb Huayna Picchu which overlooks the citadel and we can book this in advance at either 7am or 10am. You may also wish to trek to Inti Punku(Sun Gate) the iconic final stop on the class Inca Trail trek. Before boarding the train, take some time to meander around the streets of Aguas Calientes and browse the market handicrafts. Disembark the train in the town of Poroy and continue by road to the city of Cuzco, the naval of the Inca Empire, with its impressive colonial architecture.
Day 7 Explore the fascinating colonial city of Cuzco, built on the foundations of the Inca palaces. Visit Koricancha or the Temple of the Sun, where you can view the incredible masonry of the Incas, the Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral. Perched high above the city of Cuzco, visit the Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman, and the nearby sites of Kenko and Tambomachay. A short walk from the main squares, venture to the artists neighbourhood of San Blas. The narrow streets are adorned with classic architecture including their signature blue doors. A lovely, laid back area of the city, prefect to enjoy a cup of coca tea.
Day 8 After a leisurely breakfast at your hotel, stroll down to the Plaza de Armas and soak up the city's atmosphere and mystic energy. Browse the colourful handicraft market and barter with locals for souveniers. Cuzco is also a great city to buy clothes made from llama and alpaca along with beautiful Peruvian silver. Depart early afternoon for your flight to via Lima to Santiago arriving late evening and overnight at the airport hotel, located next to the terminal building.
Day 9 Early morning flight to Easter Island, a mere dot in the Pacific Ocean and one of the remotest and isolated places on earth. The most iconic image is the strikingly familiar Moai statues that are scattered around the island. Hanga Roa is the only town with a picturesque fishing harbour, a few beaches and archaeological sites. Visit the interesting museum, a great introduction to the island's history and culture. Activities available on the island include horseback riding, hiking and cycling, all great ways to explore independently .
Day 10 Two full days to explore the mysteries of the Moai on Easter Island. Anakena beach has picture perfect backdrop for Ahu Nau Nau with its seven moai. Close by is Ahu Ature Huki, a lone moai, re-erected in 1956 by a Norwegian explorer. Other key places are Rano Kau, a huge crater overlooking the ocean, and the Orongo Ceremonial Village perched on the edge. Rano Raraku, the quarry from where the maoi were carved is also known as 'the nursery' and you will feel like you have stepped back in time. Spend some time around the town of Hanga Roa, meeting friendly locals.
Day 12 Return flight to Santiago on the mainland and transfer to the coastal city of Valparaiso. A colourful, charming port city its maze of streets are a joy to wander. Admire the faded beauty of the chaotic hills, some of the best street art in Sout...
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