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PERU TOUR – ITINERARY

 

DAY 1: Your Peru Tour Begins

Welcome to our Peru culinary tour! Prepare yourself for one of the most fascinating, colorful and culture-rich countries on the planet. Also prepare for some of the world’s best food! We will pick you up at Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport and drive you to your comfortable hotel. This evening meet your guide and fellow travelers at the hotel lobby for an orientation and optional group dinner.

Drive time: Approximately 45 from airport to hotel
Meals included: None

DAY 2: Lima Culinary Scene

Lima is the most cosmopolitan of all Peruvian cities, a vibrant economic hub and home to three of the world’s top 50 restaurants. After breakfast we’ll set off to visit bustling Surquillo market where we’ll mingle with the locals and taste some of the Peru’s native fruits. Next we’ll learn the secrets of making the perfect ceviche in a chef-led demonstration, followed by a delicious lunch.

In the afternoon we’ll visit a gourmet coffee producer at his flagship coffee shop in Lima’s historic district of Barranco. We’ll sip some fantastic coffee and learn how the coffee industry impacts local farmers. Afterwards, we will continue to explore this bohemian neighborhood and visit the Hermita Church and the “Bridge of Sighs,” as well as a chance to try a typical Peruvian dessert like Peruvian Sweet Potato “Picarones”, or Three Peruvian Milks “Tres Leches”, before returning to the hotel.

This evening is yours to enjoy one of Lima’s many incredible restaurants. Please note that many top Lima restaurants require reservations far in advance, and you are able to make reservations online on their websites.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch

DAY 3: Explore Downtown Lima & Chinatown

This morning we’ll head to the historic center of Lima, with its striking colonial buildings and colorful streets. We’ll stop in at the Larco Herrera Museum to view their extensive private collection of pre-Inca ceramics. Then visit the Plaza Mayor, the original site on which Lima was founded. While you appreciate Lima’s central square, you will also have the opportunity to see the famous changing of the palace guards, which takes place each day precisely at noon.

Next we’ll stroll through Lima’s Barrio Chino, or Chinatown, historic home to Peru’s small but culturally significant Chinese community. Our friend Liliana is general manager of Lima’s top Chifa (Peruvian-Chinese food) restaurant, and she will graciously lead us on a tour of her restaurant’s kitchen. Afterward we’ll join her in the dining room for an exclusive tasting menu. Her English is excellent and she shares fascinating insights into Peru’s Chinese history.

After lunch, we visit the stunningly well preserved Casa de Aliaga, the oldest house in the Americas to be inhabited by descendants of the same family. Dating back to the 1500s, it has been home to the de Aliaga family for 17 generations. The afternoon will end at a historic bar for a Pisco tasting as well as try the national drink, Pisco Sour.

Tonight we will have dinner at one of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants, Maido. This restaurant features a Nikkei menu that blends Japanese and Peruvian flavors.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

DAY 4: Fly to Cusco 

This morning we’ll get up early and head to the airport for the next leg of your Peru tour, a short hour and twenty minute flight to Cusco. We’ve intentionally kept today’s schedule light to give you time to adjust to the altitude. You may need a rest at your hotel, but if you feel up to it, this is a great time to soak up Cusco’s culture-rich atmosphere. This evening, the group will enjoy a delicious welcome to Cusco dinner of Novoandina cuisine.

Meals included: Breakfast, dinner

DAY 5: Explore Cusco and Cooking Class

Start the day off at Cusco’s vibrant San Pedro market, one of the most fascinating places to people watch as Quechua villagers come from the surrounding areas to sell their produce. We’ll continue on for a tour of Cusco’s most important historic sites. Cusco was the historic capital of the Inca Empire, from the 13th Century until the Spanish conquest in the 16th Century. Because of its importance to the Incas, the Spanish then made it their center for colonization of the entire Andean region. The Spanish invested heavily in building incredible structures on top of the Inca sites. We’ll tour the Plaza de Armas, with its impressive cathedral and Qorikancha, or Temple of the Sun God.

In the late afternoon we’ll head to a charming local restaurant for a hands-on cooking class. Starting in the bar, you’ll learn how to make a delicious Pisco sour before heading into the kitchen to prepare mouthwatering Andean delicacies that will soon become your dinner.

Meals included: Breakfast, dinner

DAY 6: Village Pachamanca

Today we will start the morning by heading out to explore the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, the Inca fortress perched high above Cusco. Then we’re off to a small village near Pisac, in the Sacred Valley. We’ll spend the morning with three lovely ladies who invite us into their home for an authentic pachamanca meal. Dating back to Inca times, this ancient tradition is not unlike a barbeque, where sharing a meal demonstrates appreciation and reverence for the edible gifts that come from the earth. Meaning – literally – “earth pot,” a pachamanca is an oven created out of stones or clay bricks lining a hole in the ground. A fire is lit inside until it is hot enough to put in heaps of marinated meat, vegetables and potatoes. Traditionally the meal is hearty and provides sustenance to farmers working out in the fields, as well as a welcome break to collectively savor and share the rewards of their labors.

The entire process takes several hours, so we will take a break and visit the sacred ruins of Urco. We’ll then return to the village as our hosts pull the meat, veggies and potatoes out of the earth oven and join us to enjoy the steaming hot meal together. On the way back to Cusco, we stop and explore the colorful Pisac market. This is a great place to pick up some souvenirs, or just to people watch and photograph.

This evening is free for you to explore on your own. If you would like to try guinea pig, an Andean delicacy, your guide will be happy to recommend some of his favorite “cuy” restaurants.

Drive time: Approximately 1 hour from Cusco to Pisac
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch

DAY 7: Discover the Sacred Valley of the Incas

We have a big day today as we load up the van and venture deep into the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Our first stop is Chinchero, our highest altitude of the tour at just over 12,300 feet. Chinchero is a weaver’s village, and we’ll visit a women’s weaving cooperative to learn how they make natural dyes and spin alpaca fiber. Next we’ll tour the village church and Inca agricultural ruins. If it’s the right time of year we’ll visit some local farmers to watch how they dehydrate potatoes to store for the winter months.

We’ll then head to Moray, a site of Inca ruins that were used for agricultural experiments. Taking advantage of the micro-climates, the Incas studied how crops grew at different altitudes and adapted those crops for broader farming use.

After a picnic lunch at Moray, we’ll visit the terraced salt ponds at Maras. Mineral rich and excellent for cooking, these ponds are owned by villagers and have been harvested since Inca times. We’ll walk right out to the ponds, which are terraced on the side of a mountain.

We’ll come to the end of the road at Ollantaytambo, and explore the vast Inca ceremonial center built into the hill overlooking the town. Then we’ll hop on a train and ride about one hour and 45 minutes to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu. We will arrive just in time to check into our hotel and head out for a quick dinner. You’ll want to go to bed early tonight because tomorrow is a big day and it starts early!

Travel time: Approximately 2.5 hour drive from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and 1.5 hour train ride to Machu Picchu
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch

DAY 8: Revel in the Splendor of Machu Picchu

Today is the day many have been waiting for. Built on a saddle between sacred peaks, the improbable setting for the architectural masterpiece of Machu Picchu is just as awe-inspiring as the ruins themselves. Starting with a 5am wake-up, we’ll take an early shuttle to Machu Picchu, arriving at dawn. Machu Picchu was built in harmony with the sun and the moon, and enjoying the early morning light over the sacred site will be a memory you’ll savor for a lifetime.

After a guided tour of these magnificent ruins, you may choose to explore the ruins on your own, soaking up the ancient atmosphere, or head to Wayna Picchu (the iconic mountain situated just behind the ruins) to sign in for a beautiful but very strenuous climb. The ascent takes a little over an hour and the feeling of satisfaction when you reach the peak, along with the bird’s eye view of Machu Picchu, will take your breath away.

We’ll return to Aguas Calientes in time to catch an afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo and then drive about two hours back to Cusco. This evening, you may enjoy celebrating your incredible experiences in Peru with your fellow travelers over one last Pisco sour and dinner (optional). Please ask your guide if you would like recommendations.

Travel time: Approximately 1.5 hour train ride from Machu Picchu to Ollantaytambo and 2 hour drive from Ollantaytambo train station to hotel
Meals included: Breakfast

DAY 9: Peru Tour Ends

Alas, our tour ends today and it is time to fly to Lima and then home. You may also choose to spend a few extra days on your own exploring Cusco or other areas of Peru.

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Please note: This itinerary is designed to give you an idea of what to expect during our trip but is not set in stone. What we actually do on a given day is flexible and can be tailored to the interests of the group.