Tour begins: Lima, Peru. A transfer is included from Jorge Chávez International Airport to Belmond Miraflores Park Hotel in Lima, a city-center hotel on Lima's oceanfront surrounded by verdant parks and gardens with views of both Lima and the Pacific.
Lima, an Oceanside City of Contrasts
Meet for a welcome breakfast, then head to Plaza de Armas (or Plaza Mayor), Lima's main square, to tour the Archbishop's Residence, a onetime symbol of immense power in Peru and Government Palace, home to Peru's president and its central government (built on the site of the first Spanish "palace" raised by Francisco Pizarro in 1535, the year Lima was founded). Visit the Cathedral of Lima, whose first stone was laid by Pizarro himself in 1535. At the Monasterio de San Francisco, find a 17th-century complex with glazed tiles, carved ceilings, exceptional paintings and an amazing crypt. Have lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon, visit the Museo Larco, displaying an archaeological collection acquired over a lifetime by Rafael Larco Herrera and chronicling 4,000 years of Peruvian pre-Columbian history. Join us this evening for a welcome cocktail reception and dinner at a local restaurant.
Enter the Sacred Valley
A short flight this morning takes you from cosmopolitan Lima to Cusco; continue overland to the Sacred Valley of the Incas for a two-night stay. Enjoy a barbecue lunch and an equestrian demonstration starring famous Peruvian Paso horses en route to your Sacred Valley hotel, where you can relax, have dinner and adjust to the higher altitude this evening... and have your journey blessed by a local shaman.
Sacred Ruins, Beliefs & Traditions
Above the town of Ollantaytambo, explore the massive Inca fortress and stone remains of the Temple of the Sun - built from huge blocks of stone in the 1400s - and then walk through this ancient town. Blocks of cobblestone streets that have been lived in since the 1300s, and are entered via a doorway leading to a central courtyard, reveal a keen Incan eye for urban planning. Return to your lodgings, surrounded by extensive gardens with panoramic views of the Andes, in the picturesque Valle Sagrado for a Peruvian cooking demonstration. A performance by a theatre group which uses dance and music to revive Andean traditions and lore kicks off a barbecue dinner.
To Mystical Machu Picchu by Rail
Travel aboard the Vistadome train through mist-shrouded peaks to Aguas Calientes at the foot of the Sacred Valley and then drive higher into the Andes to the site of Machu Picchu. With a guide, spend the afternoon exploring the mist-shrouded ruins that have captured the world's imagination as the "Lost City of the Incas" since their "discovery" in 1911. Standing nearly 8,000 ft. above sea level, in the middle of a tropical forest, Machu Picchu is considered by UNESCO to be an outstanding example of man's interaction with his natural environment. Its walls, terraces and ramps work in harmony with their mountainous surroundings - a tribute to the creativity and skill of the Incas. Return to Aguas Calientes for an overnight at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel; enjoy a complimentary Pisco Sour at the bar between 5:00 and 6:00 PM, prior to dinner at your leisure.
To Cusco, Capital of the Incan Empire
Don't miss this morning's return to Machu Picchu for a sunrise tour of this extraordinary setting in the clouds. Later this morning, enjoy a walk through Aguas Calientes' rainforest gardens and time to spend as you wish - which could include visiting the local market or indulging in a spa treatment (at an additional cost). Reboard the Vistadome train after lunch for a scenic return rail journey, then drive to the historic center of Cusco for a two-night stay at the stylish Belmond Hotel Monasterio, originally a monastery built in 1592.
Cusco - of Incans & Conquistadores
Just about everywhere you look in Cusco - once capital of the Inca Empire, and the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Americas - you'll see traces of its Incan past and its importance to the Inca people as the "navel of the world," as well as of the early Spanish colonial city built above it; walk through its bustling San Pedro marketplace, alive with contemporary mestizo culture, before heading outside town to see more testaments to Incan ingenuity. At Sacsayhuamán, explore Inca ruins - a fortress built of massive stones without the use of mortar. Back in town, discover more about Cusco on a city sightseeing tour that includes the main square and a visit to 16th-century Convent of Santo Domingo; its arcades and artwork sit atop the walls of Koricancha, once a temple dedicated to the sun. Also visit the city's 16th-century Baroque cathedral - considered one of the most splendid Spanish colonial churches in America for the quality of its paintings and carvings, incorporating imagery from the Incan culture, such as the pumas carved on its enormous doors. The remainder of your day and evening are free in Cusco.
Fly to Lake Titicaca & visit Sillustani
Fly this morning from Cusco to Juliaca, then continue on to your hotel in Puno, along the shores of Esteves Island on Lake Titicaca, where you'll have lunch. If you wish, join us this afternoon for an excursion to the pre-Inca archaeological site of Sillustani, with its cylindrical stone burial towers (chulpas) left by the Colla people, who were conquered by the Incas in the 1400s. Return to your hotel for dinner at your leisure this evening.
Life on One of Earth's Highest Lakes
Explore life on the lake by powerboating to one of its floating islands; they are home to the Uros, who have long made their lives on islands made of reeds. Next, on the naturally formed island of Taquile, learn about the Aymará inhabitants known for their unique hand-woven textiles and ways of life changed little from that of their ancestors, including living without electricity or vehicles. Enjoy a traditional Aymarán dance performance during lunch. Return to the hotel for an afternoon spent as you choose, and dinner this evening at your leisure.
To the Heights of Bolivia
Begin the day by concluding your Peru tour with a drive along the coast of Lake Titicaca, then cross the border and enter Bolivia. En route to Bolivia's capital, La Paz, you'll visit the archaeological site of Tiwanaku - once the capital of a pre-Inca civilization that thrived here between 500 and 900 AD. Enjoy a typical Bolivian lunch, then continue on our journey through the South American Altiplano toward the Royal Mountain Range and our final destination, La Paz, Bolivia - the highest capital city on Earth - for a two-night stay; enjoy dinner at your leisure in the hotel this evening.
Discover Lofty La Paz
Begun on the site of an existing Aymara village, La Paz was founded in 1548 by Spaniards. The highest capital city in the world above sea level, La Paz is also home to the highest golf course on Earth; in the thin air, a good tee shot will travel an amazing distance! Venture just outside the city to explore the lunar-like badlands dubbed the Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon), a stone landscape of deep gullies and bizarre rock formations, before heading to La Paz's city center to soak up some local color and browse in the Mercato de las Brujas (Witches' Market) for magic amulets, potions, spells or plants reputed to have healing powers. From the Plaza Murillo, you'll see the colonial-era Government Palace, known as the Burned Palace because it was set on fire during eight different revolutions; the Congress building had been a convent, a jail and a university before being renovated in 1904 to house the congress of Bolivia. Explore more of the city as you please this afternoon. This evening, join us in lofty La Paz for a Tauck Exclusive private farewell reception and Tasting Dinner at Restaurant Gustu, founded by Claus Meyer (chef and co-founder of world-famous Noma in Copenhagen). You'll enjoy a sparkling four-course tasting menu featuring local Bolivian fare, with each course being paired with local beer, wine or spirits... all for Tauck guests only!
Tour ends: La Paz, Bolivia. Fly home anytime; a transfer is included from the Camino Real Suites Hotel to La Paz El Alto International Airport. Please allow a minimum of three hours for flight check-in at the airport.