Explore the vastness of Peru-traced from its Pacific edge to the mountain fortresses of the Incas and the shimmering blue of South America's largest lake, the birthplace of the sun.
Arrive Lima (2 Nights)
The Capital of the New World extends a warm welcome on your epic voyage through the iconic and unexpected highlights of Peru. Meet your local host on arrival and transfer to your hotel in the fashionable barrio of San Isidro. This evening, you'll join your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a Welcome Reception at 6 p.m.
Ease in to Lima life with a leisurely morning to enjoy the city. Next, you'll connect with the colonial heritage of Francisco Pizzaro's "City of Kings", joining your Local Specialist for a city tour that reveals Lima's colonial splendour. Admire the UNESCO-listed Historic Centre and see the Church of San Francisco, delving into its hidden catacombs, religious art museum and extensive library. Later, you'll embark on a scenic walk through Miraflores with your Travel Director and soak up the local sights and sounds.
Lima – Cusco – Sacred Valley (2 Nights)
We'll fly to Cusco this morning, the gateway to Peru's treasured Sacred Valley, where you will enjoy a local Peruvian lunch with sweeping views of the Sacred Valley. Then we'll 'Dive into Culture', meeting a Shaman who will perform a special ceremony to welcome us to Peru. Tonight, you'll stay in a hotel along the banks of the Vilcanota River, on the grounds of an old 17th-century colonial hacienda. It is great for morning birders and afternoon walks in the gardens.
'Connect with Locals' over a 'Be My Guest' lunch, learn about the culture surrounding the production of Giant White Corn. Our hosts will demonstrate the differences between traditional farming techniques and the newer technologies used today. Revel in the romance of the local Marinera dance and local musicans. This evening, meet 'Local Specialist', Peter Frost, a writer, photographer and independent scholar who has explored the Andes and Amazon for 47 years, locating and investigating the previously unknown Inca and pre-Inca site of Qoriwayrachina. He currently resides in Peru and works as an accompanying expert for National Geographic Expeditions.
Sacred Valley – Machu Picchu
Visit the mystical Incan stronghold of Ollantaytambo, en route to Machu Picchu, a village in the Sacred Valley, set on the Urubamba River amid majestic mountains. It's known for the Ollantaytambo ruins, a massive Inca fortress with large stone terraces on a hillside. Then, ascend to the Lost City in the Clouds aboard the Vistadome train (light snack included). Here you will delve into the mysteries of this once-great civilisation, joining your 'Local Specialist' for an exploration of the temples, palaces and terraces whose construction defy imagination. Visit the iconic great Temple of the Sun, the House of the Priest, the Sacred Plaza and the intricately carved Intihuatana, most likely used as a sundial centuries ago. We return to our hotel where we'll dine tonight.
Machu Picchu – Cusco (2 Nights)
The ruins of Machu Picchu beckon yet again and we enjoy one final opportunity to reconnect with its story, spending some time on our own to explore the hill-top fortress. Next, we'll journey back to the Sacred Valley by train, stopping en route to Cusco to 'Dive into Culture' and learn about the natural dyeing techniques used by native weavers. Visit the Pisac handicraft market followed by sampling the sweet flavours of chicha as we 'Dive into Culture' yet again, savouring the favourite drink of the Andes. Then a 'Stay with a Story' tonight in what was once an old, colonial Hacienda located in the historic center of Cusco.
Begin your day at the ruins of the UNESCO-listed Sacsayhuaman fortress overlooking Cusco. Your Local Specialist will guide you through Cusco's colonial centre. Later, you'll join another Local Specialist who will reveal insights into the nearby 13th century Incan settlement of Qoriwayrachina. The afternoon is free.
Cusco Sightseeing – Juliaca – Puno (2 Nights)
Fly to Juliaca and meet a Local Specialist to learn about daily life on the Peruvian altiplano. After an included lunch, we'll visit Sillustani, a pre-Incan burial ground on the shores of Lake Umayo. Explore the towering chullpas (above ground tombs) before travelling to Puno along the shores of Lake Titicaca, the birthplace of the sun.
Lake Titicaca Excursion
Cruise the deep blue waters of Lake Titicaca with a 'Local Specialist', passing floating islands constructed by the Uros Indians. Next, in the midst of South America's largest lake lies Taquile Island, where we'll embark on a private tour to gain insights into the tradition of knitting and weaving for which the local villagers-men and women-are renowned. Enjoy a lunch here and learn more about the islanders' unique way of life upon islets make of totora reeds, which grow in the lake, and are attached to sticks driven into the bottom of the lake. Tonight, we indulge in a Trafalgar highlight-a Regional Dinner at our favourite local restaurant in Puno.
Puno – Juliaca – Lima – Paracas (2 Nights)
Return to Lima this morning, then continue your journey to the coastal playground of Paracas. Discover what life is like in Peru's rural countryside before arriving to Paracas for dinner at your seaside hotel and an evening at leisure. Perhaps there's even time for a stroll along the Malecon?
Paracas – Nazca Lines Flight
Take to the skies, soaring above the coastal desert to see the enigmatic Nazca Lines, gigantic geometric designs viewable only from the air. Next, stop this afternoon at the Regional Museum of Ica where we'll explore the centuries-old cultures of the Paracas and Nazca. 'Dive into Culture' during a visit to Bodega El Catador to learn about and taste the finest pisco in the country. The rest of the day is free.
Paracas – Ballestas Islands – Lima
This morning, connect with nature, cruising around the uninhabited Ballestas Islands, a "mini-Galapagos" teeming with wildlife. See the mysterious Candelabra in Pisco Bay, then return to Lima where this evening, we'll visit the Larco Museum with a Local Specialist. Our journey almost at its end, we'll indulge in a festive Farewell Dinner in the museum's garden restaurant.
Say hasta luego to Peru and its ancient treasures, and take transfer to the airport for your flight home or consider extending your holiday in Lima at the Novotel Lima.