Welcome to the Capital of the New World - the launch pad to our effortlessly delivered encounter with the iconic and unexpected highlights of Peru. On arrival in Lima, you'll be transferred to your hotel in the exclusive barrio of San Isidro where you'll enjoy a Welcome Reception this evening to meet your Travel Director and travel companions.
Connect with the colonial heritage of Francisco Pizzaro's "City of Kings", admiring the colonial splendour of Lima's UNESCO-listed Historic Centre. Stand in the birthplace of this ancient, yet modern city, surrounded by the Baroque façades of Cathedral of Lima and Palace of the Union. See the Church of San Francisco and discover its hidden catacombs. Celebrate Lima's status as the culinary capital of South America and 'Connect with Locals' when you meet Ignacio Barrios, who has worked alongside many of Peru's most award-winning chefs. We visit a local market where Ignacio will explain how Peruvian fruits, vegetables, seafood and meats are the basis of Peruvian cooking. Then, continue to Chef Ignacio's cooking school where we'll enjoy a demonstration on how to prepare some of Peru's most popular dishes and have an opportunity to sample some at a 'Be My Guest' lunch before spending the rest of the day at leisure.
Board a morning flight to Cusco and the Sacred Valley. 'Visit the Pisac market displaying Quechua arts and crafts, then continue to a former 18th century colonial-style monastery in the Sacred Valley, our hotel for the night. 'Dive into Culture' and meet Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez, a master Quechua weaver, and the first person from her village to attend university. She has been an ambassador for Andean traditions since she began learning ancient pre-Columbian weaving techniques as a young girl in the 1960s. 'Make a Difference' as your visit helps to preserve and promote traditional pre-Columbian weaving techniques in the 21st century.
The mystical empire of the Incas takes centre stage today. We visit the famous Sacred Valley stronghold of Ollantaytambo, before boarding the Vistadome train (light snack included) for our epic journey to Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Delve into the mysteries of this once-great civilisation, admiring the 15th century stone ruins of temples, palaces and terraces perched high amidst the clouds. Join your 'Local Specialist' for an exploration of the iconic great Temple of the Sun, the House of the Priest, the Sacred Plaza and the Intihuatana, an intricately carved rock most likely used as a sundial centuries ago. We return to our hotel where we dine tonight.
The ancient ruins of Machu Picchu beckon again and we have an opportunity to re-connect with this ancient wonder. If you're feeling adventurous, hike up to the Gate of the Sun for stunning views over the fortress. We board a train to the Sacred Valley, then head to the colonial city of Cusco, stopping en route at a local chicheria. 'Dive into Culture' and enjoy the sweet flavours of chicha as you learn how this Peruvian corn beer is brewed by the local women.
Embark on a sightseeing tour of the sacred city of Cusco this morning, admiring the 16th century Spanish colonial buildings that stand on the foundations of former Inca temples and palaces. See the baroque Cathedral on the Plaza de Armas and 17th century Church of Santo Domingo. Visit the ruins of the Sacsayhuaman fortress and see nearby warehouses where the Incas once stored their grain. The afternoon is free to explore on your terms. This evening, gather for a Regional Dinner at a local restaurant, enjoying Cusquenian dishes and ancestral dance performances.
A leisurely start to our day sees us return to Lima this afternoon. Meet a Local Specialist at the Larco Museum, which houses the largest private collection of pre-Columbian art in the world. This evening we join our travel companions for a Farewell Dinner in the museum's garden restaurant.
Our discovery of an ancient civilisation has come to an end. We transfer to the airport for your onward flight or perhaps extend your stay at the Novotel Lima.