Bienvenidos a Lima, where we'll kick-start our effortlessly delivered journey to the iconic and unexpected sights and sounds of Peru. On arrival, transfer to your hotel, Novotel Lima, where this evening you'll meet your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a Welcome Reception.
Take your time this morning and embrace the warm welcome of the "City of Kings". We'll meet a 'Local Specialist' who will reveal the city's highlights including Lima's UNESCO-listed Historic Centre and the baroque-style Church of San Francisco. Descend into the city's underground catacombs and admire the religious paintings, sculptures and books on display in its religious art museum and extensive library. Later, we'll join our Travel Director for a guided walk through the barrio of Miraflores, also known as the Heroic City.
We board a morning flight to Cusco, the gateway to Peru's treasured Sacred Valley, where you'll enjoy a Peruvian lunch with sweeping views of the Sacred Valley. Then we'll 'Dive into Culture' and meet a Shaman who will perform a special ceremony welcoming you 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. 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.
Visit the mystical Incan stronghold of Ollantaytambo en route to Machu Picchu, ascending 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.
The ruins of Machu Picchu beckon for your second visit as you 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.
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, including the nearby 13th century Incan settlement of Qoriwayrachina. The afternoon is free.
Fly to Juliaca where you'll meet a Local Specialist to learn about daily life on the Peruvian altiplano. Visit Sillustani, a pre-Incan burial ground and explore its towering chullpas (above ground tombs) before travelling to Lake Titicaca, the birthplace of the sun.
We cruise the deep blue waters of Lake Titicaca with a Local Specialist, discovering its floating islands constructed from reeds by the Uros Indians. Next, in the midst of South America's largest lake, we arrive at 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. Learn more about the culture of the people living on the island and enjoy a lunch. Tonight, we enjoy a Trafalgar highlight-dinner at our favourite local restaurant in Puno.
This morning we return to Lima, enjoying an afternoon at leisure after our flight. We'll join a Local Specialist this evening, visiting one of Lima's most renowned museums after dark - the Larco Museum. Admire the pre-Columbian artefacts that reveal insights into the cultures of ancient Peru. Then, sit down to a gourmet Farewell Dinner filled with Peruvian flavours as you overlook the museum's beautiful gardens.
For now it's time to say a fond hasta luego to Lima and transfer to the airport for your flight home, or consider extending your stay at the Novotel Lima.