Peru & the Nazca Lines
Machu Picchu, Cuzco, the Colonial jewel of Arequipa and the enormous, enigmatic Nazca Lines — this is the classic tour of some of Peru’s major archaeological and cultural attractions. Explore the world-famous sites of the Inca alongside the intriguing remains of their lesser-known predecessors and immediate descendants as we climb from the Pacific into the highlands to the ancient heartland of the Inca Empire. From intriguing lines in the arid coastal deserts to royal estates on the Urubamba river on our descent to the ‘lost city’ of Machu Picchu, from colonial cities to breathtaking golden artefacts left by the earliest Andean civilisations, this is an epic adventure.
- Fly over the astounding Nazca Lines
- Visit world-famous sites, including Macchu Picchu
- Discover the heart of Andean civilisation
- Explore the amazing biodiversity of Peru
- Observe this area’s wonderful endemic wildlife
- The New World
- Special Access
- Small Group
- All Inclusive
We fly to Lima from London and transfer to our hotel.
The day is spent in Lima. In the morning, we visit the National Museum of Anthropology & Archaeology and, after lunch by the sea, we enjoy a walking tour of Colonial Lima.
In the morning, we depart from Lima and drive south to the city of Ica. Upon arrival here, we pay a visit to the Regional Museum, which houses a wealth of ancient coastal artefacts. Ica is a fertile agricultural area and produces fantastic wine. We continue south to Nazca, stopping en route at the Maria Reche Museum. Later, we pause at a viewing platform, from which a section of the enigmatic Nazca Lines can be admired.
Today, we have the privileged opportunity to take an optional flight over the Nazca Lines, an incredible experience and the best way to gain an appreciation of the scale of these pre-Columbian geoglyphs. Anyone preferring not to take the flight will have ample time to explore the town of Nazca independently. Later, we visit the Antonini Archaeological Museum, which houses fascinating Nazca ceramics alongside many other finds, giving further insight into the region as well as its captivating and rich history.
We begin our day with a drive across the desert to the extensive Nazca ceremonial capital of Cahuachi. This area, which features over 40 mounds that provided bases to structures, is thought to have been a pilgrimage site. We then continue south to the town of Chala.
After lunch here, we take a walking tour of the unique Puerto Inka site, which was an important centre for early trade, situated right on the ocean shore. Its remote location means that it is little visited by tourists and is a great addition to our itinerary.
With various scenic stops along the way, we drive over to the city of Arequipa, which is at 2,300m of altitude and is dramatically surrounded by volcanoes. Its historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its precarious setting makes for an enchanting visit. Not only does it have fantastic regional cuisine, it is also home to striking architecture in varying styles as well as breathtaking landscapes. This will be a great place to spend some time as there is much to explore here.
Our entire day is spent in Arequipa and our first stop is the Museo Santuarios Andinos. Here, we see the macabre and eerie remains of a body known as “Juanita”, a young sacrificial victim of the Inca period who was discovered - miraculously preserved - among the glaciers of Mount Ampato in 1995. Known to locals as the “Ice Maiden”, she was sacrificed to the gods in the 1450s.
In the afternoon, we view the extraordinarily extensive and well-preserved Santa Catalina Monastery, which was founded in 1575 and boasts vividly painted walls. Afterwards, there will be time to wander around other parts of Colonial Arequipa.
In the morning, we catch a flight to Cuzco. Upon arrival, there is time to relax and acclimatise to the altitude before taking an optional - and leisurely - walk through the centre of this Inca capital. This is a unique destination, known as the gateway to Machu Picchu, and one that showcases a fusion of architecture. At 3,400 metres above sea level, it sees Inca temples sitting alongside ornate cathedrals and is incredibly picturesque. Cuzco was also designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1983 due to its testimony of the ancient Inca civilisation as well as the many significant buildings and ruins to which it is home.
We start out with a walking tour of Cuzco in the morning, during which we see the Coricancha - or Temple of the Sun. This was the Incas’ most sacred shrine and after a visit here, we make our way to the extensive Inca Museum. In the afternoon, we explore the great fortress of Sacsayhuamán with its threetiered walls built from huge blocks. Afterwards, we make our way to the outlying archaeological site of Q’enqo, where we can spend time discovering its history.
We make our way to Tipon, south of Cuzco, this morning to see this beautifully positioned archaeological site, which has extensive and well-built terrace systems.
After lunch, we see the impressive Temple of Viracocha at Raqchi, built largely of mud brick on stone foundations. This is Inca in date, but is surrounded by other structures, notably a large series of stone houses that have recently been discovered to be much earlier.
In the morning, we travel to Chinchero to visit this beautiful site. Originally the private estate of the ruler Topa Inca, it possesses impressive carved rock outcrops, sweeping Inca terrace systems and a painted early Colonial church that incorporates a large Inca hall. We also make a specially arranged visit to a local family to witness a demonstration of traditional weaving. Later, we descend to the Urubamba Valley for lunch and proceed to Ollantaytambo, where we walk through Inca terraces into the town.
Today, we spend time exploring the main Ollantaytambo ruins and can enjoy impressive views across the Urubamba to the ancient quarry site. From here, we then drive up through the Patacancha Valley, past a number of ancient settlements, to the Inca site and Colonial church located at Marcacocha. Here, we stop for a picnic lunch and later we make our return to the quaint village of Ollantaytambo, where we can visit other parts of this unique Inca town.
We board the train in Ollantaytambo for Machu Picchu and travel to Aguas Calientes. This small town is situated directly below Machu Picchu and, in the afternoon, we catch a bus up to the legendary site and will spend the rest of our day here. This is an incredible Incan citadel set high up in the Andes Mountains and it offers unrivalled panoramic views. Despite being hugely popular with tourists, it retains an air of mystery.
We set off early this morning to continue our exploration of Machu Picchu. This renowned site was given UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1983 and has since been named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, alongside the likes of China’s Great Wall, Chichén Itzá and Rome’s iconic Colosseum. Once we have completed our tour here, we rest our legs and sit down to lunch in the town of Aguas Calientes. Later, we make our return up the valley to Ollantaytambo and eventually end up back in Cuzco.
A full day of exploration in Cuzco awaits us. During a walking tour through this Colonial town, we pass by the cathedral, the church of San Blas and also the Casa Cabrera.
After a stop for lunch, we visit the Casa Concha Machu Picchu Museum. Once we have admired its exhibits, we have the option to take a tour of the Martin Chambi Museum, which displays the remarkable pictures taken early in the 20th century by a noted local photographer.
In the morning, we take a drive out to the small, Colonial village of Pisac to experience its lively local market. Goods on offer here include regional fruit and vegetables, traditional jewellery and clothing, and - of course - souvenirs.
In the afternoon, we briefly view part of the extensive Pisac ruins. Later on, we can enjoy some free time to further explore the area at our leisure.
Today we take an early morning flight to Lima, where we visit the magnificent Larco Herrera Museum. The collections here showcase objects from all the ancient cultures that we have encountered on this tour.
We stop at the museum for lunch and then make our way back to Lima airport, where we catch our return flight home.
We arrive in the UK.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
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