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Luxury Machu Picchu Tours

 

luxury Peru tours travel

Legacy of the Incas
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours

Peru:
Machu Picchu - Lake Titicaca

(11 days/10 nights)

 

luxury Peru tours travel

Sacred Sites of the Incas
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours

Peru:
Machu Picchu - Lake Titicaca
(12 days/11 nights)

 

luxury Peru tours travel

Empire of the Sun
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours

Peru:
Machu Picchu - Lake Titicaca
(14 days/13 nights)

 

luxury Peru tours travel

Ancient Civilizations of Peru
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours

Peru:
Colca Canyon - Machu Picchu
Lake Titicaca

(16 days/15 nights)

 

luxury Peru tours travel

Archaeological & Ecological
Treasures

Luxury Machu Picchu Tours

Peru & Ecuador:
Galapagos - Machu Picchu
Lake Titicaca (or Amazon)
(18 days/17 nights)

 

luxury Peru tours travel

Grand Tour of the Inca Empire
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours

Peru:
Colca Canyon - Amazon
Machu Picchu- Lake Titicaca

(22 days/21 nights)

 

luxury Peru tours travel

Ancient & Colonial Capitals
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours


Peru:
Machu Picchu
(10 days/9 nights)

 

luxury Peru tours travel

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours

Peru:
Machu Picchu

(13 days/12 nights)

 

luxury Peru tours travel

Machu Picchu & Galapagos
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours


Peru & Ecuador:
Machu Picchu - Galapagos
(15 days/14 nights)

 

luxury Peru tours travel

Galapagos & Machu Picchus
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours


Ecuador & Peru:
Galapagos - Machu Picchu
(18 days/17 nights)

 

Luxury Galapagos Cruises

 

luxury Peru tours travel

Enchanted Isles of the Galapagos
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours


Ecuador:
Galapagos
(11 days/10 nights)

 

luxury Peru tours travel

Galapagos & the Kingdom of Quito
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours

Ecuador:
Galapagos - Andes

(16 days/15 nights)

 

luxury Peru tours travel

Galapagos & the Amazon
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours

Ecuador:
Galapagos - Amazon
(16 days/15 nights)

 

Luxury Ecuador Tours & Travel

 

luxury Peru tours travel

Historic Haciendas of the Andes
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours

Ecuador:
Cotopaxi - Antisana - Otavalo
(7 days/6 nights)

 

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luxury Peru tours travel

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Lima - Cuzco - Sacred Valley - Machu Picchu - Lake Titicaca

Luxury Machu Picchu Tours

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Pyramidal Temple of the Sun, Machu Picchu.
Photo: Renzo Uccelli.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Machu Picchu and magical Peru: a private exploration...

-- Stacey Koplin, LuxuryLink.com

 

Land Price (11 days/10 nights)

Frugal Luxury US$ 7,510 De Luxe US$ 8,485 Imperial US$ 9,710 per person

The land price includes escorted transfers, private excursions with professional guides and chauffeurs, entrance fees, selected category of accommodations, gourmet cuisine, all land and water transportation, and travel insurance for guests through the age of 59 years (over that age, there is a supplementary fee). All prices are per person based on two people sharing a guest room. For a detailed description of our services, see Opulent Itineraries.

Mapluxury Peru tours travel Machu PicchuHotelsluxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu8 Nightsluxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu9 Nights

 

Intra-Tour Flights & Fares

Air fares are in addition to the land price.

Lima - Cuzco & Juliaca - Lima: US$ 550 per person

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Woman unloading totora reeds. Uros Islands, Lake Titicaca.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

From its roots in southern Peru to its glory in the imperial city of Cuzco, you will experience the panoramic history of the Inca Empire and of the civilizations that inspired the Incas to greatness. Archaeology, art, architecture, folklore and cuisine compose a cultural adventure to forever cherish.

All international flights arrive in Lima, a five-century-old Spanish colonial city and home to the country's major museums. The next morning, enter the historic district's crown jewels. In the afternoon, discover the treasures of the Incas at the Museo Larco.

A morning flight into the Andes takes you to Cuzco, the ancient capital, where you will have one day to explore its Inca and colonial monuments, two days in the "Lost City" of Machu Picchu and one day for the reknowned archaeological sites and native markets of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

After a spectacular rail adventure on the Orient-Express Andean Explorer through magnificent mountains towering over the deep valleys of the meandering Huatanay River, and across the gentle, rolling Altiplano, where vicuña and alpaca are often seen; your tour will continue on and around Lake Titicaca. Cruise to traditional Taquile Island and the floating Islands of the Uros, and drive to the millennia-old pilgrimage site of Inka Anatawi and the enigmatic archaeological site of Sillustani.

Return to Lima to explore the Pachacamac archaeological site. After a lunch of artistic cuisine by chef Rafael Osterling, walk in the artists' quarter of Barranco, have a farewell drink and transfer to the airport for your overnight flight home, completing your tour of the legacy of the Incas.

 

What Luxury Link has to say about Legacy of the Incas.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Facade, La Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco, Lima.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Highlights

Lima

Day 1: Flight to Lima. International arrival in the afternoon or evening, reception and transfer to your hotel. Overnight in the Orient-Express Miraflores Park.

Day 2: Lima. Morning walking tour in the colonial quarter, visiting the Plaza de Armas and entering La Casa de Aliaga and La Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco. View the exterior of La Iglesia y Convento de Santo Domingo, Lima's oldest convent, and enter La Catedral for a short visit. In contrast to the religious structures, the Torre Tagle Palace is the city's best surviving example of secular colonial architecture. Lunch at the Café del Museo. Afternoon at the Museo Larco. Dine at Astrid & Gastón, one of the highest notes in the Peruvian culinary scene. Overnight in the Orient-Express Miraflores Park.

Cuzco

Day 3: Lima - Cuzco (Inca Monuments). Transfer to the airport. Flight to Cuzco. Reception and transfer to your hotel, with time to rest for an hour. Lunch at Pacha Papa before a visit to an artisan's workshop and the Church of San Blas. Afternoon walking tour in the imperial city of the Incas to their ancient monuments, including the Stone of Twelve Angles, Huacaypata (now called the Plaza de Armas), the fine Inca walls of Inti Q'ijllo, Ajlla Wasi (House of the Virgins of the Sun) and Qorikancha (Temple of the Sun). Drive to the nearby Inca monuments of Tambomachay, Puka Pukara, Qenqo and Saqsaywaman. This evening, you will see pre-Inca and Inca art at the Museo de Arte Precolombino, with a dinner of nouvelle Andean cuisine in the courtyard. Overnight in the Orient-Express Monasterio.

Sacred Valley

Day 4: Cuzco - Awana Kancha - Sacred Valley (Pisaq & Ollantaytambo). On the way to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, see all four species of South American camelid at Awana Kancha. After a short visit to the Pisaq market, hike in the Pisaq ruins. Lunch at 3 Keros. Arrival at your hotel. Continue to the Ollantaytambo archeological site. At a nearby hacienda, an honored shaman will conduct an ancient ceremony still observed by the indigenous people of Peru to obtain health, well-being and luck. After this memorable experience, you will return to your hotel. Dinner and overnight in the Orient-Express Rio Sagrado.

Machu Picchu

Day 5: Sacred Valley - Orient-Express Vistadome - Machu Picchu. Transfer to the train station to meet your guide. Vistadome to Machu Picchu. Transfer to the ruins. Day entrance. Buffet luncheon. Private guided tour in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight in the Orient-Express Sanctuary Lodge.

Cuzco

Day 6: Machu Picchu - Orient-Express Vistadome - Cuzco. Entrance into the ruins. Day of exploration with your guide or on your own. Sunrise over Machu Picchu. Lunch in the hotel. Transfer to the train station. Vistadome to the Poroy Station, on the outskirts of Cuzco. Reception and transfer to your hotel. Dinner at the Restaurante El Tupay. Overnight in the Orient-Express Monasterio.

Lake Titicaca

Day 7: Cuzco - Orient-Express Andean Explorer - Puno. Transfer to the train station. First Class service on the Orient-Express Andean Explorer to Puno. Three-course lunch followed by coffee in the observation car. Scenic stop at La Raya, the highest point on the route. Reception and transfer to your hotel. Cocktails, dinner and overnight in the Titilaka.

Day 8: Puno (Taquile Island, Sailing & Inka Anatawi). Morning cruise to Taquile Island to see the living culture of the Incas. Ceremonial lunch baked in an adobe oven. An afternoon excursion on a small sailboat with a skilled sailor will let you experience the splendor and spirit of Lake Titicaca, its islands and the Andes. Later, ascend an Inca trail to Inka Anatawi, a millennia-old pilgrimage site with a vast panorama of the lake and nearly all of its islands. Natural rock sculptures enhance the sacred feeling of this sanctuary, which could well be considered the Gothic cathedral of its age. After descending, visit the local community and see colorful textiles made by its weavers. Return to the hotel. Cocktails, dinner and overnight in the Titilaka.

Options:

Instead of sailing and Inka Anatawi, you may select your choice of afternoon excursions offered by Titilaka, such as one to the poetic pueblos of Juli and Pomata, whose churches are jewels of colonial architecture, or to the anciently-carved rockface known as the Puerta de Amaru Muru.

Day 9: Puno (Uros Islands & Sillustani) - Juliaca - Lima. Drive to the Port of Puno for a morning cruise to the floating islands of the Uros. Upon returning to port, begin an overland excursion to Sillustani. Picnic lunch among the ruins. Continue to the Juliaca airport for the Flight to Lima. Arrival, reception and transfer to your hotel. This evening, a dinner of artistic cuisine at Rafael. Overnight in the Orient-Express Miraflores Park.

Lima

Day 10: Lima. Morning drive to Pachacamac, the most reknowned pre-Inca and Inca pilgrimage site of the coast. Upon returning to Lima, lunch at the extraordinary Huaca Pucllana restaurant, which reinterprets the Peruvian Criollo tradition. Afterward, continue to Barranco for visits to one of the country's finest crafts shops, the Museo de Arte Colonial Pedro de Osma, La Puente de los Suspiros and La Iglesia de La Ermita. After arrival back at the hotel, have a farewell drink, order from room service or just rest before the transfer to the airport for your Overnight Flight Home. Relax in the VIP Club while awaiting departure and enjoy a buffet of light fare and beverages, including Peru's famous pisco sour. Day Room in the Orient-Express Miraflores Park.

Home

Day 11: Lima - Home. Flight and arrival home.

 

Details

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Wooden balcony of the Torre Tagle Palace, Lima.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

At ancient Peru's most exalted pilgrimage site, eroded temples speak of the pre-Columbian cultures that worshipped the earth god Pachacamac ("he who gives life to the universe"). When the Incas arrived, they respected the temples and religion of those people, allowing them to worship that god alongside the Incas' own god, the Sun. For their deity, the Incas erected a great stone temple on a cliff above the sea. When the Spaniards arrived, they destroyed the holiest place in their lust for gold but found that the only treasure it contained was spiritual.

Nearby Lima, founded by the conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535, came to be the capital of the New World for a period of three years. It reached its grandest splendor in the 17th and 18th centuries. The city has two principal attractions: the colonial quarter, where a visit to La Casa de Aliaga is to go back in time to the earliest years of the Spanish conquest, and the archaeological museums, which display gold, ceramic and textile masterpieces of Peru's pre-Inca and Inca civilizations. The country's independence movement was led by Jose de San Martin of Argentina and Simon Bolivar of Venezuela. San Martin proclaimed Peruvian independence from Spain on July 28, 1821, marking the end of the colonial period and the beginning of the republican era.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Huaca de Huallamarca, Lima.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Day 1: Flight to Lima

International arrival this afternoon or evening in the five-century-old colonial city of Lima, "City of the Kings" and the capital of Peru. Reception and escorted transfer to your hotel in the garden district of Miraflores, high above the Pacific Ocean and home to the city's grand 19th century mansions. Overnight in the Orient-Express Miraflores Park.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Entry door of the Casa Aliaga, Lima.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel. Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Day 2: Lima

Breakfast. This morning, walk with your guide in the heart of the city, which preserves its Spanish colonial heritage of the 16th-18th centuries. It was Francisco Pizarro, the founder of Lima, who determined the area for the Plaza de Armas as well as the location of the structures around it. In the center of the plaza is a splendid bronze fountain of 1650. Around the plaza and originally dating back to the city's beginnings in 1535 are the Cathedral, destroyed in the earthquake of 1746 and rebuilt in 1758; the Archbishop's Palace, rebuilt in 1924; and the Presidential Palace, rebuilt in 1937. Surviving intact is La Casa de Aliaga. Built in 1535 by Don Jeronimo de Aliaga, a member of Pizarro's conquering forces and co-founder of the city, it is still inhabited by the original family. Your visit to this antique-filled mansion is to go back in time to the earliest years of the Spanish conquest of Peru.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

17th century library, La Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco, Lima.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel. Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

On your walking tour, enter the 1674 La Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco, the most spectacular of Lima's colonial-era churches. It features cloisters and interiors of Spanish tiles; Moorish-style, carved-wood ceilings; a fine museum of religious art; a 17th century library of twenty-thousand books, many dating from the first years of the city's founding; and catacombs begun in 1546. View the exterior of the 1599 La Iglesia y Convento de Santo Domingo, Lima's oldest convent, and enter the 1758 La Catedral for a short visit. In contrast to the religious structures, the 1735 Torre Tagle Palace, with its gorgeous baroque stone doorway and carved-wood balconies, is the city's best surviving example of secular colonial architecture.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Mochica, 500 AC.
Photo: Museo Larco, Lima, Peru. Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Lunch of traditional Peruvian cuisine at the Café del Museo, located in the gardens of the Museo Larco and directed by Peru's most prestigious chef, Gastón Acurio. Founded in 1926, the Museo Larco exhibits the world's largest private collection of pre-Columbian art -- a treasure trove of gold, silver, semi-precious stones and textiles. The collection's predominant strength is in Mochica ceramics, of which the erotic ones are the most famous. Their notariety ought not to obscure the fact that the museum presents a complete view of the cultural development of ancient Peru through a selection of its 45,000 pieces, housed in a colonial building of the 18th century.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

"Huaco" depicting Spondylus shells, Northern Huari culture, c. 800 AD.
Museo Larco, Lima. Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel. Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Return to your hotel to relax. This evening, dine at Astrid & Gastón. When the restaurant was founded a decade ago by Gastón Acurio and Astrid Gutsche, the restaurant's cuisine was largely French. Both chefs had studied in Paris' Le Cordon Bleu. Gradually, though, as they rediscovered Peruvian flavors and culinary traditions, the kitchen began to incorporate local dishes and ingredients, moving towards the current sophisticated Criollo concept that characterizes the restaurant today and makes it one of the highest notes in the Peruvian culinary scene. Overnight in the Orient-Express Miraflores Park.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

The Stone of Twelve Angles, Cuzco.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

The most renowned of the Peruvian temples,

the pride of the capital, and the wonder of the empire, was at Cuzco,

where, under the munificence of successive sovereigns,

it had become so enriched, that it received the name of Coricancha,

or "the Place of Gold."

-- William H. Prescott, The History of the Conquest of Peru, 1847

 

Day 3: Lima - Cuzco (Inca Monuments)

Breakfast. Early transfer to the airport for the flight to Cuzco, the capital of the Inca Empire, called Tawantinsuyo. The name of Cuzco is a Spanish version of the native word Q'osqo, which means the "Navel of the Universe". Arrival, reception and transfer to your hotel. Time to rest for an hour. A lunch of traditional Andean cuisine by chef Rodolfo Rolando in the patio of Pacha Papa. Just across the street, visit an artisan's workshop and the Church of San Blas (built in 1562). It houses an imposing pulpit from the late 17th century that, for many, is the finest example of a carved wooden structure in the world. Chiseled from a single cedar trunk, the pulpit features angels, demons, saints, virgins and beasts. A native artist, Juan Thomas Tuirutupa, is believed to have been the sculptor. The main altarpiece is Baroque and exceptionally beautiful.

Afternoon walking tour in the imperial city of the Incas to their ancient monuments, including the Stone of Twelve Angles, Huacaypata (Leisure Square -- now called the Plaza de Armas and dominated by the Spanish colonial Cathedral). the fine Inca walls of Inti Q'ijllo, the Ajlla Wasi (the House of the Virgins of the Sun) and Qorikancha (the Temple of the Sun). All of these constructions date from the era of 1440 A.D., when Inca Pachakuteq, desiring a capital befitting his great empire, pulled down the adobe city and rebuilt Cuzco in stone.

The Inca palaces were in the form of "canchas", or enclosures, formed by massive stone walls with living quarters, temples and courtyards within. Throughout Cuzco, you will see the Inca walls, built upon by the Spaniards in colonial style. The Cathedral was built over the Inca Wiracocha's palace. The Palacio Arzobispal, or Archbishop's Palace, was erected in the 16th century in an Arabesque style on the walls of Hatunrumiyoc, the palace of Inca Sinchi Roca, which contains the Stone of Twelve Angles. The Church of Santo Domingo (begun in 1534), was built over Qorikancha, the most important religious structure in the Inca Empire. When the earthquake of 1950 collapsed much of the superimposed colonial architecture, it revealed the ancient Temples of the Sun, the Moon, the Stars, Thunder and Lightning, and the Rainbow.

 

The interior of the temple was the most worthy of admiration. It was literally a mine of gold. On the western wall was emblazoned a representation of the deity, consisting of a human countenance, looking forth from amidst innumerable rays of light, which emanated from it in every direction, in the same manner as the sun is often personified with us. The figure was engraved on a massive plate of gold of enormous dimensions, thickly powdered with emeralds and precious stones. It was so situated in front of the great eastern portal, that the rays of the morning sun fell directly upon it at its rising, lighting up the whole apartment with an effulgence that seemed more than natural, and which was reflected back from the golden ornaments with which the walls and ceiling were everywhere incrusted. Gold, in the figurative language of the people, was "the tears wept by the sun," and every part of the interior of the temple glowed with burnished plates and studs of the precious metal. The cornices, which surrounded the walls of the sanctuary, were of the same costly material; and a broad belt or frieze of gold, let into the stonework, encompassed the whole exterior of the edifice.

Adjoining the principal structure were several chapels of smaller dimensions. One of them was consecrated to the Moon, the deity held next in reverence, as the mother of the Incas. Her effigy was delineated in the same manner as that of the Sun, on a vast plate that nearly covered one side of the apartment. But this plate, as well as all the decorations of the building, was of silver, as suited to the pale, silvery light of the beautiful planet. There were three other chapels, one of which was dedicated to the host of Stars, who formed the bright court of the Sister of the Sun; another was consecrated to his dread ministers of vengeance, the Thunder and the Lightning; and a third, to the Rainbow, whose many-colored arch spanned the walls of the edifice with hues almost as radiant as its own...

All the plate, the ornaments, the utensils of every description, appropriated to the uses of religion, were of gold or silver. Twelve immense vases of the latter metal stood on the floor of the great saloon, filled with grain of the Indian corn; the censers for the perfumes, the ewers which held the water for sacrifice, the pipes which conducted it through subterraneous channels into the buildings, the reservoirs that received it, even the agricultural implements used in the gardens of the temple, were all of the same rich materials. The gardens, like those described, belonging to the royal palaces, sparkled with flowers of gold and silver, and various imitations of the vegetable kingdom. Animals, also, were to be found there --among which the llama, with its golden fleece, was most conspicuous-- executed in the same style, and with a degree of skill, which, in this instance, probably, did not surpass the excellence of the material.

-- William H. Prescott, The History of the Conquest of Peru, 1847

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Qorikancha, the Temple of the Sun, Cuzco.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

In the time of the Incas, this garden... was entirely made of gold and silver; and there were similar gardens about all the royal mansions. Here could be seen all sorts of plants, flowers, trees, animals, both small and large, wild and tame, tiny, crawling creatures such as snakes, lizards, and snails, as well as butterflies and birds of every size; each one of these marvels being placed at the spot that best suited the nature of what it represented.

There were a tall corn stalk and another stalk from the grain they call quinoa, as well as other vegetables and fruit trees, the fruits of which were all very faithfully reproduced in gold and silver. There were also, in the house of the Sun, as well as in that of the king, piles of wool made of gold and silver, and large statues of men, women, and children made of the same materials, in addition to storerooms and recipients for storing the grain they called pirua, all of which, together, tended to lend greater splendor and majesty to the house of their god the Sun.

All of these valuable works were made by the goldsmiths attached to the Temple, from the tribute of gold and silver that arrived every year from all the provinces of the Empire, and which was so great that the most modest utensils used in the temple, such as pots and pans, or pitchers, were also made of precious metals. For this reason, the temple and its service quarters were called Coricancha, which means the place of gold.

-- Garcilaso de la Vega, The Royal Commentaries of the Inca, 1609

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu PicchuMachu Picchu Tours Travel

Ritual fountains of Tambomachay, Cuzco.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Drive to the nearby Inca monuments of Tambomachay, Puka Pukara, Qenqo and Saqsaywaman. Tambomachay is believed to have been dedicated to the worship of water and its aqueducts are fed by springs all year long. The site includes a liturgical fountain and three terraces with structures made from polyhedral blocks of stone, joined without mortar. The setting is bucolic and the spring water is cold, pure and delicious. Drink from the sacred fountain and make your devotions to one of life's essential elements.

Puka Pukara (red fortress) is located at a strategic point along the road to Antisuyo (the jungle quarter of the Inca Empire). It served as a checkpoint and was a military and administrative center. The Inca's retinue received food and lodging here when he stopped at Tambomachay, on his way to the Sacred Valley.

Qenqo is a vast, rocky hilltop carved into staircases, holes and channels, probably built to store the chicha (fermented maize beer) used in Inca rituals. The site features a semi-circular patio studded with several large niches surrounding a stone figure embedded within a chamber, rather like an idol inside its own shrine.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Temple and fortress of Saqsaywaman, Cuzco.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

To truly appreciate fortress of Saqsaywaman, one must realize that what may now be seen is only the base of a colossal construction of a series of three successively-higher, defensive structures made from enormous blocks of stone, joined together with great precision.

 

Inside this triple enclosure, three tall towers were erected on a large narrow ground. The largest of them was called Mayac Marca, which means the round tower. It was built over a clear, abundant spring, fed by underground canalizations, concerning which nobody knew from where or how they came... This round tower contained rooms with gold and silver paneled walls, on which animals, birds, and plants figured in relief, as though in a tapestry. It was here that the king lived when he came for a rest in the fortress...

The two other towers, which were round, not square, in shape, were called Paucar Marca and Sacllac Marca, and were used to house soldiers of the garrison, which was composed only of Incas by privilege, ordinary men, even combatants, not being allowed inside this fortress, which was the house of the Sun, both its arsenal and its temple...

An underground network of passages, which was as vast as the towers themselves, connected them with one another. This was composed of a quantity of streets and alleyways which ran in every direction, and so many doors, all of them identical, that the most experienced men dared not venture into this labyrinth without a guide, consisting of a long thread tied to the first door, which unwound as they advanced....

It would have been in the interest of the Spaniards to maintain this fortress, and even to repair it at their own expense, because, quite alone, it gave proof of the grandeur of their victory and would have served as a witness to it for all eternity. And yet, not only did they not keep it up, but they hastened its ruin, demolishing its hewn stones, in order to construct their own Cuzco homes at less cost.

They made their portals and thresholds with the big flat stones that formed the ceilings, and to make their stairways, they did not hesitate to tear down entire walls, provided they were based on a few stones that could be used for steps.

And so, that is how the Spaniards destroyed the Cuzco fortress.

-- Garcilaso de la Vega, The Royal Commentaries of the Inca, 1609

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Campesina at Saqsaywaman, Cuzco.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Saqsaywaman was considered a fortress by the Spaniards, since it was a place of defense, weapons and war. It was considered the House of the Sun by the Incas because, at the same time, it was a place of worship and sacrifice. Notably, it was the site of the most important ceremony of the empire, Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun. Its name means "Satiated Hawk" and it was built in approximately 77 years (1431-1508), during the reign of Inca Yupanqui and Wayna Qhapaj. It began being destroyed from 1537 until 1561, becoming the base for the building of the Spanish Cathedral, churches and homes. "Neither the bridge of Segovia, nor the buildings built by Hercules or the Romans, are so worthy of being admired, as this" says the Spanish chronicler and soldier Pedro Sancho de la Hoz, who saw Inca Cuzco intact, along with Pizarro in 1533. Return to your hotel.

This evening, at the Museo de Arte Precolombino, you will see 450 pre-Inca and Inca masterpieces dating from 1250 B.C. to 1532 A.D. Afterward, dinner of nouvelle Andean cuisine by Manuel Cordova at the Map Café, in the museum's courtyard. Overnight in the Orient-Express Monasterio.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Terraces of Pisaq, Sacred Valley.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

But the favorite residence of the Incas was at Yucay, about four leagues distant from the capital. In this delicious valley, locked up within the friendly arms of the sierra, which sheltered it from the rude breezes of the east, and refreshed by gushing fountains and streams of running water, they built the most beautiful of their palaces. Here, when wearied with the dust and toil of the city, they loved to retreat, and solace themselves with the society of their favorite concubines, wandering amidst groves and airy gardens, that shed around their soft, intoxicating odors, and lulled the senses to voluptuous repose. Here, too, they loved to indulge in the luxury of their baths, replenished by streams of crystal water which were conducted through subterraneous silver channels into basins of gold. The spacious gardens were stocked with numerous varieties of plants and flowers that grew without effort in this temperate region of the tropics, while parterres of a more extraordinary kind were planted by their side, glowing with the various forms of vegetable life skilfully imitated in gold and silver! Among them the Indian corn, the most beautiful of American grains, is particularly commemorated, and the curious workmanship is noticed with which the golden ear was half disclosed amidst the broad leaves of silver, and the light tassel of the same material that floated gracefully from its top.

-- William H. Prescott, The History of the Conquest of Peru, 1847

 

Day 4: Cuzco - Awana Kancha - Sacred Valley (Pisaq & Ollantaytambo)

Breakfast. On the way to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, see all four species of South American camelid -- the llama, alpaca, vicuña and guanaco -- at Awana Kancha, a living museum of Andean culture. Proceed to Pisaq.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Ruins of Pisaq surrounding the solar calendar, Sacred Valley.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

High on a mountain above the Sacred Valley and the Urubamba River, tower the imposing remains of an ancient settlement. The Pisaq ruins take up the entire mountain and are made up of different neighborhoods, or squares, the main one being Intihuatana, which is admired for the architectural skill of its constructions. Its central feature is a monumental solar calendar on a promontory from which there are spectacular outlooks. At the same time, the pre-Hispanic cemetery is of great interest, as it is the largest found in this part of the continent, containing thousands of tombs, some of them looted. Pisaq also is famous for the colossal terraces that circle the mountains and the fabulous watchtowers, which were used as observation points as well as for control and military defense.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Girl of Pisaq adorned in traditional attire and cantuta flowers, Sacred Valley.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Far below, in the colonial town of Pisaq, a popular handicraft fair take place under the main square's century-old tree, with wares displayed on vividly patterned and colored textiles. On Sundays, the traditional mass is held in Quechua, the Inca language, at the local church, which is attended by the village leaders from the surrounding communities. They wear their typical costumes and carry their traditional scepter of authority, or vara, that gives origin to their name of Varayoc.

 

 

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Fortress of Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

A lunch of nouvelle Andean cuisine by chef Ricardo Behar at 3 Keros. El Huacatay and 3 Keros fight for the title of the best restaurant in the Sacred Valley. The two restaurants greatly elevate the gastronomic offering of the valley. Arrival at your hotel, the gracious Rio Sagrado, on the banks of the Urubamba, the Inca's sacred river.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Agricultural terraces, Fortress of Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Continue to the Ollantaytambo archeological site, a gigantic agricultural, administrative, social, religious and military center in the era of Tawantinsuyo. According to legend, the fortress belonged to a powerful lord, Ollantay, who fell in love with Princess Cusi Coillor, daughter of Inca Pachakuteq. It later served Manco Inca after his defeat by the Spaniards at Saqsaywaman.The architectural style of its streets and squares reflects Inca town planning, with enormous polyhedral stones forming the walls and trapezoidal doorways of temples and palaces set along rectilinear and narrow streets, which have been inhabited continuously since Inca times.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Incan town of Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Above the town, a mountain rises which houses innumerable Inca constructions, such as magnificently-crafted temples and terraces. One striking construction is the partially-destroyed main temple, believed to be the Temple of the Sun, whose carved-stone facade is made up of six perfectly-sculpted, red monoliths. The mountainside on which this enormous fortress is built is strategic: it dominates three valleys that come together at this point. Across one valley, tremendous blocks of stone lie abandoned along the route from the quarry site to Ollantaytambo, their uncompleted journey marking the arrival of the "Conquistadores".

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Traditional healer's ceremony.
Photo: Kerry Chirinos.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

At a nearby hacienda, an honored shaman will conduct an ancient ceremony still observed by the indigenous people of Peru. To perform this ritual, the shaman, Hubert Lazarte, gathers such traditional items as coca leaves and wine for a simple offering. Each participant selects three coca leaves and chews them while making wishes for health, well-being and luck, then adds the leaves to the tribute, which includes medicinal and aromatic plants. The shaman prays in the Inca language of Quechua, asking Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) and the Apus (mountain spirits) to grant the wishes as he burns the offering on an altar before burying it in the earth. After this memorable experience, you will return to your hotel. For dinner, executive chef Federico Ziegler presents a delicious fusion of Urubamba’s best kept culinary secrets, Peruvian traditional zest and international delicacies. Dinner and overnight in the Orient-Express Rio Sagrado.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Citadel of Machu Picchu.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Arrive like the Inca!

Consider an unforgettable arrival on the Royal Inca Trail

(Trek must be requested in writing at the time of booking your tour.)

Photo album: Marvels of Machu Picchu

 

Day 5: Sacred Valley - Orient-Express Vistadome - Machu Picchu

Breakfast. Early transfer to the station to meet your guide and board the train for a descent into the Urubamba Valley to reach Machu Picchu (Old Peak), the "Lost City of the Incas". The Orient-Express Vistadome's recently renovated carriages have panoramic windows, offering enhanced photographic opportunities. Refreshments will be served. Upon arrival, your guide will accompany you to the Orient-Express Sanctuary Lodge, near the top of Machu Picchu and next to the ruins.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Agricultural terraces, Machu Picchu.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

A sumptuous buffet luncheon of regional cuisine by chef Paulino Huaman at the Sanctuary Lodge's Tinkuy Restaurant. On your private tour this afternoon, you will ponder the many theories about this mysterious citadel, including the latest -- that it was Inca Pachacuti's winter palace. The word "ruins" is misleading, as the site is actually in a remarkable state of preservation -- only the wood and palm-frond roofs have decomposed over the centuries. Surprisingly, the Spaniards never discovered the sanctuary, and it remained unknown to the outside world until Hiram Bingham's expedition of 1911. Its discovery captured the world's imagination, and its allure has never diminished.

Walk back to the hotel. From its terrace and nearby lookouts, you will be able to watch the sunset, southern constellations and sunrise over the citadel, from high above the canyon of the Urubamaba River. A gourmet dinner of Peruvian-Mediterranean cuisine by chef Huaman at the Sanctuary Lodge's Tampu Restaurant. Overnight in the Orient-Express Sanctuary Lodge.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Trapezoidal windows, Machu Picchu.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

The temples and royal chambers, throughout the Empire, were lined with gold, and, in preparing the stone, they left niches and empty spaces in which to put all sorts of human or animal figures: birds, or wild beasts, such as tigers, bears, lions, wolves, dogs and wildcats, deer, guanacos, vicuñas and even domestic ewes, all of which were made of gold and silver...

Imitation of nature was so consummate that they even reproduced the leaves and little plants that grow on walls; they also scattered here and there, gold or silver lizards, butterflies, mice and snakes, which were so well made and so cunningly placed, that one had the impression of seeing them run about in all directions...

In all the royal mansions there were gardens and orchards given over to the Inca's moments of relaxation. Here were planted the finest trees and the most beautiful flowers and sweet-smelling herbs in the kingdom, while quantities of others were reproduced in gold and silver, at every stage of their growth, from the sprout that hardly shows above the earth, to the full-blown plant, in complete maturity. There were also fields of corn with silver stalks and gold ears, on which the leaves, grains, and even the corn silk were shown.

In addition to all this, there were all kinds of gold and silver animals in these gardens, such as rabbits, mice, lizards, snakes, butterflies, foxes, and wildcats... Then there were birds set in the trees, as though they were about to sing, and others bent over the flowers, breathing in their nectar. There were roe deer and deer, lions and tigers, all the animals in creation, in fact, each placed just where it should be.

-- Garcilaso de la Vega, The Royal Commentaries of the Inca, 1609

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Day 6: Machu Picchu - Orient-Express Vistadome - Cuzco

Breakfast. Entrance into the ruins. Day of exploration with your guide or on your own. Start by ascending Machu Picchu for sunrise, which due to the high, surrounding mountains does not occur until around 7:00 am. It takes an hour to walk up to Intipunku (Sun Gate), the end of the Inca Trail and the ancient entrance into the sanctuary. Its majestic panorama of the citadel, seen from on high, is the first view the Incas had upon arriving from Cuzco. Other memorable hikes lead to the top of Huayna Picchu (a strenuous, two-hour round-trip), the Temple of the Moon (a moderate, four-hour round-trip), the Inca Drawbridge (an easy, one-hour round-trip) and Machu Picchu's multitude of hidden nooks and crannies.

A lunch by chef Huaman at the Tampu Restaurant. Descend from Machu Picchu at mid-afternoon and walk to the station for the train departure. Evening arrival at the Poroy Station, on the outskirts of Cuzco, reception and transfer to your hotel. A dinner of inspired dishes influenced by French cuisine and created with local produce of the highest quality by executive chef Federico Ziegler at the Restaurante El Tupay. Overnight in the Orient-Express Monasterio.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Boatman, Uros Islands, Lake Titicaca.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

The worship of the Sun constituted the peculiar care of the Incas,

and was the object of their lavish expenditure.

The most ancient of the many temples dedicated ted to this divinity

was in the Island of Titicaca,

whence the royal founders of the Peruvian line

were said to have proceeded...

-- William H. Prescott, The History of the Conquest of Peru, 1847

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Orient-Express Andean Explorer railway, Meseta de Collao, Lake Titicaca.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel. Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Day 7: Cuzco - Orient-Express Andean Explorer - Puno

Breakfast. Early transfer to the Orient-Express Andean Explorer. This spectacular rail adventure begins in Cuzco and runs south to the historic city of Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The gentle climb is breathtaking. The first half of the journey is dominated by magnificent Andean mountains, towering over the deep valleys of the meandering Huatanay River. It then reaches the gentler, rolling Andean Plains, where vicuña and alpaca are often seen. Sightseeing while on board the train is enhanced by a glass-walled observation car. Dining includes a three-course lunch, directed by executive chef Federico Ziegler, followed by coffee served in the observation car. The journey is broken by a scenic stop at La Raya, the highest point on the route.

The banks of Lake Titicaca were the meeting place of three cultures: the Aymara, Quechua and Spanish, the combination of which becomes evident in their artistic and cultural expressions. This unequaled legacy has resulted in Puno being recognized as the Folkloric Capital of Peru.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Festival of Candelaria, Puno, Lake Titicaca.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel. Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

The city of Puno perches in the southeastern highlands of Peru, or Altiplano, at a breathtaking 12,550 feet above sea level. It is situated on the shores of Titicaca, an ancient inland sea thrust high into the Andes. The area, cold and uninviting by some standards, is rich with spectacular landscapes and imposing archaeological ruins.

Around Puno's main square, or the Plaza de Armas, are the 18th century Cathedral; La Casa del Corregidor, a traditional Puno manor house of the 19th century; and La Casa del Conde de Lemos, a colonial mansion in which, according to tradition, Viceroy Conde de Lemos stayed when he founded the city on November 4, 1668. Early evening arrival, reception and transfer to your hotel. Cocktails, dinner and overnight in the Titilaka.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Chillora, on the shore of Lake Titicaca.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Day 8: Puno (Taquile Island, Sailing & Inka Anatawi)

Breakfast. Morning cruise to Taquile Island to see the living culture of the Incas.

"This is an indigenous community of some 350 families which continues to live within the traditions of the 14th century, according to the principles of Inca life. Here, without noting the passing of time, the three golden rules of the Empire of the Sun have been kept: Ama suwa, Ama quella, Ama llulla (do not steal, don't be idle, and do not lie). The contact with other civilizations has not been able to destroy the profound identity of the Inca way...

On Taquile there are no planes, no trucks, no cars, no motorcycles. It is on foot, following the little pathways of ordered stones, that the visitor allows himself to be infused with this surprising atmosphere that envelops the island. The principal characteristic of the island resides in the fact that it has conserved, across the centuries, a great many of the customs of the old lake population, such as a comunitarian life where everything is shared, exceptional handcrafts, and -- unique of their kind -- dances and traditional music, maintained in all their purity."

-- Hernan Cornejo & Christian Nonis, Rumbos Magazine, Volume II, No. 10, 1997

 

After a "huatia", a ceremonial lunch baked in an adobe oven, return to the hotel.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Sailing on Lake Titicaca.
Photo: The Andean Experience Co. Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

An afternoon excursion on a small sailboat with a skilled sailor will let you experience the splendor and spirit of Lake Titicaca, its islands and the Andes. While on board, you can ponder how Titicaca, once an inland sea, was raised more than two miles into the sky by nature's tectonic forces.

Later, ascend an Inca trail to Inka Anatawi, a millennia-old pilgrimage site with a vast panorama of the lake and nearly all of its islands. The Incan ceremonial altars that overlook the immensity of Lake Titicaca still receive offerings for Pachamama (Mother Earth) and Mamacota (Mother Water) from Aymara natives and spiritually-minded visitors. Natural rock sculptures enhance the sacred feeling of this sanctuary, which could well be considered the Gothic cathedral of its age. After descending, visit the local community and see colorful textiles made by its weavers.

Options:

Instead of sailing and Inka Anatawi, you may select an afternoon overland excursion to the poetic pueblos of Juli and Pomata, whose churches are jewels of colonial architecture or to the anciently-carved rockface known as the Puerta de Amaru Muru.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Weaver in front of Juli's Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion, Lake Titicaca.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel. Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Afternoon overland excursion to the poetic pueblos of Juli and Pomata, whose churches are jewels of colonial architecture.

Juli, "The Little Rome of America", was once a great cultural and religious center of the Altiplano. In the 17th and 18th centuries, it was occupied by the Dominicans and, later, the Jesuits who, in their zeal to persuade the native population, constructed beautiful churches in the mestizo style: San Pedro, San Juan de Letran, Santa Cruz and La Asuncion, in which are found impressive examples of painting and sculpture in that style.

Pomata, called the "Philosophic Balcony of the Altiplano" because of its sublime geographic location on the banks of Lake Titicaca, is a propitious place for contemplation and inspiration. Its principal attraction, the 17th century, mestizo-style Temple of Santiago Apostol de Pomata is, perhaps, the most beautiful in the south of the country, because of its rich interior decoration, augmented by the architectural expression of its pink granite construction. Beautifully carved pink granite and gold-leaf altars also distinguish the 18th century church of Nuestra Señora del Rosario. Return to the hotel. Cocktails, dinner and overnight in the Titilaka.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Puerta de Amaru Muru, Vilca Uta, Lake Titicaca.
Photo: Edwin Harkness Spina.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Afternoon overland excursion to the anciently carved rockface known as the Puerta de Amaru Muru, one of the most enigmatic sites in the Lake Titicaca region. Some say that the "puerta", or doorway, has magical properties -- that people disappear through it, never to return, and that strange beings have been seen to emerge from it. Some say the doorway is the entrance to the Temple of Illumination of Amuru Muru, one of thirteen lords sent by an advanced race to different parts of the world to preserve their knowledge and sacred artifacts. Some believe that Amuru Muru was the first Inca, Manco Capac, and that he hung one of the artifacts, the Solar Disk, in Cuzco's Temple of the Sun. This disk is said to have been carried back through the doorway centuries later to protect it from the Spaniards. Local inhabitants tell strange stories about the stone doorway, such as it becomes transparent on some sunsets, allowing a view of a city within. Is it really a portal to another dimension of the Universe? You will have a chance to reach your own conclusion. Return to the hotel. Cocktails, dinner and overnight in the Titilaka.

 

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

Flamingo on the Uros Islands, Lake Titicaca.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Day 9: Puno (Uros Islands & Sillustani) - Juliaca - Lima

Breakfast. Drive to the Port of Puno for a morning cruise to the Islands of the Uros, forty island-like packs of floating totora reeds. Legend has it that Manco Capac, the first Inca, and Mama Ocllo, his sister-consort, rose from the waters of the lake to found the Inca Empire. The royal pair are said to be the forebears of the Uros, whose descendents now inhabit the lake's famous floating islands. These lake dwellers continue to live like their ancestors did, preserving their customs and idiosyncracies but, above all, their own system of communal life.

 

 

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Boatman sailing a traditional reed boat, Uros Islands, Lake Titicaca.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel.
Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Upon returning to port, begin an overland excursion to Sillustani. Its necropolis, which is one of the largest in America and one of the most impressive in the world, stands over a peninsula-like esplanade, surrounded by the beautiful Umayo lagoon. The chullpas found here are large funerary monuments built by the Collas about 2,000 years ago. These quadrangular and circular buildings are more than 40 feet high and their architectural design is a real challenge for balance, as the diameter of the base is less than the top. The site, surrounded by a landscape that has given rise to diverse and mysterious legends, seems imbued with a magical quality. Picnic lunch among the ruins. Continue to the Juliaca airport for the Flight to Lima. Arrival, reception and transfer to your hotel. This evening, a dinner of artistic cuisine by chef Rafael Osterling at Rafael. Overnight in the Orient-Express Miraflores Park.

.

 

luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu

House of the Virgins of the Sun, Pachacamac, c. 1500 AD.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel. Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Day 10: Lima

Breakfast. Morning drive to Pachacamac, the most reknowned pre-Inca and Inca pilgrimage site of the coast, dating back to 200 AD. It was originally devoted to the worship of the earth god Pachacamac: "he who sustains or gives life to the universe". Upon returning to Lima, lunch at the extraordinary Huaca Pucllana restaurant, located on the grounds of a 1,500-year-old adobe pyramid built by the original inhabitants of Lima. The cuisine is a reinterpretation of the Peruvian Criollo tradition by chef Marilú Madueño (Le Cordon Bleu Paris).

 

 

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Malecon de la Reserva, above La Costa Verde, Miraflores, Lima.
Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel. Luxury Machu Picchu Tours.

 

Afterward, continue to Barranco for a visit to one of the country's finest crafts shops: Mari Solari's Las Pallas. Once Lima's beach resort, this district is now the home of Peru's most prestigious artists and writers. Among its colorful, colonial mansions is the Palacio de Osma, now the Museo de Arte Colonial Pedro de Osma, which focuses on colonial Peruvian art from the country's cultural centers of the day. La Puente de los Suspiros (The Bridge of Sighs) is a romantic outlook over the ocean in the loveliest part of the quarter, said to inspire artists. Next to it is La Iglesia de La Ermita (The Church of the Hermitage), built on the spot where legend has it that a glowing image of Christ appeared to guide sailors home from a tempest at sea. After arrival back at the hotel, have a farewell drink at the bar, order from room service or just rest before the transfer to the airport for your Overnight Flight Home. Relax in the VIP Club while awaiting departure and enjoy a buffet of light fare and beverages, including Peru's famous pisco sour. Day Room in the Orient-Express Miraflores Park.

 

Day 11: Lima - Home

Flight and arrival home.

 

 

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luxury Peru tours travel Machu Picchu