From ancient citadels to condor-dotted canyons, discover Peru’s treasures.
Days 1 - 3
Your entry point into Peru is via its capital city: Lima. With two nights here, enjoy connecting with your new environment through a series of personalised activities. What better way to get to know gastronomic Lima than through its food? Take a tour of a local market with a guide before trying your hand at cooking some Peruvian specialities such as cerviche and lomo saltado (a Peruvian beef stir-fry) while learning about the history of Peruvian cuisine.
Get to know Lima’s sights on a walking tour that includes the UNESCO World Heritage Site Plaza Major and also the Lima Art Museum which traces back Andean history and Peruvian art by 3,000 years. Lima’s cathedral with its splendid carved stalls and gold-plated altars is an impressive sight, as is the San Francisco Monastery, which houses the largest exhibition of colonial religious art in America. You’ll will also have time to explore on your own – perhaps stopping for Peru’s most famous cocktail -the Pisco Sour. For dinner, enjoy Lima’s burgeoning foodie scene with over 25 Michelin-starred restaurants to choose from.
"Welcome to Peru and its surprisingly foodie capital Lima - the home of ceviche among a wealth of other Peruvian classic dishes."
STAY: HOTEL B
Bohemian Barranco is the neighbourhood location for Hotel B, a stylish Belle epoque bolthole which will be the perfect respite from day’s exploring Lima. The rooftop with views to the Pacific Ocean is a great spot for a Pisco sour cocktail and the Perivain tapas restaurant gives you a taste of this foodie capital. Bedrooms are airy and bright with high ceilings, velvet sofas and balconies to watch Lima life go by on the street below.
Day 3 - 6
From Lima, make your way by flight and transfer to the Scared Valley in the Andean Highlands, known as an important part of the Inca empire; today it’s littered with archaeological ruins. It feels very authentically Peruvian – immerse yourself in deep Andean culture at a textile centre where Andean costumes are made and visit a bustling market at Pisac filled with brightly coloured Andean handicrafts such as ceramic beaded necklaces, earrings and ponchos.
One of the most impressive Inca fortresses is Ollantaytambo clasped between the snow-capped peaks of the Urubamba and Vilcabamba mountain ranges. Climb the steep stone steps and marvel at the precision of the Inca terraces fanning out below you, with a view that takes in the soaring Sun Temple, where rituals were performed by Inca priests. Another intriguing Inca site is Moray, where terraces are laid out in concentric shape, where crops in different conditions would be tested.
"Flashes of colour come from tradition Andean costume, worn daily, set against the verdant greens of the Sacred Valley."
STAY: SOL Y LUNA
Your busy day discovering Andean culture will doubtless leave you feeling exhilarated but weary. Thankfully Sol Y Luna hotel, located in the heart of the Scared Valley is the perfect panacea offering a relaxed ambience set in an overflowing garden with views to the mountain. A large pool, spa and two restaurants serving Peruvian food will replenish you, and the stone casitas are a peaceful and spacious spot to lay your head.
MACHU PICCHU & CUSCO
Day 6 - 10
Today is the big day where you get to discover one of the world’s most fascinating and awe-inspiring sights – the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. The excitement builds as you board the Vistadome train, its panoramic windows allowing Peru’s remarkable landscapes to slide by. Arriving in Aguas Calientes town, take the bus to Machu Picchu, fuel up with lunch before a private guided tour of the citadel, standing 2,430 metres above sea level, clasped by verdant peaks of the surrounding mountains. Its wonder lies not only in its sheer feasibility, but also the way in which terraces, complexes and walls seem to be sculpted from the rock. Learn the secrets of this magical lost city and spend an unforgettable afternoon simply taking in its majesty.
After a night at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, morning sees you view Machu Picchu from a different perspective, climbing Huayna Picchu mountain. In the afternoon, board the luxurious Hiram Bingham Belmond train to Cusco, dinner is served on board and live music serenades you as you glide towards Cusco. After a restful night, explore Cusco with a private guide including a visit to the Cathedral on the Plaza de Armas and the architecturally fused Santo Domingo church built on the foundations of the Koricancha, an important Inca temple. Spend time simply soaking up the atmosphere of this town, a mix of tourism, colourful Andean culture and the ghosts of Incas past.
"There's a lot to explore but be sure to simply pause at Machu Picchu to take in the wonder of this magnificent citadel, built by an ancient civilisation."
STAY: INKATERRA LA CASONA
Inkaterra La Casona is one of the most comfortable stays in Cusco. Demanding days and altitude-induced weariness mean that you’ll crave a bit of luxury and the beautiful 16th century manor house circled around a small courtyard just delivers. Within each cloister lies a stunning suite, replete with fireplace, heated floors, bathrooms with extra-large tubs and sumptuous beds. Pisco sours can be ordered to your room and the small spa will sooth aching muscles.
BELMOND ANDEAN EXPLORER
Day 10 -12
The next part of your Peruvian adventure sees you hopping aboard the Belmond Andean Explorer for two nights. From Cusco to Arequipa, this luxurious train winds its way through some of Peru’s most stunning scenery. On this smooth journey, sleep on board South America’s first luxury sleeper, stopping for excursions during the day. The train will carve its way through Peru’s natural wonders, across epic plains that stretch to distant snow-capped Andes, before winding itself around Lake Titcaca and on to the white city of Arequipa.
By day, the train stops for explorations and guided tours in the Andean countryside giving you a much richer understanding of the terrain. There are visits to fascinating Incan archaeological sites, boat rides to the floating islands of Lake Titicaca, or a trip to a cave decorated in rock art that’s 8,000 years old. Arrive in Arequipa refreshed and ready for the next chapter of your Peruvian story.
"Watch the Andean landscapes fly by from the comfort of your Belmond cabin."
However rugged the Andean outdoors may be, life aboard the Belmond Explorer is comfort personified. Cabins come furnished in rich artisanal fabrics, with writing desks and ensuite bathrooms. Communal carriages encourage socialising, and the lounge car is the scene of convivial cocktails accompanied by the tinkle of a live pianist. You’ll even find a dedicated ‘spa car’ on board. In the evening, the muted-hues and deep red leather of the dining carriage beckons where you’ll sample sophisticated Peruvian cuisine.
COLCA CANYON & AREQUIPA
Disembarking the Andean Explorer train, the last part of your gallivant around Peru finishes in the Colca Canyon, a deep, yawning chasm that is ringed by jagged peaks and pre-Inca terraces. Around the canyon, beautifully preserved colonial towns can be seen, created by the Spanish conquerors to house the ancient Collagua and Cabana tribes.
We recommend getting up early to visit the Colca Canyon, thereby enhancing your chances of seeing the magnificent Andean condors serenely swooping down into the canyon and up around the mountain peaks. We’ll arrange breakfast for you to keep you going, allowing you to appreciate the chasm and its tranquil panoramas. Other ways to enjoy the canyon are by trekking or horse riding the rocky landscapes spotting Andean wildlife such as alpacas, vizcachas and pumas. Before you leave Peru, have one last stop in the famed ‘white city’ of Arequipa, so named because of the white volcanic rock used in buildings like the gleaming Plaza de Armas, the perfect spot to sit and reminisce on all you have explored in Peru.
"The finale of your adventure in Peru, explore Colca's deep canyon, dotted with condors and scalloped by pre-Inca terraces."
STAY: BELMOND LAS CASITAS
Belmond Las Casitas is the kind of homely yet luxurious set up that makes you feel instantly at ease. Bedrooms are housed in spacious stone casitas, each with their own terrace with plunge pool and extras like open fireplaces, bathtubs and hot water bottles in your beds are a lovely touch. Swathed in pretty gardens and rural landscapes, you can even meet Andean residents: the hotel has its own alpacas which you can feed. A highlight is a horse ride through the mountain pathways, stopping for a picnic overlooking the canyon.