95% of our travelers rated this extension "Excellent" in 2014
Lima, the "capital of the New World," encompasses the last five centuries of Peruvian history. Cuzco is your window into the life and culture of the Inca people. And then there’s Machu Picchu, the Incan city in the sky that has only begun to reveal its mysteries since archaeologists began their explorations some 60 years ago.
- It's Included:
- Air transportation from Lima to Cuzco, and from Cuzco to Santiago
- Accommodations for 2 nights in Lima at the unrated Jose Antonio Executive Hotel or similar, 3 nights in Cuzco at the unrated Taypikala Cuzco or similar, 1 night in Aguas Calientes at the unrated Santuario Hotel or similar, and 1 night in Santiago at the Superior First-Class Crowne Plaza Santiago or similar
- 12 meals: 7 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 2 dinners
- 4 included tours: Lima, Cuzco, Kenko & Sacsayhuaman, Machu Picchu
- Exclusive Discovery Series event: Home-Hosted Lunch
- Exclusive services of a Grand Circle Program Director
- All transfers
- Now included for 2015
- Gratuities on this extension are now included for local guides and motorcoach drivers
Board your flight to Peru and arrive in Lima later today. A Grand Circle representative will meet you at the airport and assist you with the transfer to your hotel.
After breakfast, join your Program Director and fellow travelers for a Welcome Briefing, followed by lunch on your own; your Program Director can offer restaurant suggestions.
This afternoon, set off on a panoramic tour of Lima. Begin at the Plaza de Armas, the seat of power for both secular and clerical authority, as evidenced by the Palacio Presidential, Palacio Municipal, and Archbishop's Palace.
Enjoy an evening at leisure and dinner on your own.
Rise early for breakfast, and then transfer to the airport for your flight to Cuzco. You’ll arrive late morning, check in to your hotel, and have lunch on your own.
This afternoon’s highlight is an included city tour of Cuzco. You may feel that your flight to Cuzco was also a flight back in time, for here the civilization of the Incas—which once spanned a continent—surrounds you.
The Incan legacy greets you in the city’s architecture. While many structures bear the obvious marks of colonial design, chances are they were built on the foundations of Incan buildings. Try as they might to destroy all vestiges of a civilization they saw as “pagan,” Spanish conquerors met their match in Incan masonry.
On your tour, you’ll hear the stories behind some of Cuzco’s many lovely churches. For instance, the site of the Santo Domingo Church had for centuries been the sprawling Inca Temple of the Sun, or Qoricancha.
Gather with your Program Director and travel companions this evening for a Welcome Dinner.
Your first stop this morning is the Sacsayhuaman fortress overlooking Cuzco. As you walk through this massive structure, consider first that Inca workers built its walls entirely by hand, securely fitting boulders weighing as much as 125 tons without a drop of mortar. Then recall that on these ramparts in 1536, the Incan armies of Manco Inca made their final, failed attempt to recapture their city from the Spanish in the bloodiest fighting seen in any Latin conquest.
Move on to the nearby ruins at Kenko, which once joined Sacsayhuaman as one of the central ritual sites for the Incan Empire. Along with its limestone ruins that hint at the labyrinth of underground passageways, the site includes animal carvings and an ancient amphitheater. Look forward to a rare firsthand contact with the Indian/Spanish blend of cultures within the Cuzco region, including a fascinating folk medicine healing ceremony.
Of all meals on your tour, today’s lunch may be the most engaging. You’ll be the guest of a local family, who will share their mid-day meal and their insights with you.
Later, spend the afternoon as you wish, with dinner on your own.
Rise early for breakfast before you encounter Incan heritage during your ride into the fertile Urubamba Valley. After your Ollantaytambo village visit, you’ll catch the train to Machu Picchu. As your train chugs along, look to either side and view dramatic gorges swathed in greenery.
Enjoy a boxed lunch while you ride the train to your hotel. You’ll check into your hotel before enjoying time at leisure in the town of Machu Picchu. Rest up for the next day's explorations of the famous ruins.
Dinner tonight is at a local restaurant.
After breakfast, spend the morning exploring the ruins of Machu Picchu with your Program Director. As you take note of its scale, proportion and organic harmony with the mountains on which it’s perched.
Four sections—cemetery, jails, homes and temples—comprise the city. At the Temple of the Three Windows, the observatory and a peculiar stone block called the Intiwatana, you’ll see the central role the sun played in the life of the Inca, as well as the architecture of the city. The precision of the stonework—like all the stonework in the city—is practically beyond belief. And it again bears mentioning: This city in the sky was planned and erected entirely by hand, its stones bound together only by their own weight.
After lunch at a local restaurant, it’s back on board the train to Ollantaytambo, and then the bus to Cuzco. You’ll be back at your hotel in the early evening. Dinner tonight is on your own.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport and board your flight to Santiago, Chile, via Lima.
You will arrive in Santiago in the early evening and transfer to your hotel. Your evening is at leisure, and dinner is on your own.
After breakfast, your journey continues as you begin Day 1 of your Discover South America: Chile & Argentina Land Tour.