The tour starts in Lima; those on the group flights arrive in the morning but there are no excursions planned so land only travellers can arrive throughout the day (please note that hotel check-in times are usually from 3pm). Our hotel is based in the residential Miraflores District, within walking distance of the coast. Your leader will be on hand to help you get your bearings and can help make arrangements should you want to visit somewhere in particular. There will be a group briefing at the hotel this afternoon/evening. *Hotel Antigua Miraflores *(or similar)
Today we have a tour of colonial and modern Lima. We visit the modern residential district and then explore the historical downtown area. We will discover the Plaza de Armas, Basilica Cathedral and Presidential Palace on a short walk around the colonial centre, and we visit the incredible church of San Francisco, which houses one of the oldest libraries in the Americas and sits on top of a labyrinthine network of catacombs. These still house the bones of Lima's wealthy 18th and 19th century residents. *Hotel Antigua Miraflores* (or similar)
It's a short flight (approx. one hour) to Cuzco. Upon landing we transfer to our centrally located hotel. Set amidst hills in the altiplano, the imperial city of the Incas, Cuzco was the geographic, cultural and political centre of a vast empire which, at its peak, stretched from present day Quito in Ecuador to Santiago in Chile. After the Spanish Conquistadores invaded the city they started building on top of the Incan structures, resulting in unique architecture, a fusion of the Incan and Spanish colonial styles. It is among the most attractive cities in South America. We will have a short walking tour around the compact city centre to get our bearings, and will visit Koricancha – the Sun Temple, located in the Santo Domingo Church and Monastery. It is recommended to take it easy upon arrival into Cuzco and to drink plenty of water to allow your body time to acclimatise to the altitude (3,400m). *Hotel San Agustin Plaza* (or similar)
We have a full-day tour combining the highlights in and around the city. Outside the town are Inca ruins, notably the fortress of Sacsayhuaman where the Inca armies made their last stand against the Conquistadores. In the centre we visit the Plaza de Armas, and see many examples of the famous Inca stonework. One of Cuzco’s most picturesque areas is the San Blas District, where many artisan workshops are found. It’s a bit of a climb up the cobbled streets but a fascinating neighbourhood to visit and affords some great views over the city. We will also go to San Pedro Market, which is the place to try some local produce. *Hotel San Agustin Plaza* (or similar)
We visit the magnificent Sacred Valley, which runs along the Urubamba River near Cuzco, and is the true heartland of Incan culture and tradition. The high-Andean scenery is dotted with old towns and villages dating back to pre-Columbian times. We first head out of Cuzco to the colourful handicraft market at Pisac, at the entrance to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. After some free time to browse the stalls, we take a walking tour of the huge Inca ruins above the village. We then head to Chichubamba community, where you can see local activities such as pottery and chocolate making, as well as enjoy a hearty traditional lunch. After lunch, we drive down the valley to Ollantaytambo and visit the immense Inca fortress. This was the royal estate of Inca Emperor Pachacuti as well as being of religious and defensive significance. We will also explore the village, whose streets still follow the pre-conquest grid plan. In the afternoon we take the train, which winds its way through the beautiful Urubamba River Valley, to Aguas Calientes (the town below Machu Picchu). The train journey is roughly an hour and a half. *Hotel Casa Andina* (or similar)
In order to beat the day-trippers coming from Cuzco, we wake early this morning and catch the bus (approx. thirty minutes) up the winding road to the greatest ruin in the world - Machu Picchu. This is one of the architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world, in a mountain setting of staggering immensity. The Spaniards never found it; the Incas left no records of it, so Machu Picchu remained a great enigma, a city lost for centuries in the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. The well-preserved Inca architecture, combined with its spectacular location on a mountain spur high above the Urubamba River, makes Machu Picchu one of the world's most impressive ruins. Having been trialled in 2017, new regulations for visiting Machu Picchu will be fully enforced for 2018; of the three possible visiting slots, Exodus we will purchase the morning slot from 06:00 until 12:00 (unless unavailable), you will be limited to a maximum of four hours within the site and must be accompanied by a guide. There will also be three set routes to follow around Machu Picchu; Exodus selects the most comprehensive route. Please note that exploring the ruins involves a reasonable amount of walking, including up and down steep and uneven stone steps. If there is time before your train, it may sometimes be possible to purchase a second entrance ticket to Machu Picchu (subject to availability). We catch an afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo (1hr 30 mins) and continue by private bus to Cuzco (2hrs 30 mins). *Hotel San Agustin Plaza* (or similar)
For land only travellers the tour ends after breakfast. **
* 6 nights premium hotels with en suite facilities * Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min. age 16 yrs * Time spent at altitude * Travel by internal flight, train and minibus
All breakfasts and one lunch are included in the price of the tour. The tap water in Peru is not safe to drink but drinking water is included in the price of the tour; please bring a reusable water bottle that can be refilled. Hotel breakfasts are normally simple buffet-style affairs, usually including bread/toast and jam, cereal, sometimes eggs or a cooked dish, sometimes fruit, tea/coffee and fruit juice. Regrettably we can not guarantee that wheat/gluten free products will be available for breakfast in all locations - if you have an intolerance you may wish to bring your own breakfast food from home. Where lunch and dinner is not included we'll visit a variety of cafes and restaurants. Peruvian cuisine has developed a reputation for its flavours and originality and it’s well worth trying out a few of the local delicacies. Amongst these are ceviche (a spicy dish of seafood or fish marinated in lime juice), lomo saltado (a Peruvian take on a beef stir-fry) and various hearty soups such as the delicious quinoa soup. Other dishes include roasted cuy (guinea pig), Alpaca steak, and to drink, the national beverage: Pisco Sour.
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