PF1 Peru Family Tour

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TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Lima: city tour; Follow the footsteps of the ancients along a piece of the Inca Trail; Most important Inca sites in the Cuzco area; Breathtaking Machu Picchu; Zip-trek over the jungle; Mountain bike in the Andes; jungle walks and river excursions in the Amazon

Full Itinerary


Day 1 Arrive in Lima
Today we arrive in Lima, Peru.

In recent years, this city has undergone some wonderful restorations of the plazas, ornate facades, and wooden balconies for which it is famous. Named the 'City of Kings' by the Spanish Conquistadors, Lima is the capital of Peru. Founded in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro, where the River Rimac meets the Pacific Ocean, this was the most important Spanish city during the colonial era with a population of about 100,000 inhabitants. Today the city is home to more than 7 million
people.

Overnight in Lima (Miraflores).
Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Lima: City Tour
This morning we start our tour with a visit to San Francisco's Church to visit the extensive catacombs that lie underneath. We then continue to the Plaza de Armas, the most important plaza in Lima. The oldest surviving part of the plaza is the impressive bronze fountain, erected in 1650. Surrounding the plaza is the exquisite Archbishop's Palace, the cathedral, and the Government Palace where handsomely uniformed presidential guards are on duty all day. We visit the cathedral where the great conquistador Francisco Pizarro's tomb lies.

We then proceed to the Larco Museum, which showcases remarkable chronological galleries and an excellent overview on 3,000 years of development of Peruvian pre-Columbian history. Located in a unique vice-royal mansion of the 18th century built over a 7th century pre-Columbian pyramid, is surrounded by beautiful gardens. Features the finest gold and silver collection from ancient Peru and the famous erotic archaeological collection, one of the most visited Peruvian tourist attractions. For an unforgettable experience, Larco is one of the few museums in the world where visitors can also choose to enter the storage area with its 45,000 classified archaeological objects.

Later we head to the trendy area of Miraflores where people stroll along the cliff tops and watch the sun setting on the Pacific Ocean. The best location is the new "Love Park," with its magnificent monument to lovers at its centre. We continue to the Hacienda Mamacona for an exhibition of beautiful Peruvian Paso horses, accompanied by a delicious dinner of Criollo food and a folkloric show.

Overnight in Lima (Miraflores).
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 3 Lima - Cuzco - Urubamba Valley - Ollantaytambo - Yucay
Early this morning we fly to Cuzco, located in a fertile valley at 3354 m (11,004 feet). This is the archaeological capital of the Americas and the ancient capital of the Inca Empire that, at its height, stretched from Colombia in the north, through Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, and down to central Chile in the south. Although the empire already existed in the 12th century, it remained small until the mid-15th century. Over the next 100 years, it expanded massively but declined due to the civil war and the conquest by the Spanish conquistadors under Francisco Pizarro in 1533.

On arrival we will travel by road into the Urubamba Valley, or "Sacred Valley of the Incas," along one of the most scenic drives on our trip, to the Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo located on a spectacular ridge with deep valleys on either side. We can admire the carefully constructed and maintained farming terraces on the surrounding hillsides.

We continue to the town of Yucay on the bank of the Urubamba River (2300m / 7,590 ft). This is an attractive little town of particularly fertile lands whose name translated into Spanish means "deceit" or "bewitchment". According to legend, in the middle of the 15th century, the Inca Huayna Capac was captivated by the incomparable magnificence of Yucay's setting and decided to settle here.

Overnight in Yucay.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 4 Yucay - Aguas Calientes & Machu Picchu
Today we take the early morning train from Urubamba to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. The train journey to Machu Picchu is a highlight of any trip to the Andes; the scenery is simply spectacular, and the train allows you to enjoy it in comfort. The +/- 3 hour trip takes us through a changing landscape with wonderful vistas of the mountains and, deep in its dramatic canyon, the beautiful Urubamba River. Our early arrival from Urubamba ensures that we are at the site before the tourist throngs arrive on the train from Cuzco later in the morning.

Upon arrival at the Aguas Calientes train station, a bus will take us on the 6 km (4 mile) twisting journey up the mountainside to the site of Machu Picchu. Having already dropped our baggage at our hotel, we proceed immediately for a guided 3-hour walking tour of the ruins (please be prepared with all that you need for our tour). We will enter the site through the House of the Terrace Caretakers, which flank the agricultural sector. Once on the site, we will see, among other features: the Temple of the Sun, the Fountain Caretaker's House, the Royal Sector, and the puzzling Temple of the Three Windows. We will also see the Common District, the Sacred Rock, and the prison-like Temple of the Condor.

Machu Picchu, popularly known as the 'Lost City of the Incas,' is an ancient city of stone palaces, towers, temples and staircases. It is a very mysterious place, and to this day our knowledge of it remains sketchy. There are no records or artifacts on the site to indicate what any of the buildings were used for. Archaeologists have ascertained that the site was most likely a ceremonial centre and possibly used for administrative purposes for the populous region.

After our tour, you may choose to proceed to the hotel or remain on the site for some independent exploration (your ticket is good for the day), and return to the hotel on your own using the return portion of your bus ticket.

Overnight at Agua Calientes (near Machu Picchu).
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 5 Aguas Calientes: Zip-Trek & Inca Trail Hike
After an early breakfast, we will board the local train that will take us a short distance to a private vehicle to the Cola de Mono Adventure Center, where the highest zip-line in South America is located. In an hour and half we will enjoy this amazing experience over the Amazon cloud forest. A zip line is an adventure activity in which participants are harnessed and attached by pulley to a cable anchored to two different mountains. You slide from one mountain to the other, fast enough that you feel like you are flying! The tour includes all equipment (harness, helmet and gloves) and is fully-guided and supervised. Go to www.canopyperu.com for more information.

After our zip-trek, we transfer by road 30 minutes to the start point of a trek at Lucmabamba, from where few people in the world have enjoyed a privileged view of Machu Picchu. The trek starts at a point on the original Inca Trail, with a steady ascent to the Mirador of Llactapata, located at 6,600 ft above sea level. From here we will have a spectacular view of the lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu. On the Inca site of Llactapata we will rest and admire the mountain panorama and enjoy our boxed lunch.

Our trek the continues to Aobamba and to the train station from where we have the chance to hike for 90 more minutes to Aguas Calientes, or just board the local train.

Overnight in Aguas Calientes.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 6 Aguas Calientes - Cuzco
This morning we return to Cuzco by train. Upon arrival we visit some of the most important Inca sites in the Cuzco area.

Sacsayhuaman is an impressive complex which, like so many others of that time, had both a religious and military purpose. The fortress known as the 'storehouse of the sun' incorporates some of the largest stones ever used in a building. The zig-zag walls represent the teeth of the sacred puma and provide an excellent defensive structure. The stones fit so perfectly together without mortar that not even moss can grow in the cracks! We also visit ruins at Tambo Machay, Puca Pucara and Qenko. The latter is an Inca sacrificial site carved with inscriptions.

We return to Cuzco and enjoy a tour of the town. We visit Coricancha, the temple of the sun which was the most important location in the Inca empire. Entombed in the closed cloister of the Sto Domingo Church, these sacred walls were hidden from modern civilization until the colonial walls were brought down in 1950 by a powerful earthquake. We also visit the church of San Blas with its fabulously carved pulpit. Wandering the narrow streets of the San Blas artisan region we make our way to the cathedral which towers impressively over the Plaza Mayor. Inside we find precious paintings from the Cuzco School of Art, one of the most prolific of its era.

This Inca city was laid out around a great central square in the shape of a puma, the god of lightning. Today, stone walls built by the Incas line most of Cuzco's central streets and form the foundations of colonial and modern buildings. The Inca buildings were so well built that the Spaniards simply knocked down the upper parts of the Inca temples and palaces and built their churches and mansions on top of the Inca walls. Shortly after the Spanish conquest, the capital was moved to Lima on the coast. Thus Cuzco has retained a wonderful, untouched colonial atmosphere. The culture is also very much alive here, and is evident in the music, clothing and handicrafts of the people.

We have dinner at a local restaurant where we can try some typical Peruvian dishes.

Overnight in Cuzco.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 7 Cuzco - Chinchero - Mountain Biking - Cuzco
Early this morning we will transfer 45 minutes to Chinchero (28km from Cusco). This place is known for its textile work and communal organization. After this visit, we will continue our journey to Moray town (11,152ft) where we will start our mountain bike adventure.

After a safety briefing we will begin our cycle, enjoying lovely views of impressive Andean peaks, many cactus plants, and Andean villagers, until we reach the archaeological site of Moray.
This site is neither a city or a fortress, but an earthwork. After our guided visit of this special site we will enjoy a boxed lunch.

We mount up again and continue to the Salt Mines of Maras (9,840ft). Here we have impressive views of the snow-capped mountains of Chicon, Veronica and Salcantay. The Maras salt works is comprised of about 3,000 small pools on the slopes of the Qaqawinay mountain. People fill up or "irrigate" the pools during the dry season every three days, with salty water emanating from a natural spring located on the top of the complex. When the water evaporates the salt crytallizes and can be collected.

Finally we end our adventure in Pichingoto, where we will get into our private vehicle that will transfer us back to our hotel.

Overnight in Cuzco.
Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 8 Cuzco - Puerto Maldonado - Peruvian Amazon
Today we fly from Cuzco to Puerto Maldonado and transfer to our lodge. After lunch we will depart for the first excursion that will take us into the tropical forest to discover a great variety of medicinal plants, tropical trees, insects and butterflies -- approximately 2½ to 3 hours walking. We will make a stop at a viewpoint to watch toucans and other birds. We return to the lodge, and before dining take a night trip by boat for a "caiman safari".

Overnight at a comfortable lodge.
Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 9 Parrot Collpa, Sandoval Lake, Monkey Island
We will get an early start to walk to a place where a minimum of five different species of parrot come down from the trees to eat a special type of clay that is very important for their metabolism.

Breakfast and free time until we board a boat for an expedition to Monkey Island. On our return journey we will travel on the boat for 30 minutes before arriving at the magical Lake Sandoval. We will take a 5km walk through exuberant tropical vegetation before feasting on a delicious picnic lunch. The lake is a special place where numerous species of animals live, such as the giant otter, small and large birds like the Hoatzin, kingfisher and snake bird, and monkeys such as howlers, squirrel monkeys, and Capuchins. All of this can be discovered comfortably by canoeing until sundown. We return to the river at night to see some nocturnal animals.

Overnight at the lodge.
Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 10 Puerto Maldonado - Lima - Departure
After breakfast we board the boat that will take us back to Puerto Maldonado where will will visit the fruit market.

Later we transfer to the airport for our flight back to Lima. We have use of day rooms at a Lima hotel to freshen up before transferring to the airport for our overnight flights homeward.

LAND ONLY CLIENTS: In order to provide adequate connection time, please ensure that your return flight home from Lima does NOT depart earlier than 9:00 p.m.

BUEN VIAJE!
Meal plan: breakfast