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This layered holiday introduces you to Peruvians who live out of the gaze of tourists and who we know by name; Mercedes, Nilda, Emma, Javier. You'll meet local market sellers, traditional weavers and shepherds whose once colourful fabrics have faded with age and hard work. You'll have distant Inca ruins all to yourself and visit Machu Picchu, after the crowds have gone. On the north coast, life takes on a very different colour, the ruins date back even further and the ceviche is as fresh as it gets. This is Peru, approached from different angles and at the pace it deserves.
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Land in the Peruvian capital today, the coastal city of Lima. On arrival you'll be met by your guide, who will take you to your hotel and introduce you to the city. Your base for the next two nights is a wonderful converted mansion in the relaxed neighbourhood of Barranco, which still feels eminently Peruvian in character and has a distinctly artistic vibe.
You’ll spend time with your guide today as you explore some of the city’s very different areas for an introduction to Lima's history, food and local life. The exact contents of today can be adapted to your interests, but expect to weave in some of the relaxed neighbourhoods, the historic centre, wonderful coastal views, excellent museums and perhaps some of the more unpolished, 'real', parts of the city.
Fly to Cusco this morning where you meet your guide, who'll be with you until you leave Cusco, and transfer into the Sacred Valley. This fertile region contained the best agricultural lands of the Incan heartland and was therefore considered personal property of the rulers. For this reason, it is full of significant ruins. We'll visit one of them today; the mighty hilltop citadel of Pisac. Settle into your peaceful hotel, former home of Don Manuel de Orihuela - onetime Treasurer of the Mint of Cusco.
Spend today with your guide experiencing life in the Sacred Valley as lived by the people, away from the tourist trail. You might find yourself talking to a woman selling bread by the side of the road to understand their unique branding techniques, heading into a local market to buy potatoes or meeting Mercedes at the chichería. Lunch is in a traditional hacienda, dinner shared with a local family in their home, exclusive to Pura guests.
Today is spent with your guide as you follow old mule tracks through parts of the Sacred Valley that few visitors will ever see. You start at somewhere most do visit however - the vast Royal Inca Palace of Ollantaytambo - before the crowds arrive. Later, as you walk past humble farmsteads, you'll see local life, uncontrived. At the hillside Inca fortress of Pumamarca you might be the only visitor. Your second walk follows the Urubamba River through a steep-sided river canyon. The scenery gets increasingly dramatic; high Andes, Inca terracing and the river, far below.
Suitable for most, this morning's bike ride can be as quick as 45 minutes, or last as long as four hours. The course takes you clear across the Chinchero plain as you pedal your way on largely empty and flat tracks. On the way you'll pass locals going about their daily lives, whilst the open nature of the landscape affords far-reaching views. Later visit the unique Inca crop labatory of Moray and walk to the striking pre-Inca salt pans of Maras.
Catch the train to the lively village of Machu Picchu and settle into your home for the night. Early this afternoon, travel uphill by small bus to get to the foot of Machu Picchu. You have a private guided tour of the site with your guide, hopefully enjoying some sunshine and relatively few other visitors to allow you to appreciate the achievement of this remarkable endeavour.
Set off early this morning from by Machu Picchu by train back into the Sacred Valley. You are collected for the drive up to Chinchero to visit a fascinating female weaver's cooperative, and see how Nilda Callañaupa helped breathe new life into into this ancient skill. From here head down into the buzz of Cusco, former capital of the Incas, and a vibrant home for your next few nights.
Cusco has been known historically as, ‘the navel of the Andes’, and was the unquestionable hub of the Inca Empire. Take some time to relax this morning before you meet your guide for a walking tour to orientate you to this picturesque city, visiting three of its most important historic sites, the Cathedral, the Temple of the Sun and the Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman.
Join your guide in the kitchen for a private cooking lesson with Javier, owner of a local restaurant and a family connection of the Pura Peru team. Javier will take you to the local market to buy ingredients, guide you through some of the most emblematic dishes of the region and help you to put together your own celebratory Pisco sour. Later, enjoy some free time in this charming and lively town. Our Peru Holiday Guide will point you in the direction of our favourite attractions, restaurants and cafés.
Despite being Peru’s third city and home to around 850,000, your new base is an easy-going city, perhaps more Peruvian in character than Cusco. It has an understated colonial elegance and friendly feel to it, a place to stroll around rather than rush. Handily, your hotel is right on the main square.
Around 600 years ago, Chan Chan was home to over 50,000 people from the Chimu empire - the largest city in the Americas at the time - and the world's largest adobe city. Substantial parts of the ruins remain intact and the site is utterly fascinating, an emphatic contrast to the Inca heritage of the high Andes. After a ceviche lunch at a relaxed fishing village we visit the nearby Moche pyramids, built using around 100 million adobe blocks - each one individually marked or painted.
Drive north along the Pacific, passing alongside sugar plantations and into the Chicama Valley to the archaeological site of El Brujo. The discovery of the female Moche mummy during an excavation here in 2005 shattered the belief that the Moche civilization was patriarchal. This afternoon end your time with a visit to a local hacienda for a traditional 'caballos de paso' horse show and demonstration.
It's time to bid adios to Peru today. After breakfast your guide will come and find you at the hotel to take you to Trujillo airport. It's a short hop down the coast to Lima, where you will connect onto your international flight home this evening.
With so much variety and richness in all corners of the country, it's tempting to bounce around Peru to tick off as much as you can in two weeks. This trip takes the opposite approach. We slow down the pace to focus on everything the Sacred Valley has to offer and the lesser-visited north, where history and the way of life have developed along very different lines.
There is an emphasis on culture, history and local life throughout, with ruins aplenty, all bound up in tales from the Chimu, Moche and Inca civilisations. This isn't an itinerary which places too much emphasis on walking, so if that's a priority then our Peru Uncovered offers that in spades. However this trip certainly has you out and about, exploring, most days with local guides with you just about every step of the way.
What you have read here is a sample itinerary of how this trip might look. Of course, there are many ways that we can adapt it to suit you, be it tinkering with the number of days or the pace of the trip or adding in different activities or destinations. For instance, if you would prefer to hike the Royal one-day or full four-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu then we can include this instead. This is also a holiday which combines very well with the Galapagos Islands.
To be able to make the trip personal to you we’d also like to take the time to get to know you and what you like, or dislike, doing on your travels. Whilst both are suitable for most, the walking and mountain biking can be adapted to you on the day, should you wish to lessen the activity levels when you're there.
Departs on a date to suit you from March through December. For more information, take a look at our when to visit Peru section.
The price is per person based on two people sharing and includes:
First-class accommodation with breakfast and some lunches and dinners
Private airport transfers throughout
Private guided walks and excursions as described
Entrances and permits
Train tickets to Machu Picchu
Peru Holiday Guide with personal recommendations
Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout
International flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best routing is into and out of Lima (LIM).
Throughout this holiday you stay in a carefully selected handful of small hotels and lodges. Each one has been chosen for its sense of place, level of service and warmth of its welcome.
In Lima you sleep in a colonial house in the arty district of Barranco, in a room overlooking the garden. Your base in the Sacred Valley is a gorgeous old colonial manor house. It has a relaxed feel to it and soon starts to feel like home.
In Cusco you stay in a gem of a hotel, tucked away down an unassuming sidestreet. Sitting in the lounge area and watching the lights of Cusco twinkle alight at dusk with a glass of wine is the perfect end to a day. Your Trujillo hotel is a very comfortable place to rest your head, located right on the main square.
For more details, please get in touch to request a full itinerary.
Setting aside the stunning landscapes and fascinating historical sites, what visitors usually remember about Peru are its people. Too often, however, locals are treated as picturesque relics of the past transported into the present for us to photograph on the street corners of Cusco. On a Pura holiday, you’ll see that colourful woven fabrics really are worn by shepherds in the high mountains. It’s just that the colours are faded through age and hard work. You will meet landowners who lost all their land in the 1960s and had to start again. You will meet villagers who never had anything to lose.
By working directly with our partners in Peru - hoteliers, guides, drivers, restaurateurs and locals who open their homes just for our clients - we not only ensure your holiday is as nuanced and personal to you as possible, but we also maximise the benefit for the communities you visit.
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