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Discover Peru's iconic highlights and deep-rooted Indigenous culture along with its award-winning food scene, spanning flavours from the coast, all the way to the mountains. Explore the lively and historic centre of Lima followed by pisco tasting, experience traditional Andean cooking in the Sacred Valley, and take in the magnificent temples and stone dwellings of Machu Picchu. Please note that the April 2024 departure also includes a visit to Arequipa, and a fascinating trip to its unique 'picanterias' - a tradition of family-style restaurants that began in the rural farming areas.
Explore Tour Leader
5 nights comfortable hotel
2 nights premium hotel
2 nights simple hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Lima, Peru's capital and the gastronomic heart of the country. Founded in 1535AD by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, the city and it's food scene have been shaped by the cultural mixing of conquest and immigration throughout the ages. Today it is a modern, cosmopolitan city, but in the old centre there are obvious reminders both of its colonial and pre-hispanic past. This has created an exciting food scene, bursting with flavours that span from the coast to the Andes and through to the Amazon.
There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Lima at any time. However, for those arriving by 7.30pm, our Leader plans to meet in the hotel reception for the welcome meeting. If you would like an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport (airport code LIM) which is approximately a one-hour drive from our hotel. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to take an independent stroll along the coastal path in Miraflores. Lima also has several world-class and award-winning restaurants, most notably Central, Maido and Astrid & Gaston. These have waiting lists that can be a month long or more; if you plan to stay in Lima before the trip and would like to book one of these top restaurants, then we recommend doing this in advance. If you don't have any additional nights booked in Lima, you could make a reservation for this evening and catch up on the welcome meeting later, or book for the evening of Day 3.
Exe Miraflores (or similar)
We'll dive straight into Peru's award-winning culinary scene today, starting with an explosion of sights, smells and tastes at the Surquillo Market. This wonderland of foodstuffs is where your everyday Limeno does their weekly shopping; from tropical fruits such as chirimoya and lucuma to piles of purple corn and an abundance of seafood, we'll be introduced first-hand to the fresh ingredients that go into creating Lima's excellent and diverse cuisine. Of course, during our visit we'll have the chance to taste some of the produce.
Following our trip to the market, we'll visit a local Lima restaurant, where a chef will show us how two of Peru's most iconic dishes are prepared; pisco sours and ceviche. We'll find out how zesty lime juice, sweet onions and chilli heat combine to 'cook' raw fish and give it a delicious flavour (limes only appeared in Peru after the Spanish conquest, but there is some evidence to suggest that ceviche was being created in other ways by pre-hispanic societies). Across the city you can find different versions, from rustic spots with bowls piled high, to high-end restaurants serving delicately presented portions. We'll stay here in the restaurant for lunch, eating ceviche as well as other traditional Peruvian dishes.
In the afternoon, we head to artistic Barranco for a walking tour. This neighbourhood has a reputation for creativity, with some of the best street art in the city. As well as beautiful architecture and a seafront walk, we'll visit the workshop of Victor Delfin (a renowned Peruvian artist), which will give you a sense of Barranco's bohemian beginnings (note that the artist isn't always in residence). During our walk, we'll also take a break to enjoy a Peruvian coffee at a specialty coffee and chocolate shop.
We'll explore both the modern and the historic Lima today, beginning at commercial Miraflores with its pretty 'malecon' (seafront), and heading into the historic centre. We'll explore the centre on foot, walking along some of the most historically important streets of the city to the Plaza de Armas, which is surrounded by Lima's most impressive colonial architecture, and visit the Convent of Santo Domingo, just one of the centre's many spectacular 16th-century churches. Before lunch, we will spend some time in the Larco Museum, which houses the incomparable Treasures of Ancient Peru private collection - one of the most superb exhibits of Peruvian artefacts in the world, which traces over three thousand years of Peruvian history. The museum itself is housed in an 18th-century mansion, built on the ruins of a 7th-century pyramid.
After a time-travelling tour through Peru's significant indigenous history, we'll visit the traditional Antigua Taberna Queirolo for lunch and a pisco tasting. The taverna was founded in 1880 by the Queirolo family, and is still run by them today - in fact, a collection of old photographs dating back 130 years adorns the walls. The family is also one of the oldest pisco makers in the country, with vineyards south of Lima that grow Peru's finest export. Lunch here will depend on the day, but we'll be sure to taste some of Peru's most home-grown cooking. Perhaps a delicious 'causa' - a traditional layering of potato, avocado, chicken or tuna and mayonnaise, usually arranged in a neat cylinder - or a 'lomo saltado' - quite literally 'jumped beef'. This restaurant predominantly sells the kind of food that Limenos have been eating for decades, and still attracts a local clientele who want authentic, traditional meals.
After lunch we'll explore the particularities of the Queirolo's pisco blends in a tasting session. We'll have the remainder of the afternoon free - choose to revisit the churches and narrow streets of the historic city, or take the sea air in Miraflores.
Leaving the big city this morning, we fly to beautiful Arequipa, at 2380m above sea level. After checking into the hotel, we'll take an afternoon walking tour. Surrounded by volcanoes and mountains, the 'White City' is famed for its grand colonial architecture with signature vaulted rooves and white-stone arches, and the twin-tower cathedral that dominates the main plaza. Beginning our tour with a birds-eye view at the Yanahuara viewpoint, we'll take in the conical peak of El Misti volcano and the white spires of the city in front.
From here, we visit the Santa Catalina Convent, which is a miniature walled town that once housed 450 nuns, living in total seclusion. A city within the city, founded in 1580, there are a maze of streets and squares within the walls that are ripe for exploring, along with the cloisters, rooms and ornate fountains.
After our walk around the convent, we'll make our way through to the historical centre. Although the day has focused on Arequipa's deep history, the Arequipenos have a very strong and proud food culture, with several local specialties. One of these is the delicious dessert 'Queso Helado', which directly translates as 'frozen cheese'. For those expecting a pungent savoury dessert, you'll be out of luck here as there is actually no cheese in the recipe. It's made from milk, lightly spiced usually with cinnamon, cloves and coconut. Although you can find it on most menus, the classic way to eat it (which we'll try today) is purchased directly from street sellers, who churn the ice-cream by hand. Unbelievably, this frozen tasty treat is so beloved by the people of Arequipa that they hold an annual Queso Helado festival! We'll try it at some point today, when we see the sellers.
Whilst dinner is not included this evening, there is the option to go out to Zig Zag, a renowned local spot that serves up traditional Peruvian food in a modern way - try the alpaca steak served on hot volcanic stone!
San Agustin Posada Monasterio (or similar)
We'll only need a very light breakfast this morning, as an afternoon of tasting awaits us. With the early morning free to soak up the city, we'll set off at around 11am for a 'crawl' of four traditional Arequipeno lunchtime restaurants, called 'picanterias'. Historically these began in the hillsides surrounding the city, where the wives or mothers of farmers would indicate the availability of food to the rural workers with a wooden table outside, covered with a rustic checked tablecloth. This adhoc way of serving the local farming communities gradually made its way into the city, and many of the picanterias in Arequipa are run predominantly by women who have been making these dishes for years using traditions such as cooking with firewood in clay pots. The dishes give you an authentic taste of old Peru - no fancy presentation here.
In each place we'll have small tastes of these iconic dishes, rather than a full portion in each restaurant, but with more than enough to satisfy our taste buds and fill us up! Rocoto relleno (stuffed peppers), chupe de camarones (shrimp chowder with poached eggs), adobe arequipeno (a soupy, spicy pork stew), cuy chactao (fried guinea pig) or solterito de queso (a fresh salad made from local cheese, corn, beans and vegetables) may all be on the menu, which may change from day to day. What is sure is that we'll try the local chicha de jora - purple corn beer.
The afternoon is free in Arequipa. You could visit the Santuarios Andinos Museum, where the mummified body of the Inca girl Juanita is found. Alternatively, if you'd like to go further afield then you could take a trip out on the 'Sillar Route' with a local guide - a journey through the immense canyons and quarries on the outskirts of Arequipa, which are home to the pinkish-white volcanic material that built the city. Walk into 30-metre high canyons and see how traditional stonemasons worked many hundreds of years ago.
We fly this morning into Cusco, landing at 3,300 metres of altitude, and transferring directly into the Sacred Valley, the ancient heartland of the Incas. We're travelling to the Piuray Lagoon, one of the many spectacular lakes in the valley (and this one has particular importance, supplying over 40% of Cusco's drinking water). Surrounded by the high peaks of the Andes, its an awe-inspiring location for our special lunch.
We'll be taking part in an ancient cooking ritual known as 'pachamanca' this afternoon, which dates back to Inca times. After an explanation of the tradition behind the meal, we'll be invited to help bury the food in a huatia (an earth oven formed of hot stones). Spiced meats, potatoes, unusual Andean roots such as oca and uncucha, corn, pineapples and even cheese gratin, are all buried underground and slow cooked. After around 45 minutes, we will dig up and eat. We'll also have a cold starter dish of quinoa, avocado and trout from the lake. Quinoa is the Andean grain of choice, famously making it's way onto the superfood list in western countries, while the Peruvian's have been eating it for years.
In the afternoon we have some free time - SUP and Kayak are both available on the lake's still waters for those who wish, or a walk around the lakeshore is another beautiful option. We'll travel to our Sacred Valley hotel in the late afternoon.
Inti Punku Valle (or similar)
Potatoes are the name of the game today. With over 4,000 different varieties, Peru really is the home of the potato, and it wasn't until the Spanish conquistadores brought some back with them in the 16th century that we first had the plants in Europe. We'll see these indigenous vegetables brought into the modern day, with a visit to the home and farm of Manuel Choqque, an agricultural engineer-turned-potato farmer. With over 370 varieties in his potato bank, Manuel experiments on the colouring and nutritional value of native potatoes to create new, colourful and nutritionally-improved roots. After a fascinating visit, we'll get to sample some of his work, along with a traditional 'uchucuta' (hot pepper) sauce. Manuel is also innovating with Andean tuber wines (made of ocas and mashwas), and a tasting of these will see us on our way.
We'll continue to the complex of Inca ruins at Moray - huge semi-circular agricultural terraces that were used as a botanical laboratory by the Incas, an ancient experiment that shows how in tune the civilisation was with agriculture and Mother Earth. We'll also take in a panoramic view of Maras; enormous terraced salt pans that are a shock of white in the green valley.
Lunch today is at an exclusive restaurant that offers not only incredible views of the landscapes, but also a 'behind doors' concept that is totally private. The family-run house only opens for one booking at a time on an 'on request' basis, and their local, seasonal ingredients come from their own organic garden and fields, ensuring a unique, fresh and delicious experience. The food is distinctly Peruvian, but with a chic, modern presentation.
After lunch we'll head back to our hotel in the valley. This evening we may have the opportunity (time permitting) to visit the Cerveceria del Valle - the Sacred Valley's very own brewery - where you can try some of Peru's craft beers.
It's an early departure today, as we drive to the train station at Ollantaytambo for our visit to Peru's most impressive and famous landmarks: the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. We'll board a Vistadome train to Aguas Calientes - the massive panoramic windows of this train mark it out from other services, and we'll have a little snack on board as we admire the views of the Urubamba valley as we ride.
On arrival into Aguas Calientes, we start our ascent to Machu Picchu by bus. Accompanied by an expert guide on arrival, we'll explore what is probably the most astounding feat of engineering in all of ancient America. Temples, stairways, palaces and gabled stone dwellings are scattered everywhere, testifying to the energy and ingenuity of the builders. It really is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
We'll be guided around the site with some free time to appreciate the ancient wonder, before descending to Aguas Calientes, where a celebratory lunch and Peruvian wine tasting awaits at the Sumaq Hotel - the best restaurant in town. We'll try two different grape varieties during our meal, which offers quite a high-end twist on traditional Peruvian dishes.
After lunch we'll take a late afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo, and a private bus to our Cusco hotel.
Hacienda Cusco Hotel (or similar)
The iconic Inca capital of Cusco is no bad place to spend the last day of our trip. We'll take an immersive walking tour of the captivating city this morning, kicking things off in the colossal archeological site of Sacsayhuaman, a stone fortress still at the core of Cusco's traditions. Winding our way along an old Incan trail, we head down to the colonial neighborhood of San Cristobal, where the plaza will surprise us with sweeping view over the city's roof tops. Navigating the narrow streets of the old city we reach the aqueduct of Sapantiana, a hidden engineering marvel only known by locals. This aqueduct directs us to arty San Blas, where coffee shops converge with traditional artisan's workshops. We explore the cobbled 'calles' (streets), venturing inside the studios to marvel at the local craftsmanship.
Entering the main Plaza de Armas of Cusco, the focal point of the city, we are welcomed by the baristas of Three Monkeys Coffee who serve us up the finest Peruvian beans. Revived, we continue walking, gazing upon the Qoricancha complex, once the Inca's most sacred site dedicated to the Sun God. Our final destination is Mercado de Wanchaq, a truly local affair jammed with rows of colourful stalls and filled with the aromas of seasonal fruit. Slurping freshly pressed juice we witness the sellers hawking their wares before returning to the hotel.
The afternoon is at leisure to rest and take in the atmosphere of the city. There are plenty of museums to discover, or markets to wander. A hot chocolate at one of the coffee shops surrounding the Plaza de Armas is also a lovely way to watch the rhythm of city life. There is also the chance to take part in a pisco sour making class on our last afternoon here.
In the evening we will visit the Pachapapa restaurant for an included final meal, where we'll savour our final Peruvian dish. Most likely we'll be trying a Cusquena specialty: Adobo de Chancho Cusqueño, which is a hearty, spicy stew marinated with chicha de jora (corn beer) and chili pepper.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Cusco.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Cusco at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like an airport transfer today, you need to depart from Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ).
We highly recommend extending your trip with a three-night stay in the Amazon (trip code AMZ). If you are travelling onto the Amazon, you will be transferred to Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport this morning for your flight to Puerto Maldonado.
There is a rainy season from Dec - Mar however on the coast it rarely rains. Jun-Oct is damp and misty, but temperatures never drop below 10°C. At high altitudes although there are sunny days temperatures can drop dramatically, and conditions can change suddenly.
2 Pin Flat
Arequipa (May 03 departure only): Juanita museum - $8 USD Sillars Route - $68 USD min 2 people Sacred Valley: SUP or Kayak - $38-$68 depending on numbers Brewery visit - $5-9pp for transport, tastings at your discretion Cusco: Pisco Sour making class - US$ 45.00pp (min. 2 pax) mosty cash is accepted
Select your clothing carefully. Bring warm clothing such as a warm fleece, thermal underwear, warm hat and gloves for cooler nights in the mountains when temps drop dramatically. Lightweight waterproofs are essential at all times of year. Bring your swimsuit.
Comfortable shoes, trainers and sandals.
One piece of main luggage, and a day pack.
A good insect repellent is essential. Also bring a sun hat, sunscreen and a swimsuit and a small towel (if you'd like to do any watersports on the Piuray Lagoon). Please note drones are prohibited in most tourist areas in Peru. We advise you bring a water bottle for day to day use.
Flight, Minibus, Public Bus
During this trip, we've hand-picked a selection of premium, and upper-range comfortable hotels for your stay. In Lima, for example, we use a four-star rated hotel in Miraflores, which provides comfort and excellent amenities within walking distance of the sea front as well as some of the best restaurants in the city. In the Sacred Valley you will be accommodated in a historical built up against the Andean mountainside, with accommodation centred around a traditional courtyard and surrounded by beautiful gardens. In Cusco we stay in a colonial building close to the heart of the historic city. We have chosen this hotel for its location just a 15 minute walk from the main sites of the city, and for its character and historic significance. However, due to the age of the building the walls are thin so we recommend ear plugs for light sleepers.
Peru's cuisine is fresh, varied and absolutely delicious. While many dishes use aji peppers, this serves to add flavour rather than real heat - so you'll find the food lightly spicy but not burningly hot. Dishes do tend to centre around meat and seafood, but most (not all) restaurants are noticing the increase in vegetarians and are able to adapt with mushrooms, grains or vegetables. We recommend that you look through the trip notes to see what's included, and judge whether this is the right trip for you.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Peru: Visas are not required for UK, New Zealand, Australian, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate. USA: If your flights pass through the USA, even if only in transit, you will require either a visa or an ESTA (an e-visa). Please read on for more information. Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and passport holders from several EU countries can apply for an ESTA under certain conditions. This applies if you enter the country by sea or by air, and this must be done online via https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov, no later than 72 hours prior to travel. Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely be refused boarding. You must have a biometric passport to apply for an ESTA. UK passports which are biometric feature a small gold symbol (camera) at the bottom of the front cover. If you have visited Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen since 2011 or are dual nationals of these countries, you cannot travel with an ESTA and instead you will need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. If you are unable to provide a valid visa before boarding flights to the US, or entering via another method, you may not be permitted to travel. You should also be aware that if you have travelled to or have been in Cuba since the 12th of January 2021, you will not be eligible for an ESTA visa waiver and will need to apply for a US visa. You should consult the US State Department website to determine which you will need. Your ESTA application will ask for Point of Contact information. Please note that if you're only transiting through the USA then this is not required. If you're visiting or staying in the USA on an Explore trip, then our USA contact information will be listed on your final documentation which you will receive approximately 3-4 weeks before departure. Entry requirements for the USA can change regularly, therefore, please ensure you have the most up to date information before you travel by checking the US embassy website. Visa applications - http://london.usembassy.gov/niv/apply.html Canada: An electronic travel authorisation (ETA) is required by British citizens transiting via Canada. For more information see the official Canadian government website: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
We have specifically designed this itinerary to allow you to acclimatise gradually against the symptoms of altitude sickness, a common and usually harmless condition caused by reduced air pressure and a lower concentration of oxygen. At altitudes of over 3000m, minor symptoms such as headaches and shortness of breath are commonly experienced for a day or two, and there is no preparation that you can do for this. Symptoms aren't related to general fitness. The best remedy is to rest, not ascend any further and ensure that you're well hydrated. If the symptoms persevere or get worse, then the main course of action is immediate descent. If any symptoms do occur - whether minor or more severe - then you should let your Explore Leader know immediately. We strongly recommend that travellers with heart or lung conditions, anaemia, asthma, high blood pressure or on the pill should seek the advice of their GP. Please also ensure that your insurance policy covers you to an altitude of 4000m.
Nothing compulsory, we recommend protection against typhoid, tetanus, polio and hepatitis A. Please consult your travel clinic for the latest advice on Malaria, Dengue and Zika Virus. Please take preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites - these include mosquito repellent as well as long trousers and long sleeve shirts to cover up when necessary. Please note many countries in Central America, South America and the Caribbean require a yellow fever vaccination certificates if travelling from infected areas. A detailed list of these countries can be found on the NaTHNaC website - http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries. Also on the NaTHNaC site there is a list of Countries (and specific areas within a country) which are at risk of infection and a vaccination is therefore recommended. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.