Off the Beaten Path in Peru
The perfect Peruvian holiday for second time explorers who want to take a more in-depth look at the fascinating ancient cultures of Peru, this 15-day luxury holiday takes in a kaleidoscope of cultural gems.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Delve into the artsy side of Lima on a walking tour of up-and-coming Barranco district
- Visit the recently discovered tombs at Huaca Radja
- Interpret the petroglyphs at El Brujo
Why Book with Original Travel?
When To Travel
All of the holidays we create are completely tailor-made to you
Day 1: Arrival
When you land in Lima and have cleared customs and collected your bags, one of our team on the ground will meet you for a short private transfer to your hotel. We have pre-booked dinner for you at the hotel tonight so you can enjoy a relaxed first evening.
Day 2: City Tour
We imagine it will be an early start today, so after breakfast you will be privately transferred to the Plaza Mayor (Main Square) to begin your full day city tour.
Perched above the bright blue Pacific, Peru's capital is a rich kaleidoscope of colonial architectural jewels, revered pre-Columbian sites, charming residential areas and vibrant shopping districts.
Today, you will explore the city's past, starting with the
Government Palace and the City Hall, as well as the Convent of San
Francisco, built in the 17th century, and its subterranean
catacombs. Back on the surface, you will visit the Rafael Larco
Herrera Museum. The fabulous museum is home to an exquisite
collection of Peruvian gold and silver, not to mention the largest
private collection of pre-Colombian Peruvian art in the
For lunch, your expert guide will take you to one of their favourite spots in the enchanting district of Barranco, before you explore here.
Day 3: Cajamarca
Today you will leave Lima and head north to Cajamarca.
There are several flights a day, so to give you a bit more time to explore the city - check our handy and detailed destination Dossier for our favourite spots - we've booked you on a mid-afternoon one. After the one-and-a-quarter hour flight, you will be met by one of our team on the ground for a short private transfer to your hotel in the centre of town.
Day 4: City Tour
This morning your expert guide will meet you at your hotel for a tour of Cajamarca.
The city was a hugely important Inca site, and crucial in the
Spanish colonisation of Peru, a fact which is reflected in its
churches and the beautifully preserved colonial houses. As you walk
around the city, you will come to the 'ransom room,' where the
Conquistador Francisco Pizarro promised Inca King Atahualpa his
freedom if he filled the room with gold and silver. Pizarro broke
his promise and had Atahualpa executed in the main square.
After lunch, you will visit the amazing Cumbemayo site. Nobody knows exactly how or why these canals and aqueducts were built, but they are surrounded by petroglyphs and other carvings which give some insight into the pre-Incan people who built the impressive site.
Day 5: Hotel Transfer
This morning, you will be met at your hotel for a private transfer to your next hotel in Chiclayo. The journey is roughly six hours long, so your hotel will give you a delicious packed lunch, and your driver will stop at some of the prettiest spots en route.
Day 6: Royal Tombs
After breakfast this morning you will be met at your hotel by your expert guide and driver for a private tour of the magnificent mud-brick burial platform of Huaca Rajada, where the world-famous Tomb of the Lord of Sipan, considered to be one of the most important 20th century archaeological discoveries in Latin America, was discovered.
The reproductions (the real deals are kept in the Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum) of fabulous gold artefacts and precious stones are left exactly as they were when tomb raiders stumbled across them. Then visit to Tucume, an imposing 26 pyramids site of the Lambayeque culture. You will then visit the brand new Tumbas Reales Museum to find out more about the lives of the people who have inhabited the area for thousands of years.
Day 7: El Brujo and Trujillo
This morning you will be met at your hotel by your driver and guide for the journey to Trujillo.
The journey is only about an hour long, but en route you will visit El Brujo, a pyramid which rises 98ft above the surrounding desert. Built with tens of thousands of adobe bricks, its walls are covered with polychrome reliefs showing war motifs, the food grown by the Moche people, animals, plants and fishing. A few years ago, the Lady of Cao, a remarkably well preserved tattooed mummy of a young woman, a member of Moche royalty, was discovered deep inside El Brujo pyramid. Our guide will explain the theories that abounded about how she came to be buried in the pyramid and what life was like when she was alive.
Day 8: The Sun and the Moon
Today you will visit the pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, once the Moche centre of power in the Trujillo Valley.
With your guide, you will explore the temples, where you will interpret the impressive mud-brick friezes on the walls, before visiting a Mohica family. You will then visit the Arco Iris Temple, also known as the Ceremonial Dragon Temple, whose walls are covered in petroglyphs of the daily lives of the Chimu people before heading to the seaside town of Huanchaco, where local fishermen still use traditional caballitos de totora (reed boats). After lunch in Huanchaco, you will visit the ancient mud-brick City of Chan Chan. The adobe-brick built city's 100,000 inhabitants stubbornly resisted the expansion of the seemingly unstoppable expansion of the Incan Empire and your guide will describe how it was eventually conquered by the empire in 1470.
Day 9: Internal Flight
Today you will leave Trujillo and head to Cusco. The late morning flight will land two hours later, after which you will be met by one of our team on the ground for a short private transfer to your hotel in the Sacred Valley.
Day 10: Pisac Market & Ollantaytambo
This morning you will be met at your hotel by your expert guide for a full day's tour of the Sacred Valley.
After visiting the village of Pisac, where artisans sell handicrafts, and after lunch, you will be privately transferred to the remarkable fortress at Ollantaytambo, built by the Incas, for a private tour. The Inca Emperor Pachacuti razed the city to the ground and started again from scratch. This means that the city is a near perfect example of 15th century Incan architecture. Your guide will explain the significance of the buildings and ruins, and how they were shaped by the daily lives of the people who inhabited them. After a visit to the Temple of the Sun, you will head back to your hotel for the evening.
Day 11: Machu Picchu
This morning you will be met by your guide and transferred to Ollantaytambo train station where you will board the Vistadome train for the hour and a half journey up to Machu Picchu Pueblo.
When you get to the station, you will take the bus from Machu Picchu Pueblo up to the ruins for your privately guided tour. After a picnic lunch, you will explore one of the New Seven Wonders of the World with your guide, who will explain just how the Incas managed to build such a beautiful and precise site, using only hand tools, and talk you through the altars used for human sacrifices, the temples carved in the shape of condors and the stones used to harness the sun. When you're ready, you will be taken to your hotel for the night.
Day 12: Machu Picchu
There's more to Machu Picchu than can be explored in one day, so today we have booked you tickets to go back alone.
After you have explored, make your way to Huayna Picchu, the
mountain that rises over the citadel. The reward for the hour's
climb up the series of Incan steps which are cut into the rockface
is a spectacular view over the citadel, but it is quite a hairy
climb up and down, so take care.
Once you have descended and taken the train back down to Ollantaytambo you will be privately transferred back to your hotel.
Day 13: Cusco Ruins
Today you will be taken on a half day excursion of Cusco's local ruins. Just outside the city is Sacsayhuaman, the fortress above Cusco whose precise zigzags of massive stone remain unmoved by the centuries - and continue to baffle the boffins.
The is the centre of the ceremonies for the famous Inti Raymi festival, no one is quite sure how the enormous stones were cut or moved into place but they certainly held a deep significance to Inca culture. Continuing away from the city, we'll visit the labyrinthine ruins of Qenqo, Puca Pucara, and Tambomachay, where ingenious fountains built by the Incas capture the waters of a natural spring. During your tour, your expert guide will explain how the Incas managed to create so many ingenious devices and structures, many of which still seem relevant hundreds of years later.
Day 14: Cusco City Tour
This morning, your expert guide will meet you at your hotel for a private tour of one of Cusco's most exciting neighbourhoods.
Staring in San Blas, home to many renowned artists (and hipsters
galore), you and your guide will stroll along its cobblestone
alleys towards its church, which features a beautiful pulpit carved
from a single block of wood. After that, visit San Pedro Market,
where all the wares of the Imperial City are on display, making it
the perfect spot to pick up souvenir and, more importantly,
A few steps from the market is the most impressive building left by the Incas of Cusco: the Korikancha (the Golden Temple), a temple dedicated to the worship of the Sun God. According to legend, the interior walls were once covered in gold. Here, your guide will explain the grisly ways Incas appeased their gods, with human sacrifice a standard way to keep the sun shining. Your tour will end with a stroll through the Main Square, where you will visit the Cathedral and its exquisite vestibules and priceless paintings from the Cusco School of the 17th and 18th centuries.
Day 15: Home Time
Depending on the time of your flight home today, you may have time to explore the parts of the city you've not yet seen - armed with your handy Dossier - before you are privately transferred to the airport to begin your journey home.
Ollie and Kate B are our experts for this itinerary and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.