Qalla Qasa citadel, Pisac
Qalla Qasa citadel, Pisac

Peru: Lost Cities of the Incas


17 days From $7,380

August 23 2019

With many of its Andes peaks soaring to over 20,000ft, Peru’s spectacular rooftop world, home of the condor and llama, makes a fitting stage for a journey of discovery into this colorful South American country’s dramatic and myth-wrapped past.

Its story is an absorbing one of ancient indigenous empires, both pre-Inca (some perhaps dating back 5,000 years) and Inca, and the handful of 16th century Spanish conquistadors who vanquished them. Peru’s eventful legacy will capture the imagination of even the most seasoned traveler when confronted here with the mysteries of its wealth of archaeological and anthropological treasures – some reluctant to this day to yield the secrets of an Inca culture that had no knowledge of the wheel and left no written language or documentation.

Our tour unravels some of these enduring enigmas as we travel to excavated sites of battles, fortresses, palaces and sacred Inca temples – and, as importantly, fascinating artifact-rich museums. We travel to Peru’s colonial capital of Lima; Cusco, one-time Inca capital and oldest inhabited city in the Americas; outstanding pre-Columbian sites that include Chan Chan, Caral, Tucume, Huaca Rajada – and, of course, to iconic mountain-top Machu Picchu, the stunning Inca redoubt that remains among the greatest and most haunting archaeological discoveries of modern times.

To experience even more of South America’s wonders, add on an optional extension, Chile Lite: Easter Island: an extra 7 days to explore the Pre-Columbian Museum in Santiago before flying to the word-famous Easter Island.

What's included?

  •  Expert Scholar & Tour Manager
  •  Accommodation
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
  •  Local Transport
  •  Entries & Tips

Led by...

Prof. John Rick

Prof. John Rick

Professor John Rick is Associate Professor and Chair of Anthropological Sciences at Stanford University, Curator of Anthropological Collections, and past Director of Stanford’s Archaeology Center. His teaching concentrates on South American archaeology.

Book Now $7,380
Includes deposit: $1,250 Single supplement: $1,200

Tour highlights:

  • Take the Vistadome train for a spectacular journey through the Urubamba River gorge to legendary Machu Picchu, discovered by American Hiram Bingham in 1911
  • Wander among the Moche pyramids (the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon), and the compounds of Chan Chan, the nearby imperial city of the Chimú, and possibly the world’s largest adobe city
  • Explore the Incas’ Sacred Valley of the Urubamba, Pisac’s lively handicrafts market and the vast site of Pisac
  • Discover the recently excavated city known as Caral, believed to be 5,000 years old, making it the oldest city in the Americas – and perhaps thriving when Egypt’s great pyramids were being built
  • Visit the striking Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum near Chiclayo, amongst the largest of its kind in South America and built to resemble the pre-Columbian pyramid where the 13 tombs of Sipan were uncovered

Tour details

Dates August 23 2019 - September 8 2019
Duration 17 days
Cost $7,380
Single supplement: $1,200
Deposit: $1,250 , balance due by May 31 2019
Activity Level Challenging
Tour code A19PER

Book Now or call 866-740-5130 if you have any questions

August 23 2019: Itinerary

After arrival into Lima, the Peruvian capital, we transfer to our city hotel, where later we meet up as a group for dinner.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Jose Antonio Deluxe, Lima

After an informative orientation meeting with our accompanying Scholar our tour begins with a focus on the heart of colonial Lima by exploring the area around the Plaza de Armas, once a center of the continent-wide Spanish empire. The square is dominated by the handsome neo-baroque facades of the Palacio de Gobierno and Archbishop’s Palace - and the adjacent Cathedral, a magnificent 16th century setting for some notable religious art and the tomb of Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro. After lunch our afternoon consists of a visit to the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru. Housed in an old colonial mansion, this outstanding collection of over 100,000 artifacts (including ceramic, textiles, metals, ornament and tools) records the entire known history of human existence in Peru and provides a useful historical perspective for the many site visits ahead.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Jose Antonio Deluxe, Lima

This morning a 45-minute drive takes us to the impressive pre-Inca archaeological complex of Pachacámac, first occupied around 200 CE by people from the Lima culture as a ceremonial center dedicated to their creator god (the name means “The One Who Animates the World”). Later cultures followed before brief Inca occupation. The remains of pyramids, temples and stone palaces are on display, while an especially fascinating feature is the reconstructed House of the Mamaconas, where the “chosen women” span fine cloth for the Inca. An on-site museum features many interesting pre-Hispanic relics. Later we transfer to Lima airport for a late-afternoon flight (90 minutes) north to Chiclayo - a bustling modern north coast city that’s the gateway to major archaeological sites in this area.

All meals included

Hotel: Casa Andina Select, Chiclayo

Our first visit of the day is to Bosque de Pomac, about an hour north of Chiclayo and a “mesquite” desert-thorn forest where excavations have revealed an extensive sanctuary of the pre-Inca middle Sicán civilization (900-1100 CE). Known as Batán Grande, it’s the setting of 34 pyramidal temple mounds, including the Huaca Loro (Pyramid of Gold) in front of which a series of royal tombs were located. From here some of the finest pre-Columbian artefacts in Peruvian museums were excavated by archaeologists. Our exploration continues at nearby Túcume, known as “The Valley of the Pyramids” and one of the major pyramid concentrations of South America - encompassing the remains of 26 Sicán pyramids (the longest 2,300 feet long) built around 1100 CE.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Casa Andina Select, Chiclayo

We travel east from Chicalayo this morning to the nearby archaeological site of Sipán (also known as Huaca Rajada), where the intact royal Sipán tomb was famously discovered and several mummies of the pre-Sicán Moche civilization were found. We then visit the splendid Sicán National Museum in Ferreñafe, whose displays document the story of the ancient Sicán culture. The remainder of our day is spent at the striking pyramid-shaped Royal Tombs of Sipán Museum in Lambayeque, where the fabulous treasures from Sipán are on view.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Casa Andina Select, Chiclayo

Today we head south along the Pan American Highway to the historic colonial Pacific Coast city of Trujillo. We break our 130-mile drive for lunch en route and visits to the excavations at El Brujo, a ceremonial center for several ancient cultures, including the Moche, and, if time allows, to enigmatic Huaca Prieta, one of the oldest middens in the world.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Hotel Libertador, Trujillo

Our day is dedicated to Trujillo’s two main archaeological features, virtually on our doorstep. Dominating the first of these sites are the two Moche pyramids, dating back 1500 years and known as the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon. Evidence of human sacrifices at the latter is on display at the small museum. We then visit the ruins of Chan Chan, the imperial city of the Chimú people, successors of the Moche and later conquered by the Inca. Chan Chan was probably the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas, its defensive walls enclosing palaces, temples, workshops, houses and gardens - for which canals ensured a reliable water supply. Nine compounds each had a platform burial mound built for the king and his treasures, as well as huge walk-in wells and rows of storerooms for the kingdom’s agricultural wealth. We also visit the nearby “Rainbow Temple”, known as the Huaca Dragón for its well-preserved dragon relief, and the attractive Trujillo Archaeological Museum, highlighting the civilizations of the Moche, Chimú and Inca.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Hotel Libertador, Trujillo

Our scenic 110-mile drive south through the coastal desert to Casma traverses the Virú Valley, location of the important 1946 Virú Valley project - the first attempt to study settlement patterns in the Americas. We also pass en route the fishing port of Chimbote, scene of Peruvian poet and anthropologist José María Arguedas’s last novel. Before reaching the village of Casma, our destination for the night, we visit the Initial Period (2000-800 BCE) site of Cerro Sechín, renowned for its unique stone carvings, and the nearby museum dedicated to German archaeologist Max Uhle. Our final stop will be the early temple fortress of Chankillo, an archaeological complex identified as having ritual, astronomical, administrative and defensive functions.

All meals included

Hotel: El Farol Inn, Casma

A long but fascinating day awaits as the last stage of our return journey to Lima takes us to the newly excavated UNESCO-listed city known as Caral. Here in the Supe Valley, about 120 miles north of Lima, a team headed by Peruvian archaeologist Ruth Shady Solís unearthed this incredible legacy left by the Norte Chico culture: a city they believed to date back 5,000 years and therefore the oldest of its kind yet discovered in the Americas, already thriving at the time when Egypt’s first great pyramids were being built. The archaeologists were amazed at the size and complexity of the city as they uncovered a huge staircase, pyramids, temples, a large sunken amphitheater, ornate plazas, residential complexes and countless artifacts. Exciting Caral makes the perfect finale to our tour of Northern Peru before we head back to Lima.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Jose Antonio Deluxe, Lima

This morning we leave behind Peru’s dry coastal plain to fly inland (about 80 minutes) to the Andean foothills and the ancient Inca city of Cusco, 11,154 feet above sea level. A spectacular drive to Yucay takes us into the almost other-worldly mountain landscapes of the Sacred Valley, once the epicenter of the Inca Empire. Stretching for roughly 35 miles, it’s an area of fertile farmlands dotted with little colonial towns, lonely weaving villages and the occasional grazing llama and alpaca. We pause at Pisac, more village than town, to wander through its famous and very colorful Sunday handicraft market (held today). We also explore Pisac’s awesome hilltop Inca citadel, an archaeological gem whose three hill fortifications, formed from amazing stone masonry, are surrounded by extensive and very well-preserved terraces.

 

All meals included

Hotel: Casa Andina Premium Valle Sagrado Hotel & Villa, Yucay

Our day begins with the drive to the riverside village of Ollantaytambo, about 15 miles away, rising above whose Inca-era grid of cobblestone streets are the evocative remains of a great Inca fortress. The latter’s steep hillside terraces provided a last stronghold for the Inca when the forces of conquistador Hernando Pizarro were temporarily repelled here in 1536 CE. We discover how the Inca used their amazing masonry skills to close the valley against attack. Major features of the complex include the remains of the huge Sun Temple and the “Baño de Ñustas” a ceremonial carved fountain fed by an intact irrigation system. Lunch is taken at the lovely setting of the Wayra Ranch, accompanied by a traditional Peruvian Paso horse show. We later visit the nearby Center for Traditional Textiles, a weaving cooperative where the local Quechua people employ techniques dating to pre-Inca times to create beautiful clothing and household goods, all spun, woven and knitted by hand.

All meals included

Hotel: Casa Andina Premium Valle Sagrado Hotel & Villa, Yucay

This morning we drive to Ollantaytambo and board the Vistadome train to view through panoramic windows the spectacular scenery of the Urubamba River gorge, en route to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to the fabled Inca mountain citadel of Machu Picchu. This now UNESCO-listed “Lost City” was unknown to all but local villagers until 1911, when American explorer Hiram Bingham revealed to the world his discovery of this 8,000-feet-high mountain-top eyrie - mysteriously abandoned and never found by the Spanish conquistadors. The intricate stonework and extensive ornamentation of the citadel’s ruins suggest that this was an important ceremonial center with royal and religious associations. Our two days here allow us ample time to explore Machu Picchu thoroughly from our centrally-located hotel.

All meals included

Hotel: Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

With transport operating up to the site at regular intervals, we are free to enjoy the entire day here exploring at our own pace Machu Picchu’s magical on-top-of-the-world atmosphere and archaeological enigmas. A morning’s trek up the peak of Huayna Picchu, 1,000 feet above the site, offers a superb perspective over the citadel - but should be booked ahead as access is limited. In the late afternoon our Vistadome train departs for Cusco, where we stay for the following three nights.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Casa Andina Premium, Cusco

Today we visit the archaeological park of Sacsayhuamán, a masterpiece of Inca architecture just outside Cusco. Experts have long been puzzled as to how the massive boulders and of the walls of this ruined hilltop fortress or sanctuary were fitted together with such astonishing precision some so closely spaced that a single piece of paper will not fit between them. We continue to the hillside temple ruins of neighboring Qenko - meaning “zigzag” and so named for the crooked channels (possibly pre-Inca) cut out of its gigantic monolithic stone. Our final stop is at Puca Pucara (“Red Fortress”), a site believed to have been a military installation, strategically positioned to protect Cusco and built from irregular-shaped stones tinged with the red of the surrounding earth.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Casa Andina Premium, Cusco

The last full day of our tour is devoted to exploration of this ancient mountain city whose exotic heritage blends 300 years as the capital of the intriguingly elusive Inca Empire with the flamboyant colonial imprint of 16th century Spain. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the Plaza de Armas, the old city’s central square with its colonial arcades, carved wooden balconies and vestiges of Inca walls. Our morning is dedicated primarily to this UNESCO-listed city’s new Pre-Columbian Art Museum, housing an excellent collection of material from Lima’s Larco Museum, colonial paintings and wood sculpture. After lunch we enjoy a leisurely walking tour taking in Cusco’s main architectural and historical features. The day ends with farewell dinner at one of Cusco’s fine new restaurants.

All meals included

Hotel: Casa Andina Premium, Cusco

After a final morning at leisure for shopping or sightseeing in Cusco we join our flight back to Lima.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Jose Antonio Deluxe, Lima

We transfer to the airport for our individual flights home or onward travel.

Meals include: Breakfast

August 23 2019: Additional Info

August 23 2019: Accommodation

Offering free WiFi and a fitness centre, Jose Antonio Deluxe offers accommodation in Lima, 0.8 miles from Larcomar and 3.1 miles from Museum of the Nation. Featuring a 24-hour front desk, this property also boasts a restaurant and an outdoor pool. Situated in the Miraflores district, the hotel is within 5 miles of San Martín Square.

The units in the hotel are fitted with a flat-screen TV. The private bathroom is equipped with a bath, free toiletries and a hair dryer. Guest rooms will provide guests with a desk and a coffee machine.

A continental, buffet or American breakfast is available each morning at the property.

Jose Antonio Deluxe offers a terrace.

Casa Andina Select Chiclayo is situated in the capital city of Lambayeque, Chiclayo. It offers a spa and an outdoor swimming pool with decorative tropical palm trees. Free WiFi is available throughout the property.

Guests at Casa Andina Select Chiclayo can enjoy a relaxing massage at the spa.

Rooms at Casa Andina Select Chiclayo are equipped with air conditioning, cable TV and a minibar. Some have a hot tub and LCD TV.

Guests can dine regional cuisine at La Plaza Restaurant, or enjoy a tropical cocktail at the outdoor bar.

Located on a privileged corner of Plaza de Armas main square and offering views of historic buildings from the colonial era, Hotel Libertador Trujillo provides accommodation in Trujillo. The pre-Inca Chan Chan ruins and the Sun and Moon temples are only a 10-minute drive from the property.

There are 73 air-conditioned spacious guestrooms in this hotel. All rooms offer cable TV channels and a minibar. Private bathrooms feature a shower and a bathtub. Non-smoking rooms and rooms for guests with limited mobility are also available.

Guests at Hotel Libertador Trujillo can enjoy the outdoor pool after a long day of tourism. There is also a fitness centre, which guests may use as they please.

The property has a restaurant, Las Bóvedas, serving authentic cuisine from the Libertad region. A 24-hour room service is also available for guests. Guests may lay back and enjoy a casual drink at Malabrigo Bar.

El Farol Inn is an ideal base from which to explore the surrounding area’s sites and history. Located in the village of Casma, a typical Peruvian coastal town, this hotel’s white-washed façade makes for a charming place to stay and the waterfront spot it occupies offers pleasant views over the surrounding landscape. Take a dip in the pool, sample the restaurant’s cuisine or just relax in your comfortable room.

This is a luxurious, chalet-style retreat with panoramic Andes views. It features a full-service spa and a planetarium, from where you observe the Southern Hemisphere sky. Free WiFi access is available throughout the property.

During your stay at Casa Andina Premium Valle Sagrado Hotel & Villas, you can relax in the large, landscaped gardens or with a wellness treatment. You can choose from a range of unique Andean therapies as well as sauna, spa bath and steam bath.

The rooms and suites of this Casa Andina Premium Valle Sagrado Hotel & Villas offer wonderful views of the Sacred Valley and the Andes mountains. They all come with air conditioning, tea and coffee making facilities and either private balcony or a sunny seating area.

Located in Aguas Calientes, Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is a colonial-style property that offers massage sessions and Andean sauna. The spacious rooms feature tiled floors and seating areas. Buffet breakfast and a la carte dinner are included in the rates.

Decorated with Andean tapestries, rooms at Inkaterra boast beds with cotton sheets, alpaca blankets and canopies. Some rooms have Wi-Fi, fireplaces, marble basins and private pools.

There is a restaurant that offers Andean cuisine overlooking the Vilcanota River.

Casa Andina Premium Cusco offers accommodation In central Cusco overlooking Limacpampa Square, with traditional, courtyard-facing rooms. It is located only a short walk from Plaza de Armas and Koricancha. Free WiFi access is available throughout the property.

Casa Andina Premium Cusco’s rooms are built around colonial-style courtyards with wooden balconies. All rooms and suites provide cable TV.

Casa Andina’s gourmet restaurant, Alma Restaurante & Bar, features fresh, Sacred Valley produce and Andean specialties. The colonial-style bar serves drinks in the evenings, which you can enjoy on the terrace.

August 23 2019: Enquiries

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