Days 1 & 2 — Lima
After arriving at the Lima airport, we left our luggage at the hotel, the San Agustín Exclusive, and went to explore downtown Lima.
First, we visited the Larco Museum. This museum focuses on the pre-Columbian and indigenous art of the Peruvian civilizations, including their major collection of exotic ceramics and pre-Columbian jewelry.
We had a chance to relax and recover from our trip in the afternoon.
On Wednesday, after breakfast at the hotel, we went to Miraflores to take a cooking class with Chef Hector Aguilar Valle. This also included a visit to the market to purchase ingredients for our feast.
After the market, we started preparing our ceviche (a traditional Peruvian seafood dish).
In the afternoon, we walked to see the ocean before returning to the hotel for the night.
Days 3 & 4 — Arequipa
We had an early flight from Lima to Arequipa on Thursday, and then drove along the paved road to Yura, through Pampa de Arrieros and Pampa Cañahuas. Along the way we saw vicunas, llamas, and alpacas.
Next we traveled to Viscachani where we had a coca tea to help acclimate to the altitude.
We then arrived at the highest point of the journey, Patapampa, 4830 masl (meters above sea level). Patapampa is called the viewpoint of the volcanoes because from there, you can see the volcanic chain, Hualca Hualca, Sabancalla and Ampato.
We then descended to the town of Chivay (3600 masl). We had dinner at one of the local restaurants and then checked into our hotel, Casa Andina Classic Hotel.
On Friday, we had an early breakfast then departed for the Mirador Cruz del Condor where we saw the great depth of the Colca Canyon. We also saw condors in flight. Andean condors have the second largest wingspan of any living birds of flight.
On our return, we saw the archaeological remains, Inca agricultural terraces, and panoramic views of the Colca Canyon. We also passed through the villages of Pinchollo, Maca, Achoma and Yanque.
Arriving in Chivay, we had lunch before returning to our hotel in Arequipa. In the evening, we explored downtown Arequipa.
Days 5 & 6 — Cusco
Saturday morning we were back on a plane for our trip from Arequipa to Cusco.
We broke into smaller groups to explore downtown Cusco, and then we visited the Cusco Planetarium in the evening.
We enjoyed a virtual projection of the southern sky and then some stargazing before having dinner and returning to our hotel, San Agustín Plaza.
We started Sunday off with a Cusco city tour. This tour helped us begin to understand the incredible construction and building abilities of the Incas.
We went to Sacsayhuama, a magnificent Inca fortress. Sacsayhuaman translated means speckled falcon or speckled head. “Speckled head” refers to the belief that the city of Cusco was set out in the form of a puma whose head was the hill of Sacsayhuaman.
Next we went to Qenko, which is one of the finest examples of artfully carved rock, and an excellent example of how the Incas worshipped. Inside the rock, are large niches and a possible altar. This may have been a place where the mummies of lesser royalty were kept, along with gold and other precious objects.
Days 7 & 8 — Machu Picchu
Monday morning, we drove to the Chincheros import and weaving community where we learned about traditional weaving.
We then explored the archaeological site and the colonial church which is full of mural paintings.
Next was Moray, a great circular terracing area that the Incas used for agricultural experiments. One more stop at the salt mines, before lunch in Urubamba.
We checked in to our hotel, Hatun Inti Boutique, and had dinner.
We got an early start on Tuesday for the trip to Machu Picchu and a guided tour of the Sacred City.
Our guide explained the significance of the various structures and the theories behind Machu Picchu's purpose and construction methods.
Then we had free time to hike Huayna Picchu and explore more of Machu Picchu.
Finally we headed to Aguas Calientes for lunch before the return trip to Cusco.
Day 9 — Pisac
On Wednesday, we started working our way back to Lima for our flight home. We stopped in Pisac to visit the archaeological site and Potato Park.
At Potato Park, we dressed in native garb and harvested potatoes.