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Taste of Peru A 14 Day Private Journey by South American Escapes

"Gastronomic Capital of the Americas."

With an eclectic fusion of European, indigenous, Chinese, Japanese and African influences, Peru is the ultimate foodie destination. In Lima alone you will find Astrid and Gaston by Chef Gaston Acurio, Central Restaurant by Michellin Star Chef Virgilio Martinez, Rafael by Chef Rafael Osterling and Malabar by Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino whose inspiration is found in exotic Amazonian ingredients. Combining Peru's culinary delights with its iconic Inca cultural sites, this itinerary offers an immersive experience that will excite not only your taste buds but your sense of wonder and adventure.

Itinerary

2 nights - Lima,

2 nights - The Sacred Valley,

2 nights - Machu Picchu,

4 nights - Cuzco,

4 nights Amazonia (Iquitos)

Day 1 - Arrive in Lima Peru

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Hotel B - Arts Boutique Hotel, Barranco - Lima
An authentic historic atmosphere at Hotel B. (Click on photos for slide show.)

2 nights at Hotel B / This elegant Arts Boutique Hotel is located on the corner of the Boulevard Saenz Peña and San Martin, right in the heart of Barranco, Lima's bohemian arts district. The luxury boutique hotel is a refurbished mansion on one of Barranco's main plazas, surrounded by art galleries, historic houses and boutique shops. Hotel B features 17 suites ranging in sizes, a signature restaurant, library and chic outdoor patio with a rooftop lounge overlooking Barranco and the Pacific Ocean.

Day 2 - Lima Food Tour

Having exploded onto the global food scene, Peru is now widely regarded as one of the world's top food destinations. Home to colorful dishes inspired by the country's dramatically diverse geography, rich ethnic make-up and long culinary history, on today's sampling tour you will savor some of the flavors that have helped put Peru on the world food map. Visiting a local market, traditional bodegas and artisan eateries that collectively showcase some of the best of Peru's produce, discover new ingredients and learn more about Lima's trailblazing gastronomic status.

Explore Lima's exotic fruits and vegetables at an open air market.

Start at a lively, local market brimming with ingredients that are core to Peruvian cuisine such as fish, crucial to the classic Peruvian Ceviche, the humble potato, of which Peru boasts more than 3,000 varieties, and Andean "super foods" like cañihua, sacha inchi, maca and kiwicha. We will also introduce you to native fruits such as cherimoya, mamey, and camu camu--guaranteeing there will be some you have never heard of before!

Pause for a Peruvian coffee and head to a local food-haunt such as La Preferida. This particular bodega is located in a quiet residential neighborhood and popular with locals for its wide variety of Peruvian classics which you can sample at the bar, such as mini causitas, pulpo al olivo, almejas al balsámico, cevichito mixto and choritos a la chalaca served tapas-style.

Ceviche and Tapas at La Preferida Restaurante and cappuccino at Aromia in Miraflores, Lima

Day 2 - Afternoon Tour - Into the Past, led by one of our expert guides

One of the main fascinations of Lima is the concentration of ancient history in the area; not only do the origins of the city pre-date the Spanish foundation of the city by several millennia, its museums are full of the artistic treasures of magnificent pre-Columbian civilizations that flourished throughout the coastal deserts of Peru. Begin to unravel this multifaceted history and discover the complex past of this fascinating city with a visit to the colonial area of Lima featuring the Cathedral, the Convent of Santo Domingo, and the Main Square with its beautiful neo-colonial style buildings. You will have a chance to visit Casa Aliaga, the oldest home on the continent and still family-owned after 17 generations. It was first deeded to Jeronimo de Aliaga after he became one of the 13 men who stayed with Francisco Pizarro during his grueling exploration of Peru's coast in 1527. Today, the house is in superb condition, exemplifying life in the period of the vice royalty. Marvel at the series of salons representing decor during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Explore the courtyard and chapel where the walls used to be covered in silver sheets prior to the "sacking" of 1826 before returning to your hotel.

Casa Aliaga

Day 3 - Flight from Lima to Cusco

Today, you will be met by your expert guide at the Cusco airport and be escorted by private vehicle to Pisac, one o fthe most important Inca sites in the Urubamba Valley.

Llama & Alpaca Ranch - Along the way to Pisac, stop for a short visit of Awanacancha, where you will have the opportunity to see the different camelids that live in the Andes such as llamas, alpacas, vicuñas and guanacos. Alpacas have thick wool commonly used for textiles while the vicuñas are smaller and have delicate fur that is considered the finest in the world.

Awanacancha, Llama and Alpaca Ranch

Guided Visit of Pisac Market and Ruins / At Pisac you will experience the sights and sounds of the town's famous markety, with a variety of handcrafts and fresh produce. Afterwards, continue on to the Pisac ruins. With Inca masonry of superlative quality, the stunning terracing following the contours of the mountain and superior view of the valley will leave you in awe. Explore at your own pace in this marvelous setting.

Pisac Ruins

Lunch at Huayoccari - Tucked away in the Sacred Valley, off the main tourist trail, lies the traditional estate of Hacienda Huayoccari. This is owned by the Lambarri family, one of the oldest land-owning families in Cusco. A visit here is an exclusive opportunity to understand the rich history of the rural area and enjoy lunch in attractive surroundings. Drive through the cultivated fields and eucalyptus forests to reach the estate, where you can enjoy a tour of the Hacienda's private art collection. An array of pre-Columbian, Incan, colonial and contemporary works of art are on display in different rooms. This is followed by a three-course meal in the historic and elegant wood-paneled dining rooms, with views out over the Valley. Peruvian flavors are used to make classic, hearty dishes with sophisticated presentation, made with fresh ingredients sourced from the valley and from the grounds of Hacienda Huayoccari.

Lunch at Hacienda Huayoccari

2 nights at Sol y Luna - We adore this stunning and environmentally integrated hotel, one of our most highly recommended in all of Peru. The sophisticated casitas are ideal for those looking for an extra grade of intelligent luxury, with meticulous attention to detail and ample amenities. The property has two exceptional restaurants and the spacious grounds offer lots of space to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the Sacred Valley. Aside from being a gorgeous luxury property, Sol y Luna funds their own Association - which generates sustainable funding for education projects, including running its own school for children from the local community. By staying at this social enterprise you are directly helping support the education, cultural and social projects run by the hotel.

Colorful wall art at the Sol y Luna in the Sacred Valley
Sol y Luna Hotel in the Sacred Valley

Day 4 - Exploring the Sacred Valley

Salinas - Agricultural terraces in the Sacred Valley

Guided Visit to Maras & Moray -- A visit to Maras, the site of the remarkable and unusual Salinas, located in the heart of the Sacred Valley and not far from Urubamba. This site consists of a huge number of watered terraces that collect salt by evaporation from the saline waters that gush from an underground stream. Built in a similar way to agricultural terraces seen throughout the Andes, the Salinas have been in use since pre-Colombian times. Visually, the shining, salt-encrusted terraces are extraordinary. Nearby Maras lie the enigmatic Inca terraces at the site of Moray. This unique site, probably used for agricultrual experimentation consists of several enormous terraced circular depressions.

El Albergue Hotel and Farm

Roots of the Valley, A visit to the El Albergue Hotel and Farm -- On the fringes of the historic town of Ollantaytambo, the charming El Albergue Hotel has established its own organic farm using environmentally friendly farming techniques to grow a variety of vegetables including potatoes, corn and quinoa to sustainably supply the hotel. The farm is located in the midst of Inca terracing in the fertile Sacred Valley, with breathtaking views towards the snow-capped peaks of mount Veronica and the Ollantaytambo ruinds. Here you will enjoy a Pachamanca lunch, offering a special connection between the land, with all of its history and your plate. Pacha means earth and manca means oven in Queshua, the language of the Inca which is still widely spoken in the region. This is a traditional cooking technique where meats, potatoes and vegetables are cooked with wood-fired stones. As your meal cooks stroll around the farm, learning about the different ingredients. Afterwards, you will watch the Pachamanca beging unearthed before sitting down to a delicious alfresco lunch on a picnic table underneath a thatched roof. This special meal will be accompanied by a variety of homemade sauces, a fresh garden salad, chicha morada (a local drink made from purple corn) and matacuy, a homemade difestif. As part of your culinary experience, you will visit the onsite micro-distillery where cañazo, a local spirit made with sugar cane, is produced, and get to sample the latest batch in the form of a tasty cocktail. Also a visit to the coffee roasting facilities, with the high-tech temperature controlled roaster producing delicious high quality Peruvian coffee, which of course you will be able to sample.

Pachamanca Lunch at El Albergue Hotel and Farm

Day 5 - The Sacred Valley

Ollantaytambo Town and Fortress

Guided Visit to Ollantaytambo Town & Fortress - Visit to the fabulous town of Ollantaytambo and its ruins. Ollantaytambo uniquely preserves its original Inca plan, with its inhabitants living in traditional cancha enclosures once occupied by the Inca elite. The archaeological compound found here is aremarkable spectacle, and a site of great historical significance. It was here that one of the greatest battles of the Conquest was fought and one of the few where the Incas defeated the Spaniards.

Ollantaytambo Ceremonial Ruins

First Class Train - Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes - Inca Rail's First Class Train offers oversized, leather seats, panoramic windows with anti-impact UV protection and freshly prepared meals to make the journey to Machu Picchu an enjoyable part of the experience. This train service, with no more than 30 passengers per car, provides guests with a selection of natural beverages and teas, a welcome pisco sour cocktail, and a delicious meal made with local ingredients. There is also an observatory lounge car, with a bar, live music and balcony for enjoying the scenery. The journey from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes is approximately 1.5 hours. Upon your arrival in the village of Aguas Calientes, you will board a shuttle bus for a winding uphill journey to your final destination - Machu Picchu.

Inca Rail's First Class Train - Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes
Relaxing on Inca Rail's First Class Train

Two Days at Machu Picchu with expert guide - Magnificence is the only word to describe the scene as you gaze upon the ruins of Machu Picchu for the first time. "The Lost City of the Incas" is a man made marvel that has become a symbol for the ingenuity and prosperity of one of the most expansive empires in Latin American history. Uncovered only a century ago, a two year excavation led by Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham and the National Geographic Society of Washington DC allowed Machu Picchu to gain the prominence that it deserves. Believed to be an Inca settlement built to control the economies of neighboring communities, it is associated with being the royal estate of Pachacuti, the great Inca who sparked the expansion of the empire. Enjoy a tow to three hour guided visit o fMachu Picchu before spending the remainder of the afternoon exploring the ruins after the majority of visitors have left the site. Then check in to the Sanctuary Lodge, right next to the ruins.

Machu Picchu

2 Nights at Belmond Sanctuary Lodge - This is the only accommodation located adjacent to the Machu Picchu archaeological site. The lodge offers guests a unique opportunity to access the ruins in the early morning when it first opens and later in the evening when it closes, avoiding the crowds of other visitors and viewing the magnificence of the area in a more intimate setting.

Day 6 - Machu Picchu

Belmond Sanctuary Lodge adjacent to Machu Picchu Citadel

Second Day at Machu Picchu - Enjoy an activity filled day at the ruins. There are a variety of excursions available.

Hike to the Inca Bridge - This is a nice 40 minute round trip walk. It starts from the site itself and takes you on a narrow Inca road amidst lush vegetation to a stone Inca bridge. (Easy)

Hike to Inti Punku or "Sun Gate" - Inti Punku is the original Gateway into Machu Picchu when approaching the site along the Inca Trail. Inti Punku is the first point in the Inca Trail where the ruins of Machu Picchu are visisble. The views of the site and surrounding landscape are superb. (Moderate)

Hike up to Huayna Picchu - Huayna Picchu is the mountain behind Machu Picchu. This hike is strenous and is only recommended for people who are not afraid of heights and who have a good fitness level as a fair amount of climbing is required. There are fabulous views of Machu Picchu from the top. You may also visit the Moon Temple, which is close by. This adds an extra hour to the excursion. (Rigorous)

Hike up to Machu Picchu Mountain - The hike starts at the site itself. It is strenuous and steep and takes you up to 3050 meters (10,007 feet.) (Rigorous)

Overnight at Belmond Sanctuary Lodge

Day 7

Morning at leisure - Enjoy your morning at leisure, relaxing at the Sanctuary Lodge. Afterwards take a shuttle bus to the town of Aguas Calientes to catch the train back to the Sacred Valley.

Vistadome Train - Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo - As the name implies, the Vistadome train features spectacular panoramic windows to make the most of the incredible scenic views during the amazing journey. This service has a total of five cars and is PeruRail's mid-range option, offering comfort and quality as well as snacks and refreshments. The focus of the Vistadome are the breathtaking surroundings while giving you the opportunity to take some spectacular photos of the journey. The ride from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo is 1 and 1/2 hours.

Vistadome Train designed for maximum viewing of the stunning scenery.

Transfer from Ollantaytambo Train Station to Cusco - You will be met upon your arrival at the Ollantaytambo Train Station and travel by private car to your Cusco accomodations.

4 Nights at Belmond Monasterio Hotel Cusco - The Monasterio is one of the most important Colonial buildings in Cusco, and many say the most beautiful hotel in Peru. Proclaimed a National Heritage Site in 1975, the hotel occupies the San Antonio Abad Monastery, which was built during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Not only is the hotel visually stunning, but it offers impeccable service and excellent food as well. The hotel is tastefully decorated with antiques and some of the finest colonial paintings in Cusco and has a cloistered courtyard with a fountain and an illuminated 300 year old cedar tree. Situated in a quiet plaza just a few minutes' walk from the Plaza de Armas, the hotel has all the amenities you would expect in a five star establishment, including two restaurants offering gourmet dining and a lobby bar. Rooms also may have an oxygen enriching system to assist guests' acclimatization to the altitude.

Belmond Monasterio Hotel Cusco

Day 8 - Cusco

In and Around Cusco - Cusco (3,400m/11,155ft) is without a doubt the most beautiful town in Peru and arguably in South America. It was considered the navel of the earth and was the capital of Tahuantinsuyo (the Inca Empire), an empire that at its peak, stretched northwards to the south of Colombia, southwards to northern Chile and Argentina, and eastwards across the Andes to the Amazon basin. After being transported from your hotel with your expert guide, begin your visit in the Plaza de Armas in the city center. Make your way around the city as you are filled in with all of the enriching histroy and important moments that took place in the streets and buildings before you. Visit the renaissance-style Cathedral, certainly one of the most imposing structures in the city, and admire the exquisite stonework of Koricancha, or the Inca "Sun Temple." You'll also get to walk around the bustling open air San Pedro market, where you will be mesmerized by the variety of unique fruits and potatoes, before sojourning to the outskirts of the city to view important Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman. Following this series of most informative visits you will be returned to the Hotel Monasterio Cusco.

Koricancha - the Inca "Sun Temple."

Afternoon at Leisure - Explore your surroundings on your own or relax at the Hotel Monasterio.

Day 9

Cusco Cooking Class

Cusco Cookery Class - A 4 hour culinary experience led by a master Peruvian Chef. Peru is one of the top culinary destinations in the world, so for foodie travelers this is a great opportunity to learn more about Peruvian gastronomy. The focus of this private interactive cooking class is on the fusion of culinary traditions from the diverse cultures that coexist in Peru and the Andes, with a generous dash of modern creativity and imagination. An exciting immersive experience you will leave not just with new culinary skills but also with greater knowledge and understanding of the history and culture of Peru's diverse ingredients and rich culinary traditions. During the class you will be given an introduction to Peruvian gastronomy and a demonstration of the different ingredients that can be found at an Andean marketplace: chili, chocolate, potatoes, tomatoes, grains such as quinoa and a variety of tropical fruits. Each ingredient has a story and helps unravel the history of Peru - where it comes from, how it was first used and the way that preparation has evolved through time and its place in modern Peruvian cuisine. You will learn how to make a ceviche, a popular Peruvian appetizer before preparing the main dish, lomo saltado, made with Alpaca meat. These are two of peru's most popular traditional dishes. As well as a variety of tasty aperitifs throughout, the food is complemented by the much loved Peruvian pisco sour or a chilcano, another pisco based drink which you will learn to make yourself.

Suggested Experience in Cusco - Choco Loco - 2.5 hour workshop with expert Peruvian Chocolatiers. Cacao has been cultivated in the Americas for thousands of years and today you will learn to make your own chocolate treats with a hands on bean to bar workshop at Cusco's ChocoMuseu. You will be collected from your hotel and taken to this fun and informative chocolate museum in the city center, where expert chocolatiers will take you on an educational journey through time, sharing insight into the ancietn history of the cocoa tree in Peru, right up to the current uses of this plant in all its incredible varieties. From learning about the complex conditions necessary to grow and maintain the plant, through the production process of the ChocoMuseo's organic, fair-trade products soucrced from Cusco's nearby jungle region of Quillabamba, you will quickly become an expert on all things chocolate. Then enjoy a hands on beant to bar workshop to learn to make your own milk or dark chocolates as well as preparing three drinks: cacao tea, Mayan hot chocolate and European hot chocolate. Starting with just a handful of beans, during this two hour chocolate making class, you will learn to roast the beans and grind the nibs. Let your sweet tooth guide you in selecting your flavored fillings and mold your own chocolate. You will then be accompanied back to the Hotel Monasterio taking your tasty treats with you.

Discovering the origins of chocolate at the ChocoMuseu

Day 10

Day at Leisure - Enjoy your day at leisure exploring Cusco on your own or relax at the Hotel Monasterio.

Cusco - Boy in traditional clothing

Suggested experience in Cusco - Tipón and Andahuaylillas - 7 hour tour led by our expert guide. This tour is perfect for acclimatization for a longer trek or just for a lovely day outside, far away from the crowds. Head southeast from Cusco to Tipón, a seldom visited Inca ruin complex consisting of a vast walled enclosure with complex Inca canals, water works and baths, some of which are still functioning. The location is superb, with stunning views of the mountains and valley. From the entrance you may choose to undertake the popular 45 minute hike leading to the ruins. You may also choose to hike uphill from the enclosure to a magnificent Inca aqueduct, a 2 to 3 hour walk. Following your exploration of this marvelous site, enjoy a picnic lunch before being transferred back to your Cusco hotel. Along the way, you will visit Andahuaylillas, a small town surrounded by mountains. Here you will wonder at the beautiful San Pedro de Andahuaylillas Church, commonly referred to as the "Sistine Chapel of America" and known for its splendid murals and original, fully restored organ.

San Pedro de Andahuaylillas Church and the Inca ruins of Tipon

Day 11

Flight from Cusco to Lima to Iquitos

Boy holding sloth in Iquitos

Aria Amazon Cruise - 4 Day / 3 Night program

Aria Amazon Cruise

Boarding - In the early evening you will board and from then on enjoy the Aria Amazon's atmosphere of understated luxury. As you settle into your handsomely appointed over sized suite, you will feel the vessel begin to move, the beginning of one of the great adventures of your life. Stand on the Upper Deck to take in the view as the Aria Amazon leaves Iquitos behind. Over the next four days you will also sail along the largest tributaries of the Amazon as well as the might Amazon itself. You are embarking on a spectacular adventure to a place visited by only a few of the most experienced world travelers.

Welcome Dinner - Sit down, relax and sample some fine South American wine and enjoy the truly world class cuisine created by Executive Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino whose restaurant, Malabar is one of the best in Lima. Schiaffino's recipes with the imaginative use of local ingredients - fruit, fish, spices, make every meal a delightful adventure. Toast the beginning of your beautiful Amazonian journey. Afterwards, enjoy a nightcap on the Upper Deck under the stars before retiring.

Dining on the Aria Amazon Cruise
Aria Amazon Suite all with panoramic views

Overnight Aria Suite - You will spend your nights in one of the spacious air conditioned suites aboard the Aria Amazon with floor to ceiling windows, offereing views of the journey that you can appeciate from your California king size bed. Though most of your time will be spent out exploring the rainforest, when you do retire to your room, you can rest in the sitting area or freshen up in your private bathroom with rain shower. During leisure hours you can enjoy the indoor bar, the lounges, outdoor Jacuzzi, dining room, observation deck, workout facilities and boutique.

Day 12

Pacaya Samiria National Reserve - Sunrise Over the River and Breakfast - Rise early to catch your first glimpse of the majestic Amazon River as you watch the sun rise over this green world filled with wonderful wildlife. This initial contact with Amazonia is only a small sampling of what the rest of your journey will hold. Our sumptuous daily breakfast buffet features a wide choice of traditional breakfast egg dishes plus Peruvian specialties and fresh-squeezed juices made from tropical fruits most people have never tasted before. Yanaycu Pucate River - You will start today's adventures near the main entrance of Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, cruising along Yanayacu Pucate in the comfort of the Aria's state of the art skiffs. Kayak, canoe and swim in these unspoiled black waters, keeping your eyes peeled for the Amazon's legendary pink dolphins. Lunch and Lecture - Cold towels await you back aboard the Aria Amazon. As the ship continues down the Amazon River you will have the free time to rest of take a nap before lunch. After lunch, enjoy a lecture in the lounge by our naturalist guides. Village Visit along Marañon River - We will travel by boat to a community located along the Marañon River, where you will meet and interact with local villagers in this remote part of the world and learn about their traditions and folklore. Cocktail & Dinner - Before dining we recommend drinking a pisco sour as an aperitif on the top deck while watching the sunset. After dinner you cna focus the hi-tech telescope on the night sky to identify the planets and constellations.

Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

Day 13

Samiria River Expedition - This morning you will set off by skiffs for an excursion along the Samiria River with optional fishing - use your hooks to try to catch some of the ferocious piranhas and other fish species. As you fish, trained naturalist guides will tell the story of the lake and its inhabitants. Jungle Walk - After lunch, venture out for a thrilling jungle walk across suspended bridges deep into the high Amazon rainforest. Upon returning in the evening, enjoy the jungle symphony and extraordinary star gazing on local boats along the "enchanted lake." Crew presentation and dinner - This evening before dinner, we will gather to introduce you to some of the crew members whom you may not have met, working "behind the scenes" to ensure your countless exceptional experiences aboard the Aria Amazon.

Samiria River

Day 14

Nauta Town - This morning you will visit the local market with your guides who can identify the day's catch by the fishermen of Amazonia and region's exotic fruits. Return to the Aria for breakfast and to pack up. Disembarkation & Manatee Rescue Center - Before we head for the airport, we will take you to visit the Manatee Rescue Center where biologists and volunteers care for endangered Amazon manatees that conservation authorities have seized from local people, including fishermen.

Transfer and Assistance in Iquitos Airport - En route to the airport you will also visit San Juan craft market. Lunch will be provided depending on the exact departure flight time which may vary. Your guides will help you with check-in and take flight from Iquitos to Lima where you will connect with your international flight back home.

Return home with many wonderful memories of your journey throughout Peru!

Please contact Jill Siegel at South American Escapes for pricing and customization.

Jill Siegel is an award winning Travel Specialist who has been wowing her clients with her creative approach to travel planning for over 25 years. With her extensive network of key connections throughout South America, Jill has been able to create extraordinary custom designed journeys that many of her clients have described as “once in a lifetime.” For the past 11 years, she has been recognized and included on the prestigious Conde Nast Traveler Magazine’s “Top Travel Specialists List.”

Jill Siegel - 11 Year's on the Top Travel Specialist List 2008 - 2019

South American Escapes

“I know of no one who has been involved longer or more successfully with ecotourism in the Amazon than Jill Siegel. I recommend her enthusiastically!” Mark Plotkin, Ph.D. Ethnobotanist and President, Amazon Conservation Team

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