The morning is for an excursion to historic downtown Lima, famous "City of the Kings", which includes stops at the most important sights, beginning with the Santo Domingo Convent, a 16th century architectural masterpiece where lie the remains of the two greatest holy figures in Peruvian history: Saint Rose of Lima and Saint Martin de Porres. Next on the itinerary is the Main Square, the exact spot where the city was founded. You will be introduced to the spirituality that characterized Peru during colonial times. Later on, you will tour the Archbishop's Palace, in which 16th-19th century art works, genuine heritage of the Catholic Church, are on display. While still there, you will watch the changing of the guard at the Government Palace from one of the wood carved balconies on the building's façade. Afterwards, you will tour the Cathedral, the oldest building in the capital. Following lunch, you will go to the Sanctuary of Saint Rose of Lima, the place where she was born and lived, and there see the Wishing Well in which the devout drop letters with their petitions written to the Patron Saint. Last site on the day is the Church of the Nazarenes to see the venerated image of the Señor de los Milagros, or Cristo de Pachacamilla, the most important religious image in Peru.
In the morning, you will take a tour of the Larco Museum, a private establishment whose striking collections display more than 3000 years of Pre-Columbian history. The museum is surrounded by beautifully tended gardens and housed in an old, 18th century Colonial mansion whose foundations are actually a 7th century, Pre-Colombian pyramid. In addition to its main exhibits, there are another 45,000 archeological artifacts. All in all, a fantastic institution to visit. The afternoon is set aside for a visit to the "Casa Luna", another museum displaying the most important private collection of nativity scenes in Peru or the world, for that matter, with over 2000 pieces to see. The exhibit is located in the upper part of the house that has been converted into a museum for the collection's conservation and display.
To end the day, you will sample a Pisco Sour cocktail, toasting what you experienced today in the comfort of your hotel.
You will be transferred to the airport at the scheduled time for your flight to Cuzco. Once there, you will tour the oldest sections of the city that are part of World Cultural Heritage, and see the Incan foundations the Spanish used to construct the buildings. You will walk down the most important streets and visit its most representative neighborhoods, like San Blas, where expert artisans have set up shop, and walk about the awe inspiring Main Square, upon which sits the Santo Domingo church (which you will tour) that originally was the Coricancha or Temple of the Sun, the foundations of which being an example of outstanding Incan stonework. You will then move on to the Cathedral, the Church of La Compañia de Jesus (Society of Christ), and the La Merced Convent, where on display is the pinnacle of religious art. Afterwards, you will be taken to the Sacred Valley, where you will enjoy a dinner and show at your hotel.
Awana Kancha, Pisac, and Ollantaytambo
Today's excursion is to the heart of the Urubamba Valley, also known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas, thusly called because it was an extremely important area for that culture's development. There, they raised all the food necessary for the survival and maintenance of their vast territory. Running through the valley is the Vilcanota or Urubamba River. The agricultural wealth in corn and potatoes sustained the lives of countless villages that are still decorated by the fields. You will also stop by Awana Kancha, the "Living Museum of the Andes", where they exhibit and explain the four types of South American camelids – alpacas, vicuñas, llamas, and guanacos – which you can reach out and touch. They also display a variety of exquisite examples of traditional Andean and industrial clothing. The next stop is Pisac, one of the many friendly towns scattered about the valley. It is the lively market that makes Pisac famous, and you will have some free time to shop, check out the local artisans' works, and to interact with the surroundings. Lunch will be provided at one of the other towns in the valley, and then it's off to the last stop of the day, Ollantaytambo, a quaint village that maintains its original Incan architecture. At the highest point in the village is the Ollantaytambo archeological site, an impressive religious, military, and agricultural center, which you will visit.
Today's destination is one of the most important landmarks in Peru and the world: the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, the great Incan outpost. The tour starts off with a roughly 4 hour train ride to the town of Aguas Calientes, and during that time you will simply marvel at the landscape of one of the loveliest valleys, dominated by green sloped mountains with snow topped peaks. Upon your arrival, you will be driven to the archeological site, the visit of which will be an unforgettable experience, with a professional tour guide to impart to you all the history that surrounds this mysterious and enchanting place. Once the guided tour is over, you will have some free time to explore the site on your own, to relax, and to meditate. At the scheduled time, you will descend to Aguas Calientes, eat lunch, and then head out to the city of Cuzco.
Your last day will be spent in the city of Cusco, specifically the famous San Blas neighborhood of artisans, where you will visit the workshops of the city's most famous craftsmen and have the opportunity to purchase fine pieces of art and to see how these are made. Definitely take this opportunity to look over the selection of different religious artworks. At the scheduled time, you will be taken to the airport for your flight to Lima.