Discover the lost civilisation of the Incas, and visit breathtaking mountain stronghold of Machu Picchu.
Explore one of the most important archeological sites in South America
Visit Cusco, the historic city of capital of the Inca Empire
See the stunning Andean highland scenery during a train ride to Machu Picchu
Enjoy an overnight in the capital of Peru
Available all year
Day 1: Arrival to Lima
Welcome to Peru, one of the most fascinating countries in South America! Lima's history predates the Spanish colonial presence in Peru. The present-day city was founded in 1535 by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro as the new capital of Peru, and the Viceroy proceeded to build significant churches, monasteries, and mansions here. Today, Lima ́s historical centre, which is packed with elegant Spanish colonial architecture, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth exploring if you have time.
Overnight, including breakfast.
Day 2: Lima/Flight to Cusco Cusco city tour
In the morning, a transfer will take you to the airport for your flight to Cusco – the city of the Incas and the so-called ‘navel of the world’. You’ll be met by our local guide who’ll take you to your hotel. After check-in, enjoy a spot of lunch at the hotel before we invite you on a guided tour of this enigmatic and historical city.
There are few places in South America that can compete with Cusco for sheer magical allure. It was here that the Inca civilisation flourished, and you can still see their Sun temple Koricancha – Cusco’s spiritual heart – forming the foundations of the impressive Santa Domingo church. As you hear musicians playing their Andean pipes in the narrow, cobbled alleys, you’ll feel transported back in time to an earlier age before the Spanish Conquistadors arrived.
Different cultures have left their mark on Cusco. The buildings around the Plaza de Armas – the city’s central square – with its ornate Cathedral, dates to Spanish colonial times. Yet just a few yards away in an alley named Loreto, you’ll see Inca walls built from huge multi-cornered stone blocks with a kind of engineering precision that would still be a challenge today.
You ́ll see more Inca engineering at Sacsayhuaman, a 15 th century ceremonial compound and magnificent example of military power; the Qenqo Amphitheatre, a ritualistic site with subterranean galleries that form an underground maze; the defensive Puca Pucara, or Red Fortress; and the Inca Baths and water worship centre of Tambomachay.
After your tour of the highlights of this cultural and architectural gem, we’ll return to the hotel for dinner. Why not relax with a pisco sour, a Peruvian cocktail made from local spirits, lime juice, sugar and egg white, and soak up the atmosphere of this special place.
Day 3: Cusco/ Full day tour to Machu Picchu/Cusco
An early morning transfer will take you from yourhotel to the train station at Ollantaytambo, an Inca town situated in the Sacred Valley that’s rich in archaeological remains. From here you’ll hop aboard a classic train that runs along the narrow- gauge line to Machu Picchu, passing through some stunning Andean highland scenery as it heads up the valley.
Around two hours later the little train stops at the village of Aguas Calientes, where we’ll disembark and take the short bus ride up to the ruins of Machu Picchu. This iconic Inca stronghold is situated on a mountain top at around 11.154 ft in a position that would have been unassailable for enemies. It was abandoned by the Inca empire, and hidden by the encroaching jungle for centuries, only to be rediscovered in 1911 by the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham.
There will be a guided tour of this so-called Lost City of the Incas, probably the most amazing urban creation of this ancient empire with its giant walls, terraces and ramps, which appear as though they have been cut naturally into the rock escarpments. Look out for the llamas which wander around the ruins and keep the grass short.
You’ll love the peaceful atmosphere and magical setting of Machu Picchu. Although we’ll be up in the mountains, you can look down and see lowland tropical jungle surrounding this city in the clouds, adding a surreal element. Lunch will be served in a local restaurant, and then in the afternoon we’ll return to Cusco by train and then a bus transfer. Enjoy dinner at your hotel and your second and final night in Cusco.
Day 4: Cusco/Flight to Quito
The day begins with breakfast at your hotel. We’ll then drive to Cusco Airport for the morning flight via Lima to Quito, Ecuador, where you will arrive in the afternoon.
Quito was founded on an ancient Inca settlement, and today it’s a bustling and modern place. But you don’t need to look too far beneath the contemporary façade to find the past, and the Old Town is a showcase of classical Spanish architecture. In fact, the city’s diligent preservation of its history caused it to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1978. Transfer to your hotel and rest of the day at leisure. A nice dinner at your hotel marks the end of your exciting pre-programme.
The following overnight in Quito is already part of your voyage with Santa Cruz II.
Please note that due to changing conditions, the order of sights may vary.
One night at hotel in Lima, including breakfast, two nights at Hotel Palacio del Inka or similar in Cusco, incl. half-board, flight Lima-Cusco-Lima-Quito, incl. current taxes. Transfers and excursions with lunch as described. Entrance fees, return train tickets Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu, English speaking guide in Peru, 3-course-dinner at your hotel in Quito on Day 4
Not included: Dinner/lunch at hotel in Lima. Drinks outside the included meals, gratuities
This tour is available as Pre-programme in combination with your voyage starting in Quito, where the first part of your voyage to the Galapagos Islands begins.
Includes walking on uneven terrain. This tour is not suitable for guests with limited mobility. This tour takes place in altitudes reaching 3,500 m and may require a certain level of physical fitness.
Minimum number of participants: 10
If the minimum number of participants is not reached, we reserve the right to cancel the trip up until 6 weeks before departure.