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.
- 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
WHAT TO EXPECT
Aug 23 – Sep 8 with Professor John Rick
Friday, August 23: ARRIVE IN LIMA
We arrive into Lima and transfer to our first hotel where we will meet for dinner.
Saturday, August 24: LIMA
After an orientation meeting with Professor Rick, touring begins at National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru. This superb collection houses more than 100,000 artifacts spanning the entire history of human occupation in Peru. It will give us an introduction to the sites we will be visiting throughout our tour. After lunch, touring will continue to colonial Lima with visits to the area around the Plaza de Armas to see the Palacio de Gobierno, the Archbishop’s Palace and to visit the Cathedral.
Sunday, August 25: CHICLAYO
Our touring this morning will be to pre-Inca Pachacamac, which was once an important ceremonial center. We will examine the 1,300-year-old remains of some of the temples, pyramids and the reconstructed House of the Mamaconas. We then transfer to the airport for a late afternoon flight to Chiclayo, one of Peru’s fastest-growing modern cities.
Monday, August 26: CHICLAYO
Touring today will include Bosque de Pomac, a desert-thorn forest of mesquite, where excavations have revealed a fascinating sanctuary of the middle Sicán period (900-1100 CE), known as Batán Grande. The site consists of 50 adobe pyramids, from which many of the gold objects we have seen were excavated. Archaeologists have excavated Huaca Loro, one of the five temples that form the Great Plaza. Touring continues at Túcume, which encompasses the remains of 26 pyramids as well as many smaller structures built around 1100 CE by the Lambayeque people.
Tuesday, August 27: CHICLAYO
The day begins at the site where the Sipán tomb was discovered. We then visit the wonderful Sicán Museum in Ferreñafe. The remainder of the day will be spent at the new Royal Tombs Museum, where the fabulous artifacts from Sipán are on view.
Wednesday, August 28: TRUJILLO
Our drive today takes us south along the Pan American Highway to Trujillo. We will stop en route for lunch and visits to the excavations at El Brujo, a ceremonial center for several cultures, including the Moche, and, if time allows, to Huaca Prieta, one of the oldest middens in the world.
Thursday, August 29: TRUJILLO
Touring today will include the Moche pyramids, known as the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon, and the imperial city of the Chimú, Chan Chan. Considered to be the largest adobe city in the world, Chan Chan consists of nine compounds, each containing a platform burial mound built for the king and his treasures. They also held huge walk-in wells and rows of storerooms for the agricultural wealth of the kingdom. Within the city walls were palaces, temples, workshops, houses and gardens. Canals kept the city supplied with water. We also visit the nearby “Rainbow Temple,” known as the Huaca Dragón for its well-preserved dragon relief, and the Archaeological Museum.
Friday, August 30: CASMA
Our scenic drive to Casma passes through the Virú Valley, famous for the 1940s Virú Valley Project, and the fishing port of Chimbote, scene of José María Arguedas’s last novel. We will visit the small Max Uhle Museum and the Initial Period site of Cerro Sechín, renowned for its unique stone carvings. Our last stop will be the early temple-fortress of Chankillo. We will spend the night in the village of Casma.
Saturday, August 31: LIMA
This exciting day takes us to the newly excavated city known as Caral. About 120 miles north of Lima in the Supe Valley, a team headed by Peruvian archaeologist Ruth Shady Solís unearthed a city they believe to be 5,000 years old, making it the oldest city in the Americas. It would have been a thriving city at the time that Egypt’s great pyramids were being built. The archaeologists were amazed at the size and complexity of the city as they uncovered a huge staircase, pyramids, a large sunken amphitheater, residential complexes and countless artifacts. After completing our touring, we return to Lima.
Sunday, September 1: YUCAY
After a morning flight to Cusco, a wonderful drive will take us into the Sacred Valley. Touring today will include the colorful Pisac market and the vast site of Pisac, which consists of three hill fortifications of exceptional masonry. It is surrounded by extensive and very well-preserved terraces.
Monday, September 2: YUCAY
Touring today begins with Ollantaytambo, a massive Inca fortress from which the advances of Hernando Pizarro were repelled in 1536. It provides us with good examples of canchas, corral enclosures, and an intact irrigation system. Here too we will see how the Inca used masonry to close the valley against attack and to channel the river. Our lunch will be at the Wayra Ranch and will be accompanied by a Peruvian Paso horse show. The day ends with a visit to the Center for Traditional Textiles. This center houses a weaving cooperative, school for young girls and a shelter for women in destress.
Tuesday, September 3: MACHU PICCHU
This morning we will board the Vistadome train for our spectacular journey through the Urubamba River gorge to Machu Picchu. Unknown to all but the local villagers until 1911, Machu Picchu remains a somewhat mysterious city. Its fine stonework and extensive ornamentation suggest an important ceremonial center. Why it was abandoned may never be known. Our two days here will give us ample time to explore it thoroughly from our centrally located hotel.
Wednesday, September 4: CUSCO
This day is completely at leisure. We have provided for a second entry to Macchu Picchu. The bus operates to the site at regular intervals. You may wish to spend the morning climbing the peak of Huayna Picchu. This must be booked in advance as limited number of people permitted each day. The Vistadome departs for Cusco in the late afternoon.
Thursday, September 5: CUSCO
Today we will visit the fortress or sanctuary of Sacsayhuamán, built from enormous stones fitted together with absolute precision. We continue to the ruins of Qenko, translated as “zigzag,” so named for the large rock that is completely covered with carvings and zigzag channels. Lastly, we stop at Puca Pucara (red fortress). Built from irregular shaped stoned, the site is believed to have been used as a guard post that protected access to Cusco.
Friday, September 6: CUSCO
We will tour the city’s highlights, including the new Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, which houses an excellent collection of material from the Larco Museum in Lima, as well as colonial paintings and wood sculpture. The remainder of the day will be at leisure. Our farewell dinner will be at one of Cusco’s fine new restaurants.
Saturday, September 7: LIMA:
After a morning at leisure, we fly to Lima, where some may choose to transfer to the airport for their flights home.
Sunday, September 8: DEPART FROM LIMA
We transfer to the airport for our individual flights home or onward travel.