Day 1 - Lima
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Peru. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. Afterwards you'll get out and discover the South American foodie hotspot that is Lima. An afternoon walking tour in the heart of the colonial district kicks things off. You'll see San Martin plaza, visit the nearby San Francisco Monastery and catacombs, then stop past Lima's Central Market. Here you will discover the building blocks of Peruvian cuisine, including mouth-watering fruits, vegetables, meat and fish sourced from all over the country. This walk is a great taste of Lima's excellent downtown street food scene. Savour a variety of bite-size treats, including 'anticuchos' (grilled beef hearts) and 'papas' (potatoes), 'masamorra' (purple corn), 'arroz con leche' (sweet rice with milk) and 'picarones' (Peruvian doughnuts). Finish up in Lima's main square with the option of dinner downtown or heading back to Miraflores.
Notes: Remember to agree on a fare with the driver before starting any taxi journey, as taxis do not have meters. Miraflores to downtown costs around 15–20 soles.
Day 2 - Lima
Pay a morning visit to the wonderful Chorillos seafood market where you'll view the catch of the day. Then make a beeline to a local seafood restaurant for a masterclass in the preparation of Peruvian ceviche (citrus-cured fish) and cicharron (fried fish). Feast on your market-fresh fish as a late brunch. In the afternoon, perhaps take a turn around Miraflores, visiting Parque del Amor (Love's Park) which has superb views across Lima's beaches. You might also want to visit the excellent National Museum of Anthropology, Archaeology and History of Peru. Alternatively, catch a taxi to the Gold Museum or the Larco Museum. The latter is renowned for its ancient pottery collection. In the early evening, join a walking tour through the bustling beachside district of Barranco, where the streets are lined with traditional casonas (colonial-style houses). This place is home to some of Peru's best nightlife, and you'll pop into a bar that specialises in the national spirit of Peru – pisco. Enjoy a guided tasting with a passionate pisco aficionado, followed by a demonstration of how to make Peru's most famous cocktail, the pisco sour. Of course you get to drink it afterwards – salud! Grab a bite to eat in Barranco or return to Miraflores. There's also the option of a touring a pisco distillery outside of Lima this afternoon, time permitting. Ask your leader at the welcome meeting if you are interested in this activity.
Day 3 - Cuzco
Take a morning flight to Cuzco (approximately 1 hour). Stroll down the cobblestone streets and discover the town's interesting combination of Spanish and Inca cultures. You will find coca leaf tea all over the city – this will help you adjust to the altitude (3,450 metres). Enjoy a guided orientation walk in the afternoon. There are also several impressive Inca ruins within the city to explore. The most easily accessible is Coricancha, which was the Inca empire's richest temple. For those keen to expand their newfound pisco knowledge, a visit to the Museo del Pisco is a must. More bar than museum (opening hours stretch into the early morning), the cocktails on offer go well beyond the traditional pisco sour, although the original is made to perfection here.
Day 4 - Cuzco
Today is your chance to get hands on in the kitchen. Take a stroll around San Pedro market. Due to Cuzco's location at the eastern edge of the Andes, there's ready access to locally grown avocados, potatoes (thousands of different types), quinoa and aji picante (hot chilli), to name a few products grown in the area. Learn about Andean ingredients, then join a passionate local cook to prepare some classic Peruvian dishes.
Day 5 - Sacred Valley
Leaving Cuzco, travel by private bus through the Sacred Valley. Known as Wilcamayo to the Incas, this beautiful and fertile valley has long been the lifeblood of the high Andes. Maize crops grow all the way from the riverbank, covering the terraces carved high into the valley walls. Along the way, stop in at Maras, one of the largest salt mines in the region, and Moray – a large complex of ruins with beautiful terraces that form a massive amphitheatre. It’s believed that these terraces were an agricultural experiment of the Incans to improve their crop production.
Call in on the Chichubamba community, in Urubamba, and learn about the lifestyle of the people who live here. See the fruit and vegetables they grow, be shown methods for extracting honey and learn about corn beer preparation on a Chichería visit before sitting down to a traditional lunch in a local home.
Arrive in Ollantaytambo, a stunning archeological site and the starting point of the classic Inca Trail trek. The town itself has been built over an ancient Inca city, which is a beautiful example of Inca urban planning. Take a guided tour of these Incan ruins etched into the cliffsides. Highlights include the Temple of the Sun (composed of enormous carved blocks, stone water fountains, Incan stairs and terraces, all surrounded by the misty mountains).
Day 6 - Aguas Calientes
This morning is your chance to learn the history of the world’s most beloved delicacy – the cacao bean. Joining a workshop, you'll be taken on the journey from bean to bar, starting with the harvest, fermentation and drying of the cacao beans, and going all the way through to the preparation and setting process. Finish it off with a much-awaited tasting. The chocolate is delectable.
Next, travel by train through the winding Urubamba Valley to Aguas Calientes (approximately 90 minutes). Sitting at the base of Machu Picchu in a picturesque valley, this quaint town takes its name from the numerous hot springs in the area.
Day 7 - Machu Picchu
Rise early for a morning tour of Machu Picchu, one of Peru's real highlights. It's one of those magical places, and catching your first glimpse of the lost city of the Incas through the early morning mist is definitely a memorable moment. The ruins of this ancient (and, until 1911, secret) metropolis are beautifully located, hidden high in the Andes and surrounded by lush cloud forest, with the river Urubamba running through the gorge far below. Take in not only the amazing views but the fascinating history of the site as your local guide takes you through some of the 200 buildings, houses and temples. Then board a train back to Ollantaytambo (approximately 90 minutes).
Notes: Due to internal safety policy, Intrepid leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking any tours of Wayna Picchu.
Day 8 - Sacred Valley – Cuzco
Stop in at the popular Pisac market, which is famous for a vast array of local handicrafts. Visit a local restaurant and taste delicious empanadas hot and fresh, straight from the horno (a wood-fired oven) .
For lunch, take part in an ancient cooking ritual known as 'pachamanca'. This cooking method, which dates back to the time of the Inca empire, marinates meats in spices then places them in a huatia (earth oven), often with a selection of root vegetables, and cooks them slowly with hot stones
Your adventure comes to an end back in Cuzco, where you can share one last pisco sour overlooking the Plaza de Armas. There's an optional farewell dinner this evening.
Day 9 - Cuzco
Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
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