Hiram Bingham's Hidden Peru
Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.
Lima, PeruOctober 18
Board your independent flight to Peru. Arrive in the late evening and transfer to the Miraflores Park Hotel for overnight.
Founded in 1535 by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, Lima is a treasure-trove of colonial architecture and excellent museums. Your first stop this morning is the privately owned Larco Herrera Museum, housed in a majestic 18th-century colonial mansion. Within these walls, peruse the world’s largest private collection of Peruvian pre-Columbian art—over 45,000 objects including ceramics, textiles, gold, and silver. Next, visit the San Francisco Monastery, a remarkable colonial masterpiece. Stand in the middle of the spacious and handsome Plaza de Armas near the 17th-century bronze fountain, the historic heart of the city and the very spot Francisco Pizarro designated as the city’s center. This whole area is filled with traces of Lima’s colonial past, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Enjoy your first lunch at the best-preserved colonial mansion in the Americas, Casa Aliaga. Located across from the Presidential Palace, the 66-room ancestral mansion was built in 1535 by Don Jeronimo de Aliaga, a member of Pizarro’s conquering forces. Seventeen generations later, Casa Aliaga is still inhabited by the Aliaga family, whose heirlooms include beautiful original furniture. This afternoon, view exquisite Peruvian art during a visit to the private collection of Don Pedro de Osma Gilermeister at the Museum Pedro de Osma, a fine example of the European palace-museums of the 19th century. This evening, join your fellow guests for a welcome cocktail before dinner at the hotel.
Lima / Cusco / Urubamba ValleyOctober 20
This morning, board your short flight from Lima to Cusco. High in the Andes, more than 10,000 feet above sea level, Cusco was founded in the 15th century by the Incas and later conquered by the Spanish. Savor views of the spectacular snowcapped peaks as you drive down to the Urubamba Valley, the “Sacred Valley of the Incas.” Stop at the village of Chinchero and watch a private weaving demonstration at the Traditional Textile Center. Feel the different textures of wool from llamas, alpacas, guanacos, and vicuñas, and admire the lovely colors, all made from natural dyes. Enjoy a lavish picnic lunch before continuing to Moray, an impressive Incan ruin that contains several enormous terraced circular depressions. Your last stop, weather permitting, is the town of Maras, well known for thousands of pre-Incan salt evaporation ponds that were constructed between 200 AD and 900 AD and are still being harvested by the people of Maras. In the late afternoon, arrive at Hotel Rio Sagrado, set on the lush green banks of the Urubamba River.
Sacred Valley of the IncasOctober 21
Today, visit the Quechua community of Huilloc and participate in activities with villagers. They are delighted to share their Incan heritage and way of life with visitors, and offer hospitality based on the old written laws of the community. Continue to Ollantaytambo and take a stroll through this vibrant village and archaeological site. The ruins here are the best surviving example of Incan city planning, and the city has been continuously inhabited since the 13th century. Travel back in time as you wander the maze of narrow byways, past stone buildings and babbling irrigation channels. Return to our delightful valley lodge for dinner and overnight.
Urubamba Valley / Machu PicchuOctober 22
Board the deluxe Hiram Bingham train early this morning and luxuriate in railcars decorated in the style of 1920s Pullman carriages and enjoy expert commentary along the way. When lunch time approaches, savor an Andean-inspired meal in the lavish dining car.
Machu Picchu was unknown to the outside world until it was discovered by American explorer, Hiram Bingham, in 1911. Gazing down from above, it’s easy to see why those below never detected its presence; this man-made wonder is nestled on top of a mountain saddle, shrouded in emerald vegetation, and is frequently cloaked with mist. On arrival, check in to the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge. At 8,200 feet above sea level, it is the only hotel located within the sanctuary of Machu Picchu. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this was both a center of worship and astronomic observatory, and likely the private retreat of the family of Inca ruler Pachacútec. These ruins are so moving and significant, that they have been named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Notice how the carved blocks of stone fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle without the use of mortar. Machu Picchu is split into two major sections—the agricultural zone, made up of terracing and food storehouses; and the urban zone, featuring the Sacred Sector with temples, squares, and royal tombs that have been carved to an extraordinary degree of perfection. Explore the city accompanied by a local guide who will unlock the secrets of this enigmatic site. Staying at the only hotel within the citadel allows you to remain long after the crowds have dispersed. Viewing the ruins as the sun sets is a truly magical experience.
Machu Picchu / CuscoOctober 23
Rise early to watch as the sun’s rays gradually illuminate the ruins. Continue your explorations this morning with lunch at the lodge, then embark the deluxe Vistadome train back to Ollantaytambo and transfer to Cusco. Upon arrival in Cusco, check in to the Belmond Palacio Nazarenas, a 16th-century palace and former Carmelite convent that has been fully restored to an intimate urban retreat in the heart of the city.
This morning begins with a tour of Cusco—the main square, the Plaza de Armas, the beautiful cathedral, the artisans’ quarter of San Blas, and the Convent of Santo Domingo, a Spanish Baroque masterpiece. Next, drive into the countryside to see the remarkable Inca ruins at the National Archaeological site of Sacsayhuaman. The imposing ruins are enormous—built as three platforms that are an average of 1,181-feet long, with stairs and stone doors connecting the platforms. Explore passages, channels, and stairs with engravings representing animals, including a huge stone block in the shape of a puma. Your expert local guide will regale you with stories that bring the Incan history to life. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure, or explore fascinating Cusco on your own—there are a plethora of galleries, shops, and archaeological gems at your doorstep. This evening, attend a private performance from the local Nuestra Senora del Perpetuo Socorro women’s choir in the hotel’s chapel. Enjoy cocktails during the concert, followed by a farewell dinner at our historic hotel.
Cusco / Lima / DepartureOctober 25
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Lima and check in to the Belmond Miraflores Park. Transfer to the airport this evening for your homeward flight.