Cuzco, the Amazon & Machu Picchu: three stars of Peruvian travel (plus Amazing Trip Offer)

tours of Machu Picchu in Peru

Machu Picchu’s sunset panorama.  Attribution: Martin St-Amant, Wikimedia Commons

South America is one of the most scenic, naturally diverse and culturally interesting regions of the world. Nowhere is this richness portrayed more vividly than in Peru, land of the ancient Incas. Within its borders lie coastal desert and parts of the world’s most extensive rain forest  Between these two zones stand the Andes, the longest continuous mountain range in the world. Here amid rugged, spectacular landscapes lie the ruins of highly developed ancient civilizations.

When travelers think of visiting Peru, there is good reason why Cuzco, the Amazon and Machu Picchu come to mind – these iconic destinations epitomize all that Peru is. On both of NEI’s 8- and 12- day tours of Peru, you will visit Lima and Machu Picchu, with the 12-day tour allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Amazon rain forest in an all-inclusive luxury resort. Read on for more details about these three stars of Peru.

Once the center of the Inca Empire, Cuzco is a fascinating city rich in archaeology and Spanish colonial heritage. According to legend, Cuzco was founded in 1200 B.C. by Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, who emerged from Lake Titicaca at the command of their father, the sun. In 1983, UNESCO recognized the historical significance of Cuzco and designated it a World Heritage Site. With NEI, you’ll enjoy a private historical tour of Cuzco, passing through narrow cobblestone streets and visiting the nearby Inca ruins of Tambomachay, situated in the rolling hills above Cuzco. You’ll also visit the mysterious carved rock Kenko shrine and the massive fortress of Sacsayhuaman, with its zigzagging walls of precise stonework.

No holiday to Peru could be considered complete without seeing Machu Picchu. It sits on a mountain site of extraordinary beauty, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest; Machu Picchu was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height, with its giant walls, terraces and ramps, which appear as though they have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments. The legendary ‘Lost City’ is without a doubt one of the world’s most impressive and mysterious archaeological sites.

With over over 2,000 species of fish, 4,000 species of birds, 60 species of reptiles, 700 butterfly species and an incredible diversity of trees and other plants, the Amazon rainforest must be seen by travelers interested in exotic flora and fauna. Our 12-day Peru discovery has travelers staying at Reserva Amazonica, located in the heart of the Amazon rainforest amid a 40-square-mile private ecological reserve. Guided day and night hikes, swimming, bird watching and star gazing are all included in your two or three night stay.

For a limited time and only for travelers who book their vacations to Peru through NEI, we are offering a new 8 day (6 hotel nights) Essential Peru tour for an amazing land cost of USD$2,300 per person – a $900 savings over our 8-day Peruvian itinerary. This deeply discounted price is amazing for this itinerary, which includes most meals at strong 4-star accommodations. Please contact us today to learn more (and continue to scroll below for the itinerary on this amazing vacation!)


Essential Peru 8 day (6 hotel nights) Nature Expeditions International Tour

Day 1 – En Route to Lima                                                                                                      

Transfer Airport / Hotel (private)                                                                                 

Fly to Lima. You will be met and privately transferred to your hotel. Our guide will assist you with check-in procedures and provide you with a detailed itinerary, vouchers covering all the services included in your tour and additional information on the organization of your Peru trip.  You will also receive a contact information sheet with all the hotel details as well as our offices contact information for each city and a 24-hour emergency number. Overnight in Lima El Pardo Double Tree


Day 2 – Lima                                                                                                          (B/-/-)

AM: Half day Colonial & Modern Lima + Larco Herrera Museum (private)                      

Enjoy a half day guided sightseeing tour to the most attractive and important sites in Lima, the “City of Kings”. The tour includes Lima’s Historical Center, passing by Plaza San Martin, Plaza Mayor, the Government Palace, the City Hall, the Cathedral and its Religious Art Museum (closed on Sunday and Saturday pm; Santo Domingo Convent is provided instead on these days) as well as San Francisco Monastery and its famous underground crypts known as the Catacombs.


Finally visit the residential Districts of San Isidro and Miraflores, passing by the Huaca Pucllana, a Ceremonial and Administrative Centre of the Lima Culture built in the II Century A.C. that the Incas considered as “Ñaupallaqta” or Sacred Town. Also visit El Olivar Park with olive trees brought from Spain in the XVth Century, the Central Park of Miraflores and El Parque del Amor, or Peruvian Love Park.


The Love Park, located on the cliffs of Miraflores overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is a beautiful natural lookout, where you can see the waves of the Pacific rolling in towards the coast below and the Morro Solar in Chorrillos at a distance, with the coast extending further along the bay until the port of Callao. This is also the perfect spot for a romantic view of the setting sun in the late afternoon, right in front of you.


Your visit continues with a stop at Larco Herrera Museum, for an excellent overview of Peru’s ancient past as it holds the best private collection of pre-Columbian art in the country. You will have the chance to tour through this old Hacienda House in the Pueblo Libre district, which was built upon a pre-Incan sacred site (huaca),  housing the private collection of a great Peruvian scholar: Don Rafael Larco Hoyle.


The museum chronologically exhibits hundreds of ceramic, textile, metal and precious stone pieces and also inside you will find the vault which safeguards precious pieces of gold and silver with semiprecious stones.


The Larco Herrera Museum is one of the few museums in the world that allows such intimate access to its deposits, in this case around 45,000 pieces. Another attraction of the museum and of great interest to visitors is the exhibition of erotic pre-Colombian art.   After the visit you will enjoy dinner at the lovely setting inside the Museum at Café del Museo Restaurant; then you will return to your hotel.  Overnight in Lima


Day 3 – Lima / Cusco / Sacred Valley                                                            (B/L/-)

Transfer hotel / airport (private)

At the proper time, transfer to the Lima airport to board your flight to the city of Cusco.


Transfer Airport / Hotel (private)

Upon your arrival to Cusco airport you will be met by our representative who will assist you with your luggage and drive you to your hotel in the Sacred Valley.


Half day excursion to Awanacancha & Pisac Market incl. lunch (private)

En route towards the Urubamba Valley, visit Awanacancha, an Andean textile center whose principal objective is to maintain the wealth of Incan textile art alive. Here you we will learn about the dyeing techniques and instruments used for hundreds of years in the weaving of these famous textiles.


Continue on to the Pisac Markets where you will have the chance to interact with the local folk and even barter with the merchants.


Lunch will be served at a local ranch including a Peruvian Paso Horse demonstration; with their elegance and noble spirit, the Peruvian Paso Horse symbolizes a centuries-old tradition of cultural fusion and folklore that defines and enriches Peru. In this presentation, Paso horses from the ranch stables demonstrate their flowing gait and graceful motion to the rhythm of ‘la marinera,’ the national dance of Peru, accompanied by an award-winning dancer and live musicians.  After lunch you will be escorted to your hotel.  Overnight in the Sacred Valley Aranwa Sacred Valley


Day 4 – Cusco / Sacred Valley                                                                          (B/L/-)

Full day Maras Saltpans, Moray Terraces & Ollantaytambo Fortress incl. lunch (private)

Today continue in through the Sacred Valley of the Incas, visiting the salt fields of Maras and its seemingly never-ending terraces, where salt that is extracted from springs is stored. These waters have been used for centuries, even before the time of the Incas. It is impressive to see the variety of colors created by the reflection of the suns rays in this field of salt deposits, and to learn about the Incas striking ability to generate resources.   Following this we will continue on to Moray, where we will discover the four large geological depressions in the earth that were utilized by the Incas in the construction of circular terraces, which functioned as botanical laboratories in the development and improvement of crops.  Lunch will be served at a local countryside restaurant.

After lunch at a local restaurant, end the day with a visit to the Incan fortress and citadel of Ollantaytambo. This fortress was constructed in order to guard the entrance to this part of the valley and protect it from possible invasions of tribes from the jungle lowlands, and was later the scene of Incan resistance in 1537, when Manco Inca’s forces faced Hernando Pizarro’s troops.  After the tour you will continue with additional hotel inspections, time permitting, then you will be driven back to your hotel.  Overnight in the Sacred Valley Aranwa Sacred Valley


Day 5 – Sacred Valley / Machu Picchu                                                            (B/L/D)

Full day excursion to Machu Picchu via roundtrip Vistadome train (private)

Morning transfer to the train station for an amazing train journey to the famous Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu, the great mountain-top city abandoned by the Inca Empire, reclaimed by the jungle and lost to humanity until its rediscovery in 1911.  The legendary ‘Lost City’ is without a doubt one of the world’s most impressive archaeological sites. Built by the Incas on the summit of “Machu Picchu” (old peak), overlooking the deep canyon of the Urubamba river in a semi-tropical area 120 Kms (75 miles) from the city of Cusco at 3,400 m.a.s.l (11,155 f.a.s.l).


It sits on a mountain site of extraordinary beauty, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest; Machu Picchu was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height, with its giant walls, terraces and ramps, which appear as though they have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments.


Machu Picchu is also one of the Inca’s best kept secrets, since they did not leave written records and Spanish chronicles make no mention of the citadel, it remains a mystery.


Along the way you will enjoy the changing landscape as you travel from Andean highlands to the beginnings of the jungle (“eyebrow of the jungle”), before finally arriving at the town of Aguas Calientes.

From here we will board the bus that will take you on a 20 minute ride up to the citadel of Machu Picchu, or Lost City of the Incas, which sits upon the summit bearing the same name, and is one of the most representative and recognized examples of Incan architecture. A guided tour of the Citadel includes the Main Plaza, the Circular Tower, the Sacred Sun Dial, the Royal Quarters, the Temple of the Three Windows and various burial grounds.  Buffet lunch at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge is included.  In the afternoon return to Aguas Calientes town.  Overnight in Aguas Calientes Sumaq Machu Picchu

Day 6 – Machu Picchu / Cusco                                                                          (B/-/-)

AM: At leisure

Excellent opportunity to wake up early and enjoy a beautiful sunrise as well as stroll around the Town of Aguas Calientes and visit its Hot Springs Thermal waters. Then, you will have time to perform some of the following activities (not included in the overall price): visit the Citadel of Machu Picchu for a second time, or for more active and adventurous people, we suggest to climb up the Huayna Picchu from where you can appreciate the immensity of Machu Picchu, even more amazing being so high and distant (no guide services included this day).


In the afternoon, return to Cusco by train and upon arrival at the train station you will be met by our representative and private driver for your transfer to the hotel.  Dinner will be served at your hotel.  Overnight in Cusco El Mercado Boutique


Day 7 – Cusco / Lima /Homeward Bound                                                                                    (B/-/-)

AM: Walking City tour Cusco, San Blas & MAP Museum (private)

Today you will go on a walking city tour of the Imperial City of Cusco, including a visit to the district of San Blas, with its winding streets, the whitewashed houses, the blue balconies hung with geranium-filled flowerpots, the uneven line of the tiled rooftops and the endless stairways. In the neighborhood live the folk artists of Cusco, who for centuries have used their hands to tell the tale of their longings and frustrations working in stone and woodcarving, sculpture, doll-making, silverware, weaving and textile arts, gold-leaf, mask-making, and an array of ceramics in utilitarian, architectural, sculptural, monumental, grotesque and many other styles for example Edilberto Merida, renowned sculptor. He looked to religion for his primary inspiration, but he moved away from traditional religious images, by making grotesque images with exaggerated features.  It is a form of sculpture that has come to be known as “mud of protest.”


Then visit the Pre-Columbian Art Museum, the only museum in Peru dedicated to rebound the arts of ancient Peruvian cultures; the collection of 450 master pieces date from 1250 B.C to.1532 A.D.

Continue on to the Santo Domingo Church built upon the foundations of the Inca temple Koricancha, which was dedicated to Sun worship.  You will also visit the Main Plaza, which has been the scene of great historical events in Cusco; and the Cathedral, constructed of great slabs of red granite in the renaissance style, and thus contrasting with the baroque style silverwork which decorates the interior.   After the tour you will be driven back to your hotel.

PM: Transfer Hotel / Airport (private)

At the appropriate time, transfer to Cusco Airport to board your flight back to Lima.  Upon arrival in Lima assistance with all departure formalities for your international homebound flight. You will arrive home on day 8.


End of services


Special remarks:

-Departures are every Friday until December 13th, except on:

-June 21st, 2013

-July 26th, 2013

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