3280
Peru
Majesty and Mystery: Ancient Civilizations of Peru
Dive deep into the story of the Incas as you explore iconic Machu Picchu, the pyramid ruins of Túcume and the world’s oldest adobe city, unraveling the mysteries of this ancient land.
Program No. 3280RJ
Length
13 days
Starts at
3,999
Flights start at
695
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13 days
12 nights
27 meals
11 B 9 L 7 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program, Arrive Lima, Check-in
Lima
Casa Andina Select Miraflores

Activity note: This is an international travel day; no meals or program activities are scheduled on this day. Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Upon arriving at the hotel, check in and get your room assignment. Then take some time to freshen up and relax.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Settle in and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Orientation, Archaeological Museum, Welcome Dinner
Lima
B,L
Casa Andina Select Miraflores

Activity note: City walking, generally smooth surfaces.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as a rotating choice of hot dishes, eggs, meat, cheese, vegetables, cereals, seasonal fruits, breads, yogurt, juices, milk, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Portions of this program take place at high altitudes in the Peruvian Andes. Please refer to the information elsewhere in this document concerning health and safety issues and contact your personal physician or health care provider with any questions. Travel and transfers during the program will be via private motorcoach unless noted otherwise. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Please note that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. We will conclude the morning with a presentation by a local expert who will provide a political and economic overview of Peru. NOTE: Participants often inquire about bringing items to donate during the school visit. Although not required or expected, basic school supplies such as pencils, erasers, pens, coloring pencils, magic markers, coloring books, safety scissors, etc., are very useful and much appreciated by local schools.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with appetizer, main dish, and dessert plus choice of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll depart on a field trip to the Archaeological Museum, Peru’s oldest and largest state museum. It is housed in an old colonial mansion on Plaza Bolivar, in the Pueblo Libre District of Lima. The museum displays a large collection of ceramics, textiles, sculptures, and ancient Peruvian metals dating back to pre-Hispanic times. Some notable pieces in this collection are the Raimondi Stela and Tello Obelisk. (In the event that the Archaeological Museum is closed, we will visit an equally significant museum in the city.) We’ll then return to the hotel for a presentation on pre-Incan archaeology by a local expert.

Dinner: On your own to explore local fare. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check out and transfer tomorrow.

DAY
3
Orientation to Lima, Flight to Chiclayo
Chiclayo
B,L,D
Casa Andina Select - Chiclayo

Activity note: The flight from Lima to Chiclayo is approximately 1.5 hours. The weight limit for checked luggage on this flight is 50 pounds (23 kg). Elevation at Chiclayo is 89 feet.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll head out with a local expert on a Lima field trip with visits to the Cathedral and the Church of Santo Domingo. The most important church in any town in Peru is usually called La Catedral (Cathedral). In the case of Lima, La Catedral is also the most important church in all of Peru. This beautiful colonial building in the Plaza de las Armas presumably houses the remains of Francisco Pizarro — whether the bones are authentic or not is a matter of conjecture. Lima's historic Santo Domingo Church and Convent was built by the Dominican Order in 1540, on land donated by Francisco Pizzaro, with colorful tiles, stained glass windows, catacombs, religious relics, and attractive courtyards.

Lunch: At a restaurant in downtown Lima, we’ll have lunch with main dish and dessert plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll transfer to the Lima airport for our flight to Chiclayo. We expect to arrive late afternoon and transfer to our hotel for check in with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a plated meal with appetizer, main dish, and dessert plus water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Túcume Ruins, Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum, Paso Fino Show
Chiclayo
B,L,D
Casa Andina Select - Chiclayo

Activity note: The drive to Túcume is about 26 miles, approximately 1 hour; walking about 1/2 mile at archaeological sites; flat and dirt paths.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as a rotating choice of hot dishes, eggs, meat, cheese, vegetables, cereals, seasonal fruits, breads, yogurt, juices, milk, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: With our Group Leader, we’ll ride to the ruins of Túcume for a field trip led by a local expert. The city was constructed nine centuries ago. Oceangoing travel and trade is depicted in the ruins. Thor Heyerdahl, anthropologist and adventurer, learned of the mysterious pyramids of Túcume in the north country and began excavations in 1988 with the help of fellow researchers, Daniel Sandweiss and Alfred Narváez. Our next field trip is to the Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipan in the town of Lambayeque. The museum preserves and displays treasures found in the pyramid funeral chambers of a Moche warrior known as the Lord of Sipan. Discovered in 1987, the tomb included royal regalia and many other gold and ceremonial items that show the fine quality and metallurgical skills of the Moche. Led by a local expert, we’ll learn about the discovery, the museum’s history, and the impressive collection of artifacts open since 2002. We’ll see gold and silver artifacts, precious stones, jewelry, headdresses, and other rare treasures, and learn about the theory archeologists have about how the Moche lived and what position the Lord of Sipán held in the ancient community.

Lunch: At a local hacienda, we’ll have a plated meal with appetizer, main dish, and dessert plus; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: While we’re at the hacienda, we’ll see a Paso Fino horse show. Los Caballos de Paso Fino —the horses with the fine walk (or step) — are descendants of horses from Spain and North Africa bred following the arrival of Spanish conquistadors. The Paso Fino have been declared a Cultural Heritage breed by Peru’s National Institute of Culture. The show will begin with a presentation about Paso Fino characteristics and how they are raised and trained. We’ll also see dancers perform the Marinera, considered the national dance of Peru. Next, we’ll take a field trip to the archaeological site and funerary chamber of the Lord of Sipan, once described as the King Tut of the Americas. The tomb was built by the Moche culture that ruled the northern coast from about the 1st Century CE to 700 CE, long before the Incas. Return to the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
5
To Trujillo, Chiclayo & Witches Market, School Visit
Trujillo
B,L,D
Hotel Libertador

Activity note: The drive from Chiclayo to Trujillo is about 130 miles and takes approximately 6 hours with stops. The ride from the school to Brujo is about 80 miles; walking about 1/2 mile; gently sloped ascending dirt path; elevation at Trujillo about 112 feet.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel and head out via motorcoach for an overview of Chiclayo, capital of the department of Lambayeque. It is the largest and most important city in the region and a key commercial center, with many people from the outlying regions coming to sell their produce. The region around Chiclayo was once a center of the great Moche culture. Today, the remaining Moche aqueducts help turn this desert valley into a green cropland supporting sugar cane and rice paddies. We’ll stop at the so-called Mercado de Brujos — Market of Witches (or warlocks) — and learn about the area’s produce as well as the importance of shamanism that was part of the ancient cultures as Sipan and Moche. Some of the shops sell items used by local shamans, known as curanderos, from herbs, amulets, potions to plants including the San Pedro cactus that, when boiled, yields a drink with hallucinogenic effects. Next, we’ll have a short visit to a local school and meet children and their teacher in a classroom. We’ll learn about education in Peru and the challenges facing schools with few resources. We’ll hear the kids sing a song and present them with donated school supplies. (In the event school is not in session, we will have an alternative activity in the Ollantaytambo area.) We’ll then drive to El Brujo.

Lunch: At the El Brujo archaeological complex, we’ll have boxed lunches with a choice of soft drinks.

Afternoon: A local expert will lead our exploration of the El Brujo archaeological complex. Populated since the earliest known civilizations, it was a significant Moche religious center. In 2005, the mummified body of a high priestess known as the Governess of Cao was found here. The site is still being excavated and most of it is still covered with sand. The uncovered portions reveal a tiered pyramid with relief paintings that depict fish, priests, and human sacrifices. We’ll move on to Trujillo and check in to our hotel with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have plated meals with a main dish, dessert, and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Sun & Moon Temples, Museo Huacas de Moche, Chan Chan
Trujillo
B,L,D
Hotel Libertador

Activity note: Walking approximately 1/2 mile; gently sloping dirt path, about 40 steps to access Sun Huaca.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as a rotating choice of hot dishes, eggs, meat, cheese, vegetables, cereals, seasonal fruits, breads, yogurt, juices, milk, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll begin the day with a field trip to the Museo Huacas de Moche (Museum of the Pyramids of Moche). Although the original names of these Moche monuments are not known, they have been called the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon. They rise impressively against the backdrop of the imposing Cerro Blanco. The Pyramid of the Sun is the single largest adobe structure in the Americas, although two thirds of it was washed away when treasure hunters diverted the Moche River to aid in plundering the pyramid. The Museo Huacas de Moche, part of the Temples of the Sun and Moon complex, was inaugurated in 2010. The modern museum has archaeological artifacts and interactive displays that provide detailed information about the complex and its historical importance. The exhibits also offer insights into the life and religious beliefs of the people who once inhabited the region. We’ll then go into Trujillo for an overview via walking field trip. Trujillo is one of Peru's most important cities and is known across the country as a cultural and educational hub. Before its modern incarnation, this was the center of the Chimu culture, the second largest native empire in the Western Hemisphere. We’ll see the main plaza, colonial houses, and Casa Urquiaga that houses a collection of pottery, furniture, and a desk used by Simon Bolivar.

Lunch: At a beachfront restaurant, we’ll have plated meals with choices of appetizer and main course as well as dessert and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: On the beach, we’ll meet a local fisherman who will give a presentation on the ancient art of making caballitos de totora (little reed horses) from totora reeds. These kayak-like contraptions are straddled by individual fishermen and have been made and used here for thousands of years. We’ll also have some time to relax on the beach or explore the small fishing village of Huanchaco. Next, we’ll take a field trip to Chan Chan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where a local expert will discuss the Chimu people who inhabited the area and their civilization as we explore the extensive ruins. From the UNESCO World Heritage Site citation of Outstanding Universal Value: “The Chimu Kingdom reached its apogee in the 15th century, not long before falling to the Incas. Its capital Chan Chan, located in the once fertile river valley of Moche or Santa Catalina, was the largest earthen architecture city in pre-Columbian America.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll order plated meals from a select menu with an appetizer, main dish, and dessert plus coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Fly to Lima & Cusco, Koricancha Temple, Pisac Market, Yucay
Yucay
B,L,D
Posada del Inca - Yucay

Activity note: Cusco and the Sacred Valley are in the highlands of Peru. Cusco is at an elevation of 11,152 feet. At Koricancha, walking 1/4 mile; flat paths of grass, dirt, occasional pavement. See details in the "Notes" section of this document.

Breakfast: Early at the hotel.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport for our early morning flight to Lima, followed by a flight to Cusco. Then, en route to Yucay in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, we’ll stop in Koricancha for an exploration with a local expert. Koricancha, also spelled Qorikancha, is an important Inca temple located in downtown Cusco. Built in honor of their sun god, Inti, the site was once an important religious center. Conquistadors reported that the temple originally held a statue of the sun, made of gold weighing approximately two tons and inlayed with gems. The structure was built with enormous boulders and is considered one of the most outstanding examples of this type of Inca construction. Little remains of this architectural wonder since the Spaniards did their best to destroy it during their conquest of Cusco. The grand, Baroque church known as Santo Domingo was built on Koricancha’s foundations and came to be viewed by the Spanish as a symbol of Christian triumph over heathen religion. Continuing our journey to Yucay, we’ll stop to visit the Awanakancha Alpaca Center, a living museum where we will see llamas, alpacas, and vicuna. We’ll have a demonstration of how the wool from these South American animals is used to make woven textiles.

Lunch: Boxed lunches en route.

Afternoon: We’ll stop at the Pisac Market for an opportunity to explore independently. The market dates back to the ancient Peruvian days. Now during weekdays, the town hosts a handicrafts market where all manner of locally made crafts are on display. Arriving in Yucay, we’ll check in at the hotel. The remainder of the afternoon is free with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll order plated meals from a select menu with an appetizer, main dish, and dessert plus coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo Ruins, Weaving Demonstration
Yucay
B,L,D
Posada del Inca - Yucay

Activity note: Elevations range from 12,500 feet in Chincheros to 9,370 feet in Yucay. Ollantayambo is very hilly with about 100 stone steps to the top of the fortress at an altitude of 9,100 feet. Pack a small overnight bag for the overnight in Aguas Calientes.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as a rotating choice of hot dishes, eggs, meat, cheese, vegetables, cereals, seasonal fruits, breads, yogurt, juices, milk, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Our expert led field trip this morning is to the Ollantaytambo ruins, where we’ll learn about the engineering genius of the Inca. These are not “ruins” in the traditional sense. Ollantaytambo is a town with original buildings of Inca construction where the Inca retreated to make their last stand in the highlands against the Spanish. Running water still flows through the town in aqueducts. The terraces above the town still are farmed. The pinnacle above the town is a small burial ground. We’ll also have a lecture by a local expert on the agriculture of the Inca.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a buffet lunch, water included.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll transfer to the town of Chinchero and observe a weaving demonstration. Weaving is a way of life in Chinchero, as important for preserving ancient traditions as it is for earning a livelihood. Located in the Peruvian Andes on the Inca road between Cusco and Machu Picchu, Chinchero was an early Inca center built by emperor Tupa Inca as his country estate. During Inca reign, textiles were woven and offered to mark special occasions, from peace treaties and sacrifices to marriage ceremonies and puberty rites. In Chinchero, children grow up watching their mothers work on the spindle and loom. By age six or seven, most children have learned to weave. They begin with jakimas, narrow ribbons, before moving on to more complicated pieces. Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the afternoon is free.

Dinner: Early at the hotel, we’ll order plated meals from a select menu with an appetizer, main dish, and dessert plus coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. You will need to bring an overnight bag as we will spend tomorrow night in Aguas Calientes before our transfer to Cusco. There is a weight limit of 11 pounds for luggage on Peru Rail and your bag must measure no more than 62 inches (157 cm) — length, plus height, plus width. The rest of your luggage will be secured in the hotel until we return. Get plenty of rest for our early morning departure to Machu Picchu.

DAY
9
Train to Machu Picchu, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu
B,L
El Mapi Hotel

Activity note: The train ride from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes Town takes approximately 1.5 hours. The bus drive from Aguas Calientes to the Machu Picchu ruins is 3.7 miles, approximately 20 minutes. Elevation at Aguas Calientes 6,693 feet; at Machu Picchu, 7,972 feet. Exploring at Machu Picchu approximately 2.5 hours in the morning.

Breakfast: Early at the hotel.

Morning: We’ll leave early, transfer to the Ollantaytambo train station, and board the train to Machu Picchu. This scenic journey by rail follows the meandering path of the Urubamba River and provides spectacular views of the snowcapped Andes. Disembarking at the Aguas Calientes Station, we’ll walk to the bus station and board a bus that will take us up the mountain to the Machu Picchu ruins. Our expert led field trip will take up the rest of the morning. As the UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription states, “Embedded within a dramatic landscape at the meeting point between the Peruvian Andes and the Amazon Basin, the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is among the greatest artistic, architectural and land use achievements anywhere and the most significant tangible legacy of the Inca civilization…Built in the fifteenth century Machu Picchu was abandoned when the Inca Empire was conquered by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century. It was not until 1911 that the archaeological complex was made known to the outside world.”

Lunch: At a hotel near the entrance to Machu Picchu, we’ll have a buffet lunch.

Afternoon: We’ll spend the afternoon exploring in and around the Machu Picchu ruins with a local expert, followed by some independent time. In 1911, this ancient and incredible Inca city was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham, a Yale graduate and former U.S. senator fascinated with Inca archaeology. Bingham found Machu Picchu, with the help of a local farmer who knew about the ruins, while searching for Vilcabamba and Vitcos. He hypothesized that the site was a “citadel” existing for strategic and defense purposes. He also speculated that the site was a refuge for Cusco's Virgins of the Sun, based upon the finding of skulls there, although not scientifically classified as female. Breakthroughs in archaeology since 1985 have, taken as a whole, supported the emerging view of Machu Picchu as a ceremonial and administrative center for a very populous region. Machu Picchu was built, flourished, and fell into demise within a period of 100 years. At the conclusion of our field trip, we’ll board the bus to Aguas Calientes, disembark at the bus stop, and walk to our hotel.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Free Time, Train & Bus Transfer to Cusco
Cusco
B,L
Sonesta Cusco

Activity note: The train ride from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo takes approximately 1.5 hours. The bus transfer from Ollantaytambo Station to Cusco takes about 1.5 hours.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as a rotating choice of hot dishes, eggs, meat, cheese, vegetables, cereals, seasonal fruits, breads, yogurt, juices, milk, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: After hotel check-out, we’ll leave our bags at the hotel and head out with our Group Leader and a local expert for an instructive walk through the small town of Aguas Calientes. We’ll then have some time for personal independent exploration. You might like to go to the artisanal market or the hot springs, located about 1/2 up the hill on a paved walkway. Please note that tickets for additional entrance to the ruins are not included in your program cost. New regulations have reduced the number of daily visitors allowed to enter Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, and entrance tickets are no longer sold on site. If you wish to visit the ruins independently this morning you will need to obtain tickets in advance. From June to October, they tend to sell out quickly. Feel free to contact Holbrook for more information.

Lunch: At the hotel, we’ll have plated meals with appetizer, main dish, dessert, water and hot beverages; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will transfer to Aguas Calientes Station and take an early afternoon train to Ollantaytambo Station. Disembarking at Ollantaytambo, we’ll board a bus and ride to Cusco for hotel check-in.

Dinner: On your own to explore the many dining choices in Cusco. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Sacsayhuaman Ruins, Colonial Cusco, Free Time, Andean Music
Cusco
B,D
Sonesta Cusco

Activity note: Elevation in Cusco is 11,200 ft.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as a rotating choice of hot dishes, eggs, meat, cheese, vegetables, cereals, seasonal fruits, breads, yogurt, juices, milk, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll depart on a field trip to the Sacsayhuaman Ruins where a local expert will lead our exploration of the amazing fortress that forms the head of the Puma design of old Cusco. Sacsayhuaman is constructed of huge polygonal blocks that interlock with one another so precisely a knife blade cannot be inserted between them. It is a wonder of technical achievement and a testament to human will. It is also a mystery how it was constructed, as the stones are not native to the region and the majority of them weigh more than a ton. The largest rock is more than 300 tons! Then, we’ll go on a walking field trip with a local expert to see highlights of the city of Cusco including the main square with the cathedral complex and churches surrounding the plaza. The center of Cusco is a history lesson. Modern and colonial buildings are built on top of Inca foundations and colonial churches dominate the central square.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity to explore Cusco at your own pace. We’ll regroup at the hotel before dinner for a presentation by a local expert on the history of Incan and Andean musical instruments.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a farewell buffet dinner enhanced by local dancers. Share your favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
12
Free Time, Fly to Lima, Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: The transfer to the airport is approximately 45 minutes. The flight from Cusco to Lima is approximately 1.5 hours. The weight limit for checked luggage on this flight is 50 pounds (23 kg). Hotel check out is by 10:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers. If you are an independent traveler (POP status), see “Ground Transportation from Last Location.”

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Free Time. You might like to go out on your own and see Sol Avenue or the historic Plaza de Armas.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: Say goodbye to our Group Leader before transferring to the airport to board the flight to Lima.

Dinner: On your own at Lima airport.

Evening: Upon arrival in Lima you will connect with your evening flights out of Jorge Chávez International Airport to the U.S. If you would prefer a morning flight out of Lima and hotel accommodations please contact the Holbrook at 1-800-866-7111 or roadscholarprograms@holbrooktravel.com to book these additional services. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

DAY
13
Return Flights to U.S.  
In Flight