Published: October 7th 2009October 8th 2009
Day 1 Arrival in Lima, Peru
(Saturday October 10th ) Your flight to South America arrives early this morning and will be met by your Tour Director. Transfer to your hotel for time to relax and refresh before an afternoon city tour. Your Local Guide focuses on the city’s colonial heritage during a walking tour. Start at the Plaza de Armas to see the Government Palace and the Cathedral. From here, stroll to the venerable San Francisco Monastery in Lima, Peru with its splendid 17th-century cloister murals. This evening, meet your Tour Director and enjoy a welcome dinner with your fellow traveling companions.
Day 2 Lima-Ica. Nazca Lines
(Sun.) Enjoy a scenic drive south along the Pan-American Highway to the town of Ica, the wine capital of Peru. Have your camera handy today as you board your aircraft for a FLIGHT over the Nazca plains, which can only be appreciated by air. Your pilot will point out the mysterious markings known as the NAZCA LINES, a series of drawings of animals and geometric figures etched into the parched soil—some up to 1,000 feet long! Theories vary, but the most accepted belongs to German mathematician Maria Reiche, who dubbed the land the “astronomical calendar” of the ancient Peruvians. Enjoy dinner this evening at your hotel.
Day 3 Ballestas Islands Cruise-Lima
(Mon.) Head north to the Bay of Paracas. CRUISE out to the Ballestas Islands, which are inhabited by a wide variety of sea mammals and exotic birds, including boobies, sea lions, and Humboldt penguins. The huge Candelabro, a candelabra-shaped etching on the Paracas cliffside, can also be seen as you cruise back to shore. Board your motorcoach and arrive in Lima by late afternoon.
Day 4 Lima-Cuzco-Sacred Valley
(Tue.) Fly to Cuzco, the impressive Andean city that was once the capital of the Inca Empire. Spend the day in the Sacred Valley of the Incas with a visit to the ancient site of Puca Pucara before reaching the TEMPLE OF SACSAYHUAMAN. Visit the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, with intricate stone walls, perched on a hillside overlooking Cuzco. It remains unfathomable how and when this fortress of gigantic stones—with some blocks weighing more than 350 tons—was built. Next, visit PISAC, an old mountain village where you will have the opportunity to visit a home, meet some of the locals, and experience their way of life. Enjoy free time here to shop for local wares such as alpaca sweaters and blankets, jewelry, or hand-painted ornamental dishes and vases. Stay in the Sacred Valley tonight, with dinner at the hotel.
Day 5 Sacred Valley-Machu Picchu
(Wed.) Visit the Inca Fortress of OLLANTAYTAMBO this morning before boarding a TRAIN for a short journey through the lush Urubamba Valley. Then, transfer to a motorcoach for the ascent to legendary MACHU PICCHU, “The Lost City of the Incas,” high above the steep valley overlaid with dense tropical jungle. Your Local Guide will bring you closer to the lives and mysteries still hidden in these amazing structures, built by the pre-Columbian masters of this sacred land. Tonight, stay at a nearby hotel.
Day 6 Machu Picchu-Cuzco
(Thu.) Your entrance to Machu Picchu is included for a second day. Enjoy the tranquility of the morning with free time to wander the ruins at your own pace and experience the magic that is Machu Picchu. After lunch, return to the Sacred Valley by TRAIN and continue on to Cuzco. Tonight, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant accompanied by ANDEAN FOLKLORIC MUSIC.
Day 7 Cuzco-Juliaca-Puno (Lake Titicaca)
(Fri.) This morning, learn more about the Incas and their struggle against invading Spaniards on your Cuzco city tour with visits to the imposing cathedral. Board an afternoon flight to Juliaca, where you will continue to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca.
Day 8 Puno. Excursion to Lake Titicaca
(Sat.) Today, take a motor boat trip to some of the more unique islands of LAKE TITICACA. Start with TAQUILE ISLAND, which was once part of the Inca Empire and was one of the last areas of Peru to be conquered by Spain in the 16th century. The Spanish banned traditional dress on the island which is why the Spanish peasant dress can still be found today. Next, travel to the fascinating Floating Islands of Uros , home to the Uros Indians who were forced to live on the lake as the Inca Indians pushed farther into their territory. These islands are completely made by reeds and are continually added to as they disintegrate to the bottom of the lake.
Day 9 Puno-Sillustani-Juliaca-Lima
(Sun.) Depart for Juliaca this morning, visiting the ruins of SILLUSTANI en route. At this pre-Incan burial ground, see where the ancient Aymaras buried their high priests in chullpas, above-ground cylinder-shaped tombs dating back to the 1400s. Fly from Juliaca to Lima this afternoon. Later, your Tour Director hosts a memorable farewell dinner.
Day 10 Lima-Quito
(Mon.) Fly to Quito and join the Galápagos Highlights Monograms vacation (non-escorted but aided by insightful Local Hosts).
Day 11 Quito, Ecuador
(Tue.) On an included city tour see INDEPENDENCE SQUARE with its CATHEDRAL and SAN FRANCISCO PLAZA CHURCH, and the BASILICA.
Day 12 Quito-Baltra Island-Santa Cruz
(Wed.) Fly to Baltra and transfer to Santa Cruz Island and the Finch Bay Hotel. Enjoy daily included cruises with a Naturalist to outlying Galápagos Islands. Stop for a guided tour of the CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION, the breeding place for the famous Galápagos giant tortoise.
Day 13 Santa Fé Island
(Thu.) Cruise to Santa Fé and see the endemic Santa Fé land iguana and the large Opuntia cactus forest. The beach area is covered with California sea lions, and the coastline is excellent for snorkeling with sea turtles.
Day 14 South Plazas & Punta Carrion Islands
(Fri.) Board a yacht for South Plazas and Punta Carrion Islands. Wildlife includes sea lions, land iguanas, and hybrid iguanas, which are the result of a cross between male marine iguanas. See marine iguanas in the South Plazas and Punta Carrion Islands and female land iguanas. You may see nesting swallow-tailed gulls, masked and blue-footed boobies, red-billed tropic birds, frigatebirds, pelicans, and Audubon’s shearwaters.
Day 15 North Seymour Island & Las Bachas Beach
(Sat.) Visit North Seymour Island and Las Bachas Beach, recognized for tropical birds, colonies of sea lions, and opportunities to see small groups of fur seals.
Day 16 Santa Cruz-Baltra-Guayaquil
(Sun.) Fly to Guayaquil and transfer to the hotel for the final night of your vacation.
Day 17 Guayaquil-Homebound Flight
(Monday October 26th) Depart this afternoon for hometown connections.