Check in for your direct flight to Lima. You will be staying in a beautifully restored boutique hotel in the city’s cultural and artistic heart – Barranco. The next day you will head out on a half day tour, a chance to immerse yourself in the city’s rich colonial heritage and 2,000-year-old history. You’ll take in the historic centre with its immense Cathedral and Church of San Francisco, plus Casa Aliaga – considered one of the best preserved colonial mansions in the Americas. You’ll also be able to explore residential districts like Miraflores and San Isidro.
Stay: Two nights in a deluxe room at Villa Barranco – bed & breakfast
Next comes an exploration of the Sacred Valley, a region rich in both beautiful landscapes and ancient Inca ruins. You will be transferred to a hacienda-style hotel set in 100 acres of lush countryside and enclosed by towering green mountains. Early the following day you will set out to visit the town of Pisac, famed for its bustling Sunday market where indigenous communities from the surrounding highlands buy and sell produce. The tour continues to the Inca town of Ollantaytambo, known for its huge fortress with large stone terraces perched on a hillside.
The next day you will venture to the quaint village of Chinchero where the locals still practice traditional Andean weaving techniques. You can browse the market here for handmade crafts from around the region, and see a colonial church built on the foundations of a former Inca temple. Nearby is the age-old town of Maras, where you will discover salt pans used to extract some of the finest salts in the world. The final stop on your tour is Moray where you’ll find immense agricultural terraces used by the Incas as a botanical laboratory. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
Stay: Three nights in a casita at Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba – bed & breakfast
Perhaps the greatest Inca treasure of all now awaits you. You will ride the Vistadome train along the Urubamba Valley – a scenic journey of about three and a half hours – to reach the town of Aguas Calientes, gateway to the mighty Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Discovered by explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911, these World Heritage-listed hilltop ruins are one of the planet’s most spectacular archaeological sites. Enjoy a guided tour alongside an expert guide, plus lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge Hotel.
Stay: One night in a superior deluxe room at El Mapi – half board
On day seven you will take the Vistadome train back to Cusco, where you will be staying in a luxury boutique hotel housed within a 16th-century colonial mansion. A privately guided tour of this UNESCO World Heritage city will reveal highlights like the Plaza de Armas, Cathedral and Santo Domingo convent – the latter of which was built over the Koricancha temple, one of the most important temples in whole of the Inca Empire and dedicated to the Sun God.
You will then be driven outside of Cusco and into the countryside to visit several of the incredible Inca ruins scattered about the area. These include the temple and amphitheatre of Kenko, the Red Fortress of Puca Pucara, the water fountains of Tambomachay and the imposing fortress of Sacsayhuaman. If you climb to the top you’ll access a great view of the city sprawled out below.
Stay: Three nights in a classic room at the Aranwa Cusco – bed & breakfast
Transfer to Cusco airport for your flight back to Lima. Connect with your direct flight home.
It has been wonderful to discover that there remain places like this in the world, where one can find peace amid wild nature. This has been the highlight of our stay in Colombia and we look forward to telling our friends about it.- ZA, Colombia, 2014