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Each Cosmos South America tour is limited to an average of just 20 guests per departure. There’s always room to roam with extra space between you and other travelers—while still getting up close and personal to the experiences you’ve been dreaming of. Small-Group Discoveries include all the features of a traditional Cosmos escorted vacation, complete with expert Tour Director, Driver, and Local Guides who ensure that your health and safety is our top priority. A Small-Group Discovery vacation is the perfectly sized tour—without the crowds.
Total meals included:
Welcome to Lima, Peru. Heralded as the “City of Kings” by Spanish conquistadors, Lima retains vestiges of its opulent past with its colonial buildings and world-class museums.
Sightseeing today focuses on Lima’s colonial heritage. Founded in 1535, Lima was once capital of Spain’s South American Empire. Visit the baroque 11th-century San Francisco Monastery, with Spanish and Moorish architecture throughout. Continue to Plaza Mayor, where you will see the Government Palace that houses the presidential palace and was once the home of Francisco Pizarro, founder of Lima and conqueror of Peru. Nearby, see the cathedral where Pizarro’s remains are buried. The remainder of your day is free to explore. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant this evening.
Fly to Cusco high in the Andes and upon arrival, descend into the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Stop at Awanakancha and learn about the importance of camelids (llama, vicuña, alpaca, and guanaco) for Inca cultures. See them up close and learn how their coats are transformed into precious fibers for ancient weaving techniques still in use today. Continue to Pisac, a charming village with a famous Indian market, where you have plenty of time to browse the many colorful stalls selling handicrafts ranging from alpaca sweaters and blankets to painted vases and sterling silver. Later, arrive at your hotel in the peaceful Sacred Valley.
Start the day with a visit to the village of Ollantaytambo and the Inca ruins of the same name. Explore the archaeological site that was the scene of the Inca resistance during the Spanish conquest—the only place ever to resist Spanish attacks. See how the temple area at the top of the terraces was the perfect defensive stronghold, then visit a local home in this Incan town to experience life in a traditional village, which has been remarkably well preserved. Next, visit the Seminario ceramics workshop to learn about Peruvian ancient and modern art. End your day at a local chicheria for a taste of a chicha, a typical Inca drink in Peru.
Board the Vistadome train that cuts a path through the picturesque Urubamba Valley bound for Aguas Calientes, the quaint town closest to the “Lost City of the Incas.” Ascend the mountainside through tropical forest to the sacred refuge of Machu Picchu. Listen as your guide recounts the many accomplishments of the Incas as you tour the terraced ruins dating back to the 15th century. Abandonded when the Inca Empire fell to the Spanish, these remarkable ruins remained undiscovered for nearly 400 years. Many mysteries surrounding Machu Picchu remain to this day.
Enjoy some free time this morning to explore the mountain town of Aguas Calientes; perhaps visit the local market, quaint boutiques, or take a walk along nearby trails. Later this afternoon, return to Cusco, former capital of the Inca Empire.
Embark on a guided sightseeing tour of Cusco that focuses on the city that was once the political, military, and cultural epicenter of the Incas until the Spanish toppled it. In fact, Inca foundations can still be found in Cusco, with the Spanish baroque structures built on top. Visit the Santo Domingo Monastery, where these two forms of architecture are melded together with the temple of both cultures atop one another. Also, see the Cathedral in the Plaza de Armas, housing a magnificent collection of artwork, including a depiction of The Last Supper that portrays the apostles dining on cuy (guinea pig). Continue to the hillside overlooking Cusco for a visit to the Temple of Sacsayhuaman. Some of the best examples of Inca masonry can be found at this fortress, where stones weighing up to 350 tons are pieced together to form a complex that could house up to 10,000 men. Learn about the ceremonies and battles that took place here, then see the ruins of Kenko and Puca Pucara before returning to Cusco.
Fly to Juliaca, then transfer to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Legend says the first Inca, Manco Capac, arose from the waters of the lake by the power of the sun god to found the Inca Empire.
Experience fascinating Lake Titicaca today as you embark on a motorboat tour of the highest navigable lake in the world and its man-made islands. On Taquile Island, see how the local people integrate their Inca and Spanish past. This is evident by the Spanish peasant dresses made of Andean textiles—the islanders make some of the finest in all of Peru. Continue to the Uros floating islands, a group of approximately 40 artificially made islands. Learn how the Uros Indians construct their islands, homes, boats, and many other resources completely of tortora reed, a centuries-old practice. Enjoy a farewell dinner hosted by your Tour Director this evening.
Return to Juliaca, stopping at the pre-Incan burial grounds of Sillustani en route. See the above-ground tombs, chullpas, in which the Aymara Indians buried their high priests. You will be welcomed into a local home for an inside look at life here. Later, a short flight returns you to Lima, where you will transfer to your hotel.
Your vacation ends after breakfast this morning.
It may occasionally be necessary to use alternative hotels of a similar standard to those shown.
Located in the exciting Miraflores district, the Jose Antonio Hotel features comfortable guestrooms, a business center, souvenir shop, and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Situated in the heart of Peru's Sacred Valley, Hacienda del Valle reflects traditional Peruvian style. Overlooking the Andes mountains, the hotel features spacious guestrooms, beautiful gardens, on-site restaurant and bar, and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Smart and contemporary are the defining elements of this hotel, amidst the commercial village of Machu Picchu Pueblo. The hotel welcomes a wide range of guests expecting an uncomplicated visit. Hotel amenities include a restaurant, bar, hot-water pond, gift shop, Internet, and laundry service.
Located in the heart of the archaeological center of America's oldest city. A few minutes from the Plaza de Armas, this hotel has modern architecture with fine colonial details.
Just five minutes from the town of Puno and in front of Lake Titicaca, Eco Inn Puno provides an ideal base for discovering Peruvian culture and exploring the surrounding areas. With a restaurant that is open from early morning to late night and a lounge with a grand fireplace, the hotel has a constant feeling of comfort and a welcoming atmosphere. Not to mention the beautiful grounds you'll enjoy every day!
Our expert Tour Directors help you get the most out of every place you visit - and have a 96% customer satisfaction rating.
We’re delighted to have achieved the Good Housekeeping Reader Recommended endorsement for customer experience.
We are a member of ABTA and our flight-inclusive holidays are protected by ATOL. If your holiday is cancelled for any reason, you’ll receive a full refund.