Journey into a sacred land and discover our links with the past. In all great civilizations engineers have worked at providing a safer environment for their inhabitants.
From providing water to designing transport to constructing buildings, they help define how a culture perceives itself.
Join us in a tour that celebrates the achievements of those engineers who participated in developing some of the greatest civilizations of the world.
Arrive in Lima, the capital city of Peru. Since arrival is late in the day, you will be escorted to your hotel for the night.
This morning you will be given the opportunity to see some of the sights of Lima. An escort will pick you up at the hotel for a city tour. Highlights of the tour include the catacombs of San Francisco and the National Museum. Also included is the cathedral in the main plaza (Plaza des Armas), which contains the remains of the Spanish conqueror, Francisco Pizarro and exemplifies colonial architecture. (B,D)
This morning a driver will pick you up for a full day to Nazca. On route, you will see the most common features of the Peruvian environment – the garua, which is a coastal mist formed by the upwelling caused by the Humboldt Current. As well, the desert, which covers 1/3 of Peru, is present for much of the drive. You will also be able to see the impact of the Andean rivers on the coast. At these locations the desert becomes an oasis and it is in these regions that the early cultures flourished. (B,L,D)
Your morning will begin early as you prepare for a flight over the Nazca lines. Lasting about thirty minutes, you will be able to see the geometric patterns formed by a culture hundreds of years ago.
The Paraca-Nazca culture began around 200 BC. Their most famous achievement is the construction of the Nazca lines. Different theories, ranging from extraterrestrial space vehicle landing strips to aquifer locators, abound as to why the lines were constructed. While the reason for their construction remains a mystery, their present existence gives testimony to the Nazca’s advanced ability to visualize perspective.
Also see a goldmining workshop, and visit the Cantallo aqueducts, which still provides irrigation water today. Return to Lima (B,L)
Today you will begin your tour of some of the ancient coastal cities of Peru, north of Lima. A driver will escort you to the airport where you will embark on a journey to the Chimu and Moche ruins around Trujillo.
Flourishing around 100-800 AD, the Moche empire is noted for its metallurgy, fine ceramics, large pyramids and intensive irrigation. In the same region, the Chimu empire prospered from around 1000 AD to the time of their conquerors, the Incas (~1470 AD). Ruling a kingdom 1000-km along the coastline, their imperial city, Chan Chán is the largest city of adobe in the world. Enclosing 28 sq. km, the royal city contains walk-in groundwater wells, irrigation complexes and agricultural storerooms.
Although the city of Chan Chán is comprised of nine complexes, many of the buildings are washed down from weathering and rains caused by El Nino, because most of the city was constructed of adobe. You will be able to tour the Tschudi complex, which highlights many of the Chimu styles. (B,L,D)
A morning tour will take you to the Moche “pyramids of the sun and moon” (Huacas del Sol y de la Luna). 700 years older than Chan Chán, the pyramid of the sun is the largest pre-Columbian building in Peru. In the afternoon, you will have the opportunity to see the Moche Ascope aqueduct and the La Cumbre canal, which is still in use today. (B,L)
Today you will be transferred to the airport for an early flight to Lima, then the former silver mining town of Puno by Lake Titicaca. Located in the Peruvian altiplano, Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America. At an altitude of 3820 meters, it is famous for the reed boats and floating islands of the Uros people. It is also the southern portion of the former Incan empire. (B)
In the morning you will be taken on a tour of the floating islands. The tour will be approximately four to five hours and you will have the opportunity to purchase handcrafted goods and souvenirs. The afternoon you will be free to enjoy the sights of Puno, and in the evening you will be treated to dinner. (B,L)
An early morning flight will take you to the sacred city of the Incas – Cuzco. After a leisurely morning in town, where you can buy souvenirs, you will be given a guided tour of the Inca Museum. (B)
Today will be the day for exploring ruins, as your guide takes you to the special Inca site of Sacsaywamán, just outside of Cuzco. The site was used for both religious and military purposes and was the base used by the Incas, when they rebelled against the Spanish conquistadors.
After a violent battle, the Spanish regained control of the fortress, leaving the bodies of the dead Incas to the condors. To this day the city of Cuzco has incorporated condors in its coat of arms.It has been speculated that the Incas designed Cuzco to resemble a puma when seen from the air, with Sacsaywamán forming the head. Some of this resemblance can be seen from ground level, where large zigzag walls are said to constitute the puma’s teeth. On this site there is a large tank-like structure containing stone conduits, said to provide water for up to 5,000 soldiers.
This afternoon you will be taken along the Sacred Valley of the Incas to another Incan ruin – Ollantetambo. This is where the defeated Incan leader, Manco Inca, retreated to after his defeat at Sacsaywamán. It was here that the Spanish suffered an ignomious defeat at the hands of Manco Inca, who strategically used the steep terracing and channels for flooding out the Spanish at the base of the site. The victory was short-lived though, when the Spanish returned in force to flush out the Incan warriors. This site, including the village at it’s base, exemplifies the best of Incan engineering. The town has extensive overland drainage control, including open channels designed for drainage to deal with the torrential downpours, and as a source of local drinking water. The courtyards by the houses show how the water during the rainy season was channeled into elaborate fountains. The “fortress” exemplifies the terracing and stonemasonry for which the Incas were famous. Although many stones weigh between kilograms, the finishing is so fine that a piece of paper can not be slipped into the joints. Also visible is the comparative architecture of the Spanish, which was constructed on top of and adjacent to the Incan structures.
En route to Ollantaytambo there will be a stop to view the Maras salt pans. (B,L)
This morning you are free to explore Ollanta fortress as you wish.
In the afternoon you will embark on one of the most exciting journeys in the world – the train to Machu Picchu. Not know to exist by the Spaniards, Hiram Bingham brought Maccu Picchu to world attention in 1911, when he was searching for the last Incan stronghold of Vilacamba. The purpose of the site is still unknown, although there are many theories. One of these theories held that the site was used to house women for religious purposes, and was based on the fact that over 80% of the burial sites uncovered here contain the skeletons of women. (B)
Today you will be taken to Machu Picchu to enjoy the ruins. An on-site guide will provide a preliminary tour, then you may explore until closing. On site you will be able to see the ceremonial baths, the pillar used for calculating the solstice, and a stone model presumed used by the original designers of Machu Picchu. If you wish, you may return early to Aguas Calientes. (B,L)
The morning will be your return trip to Cuzco by train. In the evening you will be provided with a dinner with entertainment that celebrates the various cultures of Peru. (B, D
Today you will fly from Cuzco to Puerto Maldonado – a small former rubber-producing town situated at the confluence of the Madre de Dios and the Tambopata rivers. There you will be met and transferred to the Tambopata river port and embark on a two-hour boat trip to your ecolodge where you will see the future of tourism in a rainforest environment. Depending on the arrival time of the plane we will have a box lunch aboard the boats or have lunch upon arrival at your lodge. During our voyage we may see bird species typical of the river or forest adege such as: Black Skimmer, Pied lapwing, Capped Heron, Jabiru Stork, Roadside Hawk and several species of kingfishers, swallows and flycatchers. You will receive a short orientation and a complete briefing of the lodge and the Ese’eja Ecotourism Project before our afternoon activity – Ethno botany. In this activity, we will hike the trails around the lodge with an Ese’eja native, who will explain to us the everyday uses of forest medicine, construction, food and fiber. At some point in our walk, we will visit a small parakeet clay click. Dozens and sometimes hundreds of Blue Head Parrots, Orange-Cheeked Parrots, Cobalt-winged parakeets and sometimes even the rare Rock Parakeet congregate here on clear days to ingest clay. This congregation creates a riotous and colorful wildlife spectacle where the greens, oranges, reds and blues of the parrots dance around the bank as each individual parrot competes for their choice beakful of clay. (L, D)