The Ultimate Trip to Peru, Planned by Travel + Leisure Editors
On this nine-day bookable vacation, part of Travel + Leisure’s Great Adventure trip series with luxury outfitter Butterfield and Robinson, you’ll experience all the wonders that this South American country has to offer.
The ancient Incan citadel of Machu Picchu continues to inspire and provoke wonder in all who see it. Built nearly 8,000 feet above sea level sometime in the 15th century, this remarkable feat of engineering sits atop many a traveler’s bucket list.
You too can visit Machu Picchu (without the crowds) on a special nine-day trip through Peru, planned by the editors of Travel + Leisure and the specialists at luxury outfitter Butterfield & Robinson. On this epic vacation, you’ll also experience outdoor adventures in the Sacred Valley and urban pleasure in Lima, Peru’s capital. This city is a burgeoning culinary destination for serious foodies — and home to two of the top ten restaurants in the world, Central, by Virgilio Martinez, and Maido, where chef Mitsuharu Tsumura blends Peruvian and Japanese cuisine.
To speak to Peru’s culinary rise, our editors have selected a special activity on the trip: a private pisco tasting at the boutique Hotel B, your home base in Lima. The clear spirit, newly trendy at some of the world’s top bars, can of course be enjoyed in a classic pisco sour cocktail. But during this course, you’ll learn how pisco, which is made from distilled grapes, can be savored on its own or in a variety of other beverages.
Of course, this is just a small part of your exciting adventure to Peru. For the full itinerary, see below, and to book, contact Butterfield and Robinson. From $7,995 per person, based upon two travelers.
Arrive into Lima, the bustling capital in Peru. Many international flights arrive later in the evening, but if you do arrive early enough and have time to enjoy the city, check out T+L’s comprehensive city guide for suggestions on what to do.
Stay: Housed in a Belle Epoque mansion, the Hotel B, a T+L It List Winner in 2014, is located in the hip Barranco area of Lima. Its 17 guest rooms feature warm wood floors and soaring windows. With its intimate vibe and standout artwork, the property feels like the home of a stylish friend.
Today, you will be able to fully enjoy Lima. Begin with a visit to Morro Solar, which affords stunning views of the city, and continue on to the Larco Museum, dedicated to the cultural history of Peru. After lunch in the museum’s lovely café, you’ll stop into the Lima Colonial Center for a look into the city’s past as the capital of the Spanish colony in South America. Another important site is the Casa de Aliaga, built by a conquistador who acquired the land from Francisco Pizarro. Its period details and antiques are not to be missed. Afterwards, head back to the B for a pisco tasting — the perfect way to kick off happy hour. Dinner is at your leisure; consult our city guide for some of the top recommendations.
This morning, you will leave your hotel for the flight to Cusco, and then drive on with your guide a further 90 minutes to the Sacred Valley, home to Machu Picchu and other significant sites. You will eat a lunch of traditional cuisine at El Huacatay before continuing on to Hacienda Orihuela, which has a remarkable collection of Peruvian folk art. Some pieces even date back to pre-Incan times. Take in the sights and sounds of the house, as a local musician comes in to treat you to a traditional performance.
Stay: Your base for the next two nights is the Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, a T+L It List Winner in 2016. Set on 100 acres, with majestic green mountains for a backdrop, it is a relaxing oasis in the heart of the Sacred Valley.
You’ll visit Ollantaytambo, an Inca village set below ancient ruins with impressive stonework, narrow cobblestoned streets, and family courtyards dating from pre-Columbian times. The only battle where the Incas defeated the Spanish conquerors took place here. After visiting the old town, your guide will offer you the chance to walk up some Inca ruins — this is a steep ascent, offering amazing views of the valley as a final reward. Lunch today is a pachamanca, a typical ancient Peruvian cooking technique in an earth oven. Native ingredients of tubers, vegetables and meats are wrapped in local herbs and cooked using wood-heated stones. Be sure to give the local Andean whiskey a try.
Leave Inkaterra and board the Vistadome train for Machu Picchu, as it follows the path of the Urubamba River. The train will stop in the jungle, so you can venture onto the Inca Trail with your B&R guide. After crossing the Vilcanota River, you will visit preserved Inca site, “Chachabamba,” and then follow the trail to another impressive archaeological site known as “Wiñay Wayna.” The complex features a series of Inca baths that helped pressurize water for agricultural irrigation. Before continuing towards Inti Punku, you’ll stop for lunch and let the first views of Machu Picchu astound you. A quick descent along the wide royal Inca road takes you to Machu Picchu’s gate. The afternoon, when most people have left the area, is a nice time to relax and observe the citadel. When ready, you are free to take the bus back to Aguas Calientes. Dinner this evening is at your hotel.
Stay: The Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, where you’ll be for the next two nights, is located on the outskirts of Aguas Calientas. Its spectacular jungle setting allows for birdwatching and nature hikes. We suggest asking the hotel staff about the excursions that are organized within the boundaries of its 12-acre property — you may want to join one of them early the next morning.
Enjoy an excursion at the hotel led by an in-house naturalist. Our favorites include the Andean bear excursion and orchid observation. After lunch, when most travelers are heading back to Aguas Calientes, your guide will lead you back to Machu Picchu for an extensive visit that not only includes the main circuit, but also more secluded areas such as the Inca Bridge. If you so choose, you can remain in the area until closure at 5:30pm. Enjoy dinner at the hotel restaurant tonight.
Board the early train back to Ollantaytambo, where your private car will be waiting to take you to Maras in the upper section of the Sacred Valley. The Maras Salt Works (also called the "salt mines") are constructed on a slope of Qaqawiñay Mountain and made up of about 3,000 small salt pools. Farmers fill up or "irrigate" the pools every three days during the dry season with salty water emanating from a natural spring located on the top of the complex. When the water evaporates, the salt contained in it slowly solidifies and the process continues for approximately one month until a considerable volume of solid salt is obtained. Following your intro to Peru’s salt industry, you’ll sit down for lunch at a charming country house in the outskirts of Maras Village. Afterward, drive to Cusco. The remainder of the afternoon is yours to enjoy.
Stay: Check in to Inkaterra La Casona, a historical colonial manor house and your home base for the next two nights.
This morning, you’ll be driven toward the southern part of Cusco, following the Vilcanota River valley in a new direction. On the way, you will stop in Tipón, a rarely visited Incan archaeological site, to admire the huge stone terraces and ingenious hydraulic channel systems. Continue toward Andahuaylillas, a picturesque Colonial town that was once a “reducción de indios,” a settlement created by the Spanish conquistadors to control and force Catholic instruction on the native farmers. Recently refurbished, the church at Andahuaylillas is one of the most beautiful examples of Andean-Baroque architecture, featuring invaluable murals, paintings and altars. You will return to Cusco for lunch and an evening on your own.
This morning your guide will meet pick you up at the hotel and bring you to Sacsayhuaman, an Incan archaeological site located in upper Cusco. The Incas actually designed it to depict a puma’s head. (Sacsayhuaman literally translates to “decorated head of the puma.”) Traditional oral stories claim that around 70,000 people worked on the palace for 50 years. Following this visit, your guide will lead you through top sites of the city, giving you the chance to appreciate the complexity of Peruvian history. You’ll encounter the 16th-century cathedral known as the Santo Domingo Convent. Also referred to as the Qorikancha, the convent once served as the Sacred Temple of the Sun and, at the time, its inner walls were completely covered in gold. Depending on your specific interests, you may also wish to visit other areas such as the San Blas artisan shopping district.
When the time comes, you will be driven to Cusco airport in time for your onward flight. Once you arrive at Lima Airport, a B&R representative will be on hand to help you check in for flight home.