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Definitive Ancient Civilizations Tour of South America

Lima - Nazca - Caral - Trujillo - Cuzco - Machu Picchu - Puno - La Paz
22 days / 21 nights.
Definitive Ancient Civilizations Tour of South America
Day 1: LIMA

Arrival to Lima, reception at the airport and transfer by private vehicle to your hotel.

Day 2: LIMA (Breakfast & lunch)

After breakfast, a guided visit of colonial and modern Lima, including the cathedral, dating from 1654, the main square, which still houses the original bronze fountain built in 1650, and the San Francisco Convent and its catacombs. Known as the city of the kings, Lima was founded in 1535 by Pizarro and rebuilt in 1991, the same year that UNESCO declared it a world heritage site. Lunch at the internationally renowned Rosa Nautica, the best seafood restaurant in Lima. After lunch, a visit to a museum of your choice. We recommend the Gold Museum, originally from a private collection. The museum includes valuable pieces, particularly gold, silver and copper from several pre-Hispanic cultures. Return to your hotel.

Meals: B & L

Day 3: LIMA - NAZCA (Breakfast)

After breakfast, road transfer south through the coastal desert strip towards Nazca. At Ica, you will visit the local museum and enjoy lunch at a recommended restaurant (not included) before arriving to Nazca. Overnight accommodation.

Meals: B

Day 4: NAZCA - LIMA (Breakfast)

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the flight over the Nazca Lines. These gigantic drawings and geometrical figures engraved in the driest desert of Peru date back to 250 AD. Drawn throughout over 1000 Km2 of desert on the Pampas of San Jose in Ica, and due to their enormous size and largely unknown origin, leaves an indelible impression on all who visit this most mysterious archaeological site. With representations of animals, such as a spider, a monkey and several birds, they are believed to be an enormous astronomical calendar or possibly an offering to the gods. First discovered in 1550 it was not until the advent of flight, in the 1920's, that the lines were first realised for their significance. The drawings are not in actual desert sand but on small rock debris, varying in length from 150m to 300m and with a depth of 20cm. Return to Lima. Arrival and transfer back to your hotel.

Meals: B

Day 5: CARAL (Breakfast & lunch)

Full day's guided visit to Caral, the oldest civilisation in the Americas. Dating back to over 3000BC, this earliest of settlements developed almost simultaneously with the civilisations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, India and China. Full day tour before returning to Lima and your hotel.

Meals: B & L

Day 6: LIMA - TRUJILLO (Breakfast)

Free morning before transferring to the airport for your flight to Trujillo, the largest city in Peru after Lima. Located in the northern half of Peru, Trujillo lies close to the Pacific Ocean and is the perfect gateway to many of the pre-Inca cultural sites in the area. Reception and transfer to your hotel.

Meals: B

Day 7: TRUJILLO - CHAN CHAN (Breakfast & lunch)

After breakfast, a walking tour of this fascinating colonial city founded in 1534 by Diego de Almagro, a fellow conquistador of Pizarro. Trujillo, named after the birth place of Pizarro is famous for its colonial and republican-era architecture and for its many churches and mansions. We shall visit the Cathedral and several 18th century mansions, including La Casa Mayorazgo and La Casa Urquiaga, which was home to Simon Bolivar during the War of Independence. We shall also visit the Museum of Archaeology which houses artefacts from the Moche's Pyramids of the Sun and Moon. We will then drive to Huanchaco just outside of the city on the coast for lunch at Big Ben, an excellent seafood restaurant. After lunch, the tour continues to the metropolis of Chan-Chan, the ancient capital city of the Chimu Empire built in the 10th century. It is the largest pre-Columbian city in South America, built entirely of mud and adobe bricks. At its zenith, more than 60,000 inhabitants offered fierce resistance to the expansion of the Inca Empire centuries later. The nearby ruins of the Huaca La Esmeralda (Emerald Temple) and the restored Huaca Arco Iris (Rainbow Temple) will give you an idea of the city's original appearance, when its high-relief friezes were painted in vivid colors with depictions of sea life and fishing activities reveal the significance of the life of the Chimu.

Meals: B & L

Day 8: PYRAMIDS OF THE SUN & THE MOON - El BRUJO - CHICLAYO (Breakfast & box lunch)

After breakfast, a visit to the incredible highlights of the Mochica culture, the "huacas" (holy places), del Sol y de la Luna or Pyramids of the Sun and Moon. Located in the fertile Moche Valley, archaeologists are to this day uncovering polychrome friezes with mask-like reliefs of mythological beings. Built of adobe blocks, the pyramids are the largest pre-Columbian structures in South America. We then continue north along the coast to the archaeological complex of El Brujo, dating back 500 years and one of the finest preserved sites in the area. The name comes from the fact that the site was used by local "brujos" (shaman) -- and even to this day, the region's renowned shaman ward off evil spirits in the area. The site is composed of three Mochica and pre-Mochica huacas and many minor mounds. Continue to the city of Chiclayo further north.

Meals: B & L

Day 9: SIPAN - ROYAL SIPAN MUSUEM - TUCUME (Breakfast & box lunch)

Located in the Lambayeque Valley, in archaeological terms, we are now in the richest cultural zone in northern Peru, often referred to as the "Egypt" of South America. A fertile agricultural region that for the last two thousand years have been the centre of ancient pre-Inca cultures, notably the Mochica, with temples, such as Huaca Rajada, the pyramids of Tucume, Batan Grande and others of world-wide importance. After breakfast, we visit the Mochica archaeological complex of Sipan, located in the site called Huaca Rajada. It comprises two pyramids and one platform dating back to over one thousand years before the Incas, and where two of the most famous ancient tombs were discovered, intact by Peruvian archaeologist Dr. Walter Alva in 1987 and 1988 -- the tombs of "The Lord of Sipan" and his ancestor, "The Old Lord". The lords ruled the valley during the second and third centuries AD. The treasure of pure gold artefacts discovered in the tombs revealed their culture's surprising command of metallurgy and its exquisite artistry in gold and silver, in addition to its known excellence in ceramics. After visiting the archaeological site and its museum, we view the artefacts unearthed there which are now exhibited at the Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum. With architecture inspired by the Moche's pyramids, subdued lighting and traditional music played on pre-Hispanic instruments, the museum creates a meditative mood for contemplating the past as revealed by the richest collection ever discovered in Peru. On the way to the museum, we shall also visit Chiclayo's witch doctors' market. We head further north to Tucume, an archaeological complex with 26 adobe pyramids, the oldest dating back to 700 AD. One of them is similar in volume to the great Egyptian pyramids. The archaeology reveals that the valley was occupied by the Moche Culture in a very early stage, developing a complex culture based on maritime trade and agriculture. Return to Chiclayo.

Meals: B & L


After breakfast, we head to Batan Grande, an archaeological and ecological reserve. The Sican culture developed here and, according to archaeologists, was one of Peru's most important metallurgical centres in ancient times. We shall see evidence of this on display at the newly-opened Sican Museum. Among the 20 pre-Inca structures, Las Ventanas is famous for the discovery of a large golden "tumi", or sacrificial knife. The site is fascinating in that the ruins are within a carob tree forest, believed to be the largest in Peru. We continue to the Brüning Museum, regarded as the finest museum in South America. Return to Chiclayo for your transfer to the airport and return flight to Lima. Reception and transfer to your hotel.

Meals: B

Day 11: LIMA - CUZCO (Breakast)

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Cuzco, the ancient Inca capital of the Incas. After the one hour flight, reception and transfer to your hotel. Free day at leisure to acclimatize to the altitude.

Meals: B

Day 12: CUZCO (Breakast)

Morning at leisure. In the afternoon, a guided tour of Cuzco including the Cathedral, Qoricancha temple, the Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman overlooking Cuzco, Qenko and Puka Pukara. Cuzco's history extends back to before 1000 BC when the Marcavalle Culture was the dominant power; indeed organized life in the City began practically with them. In the second phase of its history, around 800BC, Cuzco was home to the Chanapata culture and later developed several regional states. What is traditionally known as the Inka civilisation began around 1200 AD in its initial phase, with the first Inka, Manko Capaq and Mama Ocllo. It is also suggested that Pachakuteq, the ninth king, elaborated another foundation in 1438 which is also known as the expansive phase. Inca builders hereafter laid out the city in the form of a puma, with the fortress of Sacsayhuaman as the head. After the arrival of the Spanish to the city on November 15th 1533, Francisco Pizarro re-founded it for the Spanish King on March 23rd 1534. In 1536 Manko Inka began a long and bloody war against the Spanish invaders with a siege lasting over 8 months over the city. Finally in 1572, after a war that lasted 36 years, Tupaq Amaru I, the last emperor of the Inka dynasty was defeated, captured and executed in the city's main square. The Spanish subsequently destroyed many of the structures in the city or used them as foundations for many of their own churches and buildings.

Meals: B

Day 13: SACRED VALLEY - PISAC - OLLANTAYTAMBO (Breakfast & lunch)

Full-day excursion to the beautiful Urubamba, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, situated between Pisac and Ollantaytambo. It is an exceptionally fertile valley that was and remains the larder of Cuzco. Visit the village of Pisac, founded during colonial times, and set at the foot of a hill crowned by the remains of an ancient Inca city. On Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, Indians barter their products in the main square and artisans from around the area sell their woven alpaca wool blankets and ponchos, engraved gourds, antique reproductions, jewellery, etc. On Sundays, it is also the meeting place for Mayors from all the villages in the region, dressed in their traditional costumes to attend morning mass. After a buffet lunch, a visit to Ollantaytambo, the only Inca town that was not defeated by the Spanish with an opportunity to explore the ruins which tower above. Late afternoon return to Cuzco whilst visiting en-route the traditional market of Chinchero. Return to your hotel.

Meals: B & L

Day 14: CUZCO - MACHU PICCHU (Breakfast & dinner)

Enjoy a good night's sleep before boarding the train to Aguas Calientes. Arrival to Aguas Calientes, assistance with your luggage and check in to your hotel. Shortly after, a guided tour of Machu Picchu, the most spectacular ancient city in the world. Built by the Inca Pachacutec, and comprising stone blocks fitted with masterful precision, Machu Picchu harmoniously blends into the mountain landscape. There are many theories as to the origins behind Machu Picchu but three of the most popular ideas include a temple to the sun, a fortress against the jungle inhabitants or a sanctuary for the Incas. This fabulous city has houses, temples, warehouses, a large central square, all connected by narrow roads and steps, and is surrounded by terraces cut into the mountain side which were used for agriculture.

Meals: B & D

Day 15: MACHU PICCHU (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)

Free day at Machu Picchu with your guide.

Meals: B, L & D

Day 16: MACHU PICCHU - CUZCO (Breakfast, lunch and dinner) (Breakfast)

Free day in Machu Picchu. Today no guide is provided as we feel that Machu Picchu requires a certain amount of self-discovery to be fully understood. Take any of the several paths around various parts of the site (we will provide a map to help you), trek up to Wayna Picchu or walk down to the Inca's bridge. Let Machu Picchu unfold all its mysteries for you, take in the breathtaking cloud forests and jagged mountains, or marvel at the extraordinary Masonic precision of the ancient Incas. Either way, your day of self-discovery will be a day never to be forgotten. Lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge. Return to Cuzco.

Meals: B, L & D

Day 17: CUZCO - PUNO (Breakfast & lunch)

Transfer to the railway station for the wonderful trans-altiplano Inca express (Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays only). Lunch onboard. Reception and transfer to your hotel in Puno.

Meals: B & L

Day 18: LAKE TITICACA ISLANDS TOUR (Breakfast & lunch)

After breakfast, a tour by boat to the island's of Uros and Taquile on Lake Titicaca. A tour of the reed islands of Uros before continuing to Taquile, where members of this self-supporting island will welcome you and offer a glimpse into their ancient traditions and customs. Lunch on the island and an opportunity for some spectacular views over Lake Titicaca. Return to Puno.

Meals: B & L

Day 19: PUNO - COPACABANA - LA PAZ (Breakfast)

After breakfast, transfer to the bus station for the tourist bus to La Paz. Cross the border, after the formalities, continue onto La Paz, the highest capital in the world and transfer to your hotel.

Meals: B

Day 20: LA PAZ (Breakfast)

Morning city tour of La Paz, with a unique topography containing few flat areas and protected by its eternal guardian, the snow peak of Ilimani (6402m). Housing the seat of government, La Paz is a city of contrast, between both ancient and modern. A visit will also be made to the Valley of the Moon. The city centre sites include the Plaza Murillo (with its presidential palace, national congress and metropolitan cathedral), museums, and many interesting markets. Free afternoon.

Meals: B


After breakfast, visit to the site of the oldest civilisation in Bolivia. Tiahuanaco was the centre of a very powerful empire stretching back to before 500BC. Excavations are still in progress but many stone ruins including the sungate and central square are in excellent condition. Return to La Paz.

Meals: B

Day 22: LA PAZ (Breakfast)

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your international flight home.

Meals: B

End of our services.
Definitive Ancient Civilizations Tour of South America Itinerary Overview:
Day 1. Lima
Day 2. Lima (Breakfast & lunch)
Day 3. Lima - Nazca (Breakfast)
Day 4. Nazca - Lima (Breakfast)
Day 5. Caral (Breakfast & lunch)
Day 6. Lima - Trujillo (Breakfast)
Day 7. Trujillo - Chan Chan (Breakfast & lunch)
Day 8. pyramids of the sun & the moon - el brujo - chiclayo (breakfast & box lunch)
Day 9. Sipan - Royal Sipan Musuem - Tucume (Breakfast & box lunch)
Day 10. Batan Grande - Sican - Brunning Museum - Lima (Breakfast)
Day 11. Lima - Cuzco (Breakast)
Day 12. Cuzco (Breakast)
Day 13. Sacred Valley - Pisac - Ollantaytambo (Breakfast & lunch)
Day 14. Cuzco - Machu Picchu (Breakfast & dinner)
Day 15. Machu Picchu (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Day 16. Machu Picchu - Cuzco (Breakfast, lunch and dinner) (Breakfast)
Day 17. Cuzco - Puno (Breakfast & lunch)
Day 18. Lake Titicaca Islands Tour (Breakfast & lunch)
Day 19. Puno - Copacabana - La Paz (Breakfast)
Day 20. La Paz (Breakfast)
Day 21. La Paz - Tiahuanco (B)
Day 22. La Paz (Breakfast)
End of our services.
Credit Cards Welcome: American  Visa  Master Card
Our Price Includes:
  • Accommodation in double rooms at selected hotels with private bathroom & breakfast.
  • All transfers, tours and excursions as per itinerary with English speaking archaeological guides.
  • All domestic flights.
  • All meals as per itinerary.
  • Train tickets: Cuzco - Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu) - Cuzco and Cuzco to Puno (Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays only).
  • All entrance fees.
Our price does not include:
  • International Flight to Peru.
  • Airport taxes ($32 for international, $6 for domestic).
  • Meals not specified on the itinerary.
  • Personal expenses such as telephone bills, laundry expenses, beverages, etc.
  • Insurance against theft, loss, illness and/or accident.
  • Baggage porterage and other extras not specified.
  • Gratuities.
For current availability contact us at and we will send you the relevant trip dossier along with a 90 day fixed quote, terms and conditions. Please bear in mind that significant price reductions are available for groups. All our Luxury Tours are fully private and depart daily. Contact us for more information regarding the above tour, or to begin customizing your own itinerary.

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