Peru’s Cities of Gold
Delve into Peru’s fascinating ancient civilisations and unearth the wonders of the remarkable cities of Cusco and Machu Picchu, and along the Sacred Valley.
Explore the intriguing Moche culture with the fascinating pre-Columbian sites of Trujillo and Sipan before ascending the Andes to the former Incan heartland to unravel the mysterious past of Peru’s native civilisation. Travel through the Sacred Valley of the Incas and explore Cusco, a thriving city with a unique blend of the ancient and modern. Arrive at the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu, and take in the dramatic landscapes surrounding this once great stronghold.
Then, explore the Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca, a group of over 100 man-made reed islands which the Uros people still call home.
In the capital Lima, discover a sophisticated world of art, music and cuisine.
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Depart Australia or New Zealand on suggested LATAM Airlines flights to Lima via Santiago. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements.
Arrive in Lima in the afternoon and transfer from the airport to the hotel (transfer included in tour price).
This evening, enjoy welcome drinks with Julian and fellow tour members.
Following a morning talk by Julian, begin your exploration of colonial Lima and see the Plaza de Armas, Lima Cathedral and the Basilica and Convent of San Francisco, which houses a world-renowned library of antique manuscripts and an expansive network of underground catacombs.
After lunch, enjoy an exclusive visit to the private Barbosa Stern Art Collection. Learn more about the family collection and passion for Spanish colonial art pieces, including paintings, sculptures and other works of art.
This morning, visit the Gold Museum, displaying a private collection of 8,000 gold, silver and gilt copper artefacts from pre-Columbian civilisations. Highly prized and beautifully worked by the Inca, the precious materials were used to make decorative and symbolic pieces. The collection includes a wide display of jewellery, pottery, weapons and clothing.
After lunch, visit the Larco Hoyle Museum, which features a large collection of Moche and pre-Incan art and artefacts. Enjoy some free time in the afternoon to continue exploring Lima at your own pace.
Dinner tonight is at a local restaurant.
Depart Lima and drive north along the Pan-American Highway to the Valley of Supe and the 5,000-year-old Pyramid City of Caral. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2009, its discovery provided evidence of an early complex society in the Americas, predating the Inca civilisation by 4,000 years and flourishing a century before the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt were built. Highlights of the collection include an assemblage of millennia-old bone flutes and Peru’s oldest ‘quipus’, a system of tying cords in knots to record and convey information without writing, used by Andean cultures. A large geoglyph called Chupacigaro attests to the Caral peoples’ sophisticated measurements of the movements of the stars.
Travel north and enjoy a talk by Julian en route to visit the ancient monumental site of Chankillo. The ruins include a hilltop fort and the nearby Thirteen Towers solar observatory. Researchers have identified the thirteen towers as the oldest-known solar observatory in the Americas, built 2,300 years ago by the Casma-Sechin peoples to track the progression of sunrises from the summer solstice to the winter solstice and accurately calculate the date.
Continue to Trujillo and check in to the hotel in the evening, our base for the next three nights.
This morning explore the colonial city of Trujillo. Founded in 1534 by Spanish conquistadors, the town centre has retained its colonial-style brightly coloured façades with typical window grilles. Visit the Cathedral Basilica of St Mary, built in 1616, which contains an elaborate Rococo altar and many paintings by artists in the Cusco and Quito Schools. Continue to the Archaeology Museum, offering a chronological picture of pre-Columbian cultures of northern Peru.
After lunch, visit the Museum of Modern Art, owned by local artist Gerardo Chavez, which features a small collection of original creations by Latin American artists.
Today, enjoy a full day exploring the pre-Columbian sites of Trujillo. Begin with the Huacas del Sol y de la Luna, attributed to the Moche civilisation. Huaca del Sol is the largest single pre-Columbian structure in Peru and was originally composed of over 130 million adobe bricks, many of them marked with symbols representing the workers who made them. The smaller Huaca de la Luna is about 500m away across the open desert. This structure is riddled with rooms that contain ceramics, precious metals and some of the beautiful polychrome friezes for which the Moche were famous.
Enjoy lunch at Huanchaco Beach followed by an afternoon visit to the archaeological site of Chan Chan, the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas and the largest adobe city in the world. Once the imperial capital of the historical Chimu culture, it was built around 850 CE and lasted until its conquest by the Inca Empire in 1470.
Depart Trujillo and visit the archaeological complex of El Brujo. Dating back 500 years, it is one of the best preserved sites in the area. The name comes from the fact that the site was used by local ‘brujos’ (shamans) and, even to this day, the region’s renowned shamans ward off evil spirits in the area.
Arrive in Chiclayo in the afternoon. Once a small town founded by Spanish missionaries in the 16th century, it is located at the hub of vital trade routes connecting the coast, the highlands and the deep jungle.
Begin your exploration of Chiclayo with a visit to the Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipan, housing the treasures found in the Tombs of Sipan. Opened in 2003 and featuring architecture inspired by the Moche’s pyramids, the purpose of the museum’s architectural design is to recreate the spirit of the Mochica temples and to serve as a fully-functional museum as well as a mausoleum for the ancient Mochica ruler, the Lord of Sipan, and his companions.
After lunch, visit the Mochica archaeological complex of Huaca Rajada. It comprises two pyramids and one platform dating back to over 1,000 years before the Incas, where two of Peru’s most famous ancient tombs, the tombs of the Lord of Sipan and his ancestor, the Old Lord, were discovered intact by Peruvian archaeologist Dr. Walter Alva in 1987.
Depart Chiclayo on a morning flight to Cusco (flight included in tour price).
Arrive in Cusco and continue to the Sacred Valley of the Incas before checking in to the hotel, our base for the next two nights.
Enjoy a talk by Julian, followed by dinner at the hotel.
Enjoy a full day exploring the sites around the Sacred Valley. Begin with Ollantaytambo, the only Inca town that was not defeated by the Spanish and the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti. Pachacuti built innovative constructions and extensive terracing and irrigation systems in the Urubamba Valley. Walk through the town before ascending the steep hill at the centre of the site to see the Temple of the Sun.
After lunch, visit the picturesque town of Maras. This colonial town, renowned for its impressively deep, amphitheatre-like terracing and nearby salt mines, shows the ancient methods of salt extraction which have been used since Inca times.
Today, enjoy a scenic railway journey down the valley to Aguas Calientes, near the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu.
The afternoon is dedicated to the enigmatic ruins of Machu Picchu – the UNESCO World Heritage-listed citadel also known as the ‘Lost City of the Incas’. Scholars are still striving to uncover clues to the mysteries hidden high in the eastern slopes of the Andes. The complex of palaces, plazas, temples and homes may have been built as a ceremonial site, a military stronghold or a retreat for ruling elites. Machu Picchu is tangible evidence of the urban Inca Empire at the peak of its power and achievement. After a guided tour, enjoy some time to further explore the ruins at your own pace.
Enjoy a morning at leisure. You may like to return to Machu Picchu and watch the sun rise over the ruins.
In the afternoon, travel by train to Cusco.
Arrive in Cusco in the evening and check in to the hotel.
After a talk by Julian in the morning, explore Coricancha, the Inca Temple of the Sun, and the Baroque church of Santo Domingo. These two sacred sites vividly illustrate ancient Andean culture’s collision with Western Europe, the temple of one culture sitting atop and encompassing the other.
After lunch, visit the walled complex of Sacsayhuaman, an Inca citadel located above the city of Cusco, and continue to the Machu Picchu Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of artefacts from Machu Picchu.
Depart Cusco on a morning flight to Juliaca (flight included in tour price).
Upon arrival, transfer to the Inca ruins of Sillustani, where spectacular towering stone mausoleums overlook Lake Umayo. Continue to Puno and check in to the hotel located on the shores of Lake Titicaca.
Today, enjoy a full day on Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, located at 3,812m above sea level. Explore some of the Floating Islands of Uros, man-made islands and boats constructed from reeds found growing along the lake by the Uros indigenous people of Peru and Bolivia.
After lunch, visit the picturesque island of Taquile, whose inhabitants still wear colourful traditional costume.
Continue your exploration along Lake Titicaca, including smaller, less-visited sites. Discover Lampa, known as the ‘’Pink City’’ due to the light ochre-coloured houses, and visit the Templo de La Piedad, housing a replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta statue.
Then explore the picturesque village of Juli, located in the southern part of Lake Titicaca. The village is also called “Little Roma’’ because of its large number of churches and four major temples. Continue to nearby Pomata village and visit the Temple of Santiago Apostle with its impressive façade and stone dome.
Transfer from Puno to Juliaca and depart Juliaca on an early afternoon flight to Lima (flight included in tour price).
Arrive in Lima and transfer to the hotel. Tonight, celebrate the conclusion of the tour with a special farewell dinner with Julian and fellow travellers.
Transfer to the airport for suggested LATAM Airlines flights to Australia and New Zealand via Santiago (transfer included in tour price). Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including any extra nights’ accommodation, either before or after the tour.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Room category upgrade available on request; please enquire with us.
Final payment due
01 May 2020
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa to visit Peru.
Please contact Renaissance Tours for current airfares and flight reservations.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in three-, four- and five-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (R=Reception, L=Lunch, D=Dinner), including drinks with dinners
- Comprehensive sightseeing including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Economy Class flights from Chiclayo to Cusco, Cusco to Juliaca and Juliaca to Lima (23kg luggage allowance)
- Train ticket from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes and from Aguas Calientes to Cusco
- Transportation throughout on comfortable, air-conditioned coaches
- Airport/hotel transfers on arrival and departure
- Lectures and talks with your tour leader, Julian Droogan
- Gratuities for local guides, drivers and waiting staff
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares from Australia/New Zealand (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, minibar, room service, etc.)
- Airport porterage
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Lima – Hilton Miraflores****+
Caral – Empedrada Lodge***+
Trujillo – Costa del Sol Centro****
Chiclayo – Hotel Casa Andina Select***+
Sacred Valley – Aranwa Sacred Valley Hotel****
Aguas Calientes – Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel*****
Cusco – Aranwa Boutique Hotel*****
Puno – Casa Andina Premium****
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.
Post-tour of the Nasca Lines
with Julian Droogan | 20–22 July 2020 (3 days)
View tour here