From ancient cities hidden among the Andean peaks to the lost tribes of its northern jungles, Peru keeps its secrets closely guarded. However, with private guided tours, a spread of included activities and a luxury cruise into the depths of the Amazon, this is your chance to uncover them all. Start with the inimitable Sacred Valley whose rolling verdure hosts everything from Incan citadels to rural villages before a scenic train ride brings you to Machu Picchu – a true highlight of world travel. Peru’s cities, too, hold allures, each displaying competing influences that vie for your attention. Lima’s colonial charm stands alongside indigenous temples while Cusco’s Spanish plazas look out over ancient Incan ruins. You’ll end with an all-inclusive boutique cruise where jungle hikes, community visits and island stops will introduce you to the natural beauty and rich wildlife of the Amazon.
Premium-lounge access will preface your day flight to Lima. On arrival, you’ll be transferred by private car to your accommodation in the upmarket neighbourhood of Miraflores. Take time to relax and enjoy the infinity-pool views over the Pacific before retiring to the marble luxuries of your suite.
Sprawled across a long coastline of towering cliffs, Lima’s uniquely diverse history has given rise to everything from colonial churches to pre-Columbian temples. You’ll explore it all on a private guided tour, centring around the Plaza Mayor – home to the grandly neoclassic Government Palace, the Baroque Cathedral of Lima and the colonial City hall. It’s a true bricolage of competing architectural styles.
You’ll then compare its modern glass-and-steel skyscrapers to Huaca Huallamarca, a pre-Incan pyramid made from adobe mud. End the day with a flight to Cusco and the Sacred Valley and a private transfer to your delightful accommodation – an Andean village turned luxury getaway, complete with spa, baby alpacas and river-fed gardens.
El Valle Sagrado is a mountain-lined flash of greenery beneath the Andean peaks. Its stunning geography is peppered with traditional villages and archaeological sites that evidence the Inca’s lost civilisation. You’ll visit its highlights on a private tour, taking in Moray, with its enormous circular terraces, and Miras with its famous salt pans, the produce of which is used by some of the world's finest chefs.
It's then on to the town of Ollantaytambo, an Incan military stronghold whose stepped farmlands cascade down whole hillsides in dramatic tiers. Then, return to the luxuries of your hotel, with its stunning riverside location, gourmet dining and indulgent spa.
Breakfast & Lunch included
Today you’ll experience one of the world’s true wonders. Start by boarding the Vistadome train to wind up past the rivers and rolling greenery of Machu Picchu’s Andean mantelpiece, enjoying cultural performances and panoramic views from its rooftop windows.
Then, arriving at the site, your expert guide will lead you on a private tour between royal quarters, ancient temples and 15th-century burial grounds to giant views over its mist-shrouded setting. You’ll then stay in one of the area’s finest hotels – a veritable village of terraced hills, waterfalls and luxury villas.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included
To help you explore further, we’ve included return entrance tickets to Machu Picchu before your train ride to Cusco and your monastery-turned-luxury-hotel accommodation. Once the Inca’s capital, here, temples and palaces of this lost empire sit alongside pretty Spanish architecture. Nowhere is this more keenly felt than with the Dominican Santo Domingo church, built atop an ancient temple dedicated to the worship of their sun god.
Further contrasts include the Baroque Plaza de Armas and the giant Sacsayhuaman Fortress, constructed from huge stone blocks hewn by the Incas. Private excursions will also introduce you to some of the city’s outlying archaeological sites along with the region’s artisan workshops.
After a private transfer, you'll fly north into Iquitos International Airport, where you’ll be met and transferred to your accommodation for the night. Spend the rest of the day relaxing and exploring Iquitos at your own pace. A bustling riverside town, expect mud huts mingled with tiles mansions and views across the neighbouring jungle. In the evening, take your pick of the air-conditioned riverside restaurants.
Stay: Doubletree Iquitos by Hilton
Fly north to the great, life-giving Amazon, home to mysterious indigenous tribes, myriad wildlife and swathes upon swathes of dense frontier land. You’ll arrive into Iquitos to take the only road out of town to board your architect-designed river ship.
Over the next few days, you’ll enjoy a whole host of expert-led excursions and gourmet dining that makes use of unique Amazonian ingredients as you return each night to Jacuzzis and wine cellars along with the floor-to-ceiling windows, timber detailing and day beds of your luxurious suite.
After meeting your naturalist guides, you’ll head off on small skiffs to explore the Pacaya Samiria – one of the Amazon’s most wildlife-rich reserves. You’ll sail the Yanayacu-Pucate River, a black waterway home to everything from macaws and dolphins to squirrel monkeys and piranha. Then, after a lecture in the lounge on the region’s sustainable development projects, a community visit will bring you up close to the unique local culture.
Learn how the native peoples cultivate wild plants and trees to carve out a way of life in this most inhospitable of environments.
Track turtles with your expert guide pointing out their sandy nests before heading deeper into the jungle. Then, keep an eye out for the famous ceiba tree, the highest in the Amazon, as you have a go at paddling a traditional canoe before enjoying an Amazonian cooking lesson back on board.
In the afternoon, journey into Nauta Caño, otherwise known as the ‘Forest of Mirrors’ for its dark lagoons that perfectly reflect its lush scenery. It’s all animated by toucans, macaws, iguanas and alligators. There are even fishing bats.
Sailing along the Marañon River, you’ll disembark for a short hike; watch out for the eye-catching but poisonous frogs as you search for orange oriole birds and a whole host of reptile and amphibian species. After lunch back on board, you’ll visit the delightfully named ‘Islands of the Iguana’.
Aside from these tiny dinosaurs, you'll also have the chance to go piranha fishing among the world’s largest aquatic plant – the victoria regia, a giant lily. As the sun sets, grab your camera to capture the region’s freshwater dolphins both grey and pink.
Return to Iquitos to watch, weather depending, as whole villages of houses and shops float on the Itaya River. You’ll stop to visit a traditional market serving up such exotic snacks as the Amazon caterpillars – a true local delicacy – before touring the town itself.
Having made and lost its wealth in the rubber boom and collapse, fading mansions have mud huts for neighbours and it’s all fringed by the jungle’s inexorable advance. After stopping at the Manatee Rescue Center to witness the rehabilitation of these gentle giants, board your flight back to Lima where a private transfer will whisk you to your luxury Miraflores hotel.
Breakfast & Lunch included
Your trip ends with a private transfer to the airport for your overnight flight home, arriving on day 13.
"Peru offers arguably the best Amazon cruising experience. While I love the Andean culture, people and towns (who can't be impressed by the wondrous Machu Picchu, stunning Cusco and the Sacred Valley?) I also wanted to showcase how wonderfully relaxing a river cruise would be. Here you get to see river dolphins, monkeys, birds, indigenous communities and rainforest, accompanied by expert guides on board a luxurious ship"
Low Season from: £8,600 pp
High Season from: £8,890 pp