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Peru: Ancient Kingdoms (EA 100)

Starting in Lima this trip takes us first to the recent discoveries of ancient Moche and Chimu kingdoms in Northwest Peru, Then we travel to Cusco, the Capital of the Inca Empire. From here we tour the Sacred Valley -- at Amaru Community where women show the making of Andean textiles-- Ollantaytambo archaeological site, Machu Picchu and last day a trip to Moray and Maras

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Day 1: Lima
The journey begins at the Jorge Chavez Int´l Airport, where we will be welcomed to Lima, the capital of Peru, and transferred to the hotel. This is a perfect time to sample Lima’s famous cuisine, so for dinner we are going out to a restaurant which also has a dance show. (D)
Day 2: Lima-Chiclayo
Transfer to the airport and flight to Chiclayo to start a visit to the mud-brick pyramid of Huaca Rajada that made world headlines in 1987, with one of the most sensational finds of recent archaeology. The old eroded adobe platform yielded fabulous ancient treasures from a series of deeply buried tombs of the pre-Inca Moche Culture, who ruled the valleys of the north coast of Peru 1,500 years ago. To get there we drive east to Reque Valley to reach the modern village of Sipán where the tombs are located. A highly informative site museum tells the story of the extraordinary Moche civilization, which created some of the finest pottery, jewelry and gold working of the Americas. We return to Chiclayo for a delicious lunch of Peru's northern-style cuisine, and then continue for a later visit to the rescued royal tombs preserved in the Sipán Museum. Later we drive to an oasis of calm at Tucumé to learn about the chronological sequence that followed the fall of the Moche, at a site where their descendants, the Sipán culture, continued to amass millions of adobe bricks to build large pyramids but later disappeared or were absorbed by other ancient advanced highland societies. We will climb to a viewpoint that offers superb views of the surrounding pyramids. Return to Chiclayo for overnight. (B, L)
Day 3: Chiclayo to Trujillo
Today, we will travel --by private transport-- on the Pan American Highway, which offers a varied view of coast of Peru. First stop at El Brujo Archaeological Complex, built and inhabited by the Moche, Wari and Incas until the colonial period. Here archaeologists made a unique discover, the tomb of La Señora de Cao (Lady of Cao), a young priestess and important ruler. Her body was in very good condition since even up to now, showing many tattoos on her arms and legs. This lady was found covered with jewels and symbols of power of the Moche Culture. The second part of the visit will be at the site museum La Senora de Cao, where we will learn more about the Moche Culture. We continue with our trip to the city of Trujillo, on the way we will have lunch in an excellent restaurant. Transfer to hotel (B, L)
Day 4: Trujillo
In the morning we visit the Huaca de la Luna Pyramid ( or Temple of the Moon Pyramid) built by the Moche Culture (100 to 750 D.C.) decorated with beautiful murals depicting the god Ai-Paec, also known as the Decapitador (Decapitator). We will also visit the Museum Huacas de Moche, with samples of the excavations and several multimedia representations. We will continue to the nearby town of Huanchaco, where we have the opportunity to taste the delicious seafood of Trujillo in a local restaurant with view of the ocean and observe fishermen sailing their Caballitos de Totora (Reef Horses) used since pre-Inca times. In the afternoon we will visit the great Chimú Center of Chan Chán, the largest adobe city ever built and an elite settlement with a series of nine enormous palaces belonging to successive rulers of the Chimú realm. At its height the population here may have reached 50,000 people. Many of them were artists and craftspeople, who made the sumptuous gold work, textiles and pottery for which the Chimu were famous. At the Tschudi palace enclosure we enter a labyrinthine series of courtyards lined with clay friezes of fish and ocean birds, and walled in places with an open mesh work adobe building style believed to represent fishing nets. We visit inner patios, residences, administrative buildings, temples, platforms and storehouses, and a huge reservoir where sunken gardens may have produced specialized crops for the Chimú nobility. Transfer to hotel (B, L)
Day 5: Trujillo-Lima-Cusco
Hotel pick up and transfer to Trujillo airport to take the flight to Cusco, with a stopover in Lima. Once we have arrived to the Capital of the Incas, Cusco, there will be a transfer to our hotel where we will be welcomed with a hot cup of coca tea to help with our acclimatization at 3,400 m. Mid-afternoon visit to the Q´oricancha or Temple of Sun, once the most sacred building during Incan times where Spanish built over a catholic church and convent of Santo Domingo. If time allows, we can enjoy a Cusco traditional dance and music show at the Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo Theater, otherwise you can enjoy a late afternoon sunset-like walk in downtown Cusco walking the Main Square and nearby narrow streets where there are many handicraft shops, jewelry and fine restaurants. (B)
Day 6: Cusco – Sacred Valley of the Incas - Decoding the Andean Textile- Ollantaytambo
Pick up from your hotel and transfer to the Amaru Community located in the beautiful Sacred Valley of the Incas to have an unforgettable visit with local women, a truly experience with a living culture still thriving in the Andes. Right at the arrival, we will be greeted with traditional music and local flowers such as the k´antu, the flower of the Incas. A guided tour starts explaining textile technologies and techniques used by the community. Learn about traditional boiling and dyeing techniques with different organic materials made from local plants and flowers, what is their symbolism of the textile textures, and also about plant medicinal use. You will practice the shearing, cleaning, and coiling of the sheep or alpaca wool, both used in textiles. Once the demonstrations are concluded, you will be invited to purchase local textiles including table runners, scarfs, purses, belts, bracelets, and other. The tour to the community will finish with a delicious lunch prepared with local crops. Later short visit to the traditional market of Pisaq and we will continue with our trip to Ollantaytambo, a former agricultural, military, and religious center, where the Inca architecture is one of the finest. Ollantaytambo was built to protect the valley against possible invaders and is presently considered the best preserved and the only living Inca town today. Transfer to hotel in Ollantaytambo (B, L)
Day 7: Ollantaytambo- Machu Picchu-Cusco
Early breakfast and transfer to the train station. The railway journey will take 2 hrs along the Urubamba River reaching Aguas Calientes, located below 2,000 m, from where there will be a 20 minute bus ride up to the Machu Picchu citadel, perched 500 mts above the Urubamba River and towered by the Huayna Picchu peak (2800 masl). Our guide will explain the history and myths of this archaeological wonder. We will learn why Machu Picchu is one of the most magical and mysterious places on Earth. This landscape shows very steep forests hills frequently shrouded in misty clouds and downhill views of the roaring Urubamba River. Later we take a bus back to Aguas Calientes, where you can enjoy a good buffet lunch on your own. After lunch, we take the train back to Ollantaytambo or Cusco. Transfer to hotel. (B)
Day 8: Cusco
In the morning we start our visit to the four archaeological parks of Sacsayhuaman, Q’enqo, Tambomachay and Pukapukara. Early lunch on your own in one of the many nice restaurants in downtown Cusco and transfer to the Chocolate Museum, at only two blocks from the Main Square, to take a course on how to make chocolate from scratch. (B)
Day 9: Cusco - Moray-Maras-Chinchero-Lima
The last day in Cusco will start with an early excursion to the Moray archaeological center to visit and walk one of the most intriguing Inca monuments based on concentric circular Inca terraces, which use and purpose is still a mystery. You will also visit the Maras salt mines still active since Incan times from where salt is extracted using artisan techniques to feed local markets. After the visit to Moray and Maras you will have a short visit to the colorful Chinchero indigenous market. Later transfer to your hotel to pick your luggage and then head to the Cusco International Airport to take a late afternoon flight to Lima (B).


  • Transfers in and out
  • Excursions described in itinerary
  • Train to Machu Picchu on Expedition
  • Professional guides
  • Meals described on itinerary as B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner
  • Accommodation on 3-4 star hotel in Lima, Chiclayo, Trujillo and Cusco
  • Entrance fees

Not Included

  • Domestic flights: Lima-Chiclayo- Trujillo Cusco, Cusco Lima
  • Local airport taxes
  • Personal insurance
  • Tips
  • Personal expenses

Links to articles About Moche and Chimu

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    • A month ago we visited Tambopata, thanks to the recommendation of David, because his experience working for many years in this area, convinced us to know the jungle of Puerto Maldonado and we do not regret it. It was a unique and wonderful experience. The whole organization was perfect for us, we felt very safe with our specialized guide and traveling by boat. Thank you for the incredible moment visiting Tambopata!

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      Esther & Marta Pinedo, Martin Bengoa & Imanol Ruiz (2019) Spain
    • Our trip was over the top!! We have had and amazing time in the north of Peru and Cusco, visiting the Lord of Sipan, Chan Chan Archeological Center, Huanchaco beach, Machu Picchu and doing vivencial tourism in the Sacred Valley with the Yachaqs Community. Very impressed with every place we visited.

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