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Pre-Columbian Peru (EA 83)

Pre-Colombian Peru take us north first to visit ancient places like Chachapoya, Revash cliff, Cracked Pyramid, Royal tombs of Lord of Sipan, Tucume, Sican Culture, Temple of the Moon, Chimu city of Chan Chan, and second we travel the capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco to enjoy from here one of the most impressive ceremonial site in the world, Machu Picchu

Available May to October


Day 1: Lima
This adventure Chachapoya and Inca Cultures starts with a warm welcome in Lima, capital of Perú, and transfer to the hotel. In the evening we will be picked up to enjoy Peruvian famous cuisine in a nice restaurant. (D)
Day 2: Lima-Chachapoyas
We take an early morning flight from Peru's capital to Jaen; upon arrival we are welcome and transfer our hotel in Chachapoyas. In the afternoon, we will visit an orchid garden where we will appreciate a variety of endemic orchid species; then we will go to a traditional village of Huancas where we will visit the viewpoint over the Sonche Canyon, which has a depth of 1200 meters and a very old geological formation. After we return to the Chachapoyas City.
Day 3: Chachapoyas-Journey to the Cliff Tombs of Revash- Leymebamba
Today after breakfast, we follow the Utcubamba valley upstream, spotting herons and perhaps an Andean torrent duck in the river as we slowly ascend the valley. At the village of Santo Tomás we turn off the main highway, crossing the river and ascending a side valley where vivid scarlet poinsettias the size of trees overhang the walls of typical Chachapoyas farms. Soon we meet our wranglers and the calm, sure-footed horses that will carry us up the trail to Revash. Throughout this journey, we gaze up at huge cliffs that loom ever closer. These limestone formations, laid down in even layers over geological aeons, tend to break away in neat collapses, often leaving extensive overhangs and protected ledges beneath them. In such places, the ancient Chachapoya built the tombs where they buried their noble dead. A gigantic fold in the cliffs, testifying to millennia of unimaginable tectonic forces. Another hour brings us to a viewpoint much closer to the cliffs, and here we see two adjacent sets of caves, featuring cottage-sized structures covered in still-bright mineral-oxide paintwork. Some of them look like cottages, with gabled roofs, others like flat-topped apartments. They are adorned with red-on-white figures and geometrical symbols -- a feline, llamas, circles, ovals -- and bas-relief crosses and T-shapes, which perhaps once told the rank and lineage of the tombs' occupants. Retracing our steps, we continue our road journey to Leimebamba, which we reach mid-afternoon. This settlement was established by the Incas during their conquest of the region, and continued as a colonial town under the Spanish. Upon arrival we visit the Leimebamba Museum, where a collection of extraordinary artifacts recovered from another group of cliff tombs discovered in 1997 at the remote Laguna de los Condores. The exhibits, desplayes gourds carved with animal and geometrical symbols, an array of colorful textiles, ceramics, carved wooden beakers and portrait heads, and a selection of the dozens of quipus (Inca knotted-string recording devices) recovered from the site. Archaeologists are still uncertain as to how most of this material came to be so startlingly well preserved, in tombs that during the rainy season were actually behind a waterfall! But perhaps the most striking thing about the tombs is that they contain burials from all three periods of local history: The Chachapoya culture, the post-Inca invasion period, and the post-Spanish conquest. Archaeologists are continuing to study the material, seeking to learn more about the Chachapoya and their relationship with their Inca masters. The quipu finds have been especially valuable to scholars seeking to decode the Inca record keeping system. Return to Chachapoyas. (B, L, D)
Day 4: Kuelpa
We spend a full day visiting this mysterious site, beginning with a drive through places whose names -- Choctamal, Longuita, and Kuelap itself (the great walled city of Northern Peru), names of a lost language and a vanished ancient people who spoke it, the Chachapoyas. We do not know what they called themselves, but the Incas who finally conquered these fierce warriors knew them by their Quechua soubriquet, Chachaphuyu -- Cloud People -- after the cloud-draped region where they lived. Kuelap's existence was first reported in 1843. For years, it was believed to have been a Chachapoyas fortress, and when we first catch sight of it from the fossil-encrusted limestone footpath that leads there it is hard to believe it was not. The massive walls soar to a height of 19m/62ft and its few entranceways are narrow and tapering, ideal for defense. Yet the archaeological evidence now suggests that this was principally a religious and ceremonial site. Chachapoyas was not a nation, or an empire, but some sort of federation of small states centered on numerous settlements scattered across their mountainous territory. The earliest settlement dates obtained here suggest that its construction began around 500A.D. and, like the Moche coastal pyramids; it was built in stages as a series of platforms, one atop the other. It is now a single enormous platform nearly 600m/2,000ft long, stretched along a soaring ridge top. Seen from below, its vast, blank walls give no hint of the complexity and extent of the buildings above. When we reach its summit, we find a maze of structures in a variety of styles and sizes, some of them faced with rhomboid friezes, some ruined and some well preserved. Here we can try to imagine the lives of the Chachapoya elite and their servants who lived here, enjoying a breathtaking view of forested Andean mountains and valleys. Return to Chachapoyas. (B, L, D)
Day 5: Chachapoyas-Chiclayo
Today, we travel for 9 hours--by private transport—to Chiclayo. By the Highway, the route offers a varied view of North of Peru. Overnight in Chiclayo. (B,BL)
Day 6: Chiclayo.
After breakfast, we set off for the mud-brick pyramid that made world headlines in 1987 with one of the most sensational finds of recent archaeology. Known as the Huaca Rajada -- the "Cracked Pyramid", because of the deep gulleys weathered into its flanks -- this eroded adobe platform yielded fabulous ancient treasures from a series of deeply buried tombs of Moche culture, pre-Inca, who lived in the valleys of Peru's north coast 1,500 years ago. A highly informative site museum tells the story of this extraordinary civilization, whom created some of the finest pottery, jewelry and gold working of the Americas. We continue on to Lambayeque, where we visit the Royal Tombs of Sipán Museum. This modern building, representing the style of a Moche pyramid, was built to house the stunning and priceless objects unearthed at Sipán. After these sensational experiences, we drive to an oasis of calm at Tucumé. At the site museum, we will see the chronological sequence that followed the fall of the Moche. As their descendants, the Sicán culture, continued to amass millions of adobe bricks to build more mighty pyramids -- including the longest of its kind in the world, at more than 700m/2,300ft -- but were now influenced by highland tribes, and began to abandon their old ways. We return to Chiclayo for an overnight. (B, L)
Day 7: Chiclayo - 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 8: Trujillo
In the morning, we go to visit the Huaca de la Luna Pyramidal structure of 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 excellent seafood of Trujillo in a local restaurant and where we will appreciate the fishermen sailing their "caballitos de totora" used since pre-Inca times. In the afternoon visit to the great Chimú center of Chan Chan, the largest adobe city ever built. It was in fact an elite settlement, 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 Chimú 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 meshwork 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 Chimu nobility. Transfer to hotel (B, L)
Day 9: 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, and 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 10: Cusco – Sacred Valley of the Incas
After breakfast we start the excursion to the Valle Sagrado (Sacred Valley of the Incas), famous for its rural landscape and lovely weather. The drive will descend until Pisaq (2,800 m), a small town aside the Vilcanota River, to visit a typical Indian market. Here we can observe men, women, and indigenous authorities displaying beautiful and elegant traditional dressing. The market still shows ancient trading traditions among people who come from other distant small villages. Also, in Pisaq we will visit the famous Archeological Site. Lunch in Urubamba, and in the afternoon, we travel to Ollantaytambo, a former agricultural, military, and religious center, where Inca architecture is one of the finest. This center was built to protect the valley against possible invaders, and is presently considered the best preserved and the only living Inca town today. Overnight in Ollantaytambo. (B, L)
Day 11: Ollantaytambo- Machu Picchu-Cusco.
Early breakfast and transfer to the train station. The railway journey to Machu Picchu will take two hrs, when we reach Aguas Calientes, located below 2,000 m, we will take 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 archeological 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 12: Cusco-Lima.
Transfer to Airport in Cusco (B)


  • Transfers in/out
  • Hotel nights 11 in Lima, Chachapoya, Chiclayo, Trujillo, Cusco, Ollantaytambo
  • All the tours mentioned in the itinerary
  • Meals as discrived in itinerary as B=breakfast=lunch, Dinner=dinner

Not Included

  • Tips
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance
  • Flights Lima-Jaen-Chiclayo-Trujillo-Lima-Cusco

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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!

      Gunter & Kornelia Billstein (2019) Germany
    • Our trip to the Tambopata Rainforest was a great experience!

      A wonderful place to get away from the outside world and have a moment with the environment and with ourselves. Thanks to David’s experience who recommended us to visit this beautiful place.

      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.

      Thank you very much for organizing an excellent time in Peru.

      Terry Hesselden, Arlene Westoby & Beverly Barker (2019) Canada
    • Very impressed by the effort, professionalism and responsibility of each one (guides, drivers, etc). We are very satisfied with our trip in Peru. Knowing the Amazon and Machu Picchu were part of my best experiences.

      Debbie Yip and Grace Goh (2019) Singapore
    • We have been travelling very often but honestly speaking the tour in Peru and the services around has been the best so far! … (the) staff very friendly and the guides experienced: Mauricio and David very passionate about their job, excellent knowledge … of Peru like history, geography, politics, religion, etc, and with our drivers felt safe in all our trip… excellent!! Always supportive and very flexible. Keep it up!! Many thanks

      Claudia Signorelli & Norman Memminger (2018) Switzerland and Germany