The Inca empire is far more than just Machu Picchu and Peru is far more than the Incas. This trip takes you far beyond the iconic citadel to showcase a much more varied chunk of Peru’s treasures. Skip from Lima to Cusco and the Sacred Valley to deep in the Peruvian Amazon, exploring by road, rail and boat for an adventure Hiram Bingham would be proud of.

Begin among the bohemian neighbourhoods, colonial architecture and eclectic cuisine of Peru’s capital, Lima. Many visitors use it as a launchpad to Inca territory, but you’ll stay awhile to wander its UNESCO-listed Old Town and take a bite out of its gastronomy scene. Then you’ll hop over to Arequipa for its whitewashed baroque architecture, but it’s the handful of spluttering volcanoes the city is circled by that give you a clue as to what’s in store for you next..

True enough, you’ll jump on the Belmond Andean Explorer train and chug through the grassy Andean plains, witnessing dawn break over Lake Titicaca before leaving your carriage to explore its islands and time-honoured cultures. On this luxury holiday, Peru’s ancient capital and the gateway to the fabled Sacred Valley, Cusco, is next. This is firmly in Inca territory and you’ll really get to unpick the inner workings of how the dynasty once operated, with visits to fortresses like Sacsayhuaman and Ollantaytambo, the town of Chinchero, the Maras salt mines and the village of Huilloc, where you can enjoy lunch just as the Incas would have. We couldn’t have let you unravel the Sacred Valley without taking a Machu Picchu trip: a legendary citadel that doesn’t reveal all of its secrets straight away. That’s why you’ll visit twice and a guided tour each time will gradually add more pieces to this pre-Columbian puzzle.

After whizzing back to Cusco on the train, it’s time to head further off-grid. Fly to Iquitos, the world’s largest city that cannot be reached by road, and the frontier to Peru’s slice of the Amazon. Here you’ll board a four-night Amazon River luxury cruise that gives you seemingly limitless opportunities to spot wildlife like iguanas, macaws, sloths and monkeys. Carry on fording the jungle-fringed waters, often joined by inquisitive Amazon river dolphins, before hopping off the boat to meet remote Amazonian communities and witness the origins of the Amazon River, a wild waterfall where the Ucayali and Marañón rivers collide. Glide back to Iquitos, but before you fly back to Lima for your final night in Peru, you’ll see the work locals are putting in to protect this fragile wilderness at the Amazon Rescue Center, where injured manatees and dolphins are nursed and rehabilitated back to full strength so they can return to the emerald wilds of the Amazon.


Experience highlights

  • Go on a private gastronomic walking tour of Lima. A city whose culinary reputation seems to be growing year on year, you’ll explore the colourful fruit market of Surquillo and visit a local cevichería to get hands-on with preparing the country’s national dish, ceviche.
  • Be in awe of Arequipa’s volcanic rock architecture on a guided walking tour, seeing the whitewashed Plaza de Armas, cathedrals and churches that gave rise to Arequipa’s nickname Ciudad Blanca (the White City).
  • Hop aboard the decadent Belmond Andean Explorer, South America’s first luxury sleeper train, and roll through the grassy plains and mountains of the Andean lowlands over the course of two days.
  • Leave the train temporarily to explore Lake Titicaca, the world’s loftiest lake. Spend time at the Islands of Uros, made entirely from Titicaca’s native totora reeds, and meet the indigenous locals of Taquile Island, who are famous for their kaleidoscopic textiles.
  • Stroll the archaeological gems of Cusco. Wander the cobbled streets of San Blas, a neighbourhood that dates back to the Incas, spy its gothic-renaissance grandeur of its colonial cathedral and the fine Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman on its outskirts.
  • See how the Incas traded and fed themselves with visits to the salt mines of Maras and the tiered agricultural terraces of Moray, which enabled the Incas to grow different crops at different heights.
  • Ollantaytambo is the finest example of Inca city planners in action and, along with your guide, you’ll ponder over its pair of fortress ruins, temples, narrow alleyways and irrigation channels.
  • Spend time at Machu Picchu not once, but twice. See this magnificent citadel in all its glory while your guide takes you to some of its highlights like the royal quarters and the Temple of the Three Windows and the circular towers.
  • Cruise the Amazon River for four nights, spotting toucans, sloths and Amazon river dolphins by day and twinkling stars by night on the boat’s deck.
  • Grab your binoculars and glimpse the rich wildlife of Manu National Park, including howler monkeys, marmosets, crocodiles and birds like the rufous-crested coquette and the blue-headed macaw.
  • Witness the beginning of the Amazon River in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, where the Ucayali and Marañón rivers meet to form a thundering waterfall.
  • Spend time at the Amazon Rescue Center, which acts as an animal orphanage to care for hurt dolphins and manatees, eventually restoring them to full health so they can return to their jungle home in the Amazon.
Plan your trip to Peru

Experience highlights

Begin in Lima, staying at the leafy Belmond Miraflores Park
Explore the Historic Centre of Lima on foot with your guide, visiting the Larco Museum
Admire Lima's grandiose Cathedral, built in the sixteenth century
Learn how to prepare Peru's national dish of ceviche in an authentic cevichería
Fly to Arequipa and bed down in Cirqa, a monastery turned historic boutique hotel
Admire Arequipa's collection of colonial monasteries and churches on a guided walking tour
Board the elegant Belmond Andean Explorer for your train journey through the Andean plains
Spot condors from the windows of your carriage
See the sunrise over Lake Titicaca
Visit the lake's Uros Islands to see how the indigenous people have built them purely from totora reeds
Have lunch with locals on Taquille Island
Roll into Cusco, the former capital of the Inca empire, to end your your two-night train journey
Swap your comfy carriage for the colonial frescoes of Belmond Palacio Nazarenas in Cusco
Be awestruck by the Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman
Stroll the cobbled streets of Cusco's San Blas neighbourhood
Admire the masterful stonework of Cusco's Qorikancha, which was the most important temple in the Inca empire and translates in Quechua as the 'Golden Temple'
Head deeper into the Sacred Valley, lapping up Peruvian rural living at Belmond Hotel Rio Sagrado
See the ancient salt mines of Maras
Spy the agricultural terraces of Moray
See the brains of Inca city planners in action at the village of Ollantaytambo
Climb aboard PeruRail's Vistadome train from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
Stay right beside the iconic Inca citadel at Belmond Sanctuary Lodge
Enjoy a couple of visits to Machu Picchu to really wrap yourself up in its legendary past
Spy its landmarks like the Temple of the Three Windows
Hop back on the Vistadome train back to Cusco
Fly to the jungle city of Iquitos, the largest place in the world you can't reach by road
Board the Aria Amazon, your luxury cruise vessel for the next four nights
Spot iguanas roaming the Amazon's Yacapana Islands
Go fishing for piranhas with a guide
Hop in the Aria Amazon's smaller boats in search of pink river dolphins, macaws and more as the sun sets
Visit the native community of Magdalena on a guided walk
Get your binoculars ready to zone in on alligators, squirrel monkeys and more in Manu National Park
Experience Amazonian culture first-hand by meeting the villagers of Puerto Prado
Before leaving the Amazon, witness the good work of the team at the Amazon Rescue Centre as they rehabilitate injured manatees and dolphins

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    Where you’ll stay


    Belmond Miraflores Park, Lima

    Overlooking the wild Pacific Ocean and lording over Lima’s leafy Miraflores district, Belmond Miraflores Park isn’t your regular city hotel. Draped in foliage and with freshly cut flowers in every room, you’ll think this is a city in a garden rather than the Peruvian capital. But its coastal location is also very convenient for many of Lima’s main landmarks, with colonial architecture, museums and fashionable boutiques only a few minutes away on foot. Or, stay put in the hotel’s rooftop pool and soak it all in.


    Cirqa, Arequipa

    Housed in a former sixteenth-century monastery built entirely from white volcanic stone, Cirqa fits right in La Ciudad Blanca. What was once part of Arequipa’s San Agustín Church, Cirqa now reimagines the calm and comforting welcome monks would have once offered to weary travellers. The vaulted ceilings, stone walls and barrel ceilings are still there (as they have been for four hundred years) but Relais & Chateaux have injected a modern sleekness to this refuge that compliments its monastic origins.


    Belmond Andean Explorer, Peru

    South America’s first luxury sleeper train, the Belmond Andean Explorer reinvented the rail experience in Peru. It doesn’t just give you a front-row seat to some of the country’s finest landscapes, whizzing through the grassy Andean plains overlooked by hulking mountains, but brings the outside in with its earthy tones, alpaca wool textures and bathrooms fashioned from local stone – all stamped with Belmond’s seal of luxury. Also the world’s loftiest train ride, this is a journey that proffers literal, as well as figurative, highs.


    Belmond Palacio Nazarenas, Cusco

    Fusing colonial frescoes and Inca masonry, Belmond Palacio Nazarenas marries the key elements of Peru’s history. Housed in a former convent and palace that has been transformed after years of painstaking restoration, the suites are set around clusters of cloistered courtyards serenely decorated with bubbling fountains and patios speckled with indigenous flowers. A sense of place is ever-present here, whether it’s perusing the Peruvian artefacts in the library or enjoying a treatment at the subterranean Hypnôze Spa, where glimpses of Inca ruins still linger.


    Belmond Hotel Rio Sagrado, Urubamba

    Pitched in the heart of the Sacred Valley and resting right beside the burbling Urubamba River, the Belmond Hotel Rio Sagrado is rural Peruvian living the Inca way. Built like an authentic Andean village, the hotel will ensure you take no time at all to align with nature. This is where riding through the Sacred Valley on horseback, being greeted by baby alpacas on the hotel lawn and drinking pisco sours to the sound of birdsong are all considered normal. And we love it.


    Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, Machu Picchu

    Being the only hotel at the entrance to Peru’s world-famous citadel, Belmond Sanctuary Lodge’s exclusivity makes it feel like it has the keys to Machu Picchu. While other visitors have to slog it up a hill (either by bus or on foot), you can smugly enjoy a leisurely breakfast before witnessing the world wonder. Unsurprisingly, the hotel’s design takes its cue from the pre-Columbian era with its rough stonework, earthy hues and woven textiles, while the Tampu restaurants whips up authentic Peruvian fare like stuffed alpaca and fish ceviche.


    Aria Amazon, Iquitos

    Custom-built for the Peruvian Amazon so its guests can glide in complete comfort while minimising the impact it has on the Amazon River and its delicate environment, the Aria Amazon is the perfect jungle cruiser. Onboard, you’ll try world-beating rainforest-inspired cuisine and while away the hours watching jungle life go by from the outdoor deck, while the Aria Amazon’s smaller boats penetrate parts of the Amazon few others get to see. Its experts will help you spot its enigmatic wildlife like pink river dolphins and piranhas.

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