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A Taste of Peru

12 days from £3,150pp

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A Taste of Peru

 

Private Journey

 

Day 1

Arrive in Lima and transfer to hotel in Miraflores.
 
ceviche
Arrive in Lima, transfer to your smart, contemporary hotel the Casa Andina Select. It’s in Miraflores, a Pacific-side quarter with a number of top restaurants, best known among which is the internationally lauded German-Peruvian Astrid&Gastón, with traditional Peruvian and fusion taster menus.

 More nostalgic is Rosa Nautica, set on a pier over the crashing waves of the Pacific, serving excellent sea bass.  Another classy eaterie with a spectacular location opposite the pre-Columbian adobe pyramid of the same name - illuminated at night - is Huaca Pucllana, which serves a good range of Peruvian dishes including the renowned seafood ceviche.

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ceviche

Day 2

Introduction to Lima’s markets, cookery lesson.
 
Lima market

This exciting gastronomic experience takes you deep into the heart of Peruvian cuisine. With your guide, walk through the centre of Miraflores. At Surquillo market, you can inspect the various stalls piled high with succulent products. Some are native, others are imported but have thrived here: potatoes (there are hundreds of varieties), chilli peppers, beans, avocados, corn, quinoa, yucca, plantains, mangos. 

Having strolled through Miraflores Central Park you'll stop off for a snack at La Lucha Sanguchería, a famous sandwich shop and popular haunt for local residents.  You will also savour chicha morada, a traditional beverage made from purple corn, and wander through the cliff-side Parque del Amor, famous for its romantic sculpture of two lovers embracing, from which there are superb views of the Pacific Ocean.  Following a short drive to San Isidro Market, where you may spot one or two of the city's most innovative chefs searching for their next recipe inspiration, you'll visit Abel and Eduardo - the influential father and son fish vendors whose stall has been a mainstay for almost two decades.

The highlight of the tour is the opportunity to try out some of Peru's most well known recipes yourself. In the kitchen of Hotel Runcu’s intimate top floor restaurant you'll be guided by an experienced chef to acquire the skills necessary to produce mouth-watering dishes during an animated Peruvian cookery lesson. You'll learn how to prepare the refreshing cocktail pisco sour, ceviche, the popular dish based on marinated fish, causa, a potato-based delicacy and lomo saltado, a rich and tasty beef dish where the meat is sautéed with peppers and onions.  Of course you get to eat up the results!

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Lima market

Day 3

Drive to Ica, tour of vineyard, wine tasting; overnight.
 
Hotel Vinas Queriolo

Drive down the sunny desert coast and inland to the oasis at Ica. Lunch is at the delightful colonial hacienda San José, in the little wine and pisco-producing town of Chincha, where you’ll visit the catacombs. In the afternoon, there’s a guided tour of the vineyard at Ica which culminates with a glass of espumante as you watch the apricot and lilac sunset from a viewpoint over the valley.  Later, enjoy pre-dinner wine-tasting to sample more of the local wares. Overnight at the winery.

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Hotel Vinas Queriolo

Day 4

Visit small private distillery, pisco tasting at Bodega La Caravedo.
 
Pisco Portón
There’s a long history of viticulture in the Ica oasis, where conditions are ideal for the cultivation of vines: the first vineyards were established in 1550. Over the years, the distillation of grapes evolved into the production of Peru’s national drink, the grape brandy ‘pisco’.

There are now dozens of cellars in the area, many of which have retained the same traditional methods of production. Visit Bodega La Caravedo. Founded in 1877, it was the first establishment to produce the liquor organically, and today produces the fine brand Pisco Portón for export.

You might like to take advantage of the opportunity to fly over the Nazca Lines, the famous huge figurines and geometric designs carved into the desert rock in pre-Columbian times. (You will need to arrange this in advance).

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Pisco Portón

Day 5

Bus to Lima, fly to Cusco, transfer to Urubamba in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
 
Sacred valley
Return to Lima by public coach.  You’ll be met at the coach station and escorted to the airport for your flight (1hr) to Cusco in the Andes.   From there, transfer by road to the fertile Sacred Valley of the Incas, once the breadbasket of the Incas, and stay at the lovely first class countryside hotel Sol y Luna.
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Sacred valley

Day 6

At leisure. Optional lunch at Wayra Ranch, with pace horse presentation, taster menu dinner with wine.
 
Rancho Wayra
Morning at leisure to enjoy the hotel facilities or to take an optional excursion or activity such as horse riding, river rafting or walking.

You might choose to have lunch at Rancho Wayra, which has an excellent reputation for its gastronomy. Eat on the sunny terrace, including a barbecue and dishes prepared from fresh local produce. You are entertained by an exhibition of the skills of the Peruvian pace horse. There is also an optional excursion into the countryside accompanied by the ranch’s chef to visit the farms which provide these ingredients and learn about their use and agricultural methods.

In the evening, sample the local cuisine with a 5-course tasting menu that combines 5 intricate dishes with a variety of wines to compliment and bring out the rich complexity of the flavours. The meals are prepared using all local ingredients and cooked by resident chef Nacho Selis, accompanied by an expert sommelier. The experience takes place in the sophisticated setting of Wayra's cellar, which houses some of the finest wines in the world. The intimate dining room provides a warm ambiance for an evening of gastronomic delights.

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Rancho Wayra

Day 7

Full day guided excursion to Pisac market and ruins with lunch.
 
Pisac ruins
Full day guided excursion to Pisac, including the market in the riverside colonial village and the Inca ruins which tower above. Visit also the nearby Parque de la Papa, to learn about the cultural importance and sustainable use of medicinal native potatoes. You call in at several villages.

In Pampallaqta you encounter blankets full of steaming baked potatoes of multiple varieties, along with a piquant green dipping sauce.  Sample each type, purple and yellow and white. Surprisingly, the tastes differ noticeably. After the taste test, file into the dim storehouse where over 1,000 different potato varieties are kept.

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Pisac ruins

Day 8

Transfer to Ollantaytambo, train to Machu Picchu, guided tour of the ruins, overnight.
 
Machu Picchu

Travelling for 90mins by train from Ollantaytambo, you reach the ruins of Machu Picchu. As the river Urubamba enters its narrow gorge between thickly-forested granite hills, there is room only for a single track, which hugs the right bank and passes through hamlets that are no more than a collection of shacks beside the railway. Close to the foot of the mountain on a saddle of which the citadel was built is the village of Machu Picchu, dedicated to serving the many visitors with artisan markets, bars and restaurants.

The majestic ruined city, reclaimed from tropical cloud forest, is reached by minibus up a sinuous road, or on foot up a near vertical rocky path. The American explorer Hiram Bingham discovered it in 1911, by which time it was completely buried beneath jungle vegetation. It is perhaps the ruins’ location, on a ridge spur amid forested peaks and above a roaring river canyon, that most ignites the imagination.

You will have a guided tour of the ruins and there is time later to take one of the many trails within the site itself, such as the hike to the vertiginous Inca Bridge, carved into a cliff edge, or wander among the stone buildings and llama-dotted grassy ledges soaking up the atmosphere. Spend the night in Machu Picchu village.

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Machu Picchu

Day 9

Return to Cusco for 3 nights.
 
Train times permitting, there’s the opportunity to return to the site of Machu Picchu. Getting up early and taking one of the first buses up to the site is well worth it. The ruins are virtually empty at that time and the early morning mists swirl around the surrounding mountain tops.

There is time for an optional hike to the summit of Huayna Picchu (although this must be booked in advance). Alternatively enjoy the thermal baths or walks in the village below. Return to Cusco by rail and road in about 4 hours.

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Day 10

Walking tour of the city and market.
 
Cusco
The name Cusco derives from the Quechua word for navel, indicating its location at the centre of the Inca Empire. Today its many impressive original Inca walls display extraordinary craftsmanship, while the bustling squares are dotted with ornate baroque colonial churches.

It’s a vivacious city, where shoeshine boys and postcard sellers jostle for your attention in cobbled streets lined with handicraft shops and cafés. In the evening, the town centre fills with people flocking to the many restaurants, bars and cafés.

There's a walking tour of the city including the comestibles market. Pyramids of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables claw towards the sky: tomatoes, soft fruit and corn from the valley, potatoes and onions from the highlands.

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Cusco

Day 11

Visit to Choco (chocolate) Museum and chocolate-making lesson.
 
Visit the Choco Museum. As its name implies, it’s a cathedral to chocolate. Cocoa is produced in Peru’s Amazon region. You’ll learn about how the cacao beans are cultivated and processed to make fine chocolate.  

As the museum makes its own chocolate drawing on Aztec and Inca techniques, all the manufacturing process is described step by step and you will be able to make your own chocolate with nuts, almonds, coffee beans or cashews.

The rest of the day and evening are at leisure for you to enjoy this multi-faceted city with its wealth of top quality restaurants and innovative bars. 

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Day 12

Fly to Lima to connect with international flight.

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