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Swim with sea lions... wander through catacombs lined with colonial bones... meet llamas and alpacas and more... as the height of adventure, the thrill of discovery, and the hunt for centuries-old mysteries old come together for your family on Tauck Bridges' Peru vacation adventure! As you discover the secrets of this ancient land from today's capital, Lima, to its original Incan capital of Cusco, the Sacred Valley and mysterious Machu Picchu, you'll paint pottery, get blessed by a shaman, go horseback riding or river rafting (or get a massage!), see Peruvian Pasos dance, weave bracelets with schoolchildren, ride the rails to a lost city, take a chocolate-making class, meet endangered spectacled bears, play a pan flute and much more. It's the perfect Peru vacation for your family!
Day 1: Welcome to Lima
Trip begins: JW Marriott Hotel Lima. A transfer is included from Lima Airport to the JW Marriott Hotel Lima, ideally located in one of the city's best neighborhoods. Most international flights arrive late evening, so settle into your room for a snack and a good night's rest.
Day 2: Sea lions & catacombs in colonial Lima
Kick off your family's Peru vacation this morning with a seaside boating adventure to meet the "locals" who live in the coastal waters off San Lorenzo Island; put on your wet suits for a swim with playful sea lions! After lunch, head back to the hotel for a change of clothes. Once the wealthiest city in South America, Lima was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro to be the "City of Kings" in 1535, and reigned for two years as the capital of the New World. Discover its historic colonial heart, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as you see Pizarro's tomb in la Catedral de Lima, visit the Convento de San Francisco (Monastery of St. Francis), then go underground to explore spooky catacombs stacked with centuries-old colonial bones! Join your fellow Tauck Bridges families tonight for a welcome reception and dinner at a popular local restaurant. Buen provecho!
Meals: B, L, D
Day 3: Pupils and prayers in the Sacred Valley
Fly this morning to Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, where you'll board our private coach for a drive to the Sacred Valley. This mountainous region of Peru offers mystical awe-inspiring sights to discover... along with farms and villages that welcome you with a taste of daily life. After lunch at a local restaurant in the peaceful town of Urubamba, visit a local school where you'll play games with students and perhaps learn how to weave the colorful bracelets you'll see during your Peruvian family adventure. Then settle into your hotel, nestled in the heart of the Sacred Valley, where you'll meet a local shaman (renowned for their healing abilities) this evening who blesses our journey and shares time-honored, spiritual insights about the ancient sights and beliefs surrounding Machu Picchu. Enjoy dinner at your leisure at the hotel tonight.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 4: Paso horses, rafting or a spa & more
You have a choice of adventures* in the Sacred Valley today: hit the trail for a horseback ride through a small village and on into the countryside or don a wet suit for a rafting trip on a nearby river... or, you can choose a massage in the hotel spa! Later, meet up for a barbecue lunch at a private ranch, followed by a show starring the country's beautiful smooth-gaited Peruvian Paso horses, protected as part of the Patrimonio Cultural (Cultural Heritage) of Peru. This afternoon, discover the meanings behind the sacred markings of ancient Peruvian cultures at a renowned pottery studio, then let your creative spirit take over when you paint your own ceramic masterpiece. Have dinner tonight in the hotel's 17th-century colonial hacienda.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 5: Train to Aguas Calientes & on to Machu Picchu
Experts are still not exactly sure what Machu Picchu was used for, but for centuries, this remarkable Inca citadel lay hidden from the world by mountainous jungle and mist until Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham accidentally stumbled on it in 1911 while looking for other major Incan ruins. His discovery revealed myths and mysteries that still confound visitors today, making your rail journey on the Vistadome train to Aguas Calientes, the "gateway to Machu Picchu," and your drive up the mountain to what Bingham called the "Lost City of the Incas" that much more exciting. You'll spend the afternoon exploring Machu Picchu - a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was recently named one of the "new seven wonders of the world" - with our expert guides. This evening, head back down into Aguas Calientes for an overnight in whitewashed casitas (bungalows) at your pueblo-style hotel surrounded by a cloud forest.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 6: Endangered species, a village market & ancient Cusco by rail
The morning is free for you to do as you please; there are lots of great optional activities for your family to choose from! You can take a guided nature walk on the flower-filled grounds of your hotel, seeing the collection of orchids and herbs that thrive here; or head into the colorful local market in Aguas Calientes, for an eye-opening parade of locally made arts and crafts, including woven tapestries, ponchos, jewelry and more. At a private presentation, you can learn about the plight of the region's nearly extinct spectacled bears and how you can help them, then meet some of these endangered animals. After lunch, make your way by train and coach to Cusco for a two-night stay in the historic city center at the JW Marriott Hotel Cusco, featuring an indoor pool to cool off in, as well as ancient walls and treasures uncovered during the hotel's recent construction.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 7: Sacsayhuamán, chocolate & Incan lore in Cusco
Wake up this morning in the heart of Cusco - South America's oldest continuously inhabited city, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in the shape of a puma, Cusco astounds with both Incan relics and some of the oldest Spanish colonial architecture in the "New World." At the archaelogical site of Sacsayhuamán, the "House of the Sun," view awe-inspiring stone fortresses built by the Incas more than five centuries ago. Get a sweet taste of local traditions during a hands-on, mouth-watering chocolate-making class at the Choco Museo. Then learn how to tell the difference between an alpaca and a llama at the Awanacancha farm, where you'll meet these unique animals whose wool is woven into beautiful colorful textiles by local artisans. Spend the afternoon at leisure. Music's in the air at our farewell dinner in Cusco, as you learn how to play the Peruvian pan flute - which you'll get to take home with you as an unforgettable musical memento of your amazing family trip!
Meals: B, D
Day 8: Homeward bound
Tour ends in Lima. Fly from Cusco to Lima for lunch; rooms have been reserved for you at the JW Marriott Hotel Lima whether you choose to fly out tonight or stay overnight and fly out in the morning. A transfer is included to Lima Airport from the JW Marriott Hotel Lima. Allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in.
Meals: B, L
Private boat ride to swim with sea lions, catacombs tour in Lima, pottery painting, Paso horse show, visit to alpaca and llama farm, private presentation on spectacled bears, bracelet making with schoolchildren, rafting or horseback riding or spa massage, insider visits to Machu Picchu & Sacsayhuamán, chocolate-making in Cusco, farewell dinner with Peruvian pan flute lesson
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