Wander Lima’s streets in search of some of the world’s best food, stand tall at the top of sacred peaks and visit one of South America’s greatest archeological sites with this wonderfully varied trip to Peru. Our Head of Sales, Jamie, is just back with this bespoke Peru itinerary.

Scenic shot of TKTK
Jamie on a hike in the majestic mountains of Peru’s Sacred Valley.

Peru is a destination packed full of surprises. You’ll find some of the best restaurants in the world in Lima, where adventurous chefs conjure up magic with ingredients you’ve never even heard of. The hiking is spectacular—and we’re not even talking about the Inca Trail—with route after route of soaring mountains, diverse ecosystems, and age-old ruins. Then, there’s a distinctive culture, which can be experienced in local markets or through immersive experiences, including spiritual ceremonies and demonstrations. It’s a country well worth dedicating an entire trip to.

A blend of cool cities, untamed nature, and ancient history paired with incredible luxury accommodation options, there’s a good balance of adventure and relaxation here. This all-encompassing Peru itinerary is designed to show the different sides of the country.

Jamie’s Peru

Days One to Three: Arequipa

The clear, sunny skies, palm trees, and seemingly endless amounts of flowers give Arequipa a Santa Barbara vibe—it feels slightly different from the other stops on this itinerary for that reason, and it’s a great place to acclimatize for the higher altitudes coming later. Its proximity to the Atacama Desert means there’s a Mediterranean climate, which makes strolling around its UNESCO World Heritage-listed historic center even more lovely. A visit to the Monastery of Santa Catalina de Siena is a must. Its pretty city-within-a-city design holds many wild stories of slaves, nuns, and the convent’s strict social pecking order. Nowadays, it’s a regular spot for fashion shows, photoshoots, movie sets, and is still a working convent.

For lunch options, try one day at a picanteria—a traditional lunchtime restaurant serving food typical of Arequipa—and another at Chicha, celebrated chef Gaston Acurio’s Arequipa outpost, and try the chupe de camarones (seasonal shellfish available from April through to December). When it comes to accommodation, it’s hard to look past Cirqa, a chic boutique hotel in a former monastery. The restaurant is fantastic (don’t miss the queso helado, a cinnamon and vanilla ice cream), and the courtyard, with its cozy sheepskins and crackling fire pits, is the perfect spot for a pisco sour after dark.

Arequipa’s old city is one of the finest in Peru, the perfect place to acclimatize to the altitude before starting any trek. Image courtesy of Getty Images

Days Three to Seven: Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley feels like a microcosm of Peru, with majestic mountains, mysterious ruins, and a strong sense of indigenous culture. To get the most out of the area, stay at Explora—an extensive list of almost 50 bespoke experiences that have been curated by the lodge. Take your pick from hiking, biking, overlanding, or combinations, with themes to suit different interests. For example, the Amor Violento trail begins with a visit to Cúper Bajo, where local women share the secrets of their distinctive, colorful weaving, before heading into the terraced hills surrounding the town of Chincheros. Other treks, such as Incañan, suit hardcore hikers, with peaks touching 19,000ft. With explorations for half and full days, you can see many sides of this beautiful valley during an extended stay.

In between adventures, rest and recuperate at Explora’s wonderful spa. The Pumacahua Bath House has been painstakingly restored to preserve the hacienda’s colonial history and offers a range of classic treatments. Combined with the mountain setting, it makes for a peaceful place to unwind after a day on the trails. Come dinner time, spend the evening in Explora’s restaurant, where Peruvian chef Virgilio Martínez (the man behind Central, the world’s current number one restaurant) has created a menu based solely on ingredients from the Sacred Valley.

The Explora Lodge and mountain view.
Explora has almost 50 bespoke experiences for you to enjoy. Image courtesy of Explora

Days Seven to Eight: Machu Picchu

Peru’s iconic mountain citadel is one of those things you just have to see for yourself. Since there are no written records, no one really knows why Machu Picchu was built or what it was used for, but the mystery definitely adds to the fun. Most people think it was created as a royal residence for the Incan ruler Pachacuti in the 15th century, and as you explore, you can come up with your own theories. By staying overnight, you can explore the main part of the historical site in one day, followed by a climb up Huayna Picchu, the distinctive peak that stands watch over Machu Picchu, the next. Once you’ve lived out your Indiana Jones fantasy, catch the Hiram Bingham luxury vintage train back to Cusco. An absolute highlight of this trip, there’s live music, an extensive list of delicious cocktails, and exceptional gourmet food with epic views of the Sacred Valley at sunset.

Jamie looking out over Machu Picchu.
Jamie found that two days was the perfect amount of time to explore the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.

Days Eight to 10: Cusco

With intricate Spanish colonial architecture, Andean culture, and a fantastic dining and drinking scene, pretty Cusco is more than just a gateway to the Sacred Valley. Check into the Belmond Monasterio, a luxury hotel housed in a former monastery, and head into the city’s UNESCO-listed old town. You can’t miss the city’s gorgeous cathedral, a baroque, gothic masterpiece overlooking the main square. This whole area is perfect for wandering, so take a day to stroll around on foot. Stop for lunch at Los Toldos for pollo a la brasa—a Peruvian classic. This no-frills rotisserie-style chicken dish is so simple but so tasty. In the evening, we can arrange a bespoke pisco experience, where you’ll learn all about Peru’s signature spirit and, more importantly, how to impress your friends back home with various delicious cocktails. Before you leave for Lima, head to the San Blas neighborhood and its market, Mercado de San Blas. Very much a local place, the market has a lowkey lunch counter where you can sample all kinds of Peruvian food, such as ceviche.

Muscians playing live in the Belmond Monasterio courtyard.
Relax in Belmond Monasterio’s courtyard after a day of exploring Cusco. Image courtesy of Belmond

Days 10-13: Lima

If you like to explore a place through your stomach, Peru’s sprawling seaside capital is up there with the best culinary cities in the world. Take a foodie tour of its coolest neighborhood, Barranco, for coconut ceviche, smoothies, and empanadas. For dinner, we can arrange a table at Pía León’s Kjolle for colorful cuisine crafted from indigenous ingredients—the food is fantastic (León was head chef at Central before starting her place). Still, the cocktails might just be the best thing about this understated Barranco spot. In between feasts, relax in the serene garden of Atemporal, a cute boutique in one of Lima’s quieter neighborhoods, or if you’re still seeking one last adventure, take a surf lesson in the Pacific. We can arrange private classes for beginners and for you to tackle the waves before your flight home.

Catch some waves with a surf lesson on Lima’s Pacific coastline. Image courtesy of Getty Images

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