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Explore the best that Peru has to offer in this spectacular 10-day trip that combines nature, history and culture. Leave Lima for Arequipa, a jewel of colonial architecture, and marvel at the flight of the condors in the Colca Valley. Learn about the most traditional villages in Puno before arriving in Cusco, the heart of the Inca Empire, and discover the historical legacy it holds, as well as fascinating Andean landscapes of green valleys and snow-capped peaks.
- Price per person: $1368.00
- Flexible dates & cancellation policy (see below)
- 1st class hotels
- Certified biosafety protocols throughout your trip
- Discover the culinary and historic treasures of Lima, Arequipa, Puno and Cusco
- Visit Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu
- GUIDE: English-speaking guide.
- ACCOMMODATION: Two nights of accommodation in Lima, three nights of accommodation in Cusco, one night of accommodation in Aguas Calientes.
- TRANSPORT: Private transfers from and to the airport. Shared transfers from and to the train stations. Train to Machu Picchu round trip in Expedition service (PeruRail)
- ENTRANCE FEES AND ACTIVITIES: All the visits mentioned in the itinerary
- AIRFARE. Domestic flights available upon request
DAY 1: INTERNATIONAL ARRIVAL – LIMA
Welcome to Peru! A transportation service and a guide will pick you up from the airport to transfer you to your hotel in Lima. The Peruvian capital is a modern metropolis full of history, currently undergoing an exciting process of cultural and economic changes. Overnight in Lima hotel on a bed-and-breakfast basis.
DAY 2: LIMA CITY TOUR
Begin your day with a delicious breakfast at the hotel. Explore Lima’s old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, packed with fascinating historic buildings. Start with a scenic tour in the colonial downtown. See the Main Square, where you can appreciate the grandiose architecture of the Spanish Empire. Admire Lima’s Cathedral, built during the 16th century and then visit the Casa Aliaga, a colonial mansion granted by chief conquistador Francisco Pizarro to one of his captains, Jeronimo de Aliaga. This is the only house from that time, still belonging to the same family. Continue to the traditional Pueblo Libre district and visit the Larco Museum, located in a beautifully restored viceregal mansion built on a pre- Columbian pyramid from the seventh century. The museum boasts a complete pre-Hispanic collection of gold and silver objects, as well as pieces of erotic art. Overnight in Lima hotel on a bed-and-breakfast basis.
DAY 3: AREQUIPA CITY TOUR & SANTA CATALINA MONASTERY
Start the day with an early drive to Lima’s airport for your flight to Arequipa. After checking in to your hotel, start today’s city tour in the main square, called ‘Plaza de Armas’. Admire its elegant neo-Renaissance basilica cathedral and the sensational Monastery of Santa Catalina, which for centuries was a ‘forbidden city’ in the heart of Arequipa.
The convent was founded in the 16th century, and it was an almost self-sufficient town, made up of houses for nuns and their servants, cloisters, squares and narrow streets.
Today, strolling through its colorful streets is like going back in time and allows you to understand colonial Peru.
Continue until you reach the Church of the Company, perhaps the greatest masterpiece of Peruvian baroque, where you can analyze its fascinating facade. The sacristy is exceptionally beautiful, thanks to its dome and walls covered with murals that show tropical flora and fauna. The Jesuit seminary is well known for its beautiful main cloister.
Finally, head to the neighborhoods of Yanahuara and Carmen Alto, where you can enjoy a magnificent view of the Misti volcano, which rises above the city. In the end, you will be transferred to your hotel.
DAY 4: COLCA VALLEY
After finishing your breakfast at the hotel, it is time to say goodbye to Arequipa and head to the Colca Valley. The route will take you through the Yura district, an area characterised by impressive geographical features, ranging from deep ravines to high mountains, waterfalls and lush vegetation. The route continues to the Pampa Cañahuas. This extensive Andean plateau is home to the vicuña, an indigenous Andean camelid that is closely related to the alpaca, guanaco, and llama. Cross the pampas of Viscachani and Toccra and skirt the crater of the now-extinct Chucura Volcano to reach the Mirador de los Andes at Patapampa, 4,910 metres above sea level. This viewpoint offers impressive views of the numerous volcanoes surrounding Arequipa. Enjoy lunch in the picturesque town of Chivay before being transferred to your selected hotel in the Colca Valley for a free afternoon.
DAY 5: COLCA CANYON TO PUNO
[caption id="attachment_169054" align="alignleft" width="300"] Credit: Anxious and Abroad[/caption]
After breakfast at the hotel, prepare for a day of high drama with a trip to the breathtaking Condor Cross lookout. Take a deep breath and appreciate the sheer vastness of the Colca Valley, which is one of the world’s deepest canyons with a maximum depth of more than 4,160 metres – twice that of the Grand Canyon. The thrill of the experience is enhanced by the natural spectacle of huge condors flying over the canyon. Watch in awe as these graceful birds of prey glide over the canyon, patrolling it with military discipline. Descend to the valley floor to discover some of the rustic towns on the banks of the River Colca such as Chivay, Pinchollo, Maca, Achoma and Yanque, where quaint colonial churches are as much as part of the scenery as the peaks of the Andes. There are also stops at the lookouts of Antahuilque and Choquetico to admire majestic views of the valley. Later on, continue to Puno. The route cuts through the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve and takes in the stunning stone forests of Patahuasi. The landscapes and scenery are both dramatic and enchanting; you will pass high plains, volcanoes, unusual rock formations and even lagoons, where you can spot cranes drying their wings above the water. There are several viewpoints, remote cafés that offer visitors coca tea and artisans selling traditional textiles and handicrafts along the route. On arrival in Puno, you will be transferred to your hotel.
DAY 6: LAKE TITICACA
[caption id="attachment_176003" align="alignleft" width="300"] Credit: Good Free Photos[/caption]
Today you will travel to the port of Puno where a boat will be waiting to take you to the beautiful Uros Islands. The Uros are an indigenous people of Peru that live on a series of human-made islands, created entirely from the buoyant totora reeds that grow abundantly in the shallows of the lake. The islands are composed of layers of woven totora, which are regularly replenished from the top as they rot from the bottom. The Uros people also use reeds to construct their homes, so cooking is done outdoors to avoid possible fires! After visiting this fascinating island, sail to Taquile, a small slice of heaven that once belonged to the Inca Empire. Look around and notice traces of its Incan past in the ruins that still exist around the island. After a brief introduction, the local community will give you an insight into their customs and traditions with a cultural demonstration. Lunch is enjoyed on the island before the return trip to Puno.
DAY 7: PUNO TO CUSCO
After breakfast at the hotel, a transportation service will transfer you to the bus station. On the way, you’ll make some interesting stops. The first is the town of Pucara and the Pucara Lithic Museum. This was the first urban settlement on Lake Titicaca, established between 100 and 300 A.D. After a brief break at La Raya, the highest point of the trip between Puno and Cusco at the dizzying altitude of 4,313 metres above sea level, the bus stops at Sicuani for lunch. We then head on to Racchi, home to the Wiracocha Temple, an Inca site built in honour of a powerful Andean god. The rectangular construction boasts thatched rooftops 20 metres above the ground; these are thought to be the highest in the Inca Empire. Later, visit Andahuaylillas, a town located around 40 kilometres away from Cusco. The main attraction here is the local church, known as the “Sistine Chapel of America” owing to the high quality of art found inside. The church was built during the 16th century on top of Wari remains. Afterwards, a last 40-kilometre drive gets you to Cusco, today’s final destination.
DAY 8: CUSCO CITY TOUR & ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES
Enjoy a guided tour of the former capital of the Inca Empire. The tour starts with a visit to Santo Domingo Convent, a large Renaissance-baroque complex, which was built over the Inca Coricancha temple. It was one of the most important temples dedicated to worshipping of the sun, and its foundations are still prominent at the base of the convent. Ancient chronicles say the temple was covered in gold leaf and filled with golden representations of nature. Then, visit the Cathedral, the most imposing monument of the Main Square. Head to the hills above Cusco to visit the remains of the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, whose impressive ramparts offer a stunning panoramic view of Cusco, and the ruins of the temple and amphitheatre of Qenqo, where it is believed the Incas practised agricultural rituals. Admire Qenqo and then finally visit Puka Pukara (‘Red fortress’ in Quechua) an Inca military complex located on a prominent hill. Its dwellings squares, bathrooms, aqueducts, walls, and towers can still be appreciated. Afterwards, return to your hotel.
DAY 9: MACHU PICCHU
Transportation service will pick you up and transfer you to the Ollanta Station to board the train to Aguas Calientes, the nearest town to Machu Picchu. Following a scenic journey through dramatic Andean landscapes, arrive at the station in Aguas Calientes. Here you board a coach for a 25-minute ride to Machu Picchu. The ‘Lost City of the Incas’ is believed to have been built in the 1450s by Inca emperor Pachacuti as a holiday retreat, yet within a century the city would be abandoned following the Spanish conquest. The Spaniards never found it, so it was spared the destruction they brought on other Inca sites. Instead, it was slowly swallowed up by the jungle and hidden from harm. A guided tour explains the origins behind this awe-inspiring citadel, presenting its most prominent landmarks such as the monumental Main Square, the Royal Quarters, the Temple of the Three Windows, the Circular Towers, the Sacred Sun Dial, and the Burial Grounds. Return to Aguas Calientes for lunch and then board the train back to Cusco.
DAY 10: CUSCO DEPARTURE
Enjoy a pleasant transfer to the airport after a magnificent trip around Peru!