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Discover the wonders of Peru during 13 incredible days of crossing this fascinating Andean country. You’ll visit the country’s main cities and cultural attractions. The journey begins and finishes in the capital of Lima. Along the way you’ll pass through the desert province of Ica, the culinary capital of Arequipa, Colca Valley, the indigenous world of Lake Titicaca, and the Inca homeland of Cusco. You’ll also stroll through Machu Picchu, the ‘Lost City of the Incas’.
- 13 Days / 12 Nights
- Departure: Lima
- Experience Peru through this magical cross-country trip
discovering Peru’s gems
- Perfect for couples and friends
- Discover the mysterious Nazca Lines, explore Cusco, Machu Picchu, experience Lake Titicaca, and visit the magical city of Arequipa
- GUIDE: English-speaking guide.
- ACCOMMODATION: Two nights of accommodation in Lima; one night in Nazca; two nights in Arequipa; one night in Colca; two nights in Puno; three nights in Cusco; and one night in Sacred Valley.
- MEALS: Breakfast at the hotel starting on day 2. Lunch on day 6 in Chivay, box lunch on day 7 in Colca – Puno route, lunch on day 8 in Taquile Island, on day 9 in Puno-Cusco route, on day 11 in Sacred Valley and on day 12 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) or Voyager (IncaRail).
- ENTRANCE FEES AND ACTIVITIES: Admission to all major monuments and sightseeing attractions mentioned in the above itinerary: Casa Aliaga, Cathedral and Larco Museum in Lima; Ballestas Islands in Paracas; Regional Museum in Ica, Nazca Lines in Nazca; Santa Catalina Monastery, Society of Jesus Chruch in Arequipa, Condor Cross in Valley and Colca Canyon, Uros and Taquile in Puno; Pucara, Racchi and Andahuaylillas on route from Puno to Cusco; Coricancha, Cathedral, Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Puca Pucara and Tambomachay in Cusco; Living Museum of Yucay, Ollantaytambo and Chinchero in Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu on day 12.
- AIRFARE: Domestic tickets: Cusco-Lima
DAY 1: INTERNATIONAL ARRIVAL – LIMA
Arrive at Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima. Upon arrival, a representative will be waiting to greet you at the airport and the transportation service will transfer you to your hotel at the scheduled time. Spend the rest of the day at your leisure in Lima, the capital of Peru and a city steeped in history. During Colonial times, the Historic Center of Lima, known as the ‘Ciudad de los Reyes’ (City of Kings), was the political, administrative, religious and economic center for the Spanish in Peru. The historical center is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site. Lima is now a modern metropolis and is currently undergoing an exciting process of cultural and economic change.
Overnight at the selected hotel in Lima.
DAY 2: LIMA CITY TOUR
Today breakfast at the hotel is followed by a tour of the city of Lima. The route begins at the Larco Museum of pre-Columbian art, in the traditional district of Pueblo Libre. Housed in a former mansion, itself built on the site of a seventh-century, pre-Columbian temple, the museum boasts a very complete collection of gold and silver articles, pottery and erotic art. Continue on to Casa de Aliaga, the oldest Colonial mansion in Lima. The house has been owned and lived in by the Aliaga family and their descendants since conquistador Francisco Pizarro granted the land to his trusted ally, Jerónimo de Aliaga in 1535. The tour will then guide you through the colonial center of the city. Visit the impressive Plaza de Armas, the city’s central square and a showcase of Spanish colonial architecture. The Government Palace occupies the north side of the square and the magnificent, sixteenth century Cathedral of Lima is located to the east. Once the trip is over, return to your hotel to put your feet up.
Overnight at the selected hotel in Lima
DAY 3: PARACAS, BALLESTAS ISLANDS
Start the day with breakfast at the hotel, then a representative and the transportation service will transfer you from your hotel to the bus station, where our trip to Paracas begins. The leisurely journey will give you time to gaze out the window and appreciate the landscape of Peru and the Pacific coast. The Ballestas are a collection of rocky islets with beautiful geographical formations, just a few kilometres off the western coast of Peru. The islands are the ideal habitat for various species of birds and an eclectic mix of larger wildlife like seals, boobies, pelicans, sea lions and the endangered Humboldt penguin. Cruise around the islands’ dramatic cliffs and watch large herds of noisy sea lions relaxing on the rocks, birds stretching their wings and, if you’re lucky, dolphins near to your boat. While you will not disembark onto the islands, you will get startlingly close to this impressive array of wildlife. As you sail, you will also pass the Paracas Candelabra, a huge geoglyph that has been dated to around 200 BC, although the purpose and the creator of this three-pronged carving remain a mystery. At the end of your boat tour, take a private transfer to the city of Ica to visit its Regional Museum, which houses important collections of pre-Hispanic objects, most notably ceramics and textiles. The Museum also contains pieces of colonial and republican history, as well as art and paleontology samples. After this visit, you will have free time for lunch before heading to the bus station for a trip to Nazca. Upon arrival, you will be taken to your selected hotel.
Overnight at the selected hotel in Nazca.
DAY 4: FLIGHT OVER THE NAZCA LINES
Start the day with breakfast at the hotel, then you’ll be transferred to the airport, where you will catch a flight over the mysterious Nazca lines. The small town of Nazca would go unnoticed on the map if it were not for the ancient geoglyphs etched into the sand that have given it worldwide fame. As you fly over the desert, lines take shape to form simple geometric designs, then some of the swirls and zigzags start to form more distinct shapes: a spider, a condor and a monkey, to name a few. If the weather conditions and the airspace allow, you will also fly over the recently discovered drawings in Palpa. Continue your flight over the mountains where marine fossils that date back millions of years were found. Then you’ll be transferred to the bus station, from where you depart by regular bus to the city of Arequipa. Upon arrival, head to your selected hotel.
Overnight at the selected hotel in Arequipa.
DAY 5: AREQUIPA CITY TOUR
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before spending the day getting to know the town of Arequipa. Today’s tour will begin in the main square, the Plaza de Armas, where you will find the elegant, neo-Renaissance Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa and the sensational Santa Catalina Monastery. The monastery, founded in the 16th century, was almost entirely self-sufficient and it consisted in accommodation, cloisters, squares, kitchens; it was a walled community, tucked away from prying eyes and the influence of the outside world. The families of nuns paid large sums of money for their daughters to join the convent, thus increasing the wealth and prestige of the Monastery. Nowadays, strolling through its colourful streets is like a step back in time, giving us an insight into colonial Peru. Continue on to the Church of the Company, perhaps Peru’s finest example of Baroque architecture. Its intricately-carved façade, the sacristy and main cloister are particularly beautiful. To finish the tour, visit the neighbourhoods of Yanahuara and Carmen Alto to enjoy magnificent views of the Misti volcano rising above the city.
Overnight at the selected hotel in Arequipa.
DAY 6: COLCA CANYON
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 on 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.
Overnight at the selected hotel in Colca. Lunch included.
DAY 7: VALLEY AND COLCA CANYON
Wake up to breakfast at the hotel then get ready for a day to remember at the Cruz del Condor viewpoint of the Colca Canyon. This impressive valley is one of the deepest in the world, reaching depths of approximately 3,400 metres, double the depth of the Grand Canyon. As you take in the sheer vastness of this area, you may witness the majestic condors gliding by on the thermals rising from the canyon. Descend the valley to discover some of the traditional towns located on the banks of the Colca River, such as Chivay, Pinchollo, Maca, Achoma and Yanque, where beautiful colonial churches are backdropped by the peaks of the Andes. You will also stop at the Antahuilque and Choquetico viewpoints, both offering majestic views of the whole valley. Later on, continue to Puno making a detour through Patahuasi. Observe the amazing stone forests and sky-blue lagoons populated by cranes that fill this area 4,000 metres above sea level. At the end of this amazing journey you’ll arrive in Puno, where you can enjoy a well-deserved rest at the hotel.
Overnight at the selected hotel in Puno. Box Lunch included.
DAY 8: PUNO & LAKE TITICACA
After breakfast at the hotel, 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 man-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 constantly 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 you will 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.
Overnight at the selected hotel in Puno. Lunch included.
DAY 9: PUNO TO CUSCO
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the hotel then transfer to the bus station to start your journey to Cusco. The first stop is the town of Pucara, the first urban settlement on Lake Titicaca, established between 100 and 300 A.D. Visit some of the monoliths from the town’s pre-Inca site at the Pucara Lithic Museum before continuing to Racchi, home to the Wiracocha Temple, an Inca site built to honour 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. Your next stop is in 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. Once in the Imperial City, a transportation service will pick you up from the bus station and drop you off at your hotel.
Overnight at the selected hotel in Cusco. Lunch included.
DAY 10: CUSCO CITY TOUR & NEARBY ARCHEOLOGICAL SITES
Start the day with breakfast at the hotel followed by a morning of exploring the charming cobblestoned streets of Cusco. In the afternoon, enjoy a guided tour of the former capital of the Inca Empire. The tour begins at the Santo Domingo Convent, a building constructed on the site of Coricancha, one of the most important Incan complexes dedicated to sun worship. According to historic records, the original temple walls depicted scenes of nature and were covered in gold leaf. After Coricancha, visit the imposing cathedral in the Plaza de Armas, then head to the Cusco hills, where you’ll find the fortress of Sacsayhuaman and panoramic views of Cusco. Continue on to Qenqo, an archeological site where it is believed the Incas carried out religious rituals to improve harvests. Your tour ends in Puka Pukara, meaning ‘red fortress’ in Quechua. Puka Pukara is believed to be an ancient military site comprising numerous rooms, courtyards, baths, aqueducts and towers. At the end of the tour, you will be transferred back to your hotel. But if you’re still up for more, you can visit Cusco’s main archeological sites at your own rhythm using the Cusco Touristic Ticket (BTC), or join one of the artistic workshops offered by Art Trail, an organization that preserves local traditions: Cusco Colonial Glazed Ceramics teaches you how to make a horse or bull of Pucara, a traditional Cusco figure, and apply fine finishes with a layer of enamel; and Colonial Gold Leaf Application invites you to paint with the characteristic colours of the mountain range and then decorate your work with gold leaf. Both workshops are taught by renowned Cusco artists, and by the end you’ll have a handmade souvenir to take home.
Overnight at the selected hotel in Cusco.
DAY 11: SACRED VALLEY
Today, breakfast at the hotel is followed by a journey to the town of Chinchero, a small high-altitude town offering beautiful views of the valley and the chance to witness traditional clothing, customs and local handicrafts. Visit archeological remains and a beautiful 17th-century church, one of the first Catholic buildings in Peru. On Sundays, you may also visit the local market. You will then be transferred to the Yucay Museum of Living Culture, where you can see textiles, adobe pottery and silverware being crafted using techniques dating back to the Incas. This center not only gives you an insight into local Andean traditions, but you also have the opportunity to feed the llamas, sheep and alpacas! Continue then to the city of Ollantaytambo, inhabited uninterruptedly since Inca times. Explore its streets and climb the iconic fortress built into the mountainside. Then feel the true spirit of the Sacred Valley as you sample a lunch of local cuisine in a cozy restaurant in Ollantaytambo. After eating, return to your hotel to rest full of the spirit of the Incas.
Overnight at the selected hotel in Sacred Valley. Lunch included.
DAY 12: MACHU PICCHU
After charging your batteries with breakfast, your visit to Machu Picchu begins at Ollanta station, where you’ll catch a train to Aguas Calientes. The hour-and-a-half-long journey takes you through many spectacular Andean landscapes. Once at Aguas Calientes, a 25-minute bus tour will get you to Machu Picchu, the ‘lost city of the Incas’. It is believed that the archeological site was built around the year 1450 by the Inca Pachacutec, who planned for it to become his holiday residence. However, a century later, the city was abandoned after the Spanish conquest, saving it from the destruction that fell upon other Inca settlements. Instead, the jungle slowly swallowed its stone constructions, enveloping and hiding it for centuries to come. During the guided tour, you will learn about the origins of this impressive citadel and visit its most outstanding monuments, including the main square, the royal rooms, the temple of the three windows, the circular towers, the sacred clock and the cemeteries. At the end of the tour, return to Aguas Calientes to have lunch at the famous Café Inkaterra, a beautiful thatched-roof restaurant hemmed in between the railway and a mountain. In the afternoon, transfer to the Aguas Calientes station to take the train back to the Ollanta station, from where you will be taken to your hotel in Cusco.
Overnight at the selected hotel in Cusco. Lunch included.
DAY 13: CUSCO DEPARTURE
After finishing your breakfast at the hotel, your representative will assist you with check out and accompany you on the transfer to the airport, where you’ll catch a flight to Lima. Although this is the last day of your journey, we hope that your memories of this remarkable region, bursting with both culture and history, will last a lifetime.