You will be met at the airport and driven by private transport to a hotel in Miraflores, Lima.
In the morning, we begin our journey down the southern coast of Peru. After lunch in the fishing village of Pisco, we continue on to the Paracas National Reserve, Peru’s only protected marine ecosystem. The Reserve is home to a spectacular array of native and migratory birds and marine life, including the Humboldt Penguin, the Peruvian pelican, the snowy egret, and the South American flamingo. Mammals include the South American fur seal and sea lion, as well as the marine otter. In addition to its natural splendors, the Reserve is a significant archaeological site whose inhabitants, the pre-Columbian Paracas, are known for their exquisite textiles. Paracas textiles and funerary artifacts are displayed in the Paracas Museum, which we will have an opportunity to visit in the afternoon.
We will spend the night at the Hotel Paracas.
We begin the day with a boat tour around the Ballestas Islands, sometimes described as Peru’s answer to the Galapagos. Erosion has carved myriad caves and arches into the islands, creating an impressive natural backdrop for the prolific marine life found there. Colonies of seabirds, sea lions, dolphins, and penguins can be viewed and photographed as we make our way by boat amongst the islands. After returning to shore, we will eat lunch at Huacachina, often called the Oasis of America because of its location on a small lake in the desert. In the afternoon, we will drive to Nazca to spend the night.
Today we will get a bird’s-eye view of one of the world’s most baffling archaeological mysteries: the enigmatic Nazca Lines. As we fly over the desert, enormous figures in the shapes of animals, plants, and geometrical figures appear below us, etched into the arid plain more than 1500 years ago by the ancient Nazca peoples. After returning to earth, we will continue on to Puerto Inca, an important archaeological site on the coast, where we will stop for lunch. Tonight we will stay in the beautiful colonial city of Arequipa, the second largest city in Peru. Nestled at the foot of the snow-capped El Misti volcano, Arequipa is called the “white city” because of the pearly volcanic rock used to construct many of its historic buildings.
Those wishing to experience the excitement of river rafting may choose an optional morning excursion to the Chili river, 15 minutes from Arequipa. The group will reassemble for lunch and an afternoon city tour in Arequipa, the highlights of which include the tranquil Convento de Santa Catalina and the museum of the Juanita mummy, one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in the last several decades. Found high in the Andes by American anthropologist Dr. Johan Reinhard in 1995, the mummy is that of a young Incan girl sacrificed over 500 years ago, yet remarkably well-preserved due to the frigid mountain climate where she was found.
Today we make our way to the Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest canyons and home to the Andean condor. En route, we pass beautiful lagoons formed by centuries of rock erosion and marvel at the spectacular pre-Columbian agricultural terracing lining the canyon walls, a technique that sustained the farmers living here in ancient times. In the afternoon, we have time for a leisurely stroll through the market at Chivay, where typical regional crafts are displayed. Chivay is also known for its hot springs, which provide the relaxing conclusion to our day.
Tonight we spend the night in a hotel in Chivay.
The Colca Valley’s colonial-era towns, richly decorated churches and other historic structures, along with the traditional dress and customs of its peoples, make this region a culturally fascinating one. During today’s tour of the valley, we stop at Cruz del Cóndor, a lookout point 3,938 feet above the river where one can appreciate the depth and scenic beauty of the Colca Canyon and observe at close range the impressive flight of the Andean condor.
We will return to Chivay for a second night.
This morning we depart the Colca Valley on our way to Llachon, a community situated on a peninsula in Lake Titicaca. En route we will visit Sillustani. a pre-Incan burial ground noted for its chullpas, or funerary towers, the earliest of which date back to the Colla civilisation around 600 A.D. There are over 60 towers at Sillustani, the styles varying according to the person buried there. We will take advantage of the beautiful scenery of the area to stop for lunch.
Tonight we will have the unique experience of sleeping in a rural hotel in the community of Llachon. The owners, a family native to Llachon, will greet us personally and prepare a wonderful dinner for us to enjoy.
After breakfast, a small boat will be waiting on the beach in front of our hotel to transport us, along with our luggage and sea kayaks, to Taquile Island. The residents of this island have preserved their ancestral customs, dress, language and a unique political and social organization. The islanders are also skilled weavers: in 2005, their textile art, which utilizes traditional techniques and pre-Hispanic designs, was proclaimed by UNESCO as one of 43 Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritages of Humanity. After disembarking at Taquile, we will begin our trip by sea kayak along the western edge of the island, rowing for an hour and a half to reach Kullate, a white-sand beach with a view of the Real Boliviana mountains. Our local guide, Hector Huatta, will be waiting on this lovely beach to lead us to his house, where his family will have prepared a delicious lunch.
In the afternoon, Hector will guide us on a walking tour of Taquile Island via a network of pre-Incan trails, pausing to point out pre-Incan ruins, to identify the native plants of the region and their uses, and to explain the islanders’ unique customs and culture. Upon our return to the Kullate campsite, dinner will be waiting and our tents will be set up and ready for the night.
After a hearty breakfast, we launch our sea kayaks and paddle around the eastern side of the island, eventually completing a full island circuit. We return to Llachon by boat for lunch before continuing on another hour by boat to Uros, the fascinating floating islands of Lake Titicaca. Here, the inhabitants’ homes, as well as rafts used to navigate the lake, are made of Totora reeds. These same reeds were used to create the islands themselves. At day’s end, we disembark at the private harbor fronting our hotel in Puno, scenically situated on the shore of Lake Titicaca.
This morning we depart Puno for Cusco, stopping en route in Lampa, often called the Pink City because of the painted hue of its colonial-era houses. The main attraction here is the Templo de La Piedad, which houses a replica of Michelangelo’s La Pietá in Rome. After lunch, we continue on to the ancient capital of the Incan Empire, the magical city of Cusco.
In the morning we wander along Cusco’s narrow streets, pausing to admire the Incan walls now melded into its colonial structures, then tour the Cusco Cathedral and the nearby ruins of Sacsayhuaman. In the afternoon, you will have free time to explore further, shop, or visit a museum.
We will stay a second night at our hotel in Cusco.
Our destination today is the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the fertile river valley populated by many Incan agricultural communities and dotted with the architectural remains of the Incan civilization. Our first stop will be the colorful artisans’ market in Pisac, after which we will continue on to the Incan city of Ollantaytambo and its monumental ruins. We will spend the night in a hotel in the Sacred Valley ( Huarán).
For many visitors, the highlight of their Peruvian travels are the breathtaking ruins of Machu Pichu. From Ollantaytambo, we will travel by train to Aguas Calientes, followed by a 15-minute bus ride up to the ruins. We will have a guided tour of this ancient Inca city and then free time to explore the ruins or hike up to Huayna Pichu, from which there is a spectacular view of Machu Pichu, the valley, and the surrounding mountains.
Finally, we will have lunch in Aguas Calientes and return via train to Cusco.
The time to say good-bye has come. Today we depart Cusco for Lima or, depending on your travel plans, Puerto Maldonado.
Contact us for this optional extention
Days 15, 16, 17, 18
Jungle trip to Reserva Amazónica Lodge (4 days and 3 nights or 3 days and 2 nights).
Private transportation for 15 days
Tour conductor during the trip
One night in hotel in Lima
Tour to the National Reserve of Paracas (with local guide )
One night in hotel in Paracas
Tour to the Ballestas Islands (with local guide)
One night in Hotel in Nasca
Flight tour to the Nasca lines
Two nights in hotel in Arequipa
City tour in Arequipa
Entrances to the hot springs in Chivay – Colca
Tour to the Colca Valley (local guide and entrances)
One night in a rural hotel in the community of Llachón
Sea kayak tour to the Titicaca Lake (2d/1n) included: Private motor boat, sea kayaks, all the camping equipmet and sea kayak equipment, local guide, tour, entrances to the island and tour to the Floting island of Uros.
One night in a hotel in Puno
Tour to Lampa
Three night in a hotel in Cusco city
City tour in Cusco and tour to the circuit of the 4 ruins
Tour to the Sacred valley (Pisac and Ollantaytambo ruins)
Tour to Machu Picchu (included: First class train, bus, entrances, guide, transfer from Poroy station to Cusco)
Transfer from the hotel in Cusco to the airport
All breakfasts are included
Lunch: Day 04, 08, 09, 10
Dinner: 08, 09
Services not included
Meals that are not described on “services included”
Rafting option in Arequipa
Sleeping bag and mat (for Titicaca’s Lake camp)
Extra services not described on the itinerary