• Duration

    15 days

  • Location

    Peru

  • Price

    From €2,015

  • Package by Exodus Travel

A spectacular journey through Peru’s varied landscape encompassing coastal desert, snow-capped Andean peaks, the high altiplano and lush cloud forest. The most famous sites are all visited including the mysterious Nazca Lines, awe-inspiring Machu Picchu in its incredible mountaintop setting, Lake Titicaca, where the night is spent in an island homestay, and the remarkable 3000m deep Colca Canyon. On the way we encounter traditional culture, condors, llamas, and a warm welcome from the Peruvian people.

The 18 June 2017 and 18 June 2018 departures coincide with Inti Raymi Festival in Cuzco.Translated as ‘Festival of the Sun’ it is the most important of all Andean festivals. During this time Cuzco is filled with colourful processions and other festivities include traditional dances and even animal sacrifice. An extra day in Cuzco has been added in on these dates.

Day 1 Fly to Lima

The group flights to Lima depart this morning and on arrival in the evening we will be transferred to our hotel.

Day 2 Drive south along the coast and sail to the Ballestas Islands, home to highest concentration of marine birds in the world; overnight in Ica.

We set off very early this morning (around 5.30am) and drive south from Lima until we reach the port of Paracas (4-5 hours drive). Here we take a boat to the Ballestas islands, a national park that contains one of the highest concentrations of marine birds in the world. There are sea lions, numerous species of birds and the Paracas Candelabra, a curious pre-Inca design on the hillside, only recognisable from the sea. The boat trip lasts around 2 hours, and once we’re back on dry land we drive for around an hour to Ica, in the heart of Peru’s wine-growing region.

Day 3 On to the incredible Nazca Lines; visit viewing platforms; optional scenic flight.

At the Huacachina oasis just outside Ica there are high sand dunes where we may have time to try ‘sand-surfing’ (optional). We arrive at Nazca in the afternoon with time to visit the viewing platforms close to the Nazca Lines. These are one of the world’s great archaeological mysteries, consisting of enormous drawings and patterns etched in the desert sand. Subject to availability and weather conditions, there may be a chance to take an optional overflight of the lines.

Day 4 Turn inland from coastal desert, climbing high into the Andes.

We turn inland from the coastal desert today, climbing high into the Andes on today’s long but spectacular drive. Vicuñas (a smaller wild relative of the llama) can be seen along this road, as this area is Peru’s largest vicuña reserve. Flamingos are usually sighted at high Andean lakes near the road. This region has only recently become easily accessible to tourists due to an upgrade of the Abancay/Chalhuanca road. The altitude here can make physical exertion difficult, so it is recommended to rest in the evening after the 12-hour drive. We overnight a couple of hours beyond Abancay on the road to Cuzco.

Day 5 Drive to Cuzco (3400m) visiting Inca sites on the way.

We set off towards Cuzco this morning, stopping to visit the unique Inca Saywiti stone and Tarawasi ruins. The glaciated summits of the Vilcabamba Mountain range and the descent into the Apurimac River valley demonstrate the dramatic contrasts of the Andes Mountains, and we should expect stunning scenery throughout today’s 5-6 hour drive.

Day 6 Free day to explore Cuzco.

Today has been left free for exploring Cuzco, one of South America’s most beautiful cities. In the centre there is the Plaza de Armas, and the Koricancha Sun Temple located in the Santo Domingo Church and monastery. Outside the town are more Inca ruins, notably the fortress of Sacsayhuaman where the Inca armies made their last stand against the Conquistadores. A combined entrance fee for these sites and many others is recommended and costs US$9-25, depending on the number of sites you wish to visit. Sightseeing excursions to places outside Cuzco, including the Sacred Valley of the Incas, are also available through your tour leader.

Day 7 Train to Aguas Calientes; tour of Machu Picchu.

For most people the highlight of the trip is the visit by train to the greatest ruin in the world, the lost city of Machu Picchu. This is one of the architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world, in a mountain setting of staggering immensity. The Spaniards never found it; the Incas left no records about it, so Machu Picchu remains a great enigma, a city lost for centuries in the jungle. We will take a guided tour of the ruins and afterwards have time for the many spectacular walks including following the path to the Inca Drawbridge or even up to the Sun Gate for that iconic view of the ruins.

Day 8 Free morning or optional second visit to Machu Picchu; afternoon return to Cuzco by train and by road.

A free morning to enjoy the hot springs and buzz of this little town in the jungle below the ruins – or for those who want to explore more of Machu Picchu, there is the option to return for sunrise; much the most peaceful time of day to appreciate the site. The return entry costs US$50, plus around US$19 for the return bus trip to the ruins from Aguas Calientes. In the afternoon we board the train back to Cuzco, arriving in the late evening.

Day 9 Free day for optional excursions.

A final chance to enjoy the sights and shopping of this beautiful city or take one of the numerous optional excursions available.

Day 10 Drive to Lake Titicaca (3800m), with stops en route; boat to Amantani Island for homestay.

Today we travel for 8-10 hours along the Vilcanota River and onto the altiplano, the high plains separating the Andes from the jungle. Although it is quite a long drive, it is interesting and often spectacular. There are scheduled stops at interesting sites along the route to help break up the day and all along the route we get a feeling for the immensity of the Andean landscapes. This afternoon we arrive at the shores of Lake Titicaca and board a boat for our trip to Amantaní Island. Hiking around the island offers great views across the lake, whilst the night spent with a local family offers fantastic cultural insight into lives very different to our own.

Day 11 Explore the island; afternoon boat to Puno visiting the floating islands of the Uros.

We explore the island in the morning before boarding our boat for the three-hour journey to Puno on the lakeshore. On the way, we visit the Uros Indians, who live on islands of floating reeds and, save for a few modest concessions to the modern world, still live as their ancestors would have done centuries ago.

Day 12 Drive across the altiplano to Colca Canyon.

Today we head off across the altiplano again. This time we cross to the south west, heading back towards the coast to the high Colca Canyon (5-6 hours’ drive). En route we have opportunities to see vicuñas and possibly flamingos before descending into what is considered to be the second deepest canyon in the Americas (the deepest, the Cotahuasi Canyon, is also in Peru). There is time in the evening for a visit to the hot springs near the main town of Chivay – a warming pleasure after the chill of Lake Titicaca.

Day 13 Morning condor viewing; afternoon drive past huge volcanoes to the ‘White City’ of Arequipa (2350m).

An early start to view condors soaring on the morning drafts rising out of the canyon. Extensive terraces, stunning colonial churches, and burial tombs are viewed before we ascend out of the canyon on our way to Arequipa, known as the ‘White City’ due to the pale volcanic stone used to construct many of its colonial buildings. The picturesque city enjoys a year-round pleasant climate and is surrounded by 6000m volcanoes, including the near-perfect cone of El Misti.

Day 14 Morning visit Santa Catalina Convent; afternoon fly to Lima.

In the morning we visit the huge and serene convent of Santa Catalina. Built in 1580 and only opened to the outside world in the 1970s, it offers a rare insight into the lives led by the nuns and has changed little through the centuries. There are still around 20 nuns living in the northern corner of the complex. In the afternoon or evening we fly to Lima where will transfer to our hotel in Miraflores.

Day 15 Depart Lima

We will be transferred to the airport this evening for the group flights to London.

Day 16 Arrive London

The group flights arrive in London this afternoon.

What’s Included

  • All breakfasts and 1 dinner (plus 1 lunch in 2016)
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival and departure transfers

What’s not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Flight FromDestinationDateDepartsArrives
Los AngelesBali11 Dec 2016 10:0015:00
BaliLos Angeles18 Dec 201616:3019:00

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