Lima to La Paz. What a guy. Pitter-patter about Lima’s historical centre, spot birds in the Ballestas Islands and swan about lovely Cuzco before taking on the Inca Trek. Machu Picchu, pleased to meet chu. Real life witches in La Paz.
Some popular poses to choose from at Sun Gate include: toasting the view with a beer, picking your girlfriend up Superman style, the Karate Kid crane move and the selfie.
Day 1 - Lima
Ceviche. It's raw fish marinated in lime juice. Say it like, "seh-vee-chay". Don't let mispronunciation get in the way of an awesome meal.
You have an included orientation walk on day one of this tour. Please ensure you are at the joining hotel by 8am if you wish to take part.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
While Peru's capital officially began life in 1535, when Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro founded the city on the Day of the Three Kings, settlements had been scattered through the valley since before the Incas. The city was built on top of an existing palace and temples that belonged to the local chief who had little choice but to move on. Lima was in its prime during the Spanish colonial days and much of the city's attraction now lies in its well-preserved historical centre.
Your leader will take you on a walking tour of downtown Lima, including the city's historical centre. Flanked by streets of ornate colonial mansions, palaces and churches, Plaza Mayor is the best place to start any exploration of Lima. Take a walk through the old streets to get a feel for colonial life. On one side of the plaza is the Cathedral, which houses the remains of Lima's founder, Francisco Pizarro.
If you arrive early, we recommend you take a walk around Miraflores. Go from Central Park (Parque Kennedy) to LarcoMar via Larco Avenue. Alternatively go to Parque del Amor (Love's Park) for a nice view of Lima's beaches. Other things to see and do include a tour to Pachacamac (approx 30 km from downtown Lima), the Museo de la Nacion and the Gold Museum. Limenos (Lima's residents) are friendly and there are plenty of great restaurants and cafes to sample ceviche, a local seafood speciality.Hotel The Place or similar
Day 2 - Pisco
Travel by taxi or minivan to Lima's bus station and take a local bus to Pisco (approx 4 hrs). The bus will stop three or four times before reaching our destination.
This small fishing town is the gateway to the Ballestas Islands and the Paracas National Reserve but it's most famous as the birthplace of Peru's national drink, the pisco sour, made from a local brandy of the same name. For some local food specialities, head to the Plaza de Armas where the locals hang out and munch on tejas, small sweets made from nuts and dried fruits.Hotel Zarcillo or similarBreakfast
Day 3 - Nazca
The Ballestas Islands are in the Paracas National Reserve. Sometimes called the 'Galapagos of Peru' the islands are a haven for wildlife and hundreds of pelicans, red-footed boobies, flamingos, sea lions and even penguins.
Travel on to Nazca (approx 3 hrs)
The entire desert in the Nazca area was once home to the ancient Nazca and Paracas cultures which preceded the Incas by over 500 years. Remains of their cultures are still visible - Nazca is home to the famous and enigmatic Nazca lines, enormous designs inscribed in the desert on the arid high plateau.
The enormous lines have been etched into the ground by scraping away the top darker layer of gravel which then contrasts with the paler one underneath. Animals, insects and birds are depicted, and some of the simpler line formations are up to 10 km (32 miles) in length. Who drew them, how and why, can only be guessed at, but theories range from alien invaders to complex Nazca calendars.
These mysterious shapes are better seen from the air. Small four/six seater planes offer 30 minute flights that allow viewing all 26 figures scattered through the desert floor.
Warning! Planes turn sharply from one side to another to facilitate viewing from both sides of the plane. Plastic bags are provided on board but needless to say, this flight is not recommended for those with a weak stomach.Hotel Camiluz or similarBreakfast
Day 4-7 - Arequipa
Early in the afternoon we travel from Nazca to Arequipa by local bus (approx 9hrs)
Standing at the foot of El Misti Volcano and oozing the best of Spanish colonial charm, Arequipa vies with Cuzco for the title of Peru's most attractive city. Built out of a pale volcanic rock called sillar, the old buildings dazzle in the sun, giving the city its nickname - the 'White City'. The main plaza, with its cafes and nearby cathedral, is a lovely place to while away the day.
For a glimpse into a bygone way of life, visit the Monasterio de Santa Catalina. When the convent was built in the 16th century it was traditional for the second son or daughter of a family to enter the religious service. The Santa Catalina accepted only women from high-class Spanish families, with each family paying a hefty dowry for her acceptance. But life inside the convent was far from modest - each nun had between one and four servants, many brought rugs, fine china and silk curtains, and they often held parties.
Visit the Juanita Museum, home to the 'Ice Maiden' - the Incan mummy of a 12-14-year-old girl who died in the 1440s, and discovered in 1995.
Arequipa is the gateway to the Colca Canyon.
We travehe amazing scenery but the magnificent Andean condor, the world's largest flying bird. Wake up very early and drive to a viewpoint where condors can normally be sl by minivan to Chivay (approx 5 hrs). Along the way you'll see llamas, alpacas and vicunas and discover the differences between these similar creatures. There will also be the opportunity to stop for pictures. At our second stop (after approx 2 hrs) you'll have the chance to try some coca tea. After a third stop at Patapampa (the highest place on our tour at 4800 m above sea level), we descend to Chivay town.
More than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, Colca Canyon provides some breathtaking views. The Incan and pre-Incan terraces that are carved into the walls are still cultivated and traditional Indian villages are dotted throughout the canyon. In the afternoon, your local guide will organise a short trek, finishing at the local hot thermal baths. You may choose to spend your evening soaking in the baths, dining on llama steak or listening to live Andean music at a pena.
Accommodation in Chivay is in a very basic hostel. There are en suite toilets, however there's no heating (you can request extra blankets) and some rooms can be noisy.
The main star of the canyon is not teen in their morning routine. Following this stop there will be a short walk of about 45 minutes, before returning to Chivay. Travel back to Arequipa in the afternoon.Hotel Los Andes or similar (3 nts), Hotel Colca Inn or similar (1 nt)Breakfast
Day 8-9 - Arequipa / Overnight bus to Cusco
Today you can enjoy some free time in this wonderful city.
This evening at approximately 8pm we will take an overnight bus to Cusco.
The overnight bus arrives into Cusco at approximately 7am this morning.
Later today your leader will take you on a walking tour including a visit to the Coca Musuem - where you can learn more about this infamous plant which has been an essential part of life in the Andes for centuries - and the local San Pedro market.
The Cusco region truly is the heart and soul of Peru. The city itself is the continent's oldest continuously inhabited city and was the home of the Incas for two centuries before the Spanish built their first capital here. Today Cusco is a fascinating combination of both cultures. Inca-built walls line the central streets and many of the elegant colonial buildings are built on or around Inca foundations. This is a city steeped in history, tradition and legend and is a perfect base for explorations into the Inca world or to enjoy a range of outdoor activities.
Take the time to acclimatise to the city's 3,450 m (11,150 ft) altitude and explore the many Baroque churches and ancient temples that dot the city. The cathedral, built on top of an Inca palace, dominates the Plaza de Armas, Cusco's picturesque heart. The cathedral is one of the city's greatest repositories of art and houses an elegantly carved choir stall and a silver-covered Neoclassic altar. There are several impressive Inca ruins within the city. The most easily accessible is Koricancha, which was the Inca empire's richest temple. Once plated in thick gold, the Spanish built a Dominican church atop its sturdy walls.
For lunch or mid-morning coffee and cake head to Yanapay Restaurant at 415 Ruinas St. This restaurant uses all its profits to support children in Cuzco through Aldea Yanapay and its social projects. For more info on Aldea Yanapay visit: http://yanapay.facipub.com/Hotel Leonards or similarBreakfast
Day 10 - Sacred Valley/ Ollantaytambo
Travel by private bus through the Sacred Valley (approx 2 hours total drive), on the outskirts of Cuzco. Known as Wilcamayo to the Incas, the lush, fertile valley has long been the main source of food for the high Andes. Maize crops can be seen surrounding the river and covering the terraces carved high into the valley walls. We will head to a community in the Valley to learn about local lifestyle and activities and if our visit coincides with market day we can spend time browsing the stalls in search of hand-painted beads or warm ponchos and maybe practising some of the local language, Quechua.Hotel Munay Tika or similar
Day 11-14 - Inca Trek
Get a decent photo of yourself with Machu Picchu in the background. You'll thank us later.
- Gaze upon massive Inca fortifications in Ollantaytambo
- Begin the Inca trek
- Hike past the ancient hilltop fort of Huillca Raccay and the archaeological site of Llactapata
- Stunning views of snow-capped Veronica Peak
- Camp near the village of Ayapata
- The most difficult part of the trek - Dead Woman’s Pass
- Panoramas of the Vilcanota and Vilcabama mountain ranges, and ruins in the valley below
- Camp with a view over the cloud forest
- Climb up to the ruins of Runkuracay
- Continue up the Inca staircase
- Spectacular views of Pumasillo and the entire Vilcabamba range
- Enter the beautiful cloud forest
Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nts), Hotel Leonards or similar (1 nt)Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
- The final, and most spectacular, leg of the trek to Machu Picchu
- Arrive at Inti Punku, the Gateway of the Sun at approximately 730-8am
- Experience a panoramic view of Machu Picchu
- Explore Machu Picchu on a guided tour
- Return to Cusco by train
Day 15 - Cusco
Enjoy free time to relax, shop and explore more of Cuzco's sights. Rest weary legs at a cafe on Plaza de Armas. For those who can't get enough active adventure, why not try mountain biking in the hills that surround Cuzco.Hotel Leonards or similarBreakfast
Day 16-18 - Puno- Lake Titicacca
Travel by local bus through the dramatic scenery of the high altiplano to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca (approx 6 hrs). There will be a couple of stops along the way to pick up and drop off passengers.
Located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, Puno is a melting pot of Aymara and Quechuan Indian culture and traditional Andean customs are still strongly represented here. The town is known as the folklore capital of Peru and is famous for its traditional dances. Many festivals are celebrated here, so if you're lucky your visit might coincide with one of the colourful evening parades, when the streets fill with costumed dancers and musicians.
Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, sitting at 3,820 m above sea level. From the shoreline, the water stretches out almost as far as the eye can see, its expanses just waiting to be explored.
Take a tour of the lake by slow motor boat, stopping off to visit the Uros floating islands. The Uros originally built their islands to isolate themselves from rival tribes. The islands are built from many layers of totora reeds that grow in the shallows of the lake. As the reeds closest to the water begin to rot, more layers are added on top. These reeds are used for making everything on the islands, including the boats which can last up to 12 months.
To get a closer look at daily life in the Lake Titicaca region, we'll be welcomed into local homes for an overnight stay on a local community. Make the most of your visit by helping your host family with their daily activities or trying to chat in the local language, Quechua. A game of soccer is also a great way to make local friends.
Our homestay is a mudbrick house. Rooms have beds and many blankets, there are shared drop toilets but no showers.
After breakfast the next day, board the boat again for a visit to Taquile Island (approx 1 hour), where knitting is strictly a male domain and women do the spinning. This is a great place to pick up some high quality, locally knitted goods. An uphill trek of about an hour brings us to the main area of the island and after the visit we descend about 500 steps back to our boat.
Transfer back to Puno by boat (approx 3 hrs).Hotel Balsa Inn or similar (2 nts), Homestay (1 nt)Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 19-21 - La Paz
Travel by comfortable local bus to Desaguadero, where we cross the border into Bolivia. The first stop is the Peruvian migration office where you'll be asked to leave the bus and proceed through Peruvian migration. Then walk via a bridge to the Bolivian side, submit your passport at the Bolivian migration office and reboard the bus, which will continue to La Paz. About 30 minutes after crossing the border there's another stop where the army will again check your documents.
The journey to La Paz takes about 5 hours - don't forget that Bolivia's timezone is 1-2 hours ahead of Peru.
At around 3,600 m, La Paz feels like the top of the world. It's not far from it and vies with Tibet for the title of highest capital in the world. Although Sucre is the official capital of Bolivia, La Paz is the centre of commerce, finance and industry. Despite the abundance of colonial architecture, La Paz's indigenous roots run deep, and the atmosphere in the market-filled streets is both modern and traditional.
La Paz is renowned for its many markets, including the Mercado de Hechiceria or Witches' Market. Browse through the weird and wonderful stalls which sell everything from potions to incantations made from herbs, seeds and unidentified bits and pieces to cure any ailment. If this is all too much for you, try the more conventional markets where you'll find ponchos, gloves, hats and many other products made of alpaca wool, leather and other traditional materials.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.Sagarnaga Hotel or similarBreakfast
What to Know
An experienced Peruvian leader, and there will be the services of local guides at some sites. All transportation, accommodation, sightseeing and meals as indicated.
- International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
Trip Dates and Prices
Start Date – End Date Trip Status Price 29 Aug 2015 - 18 Sep 2015 Available US $2,775 Sale: US $2,220 Book Now 12 Sep 2015 - 02 Oct 2015 2 places left US $2,855 Book Now 19 Sep 2015 - 09 Oct 2015 Available US $2,620 Sale: US $2,227 Book Now 26 Sep 2015 - 16 Oct 2015 2 places left US $2,775 Book Now 10 Oct 2015 - 30 Oct 2015 Fully Booked US $2,645 Contact us 24 Oct 2015 - 13 Nov 2015 Available US $2,645 Book Now 31 Oct 2015 - 20 Nov 2015 Available US $2,645 Book Now 07 Nov 2015 - 27 Nov 2015 4 places left US $2,645 Book Now 21 Nov 2015 - 11 Dec 2015 Fully Booked US $2,905 Contact us 05 Dec 2015 - 25 Dec 2015 Available US $2,645 Book Now 19 Dec 2015 - 08 Jan 2016 Fully Booked US $2,885 Contact us 12 Jan 2016 - 01 Feb 2016 This trip has variations Available US $2,785 Book Now 09 Feb 2016 - 29 Feb 2016 This trip has variations Available US $2,785 Book Now 15 Mar 2016 - 04 Apr 2016 This trip has variations Available US $2,785 Book Now 12 Apr 2016 - 02 May 2016 This trip has variations Available US $2,680 Book Now 10 May 2016 - 30 May 2016 This trip has variations Available US $2,680 Book Now 31 May 2016 - 20 Jun 2016 This trip has variations Available US $2,680 Book Now 12 Jul 2016 - 01 Aug 2016 This trip has variations Available US $2,680 Book Now 09 Aug 2016 - 29 Aug 2016 This trip has variations Available US $2,680 Book Now 13 Sep 2016 - 03 Oct 2016 This trip has variations Available US $2,680 Book Now 11 Oct 2016 - 31 Oct 2016 This trip has variations Available US $2,785 Book Now 01 Nov 2016 - 21 Nov 2016 This trip has variations Available US $2,785 Book Now 06 Dec 2016 - 26 Dec 2016 This trip has variations Available US $2,785 Book Now
Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments
At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.
Nathan - Australia, 12 June, 2014
It was my first time doing a planned group tour, and i was quite impressed. There is no way i would be able to experience the things i experienced if it wasnt for this tour.
Jonathan - United States, 12 May, 2013
The trip was excellent. I felt like I had enough time in the cities and wasn't rushed. Great time and great group of people.
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What to know
A good level of fitness and pre-trip training is essential. You will trek on hilly terrain or mountainous terrain at altitudes of up to 4200 metres, for up to 7 hours per day.