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Peru Explorer And Inca Trail


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An exhilarating itinerary combining many of Peru's highlights


Arrive Lima

You will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel where you are free to rest in the hotel or just wander around Miraflores, the area of Lima where our hotel is located. Some of Lima's best galleries and shops and restaurants are found in this area. Founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535, Lima is the oldest capital in South America, with a superb combination of Spanish Colonial and 19th century European architecture.

In Lima - city tour

This morning we will be taken on a guided tour of the city, founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535. It has a superb combination of Spanish Colonial and 19th century European architecture. We'll also visit the famous Museo de la Nacion or the Larco Herrera Museum - which give us an excellent overview of the Andean cultures. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Drive to Paracas and visit Ballestas Islands

We drive down the coast of Peru to the small coastal resort of Paracas. On the way we visit the huge desert site of Pachacamac. Many believe this was one of the most important sites in the pre Hispanic world of the Andean peoples. It was home to the great oracle. Much of the site has been superbly reconstructed. From here we continue down the coast to the fishing port of Pisco and on towards the Paracas Peninsula where we take small sturdy launches for a 3 hour cruise out to the Ballestas Islands – described as Peru's mini-Galapagos – a haven for marine wildlife and birdlife. On the way we get a chance to see the huge 'candelabra' - a massive figure of what looks like a giant cactus etched in the huge sand dune. This can only be seen from the sea.

Nazca Lines

The Nazca Lines are located in the coastal desert of Peru and are best described as remarkable and astonishing. The huge designs etched into the desert by the people of the Paracas and Nazca cultures between perhaps 500BC and 900AD.The safety of our travellers is our utmost priority, something that we will not compromise on. We would therefore like to highlight that we are unable to recommend the air services of any of the airlines who are servicing the Nazca Lines overflights. There have been three fatal accidents in two years, the most recent in early October 2010. There are limited civil aviation controls at Nazca and no effective safety authority inspecting aircraft or pilots. In light of this, we cannot offer or assist in sourcing tickets locally. Our trip offers fantastic vantage points from watch towers where these remarkable markings can be surveyed with our expert guides on hand to help you interpret such wonders. Afternoon departure for the drive by first class public bus to Arequipa (please note the departure times of the bus may vary).


The city of over 1 million inhabitants is known as the white city because of the lovely pale volcanic rock that is used for many of its buildings. Arequipa is set at the foot of the Andes, with El Misti a perfectly formed snow capped volcano towering above the city at 5822m. In the afternoon we take a tour of the city and surrounds including the beautiful convent of Santa Catalina, which feels like a town within a city.

Arequipa to Colca Canyon

After an early breakfast we board our private vehicle for a spectacular drive past Mount Misti to an altitude in excess of 5000m to the dry semi-desert where we often see herds of wild vicuña. We spend the rest of the day visiting parts of this massive canyon – the deepest in the world! We visit interesting villages and towns in this rarefied environment and enjoy the panoramic views over this spectacular canyon.

At Colca and drive to Puno

An early start to go visit the famous Condors Nest where we get a chance to see these magnificent birds (the heaviest flying bird in the world) gliding below and above us. Early in the morning, as the sun starts to heat the air, is the best time to view the condors as they set sail from the rocky valley sides into the thermals. This is without a doubt one of the most dramatic locations to view condors in South America. After a last look at the Colca area we depart via the north for the 7 hour drive by private vehicle to Puno set on the shores of Lake Titicaca at 3820m (12,600ft). This is a stunning road journey across high and remote pampas. We get a good chance of seeing vicuñas - that most delicate and smallest of the Andean camelids. A picnic lunch will be taken during the journey. Our first glimpses of lake Titicaca remind us that this is hardly a lake - it's more like a vast inland sea that also happens to be the highest navigable lake in the world!

Lake Titicaca, Uros Islands and island homestay.

Puno is a typical high Andean town, set on the great altiplano that surrounds the lake and stretches all the way to La Paz. After breakfast we head down to the old lake port with its century old steamers still tied up at the wharf. From here we board a small motor boat to visit the famous Uros Islands. These islands often given the misnomer of 'floating islands' are in fact tortora reed mats that grow out of the shallower waters of the vast bay of Puno. The islands have for centuries been occupied by the small Uros community who continue their traditional methods of 'farming' and fishing the lake. From here we continue to the islands of either Taquile or Amantani where we spend a night in a local island home. These islands have been occupied by traditional farming communities and spending a night gives us a good chance to learn more about the Andean people and their traditional lifestyles. Please be aware that this is basic accommodation.

Return by boat to Puno

After breakfast on the island and a farewell to our hosts we head back by boat to Puno. We continue with the spectacular 6 to 8 hour journey by bus to Cusco. The fact that we travel by private vehicle means we can stop where we wish during this fascinating journey (this is a tremendous advantage over the many companies who use public transport for this unique drive). The road takes us north ascending to the continental divide at La Raya. To the west are the strange peaks of the Carabaya Range as we descend along the great valley below Cusco.

In Cusco

In the morning we take a tour of the city of Cusco. Every alleyway we enter or corner we turn brings another surprise or enigma in the form of the superbly constructed Inca walls or the more architecturally extravagant colonial churches and palaces. The city, once capital of the extensive Inca Empire, has seen many changes since Francisco Pizarro's men took the city with such apparent ease in November 1533. We also take a short drive to visit the huge ruins at Sacsayhuaman, spectacularly set above the city. After lunch we take an informal walking tour with our guide to other places of interest in the city. Perhaps to one of the large local markets near the city centre and a chance to look at some of the great varieties of local craft work on sale in open air stalls and shops.

To the Sacred Valley of the Incas

This morning we leave Cusco and head to the Chinchero Plateau to explore Chinchero, an important town in Inca times. The most striking remnant of this period is the massive stone wall in the main plaza which has ten trapezoidal niches. There are beautiful views overlooking the Sacred Valley of the Incas, with the Cordillera Vilcabamba and the snow-capped peak of Salkantay dominating the western horizon. Chinchero is believed to be the mythical birthplace of the rainbow. Visit the salt mines of Maras. This village is a salt-producing center that dates back all the way to pre-Inca times. There are over 3000 salt pools all carved into the mountain side. Discover Moray's mysterious concentric circular terraces which, according to some scholars, would be an agricultural research center. Enjoy lunch in the Sacred Valley where we can savour dishes made with locally grown produce. After a leisurely lunch we head for our hotel in the valley. The rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy the beauty of this famous valley. Overnight: Tikawasi Hotel

Second day in the Sacred Valley of the Incas

Another day in the beautiful Sacred Valley. The valley actually follows the course of the famous Urubamba River, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon River. During our time in the valley we visit its enthralling citadels, fortresses and temple ruins including the site at Ollantaytambo. The village itself is a fascinating mixture of Inca and colonial architecture. If the weather is good and we have time we can enjoy some short walks in the valley - a good way to prepare for the trek ahead. The evening is spent preparing for the trek at our hotel. Overnight: Tikawasi Hotel

Commence Salcantay trek (alternative trek route)

After an early breakfast we visit the Tarawasi Archaeological Site near the town of Limatambo. Pass through the mountain village of Mollepata, where we stop for coffee before ascending a winding mountain road to Challacancha (3,870m). Here we will meet our mule driver and begin our trek to Soraypampa (3,900m) where we have lunch. Continue the climb towards Humantay Lake (3,869m). Return back to Soraypampa, which will be the first campsite, and from where we enjoy magnificent views of Salkantay Mountain (6,270m). One of the most sacred peaks in Inca mythology. Overnight: campPLEASE NOTE: The exact day to day itinerary on the Salkantay Trek might vary slightly and is dependent on the departure date and group size.

Trek to Andenes

This is the main day! After an early breakfast, we hike up to the highest point on the trek which is the Salkantay Pass (4,638m). There we will stop to enjoy the amazing views of snowcapped peaks of the Vilcabamba Mountain Range in every direction, and the glaciated south face of Salkantay towering above us, where Andean condors can be seen. From the pass we descend towards Wayracmachay to lunch and then continue our descent along the left bank of the Salkantay River. Observe the landscape become increasingly green, changing from highland to jungle or cloud forest. Feel the warm air rising from the jungle, accompanied by colourful butterflies and striking orchids, while arriving to the second camp at Andenes (2,890m), a beautiful spot surrounded with vegetation. Overnight: camp

To Lucmabamba

Today we will hike along the Santa Teresa River Valley, through more populated rural areas. We pass through banana, granadilla, avocado and coffee plantations. A hot picnic lunch is served along the way. After lunch, we hike for about 2 hours before a private vehicle meets us for a short drive to the beginning of the Llactapata Inca Trail (30min approx). From the head of the newly restored Inca Trail we easily make our way to the last campsite at Lucmabamba. In the evening we try some of the local coffee with our host, a local family. Dinner will be served and then spend the night in the camp. Overnight: camp

To Aguas Calientes

After breakfast, we will head uphill for 2-3 hours towards Llactapata Pass (2,735m) and descend to the archaeological complex of the same name. Enjoy a distant but spectacular view of Machu Picchu Sanctuary from the southeast, a view few travelers get the chance to admire. Lunch is served in a scenic viewpoint, looking out to Machu Picchu. Later we begin the final descent to the Aobamba River through lush bamboo forests, orchards and coffee plantations. Finally, we will get to the Hydroelectric Power Station, to board the train to Aguas Calientes where we spend the night. Overnight: Hanacpacha Hotel

Explore Machu Picchu and return to Cusco

After an early breakfast, we make our way to the bus station for the ride up to Machu Picchu. We return by bus to Aguas Calientes for lunch and board the train to Ollantaytambo. From this point, a private vehicle will drive us back to Cusco and you will be transferred to your hotel. Your arrival back to Cusco will be approximately at 7–8 pm this evening.

Cusco - free day

A good day to relax, do your washing and re pack after the trek and perhaps a chance to do some 'tourist shopping', selecting from a great variety of expertly made craft work - including alpaca sweaters and hats, ceramics, weavings and traditional Andean instruments. In the evening we prepare for the next stage of our journey through the Andes.

Drive to Cusco airport, trip concludes

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport in Cusco where your trip concludes.

Additional Information

Peru's diverse landscapes and colourful history are worthy of intimate exploration. This itinerary does just that by combining the historical and natural attractions with a trek along the classic Inca Trail. The range of highlights begins in Lima where we gain a fascinating insight into Peru's history with visits to the well adorned museums and galleries. Next, we cruise to the Ballestas Islands taking in the marine mammals and birdlife, then continue to the fascinating Nazca Lines. From Arequipa, the beautiful 'white city' where the 16th century Santa Catalina Convent is located, our journey continues to the Colca Canyon, the deepest in the world, and a great location for spotting Andean Condors. On Lake Titicaca we spend a night on an island homestay before continuing across the high altiplano to explore Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Our classic trek along the Inca Trail winds its way to the Sun Gate providing us with a superb view of the Machu Picchu ruins - a fitting finale to this all encompassing adventure.

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19 Days



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