Day 1 Lima A representative from Adventures to Peru will greet you at the airport and private transfer to your hotel. There are no planned activities today so check-in, enjoy a complimentary Pisco Sour and read your welcome note. Depending on your flight arrival time, a representative from Adventures to Peru will meet you in the hotel today or tomorrow for a short briefing and answer any questions you may have.
During your free time in Lima, we recommend exploring colonial and modern Lima. Around Lima’s Historical District are the Covent of San Fransico, the Government Palace, Main Cathedral, Plaza de Armas and the Archaeological Museum. Or if you’re short on time, hang around the bustling commercial districts of and Miraflores and bohemian Barranco.
Take a stroll along the ‘Malecon’ or coastal cliffs to ‘Parque del Amor’ and Larco Mar shopping center, where sheik Limeños go to be seen. Kennedy Park is worth a visit in the evenings. Located only minutes from the hotel, Parque Kennedy offers restaurants, open-air markets, art exhibits and glimpse into the fast paced modern Limeño lifestyle.
Also close to the hotel is the Huaca Pucllana, a pre-Incan mud temple more than 1200 years old. There is a spectacular onsite restaurant with same name, also worth a visit.
Day 2 Paracas (B) This morning we’ll collect you from your Lima hotel and private transfer to Cruz del Sur bus station for a scenic 4 hour bus trip to the seaside village of ‘El Chaco’ in Paracas. See the numerous shantytowns and urban sprawl that extend 50km through the deserts south of the metropolis. Enjoy on-board video movies, a light breakfast and ¾ reclining sleeper seats. Once in Paracas, you’ll be met at the bus station and transferred to your hotel. This afternoon you can take advantage of the hotel pool, take a stroll on the refurbished oceanfront board walk or dine in one of the many sea food restaurants along the water front in ‘El Chaco’ port.
Day 3 Nazca(B) Early this morning we will visit the Peruvian version of the Galapagos Islands, more commonly referred to as the Ballestas Islands. Located on the fringes of the National Reserve of Paracas, we’ll venture by speedboat accompanied by our local guide to get a glimpse of the abundant marine life thriving in the Peruvian seas. He will orient the group with a short lesson on to the wonders and tragedies of the Peruvian coastal waters.
Focus: El Niño, over fishing, pollution, scallops, surfing, guano, tourism, continental subduction, tsunamis diving etc
Our day continues as we penetrate the endless desert of coastal Peru. We’ll visit the stunning desert oasis named Huacachina. We’ll take you through some of the most arid terrain in South America on an adrenaline packed back country dune buggy excursion. Brilliant views and some of the most extreme off-roading in the area will leave you begging for more. Those with the courage and can try their hand at sand boarding. Even the less daring can sand board, as the sit-down position is also quite popular in Peru. Have some free time to have lunch at one of the local venues over looking the oasis followed by transfer back to the bus terminal for transfer to Nazca. (Dune buggy/sandboard tour not included)
Day 4 Nazca / Arequipa Bus (B) The mystery surrounding the Nazca Lines continues to go unanswered. Before departing Nazca will have the chance to appreciate the figures vertically, as we take a 35 minute optional fight over the Nazca Lines. Immense carvings in the desert rock and endless geometrical figures, representing animals, such as a spider, a monkey, several birds and a human figure leave you wondering.
*The Nazca Lines flight is optional and is not included in tour price.
We’ll continue our day with a short stop to visit a local potters’ studio and the Nazca burial site of Chauchilla, an ancient desert cemetery outside of town. It is not uncommon to see 1,500-year-old mummies, bones and pottery strewn about on the desert floor. You’ll then have some time to lounge around the hotel and have dinner before departing on the late bus (or night bus) down Pan-American Highway south, hugging the coastline to the town of Arequipa for morning arrival and transfer to your hotel.
Day 5 Arequipa Today you’ll have a free day to spend at your leisure in Arequipa, also known as ‘The White City. Vying with Lima as Peru’s most important city, it is entirely built of white volcanic stone ‘Sillar’, which gives the city its nickname.
While in Arequipa’s extraordinary city center, enjoy optional visits to the Santa Catalina convent dating to the 16th century. Also built purely from white volcanic ‘Sillar’, Santa Catalina is a massive complex, occupies 3 city blocks and is still occupied by nuns today. Make a stop by the Sanctuary Museum, which houses the best-preserved mummy in South America, Juanita the ‘Ice Maiden’. Thought to have been an Inca sacrifice, this 15th century mummy was found perfectly preserved atop the Ampato Volcano in 1995.
Then at dusk, we’ll seriously indulge in some of Peru’s richest spice and flavor, as Arequipa has some of the finest cuisine in the country. Try ‘Sol de Mayo’ for lunch and ‘Aryquipay’ for dinner, each offering great local cuisine.
Your hotel is centrally located allowing all exploration to be done on foot.
Peru’s second most important city after Lima, Arequipa maintains a traditional colonial style and more laid back pace in comparison with the capital.
Day 6 Colca Canyon (B) After an early breakfast, we’ll set out on an overland drive to the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world, at 3182m(10,500ft). After a scenic 5 hours we’ll reach Chivay, the largest city and capital of the province of Colca. During our venture we will climb through the National Reserve of Pampa de Cañahuas at approximately 3,800m. With some luck we’ll get glimpses of Alpacas, Llamas and Vicuñas. The area is know as Ring of Fire or Valley of the Volcanoes due to the numerous volcanoes in the region, many of which can be appreciated form short distances.
Our highest pass will be an astounding 4900m(16,000ft) above sea level, but just for a quick panorama. Then we’ll continue down to the Colca Valley. Accommodation at the fabulous the Mamayachi near the village of Corporaque, set in the Colca Valley itself. We’ll have the opportunity to soak in the natural hot springs, hike to the surrounding villages or simply relax in the fabulous surroundings of the Canyon.
Day 7 Colca Canyon (B) Today we are off to Cruz del Condor. With some luck, here you will be able to appreciate the famous Andean Condors in magical flight as they soar well above the depths of the mighty canyon. Then an optional hike takes us along the rim of the canyon, in search of local wildlife including the Andean Cara-Cara or (a local Raptor), Viscachas (Andean rabbits) and much more.
We will spend the day in and around the valley before arriving to Cabanaconde, a local village found deep in the canyon. In many ways Colca Canyon was left untouched, even after the Spanish Conquest. Its isolation and distance from Arequipa allowed local indigenous customs and traditions in Colca Canyon to survive in peace more so than in other parts of Peru. This will be evident as we, together with our local guide, spends 3 days and 2 nights examining just how these people live.
Day 8 Puno (B) We’ll continue our journey through the Ring of Fire, enjoying a lunchtime pick-nick and wine at 4,000 meters above sea level, breath the thin clean air of the Andes in spectacular settings that reinvigorate your being. This is why you are here!!!
Puno, a city of 150,00 inhabitants, is considered by local populations to be a linguistic, cultural and political border. To the south toward Bolivia the Aymara people and language are dominant. To the north, the better-known Quechua is the dominant tongue. Fortunately, you will see both.
In the evening you’ll receive a short briefing to detail your Lake Titicaca trip tomorrow followed by leisure time to explore the area around your Puno hotel and eat in one of the many restaurants in the area.
Day 9 Amantani Island, Lake Titicaca (B,L,D) Today you’ll be collected by your private guide and transfer to the Puno port on the shores of Lake Titicaca, considered by many as the cradle of Peruvian civilization. The first destination is the floating reed island Community of the Uros (Aymara roots).
The Uros people are a specific cultural group apart from the Incas. They are more sensitive and protective. We ask that visitors always proceed with respect. Please ask before snapping pictures, as some of the older generations will object. The locals are very friendly, though, and produce souvenirs representing life on the Lake. You can support them by buying a souvenir if you choose.
After the Uros, we will take a step back in time as we arrive to Amantani Island. On Amantani, your local family will be waiting for you at the dock. Dressed in bright skirts and colorful hats, they’ll be prepared to take you into their community for a rural home stay that will open your eyes to the true beauty of this place and the people that have inhabited the Lake for thousands of years. After a hearty lunch and a short siesta, you’ll have the option this afternoon to make a 45-minute hike to the summit of the Island for sunset and unforgettable panoramas of the Lake!
This evening your family will offer to take you to a local fiesta. If you accept, there will be dancing with the locals and plenty of fun.
Day 10 Taquile Island / Puno (B) We’ll start with an early wake up call to enjoy a spectacular sunrise over Lake Titicaca. After a typical breakfast your family will accompany you back to the port. Time to say ‘Adios ‘ to your family and thank them for sharing their home.
Leaving Amantani, our first destination is a cultural treasure chest. Taquile is an island famous for its textiles, weaving and simplistic lifestyle. Here there are no roads, only footpaths. No dogs, just sheep and cows. We’ll spend 1 hour hiking to the summit of Taquile Island before enjoying lunch including local favorites like trout or kingfish overlooking the Lake Titicaca. After lunch we’ll begin our return journey to Puno. Lunch not included.
Day 11 Cusco (B) After breakfast you’ll be collected from the hotel and transferred to the bus terminal for an overland journey through the high plateau. We’ll cover 400km, go over mountain passes at 4,334m 1(4,222ft) above sea level and pass some of our favorite local indigenous villages. This is known as ‘One of the most beautiful journeys on earth’ and definitely one of most breathtaking in Peru! Approximate arrival in Cusco is 15:00pm. Greeting, transfer to hotel followed by a hot coca tea and short briefing on your stay in the region. Have the evening free to dine at one of the many restaurants near you hotel in Cusco.
Day 12 Sacred Valley of the Incas, Ollantaytambo (B) One of the most spectacular days of the tour takes us through the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Once an important source of food for the Inca, the Sacred Valley is a lush agricultural region that continues to supply the city of Cusco with much of its produce. As it is 600m lower than Cusco, temperatures are on average 5 degrees Cº higher in the Sacred Valley.
Our travels will bring us through the major archaeological sites of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. At Pisac, an optional two hour or 5km hike will allow us to fully appreciate the Incan city nestled high in the Andean range. Later, the colorful artisan market at Pisac will no doubt be a highlight for those in search of unique souvenirs.
The day trip finishes in the picturesque village of Ollantaytambo, location of another large Inca site. This major ruin is known as the best surviving example of Inca urban planning and engineering. But more than that, Ollantaytambo is a living breathing Inca City. Here we catch our breath and prepare for the hike ahead.
Days 13,14,15 Inca Trail The 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is physically challenging but worthwhile, and within the ability of most reasonably fit travelers. Go for it. As an old college professor once said, “The saddest words ever coined by mouth and pen, what might have been.” Harold Mueller, San Diego State University.
NOT HIKING? Those passengers not interested in the hike spend 2 days in Cusco, then travel by train to Aguas Calientes, where they overnight. Next morning they take the bus to the Machu Picchu entrance and rendezvous with the hikers at the ruins. If you decide not to do the hike we need to know prior to your departure in order to obtain train tickets. Please advise your Adventures to Peru contact as soon as you know you will not hike. Also note that portions of the Inca Trail will be closed for general maintenance during the month of February each year. Also, closures may occur at various times throughout the year due to weather or other conditions beyond our control. During these periods, any tour affected will take an alternate route.
The Inca Trail is exceptional; however it is important to be prepared! It is a 43-km (25 mile) hike, with 3 high passes to be crossed, one of which reaches an elevation of 4200m (13776 ft). The trail is often steep, and it may rain even during the dry season. The temperatures at night may fall below zero, so it is important to come prepared. If you do not wish to bring a sleeping bag or inflatable Thermarest mattress, they will be provided to you before the hike.
Our local crew of porters, cook and guide will look after us well for the duration of the hike. You can be sure there will be no shortage of food, and we’ll guarantee superb quality.
Porters carry the majority of the gear for the hike, so those passengers doing the hike only carry a small day-pack with water, rain gear, snacks, a camera and personal items. As you walk the trail that linked this ancient empire, admire breathtaking views at every step as we move from high plateau areas to dense cloud forest. Depending on the season, you may see a great variety of flora, including miniature and large orchids, and fiery rhododendron bushes.
Day 13 Inca Trail (B,L,D) Day one of the Inca Trail Tours is considered ‘the easy day’. We’ll depart Cusco or Ollantaytambo early for Piscacocha at km 82 where we begin our walk in the footsteps of the Incas. Take in the scenic views of the Urubamba River and Vilcanota mountain range as we hike 7km northeast along the Urubamba River Valley. We will then detour as we begin our first ascent and make our way up the Huallabamba Valley in route to lunch. After a couple hours of relatively easy ascent you arrive in Huallabamba. Depending on your particular trip, you may camp for the night near the small village of Huallabamba (3,000mts)or continue trekking about 1 more hour to our first campsite at Allapata campsite (3,300mts)
* Included: Lunch, Dinner, + Camping facilities.
* Today’s walking distance approximately 12km
Day 14 Inca Trail (B,L,D) After full and nutritious breakfast you’ll begin trekking toward today’s goal, Dead Women’s Pass. At 4198m (13769 ft) above sea level, this pass is the highest point of the trek. Today, you must take your time, find your own pace and stop to appreciate the views, for this is why you have chosen to hike the Inca Trail. Once you summit, have a few minutes for photos followed by a steep decent accompanied by insane scenery takes us to the valley of Pacaymayo for lunch. Depending on your particular campsite assignment, following lunch you’ll either have the afternoon free to relax, or continue on to summit the second pass of the hike, which is at 3998m (13113 ft). With some luck we’ll enjoy superb views of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba. After a visit to the serine ruins of Sayacmarca, we will pitch our tents for the night at Chaquicocha or, ‘Dry Lake’, in hopes of crystal clear views of the Salkantay range at dawn the next morning.
* Accommodation: Tents
* Included: Lunch, Dinner, + Camping facilities.
* Today’s walking distance approximately 11km
Day 15 Inca Trail (B,L,D) On day 3, the magnificent views of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba are still visible. After breakfast, set off through some beautiful cloud forest on the gentle climb to the third pass, where you will walk through a causeway and a tunnel, both original Inca constructions from about the 14th century. The highest point of the third pass is at 3700m (12136ft). On clear days you are rewarded for all this work with beautiful views of the Urubamba Valley below. Soon after the pass, you reach the out of camouflaged ruins of Phuyupatamarca (poo-yu-pata-marca), or the ‘Town above the Clouds’, at about 3650m (11972ft) above sea level.
After a short explanation and guided visit at Phuyupatamarca, begin the decent to Wiñay Huayna (Forever Young) ruins, a grandiose terraced hillside site, with panoramic views of the valley below and just a short hike from Machu Picchu. Our campsite is located 5 minutes from the archaeological site, which even if exhausted after a full day, we recommend you visit. Enjoy an afternoon tea, hot shower and final dinner. Before calling it a night, say good bye to your porters, cook and crew.
Tomorrow you’ll get an early wake up call, have breakfast and set off by torch light in route to the steps of the Sun Gate overlooking the peaks that surround Machu Picchu. There is no way to describe the feeling of the first views of Machu Picchu, as the mist rises off the mountains early in the morning and the famous city appears in front of you.
* Accommodation: Tents
* Included: Lunch, Dinner, + Camping facilities.
* Today’s walking distance approximately 14km
Day 16 Machu Picchu / Cusco (B ) An early morning start in the dark from Wiñay Huayna takes us to the steps of Intipunku, or the ‘Sun Gate’. Here you are rewarded with your first, distant views of the Inca Citadel Machu Picchu. From the Intipunku decent another 1 hour to Machu Picchu. Following a short break, you’ll then begin a 2 hour guided tour visiting the principle temples, plazas and shrines within the Citadel.
After the guided tour, you’ll want free time to explore independently, rest, meditate or simply chill out, which you will have. Climb Huayna Picchu (Young Peak not included), hike to the Moon Temple or venture to the Inca Draw Bridge! There is no shortage of things so see and do in Machu Picchu. Have lunch in Aguas Calientes, maybe a quick soak in the thermal baths before an afternoon train to Cusco and transfer to your hotel.
*Included: Breakfast, Expedition Train service to Ollantaytambo or Cusco
* Today’s walking distance approximately 8km
* Focus: Machu Picchu practical explanations and theories
Day 17 Cusco (B) Today you’ll have a full free day to really soak up Cusco’s ethnically brilliant atmosphere. Relax in the main ‘Plaza de Armas”, or stop by the Incan Archaeological Museum located just minutes from your hotel. Then, time permitting, visit the recently opened ‘Casa Concha’, which houses hundreds of pieces removed from Machu Picchu by Hiram Bingham in 1912 and recently returned in 2011 (Centennial Anniversary of Machu Picchu’s scientific discovery) to Peru by Yale University in the United States.
Also worth a visit is the colorful local market at San Pedro and the bohemian neighborhood of San Blas, full of artists, craftsmen and street vendors, both also only minutes from the hotel. More active options include river rafting, motorcycle tours and mountain biking. The day is yours!
Day 18 Amazon Jungle (B,L,D) Today we’ll take a short flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado, the frontier town in the Amazon basin. We’ll take to dugout canoes and head out on the Madre de Dios and Tambopa Rivers, past Indian villages deep into the jungle to our isolated lodge in the Tambopata Reserve Rainforest area, which holds the holds the world record for the most bird sightings in one area.
Listen for howler monkeys in the tropical forest canopy above and spot macaws perched high on the riverbanks. After we arrive at a small portage, we’ll hike through the jungle to our own Amazon Jungle lodge. The lodge itself combines native architectural style and materials with low-impact eco-friendly technology. Rooms are simple but comfortable, with mosquito netting for individual beds, flush toilets, showers (no hot water), and kerosene lamps for lighting (no electricity in bungalows). Local community members make up the majority the lodge staff, including multilingual Naturalist Guides. Here you have the opportunity to learn from them not only about the area’s rich flora and fauna, but also about their extensive practical uses for medicinal plants and other forest plant resources, through traditional techniques for building, fishing, and hunting.
After lunch, we’ll head out on a rainforest trail in search of macaws and other rainforest dwellers that come out in search of food in the late afternoon. Then, later that night after dinner, we’ll venture out on an Amazon night walk, probing the forest for the nocturnal creatures we normally hear but don’t see.
Day 19 Amazon Jungle (B,L,D) A pre-dawn departure will get us up and into the forest at the crack of dawn. Our local nature guide will show the way to one of the Oxbow lakes in the vicinity. This area is teeming with life – we’ll look for giant otters, capuchin monkeys, caiman, snakes, spiders and many other jungle animals on our boat trip and various hikes around the area. During our voyage you will have the chance to see bird species typical of the river or forest edge such as Black Skimmers, Pied Lapwings, Capped Herons, Jabiru Storks, Roadside The area is renowned for its diverse plant and animal populations and include over 1,300 bird species (including 32 parrot species – 10% of the world’s total), 200 mammal species including 4 species of primates, 90 frog species, 1,200 butterfly species and 10,000 species of higher plants—all protected within the reserve. Some of the more famous residents are the Harpy Eagle, the prehistoric looking Hoatzin, tapir, peccary, jaguar, ocelot and playful river otters who live in the area’s oxbow lakes. Additionally, we can see hawks and several species of kingfishers, swallows, and flycatchers.
Focus: Medicinal plants, endemic animals, indigenous tribes, hunting, deforestation, locally sponsored preservation projects.
Day 20 Lima (B) We’ll return to Puerto Maldonado by motorized canoe, pick up any belongings stored at the lodge office and transfer to the airport. Fly to Lima for the final stop on our journey. Finish up last minute shopping at the Indian market, explore Kennedy Park while enjoying one last evening in the capital.
Day 21 Departure Day (B) Adios amigos! Adventures to Peru services end today. Adventures to Peru will collect you from the hotel and private transfer to the airport.