An in-depth exploration of the highlights of southern Peru. Visit Peru, It is an extraordinary and unique experience, when visiting the main architectural, archaeological and natural sites, admire the work of the long gone ancient Peruvian cultures where you can still feel their presence and spirit. Get excited as you take in the beauty of the breathtaking Peruvian cities of Cusco, Arequipa and Puno, where there are many fabulous sites and things to do, as well as the classic sites of: Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley in Cusco, El Misti, Colca Canyon in Arequipa, and the stunning Lake Titicaca in Puno which is surrounded by tales of folklore lived by many great cultures.
Day 1: Flight to Lima
Day 2: Free day to relax, shop and explore the many Inca ruins and Spanish churches.
Day 3: Sacred Valley of the Incas
Day 4 7: Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Day 8: Cusco
Day 9: Cusco - Puno/South Valley
Day 10 11: Lake Titicaca
Day 12: Puno
Day 13: Arequipa
Day 14 15: Colca Canyon
Day 16: Arequipa
Day 17: Lima
Day 18: Departure day
Crew: A Travel Tour Group representative in Lima, Cuzco, Puno, Arequipa and professional guide
Accomodation: Hotel 3 star (13 nights), Camping (03 nights), Homestay (01 night)
Meals: 07 Lunches, 04 Dinners, 03 afternoon tea, 16 Breakfasts (Allow USD 200-250 for meals not included)
Transportation: Domestic flights, private transportation, van, train, motorboat.
Arrival to the city of Lima, there are no planned activities.. When will arrive to airport, please seek your name, a Travel Tour Group representative will wait for you and will take to the hotel. Known as the City of Kings, Peru’s capital city Lima was founded by Francisco Pizarro on the Day of the Three Kings (Epiphany) in 1535. The Plaza de Armas is the heart of old Lima, and it is here you find the Cathedral, Government Palace and Archbishop’s Palace.
Transfer to the airport for the flight to Cusco (the flight usually departs early). In Cusco meet your guide and transfer to your hotel. The day is free to relax and explore the fascinating city of Cusco, and to acclimatize to the altitude.
Cusco is the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city, and the hub of the South American travel network. The city attracts travellers who come not just to visit a unique destination but also to experience an age-old culture very different from their 20th century way of life; one could easily spend a week just in and around the area. Inca-built stone walls line most of the central streets and you don't have to go far to see other major Inca ruins. It is a city steeped in history, tradition and legend.
Travel with our local guide through the Sacred Valley of the Incas. An important source of food for the Inca, the Sacred Valley is a lush agricultural region that continues to supply the city of Cuzco with much of its produce. Visit the impressive Pisac ruins and the colourful artisan market (market days only). The day trip finishes in the picturesque village of Ollantaytambo, site of another large Inca ruin. Here we catch our breath and prepare for the hike ahead.We spend the night in this small town before heading out for the start of the hike the next morning.
The 4-day Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is physically challenging but worthwhile, and the excursion is within the ability of most reasonably fit. It is a 44-km (27 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.
Depart Ollantaytambo for km 82 where we begin our walk in the footsteps of the Incas. Our local crew of porters, cook and guide look after us well for the duration of the hike. Porters carry the majority of the gear for the hike, so those passengers doing the hike only carry a small daypack with water, rain gear, snacks, a camera, etc. 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.
You pass several smaller ruin sites, the first of which is Llactapata. The second day climb the long steep path to Warmiwañusca, or Dead Woman’s Pass. At 4198 m (13769 ft) above sea level, this pass is the highest point of the trek. The second pass of the hike is at 3998 m (13113 ft) where on clear days, we enjoy superb views of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba. The trail goes 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. The highest point of the third pass is at 3700m (12136 ft). On clear days you are rewarded for all this work with beautiful views of the Urubamba Valley below. Soon you reach the serene ruins of Phuyupatamarca, or the 'Town above the Clouds', at about 3650 m (11972 ft) above sea level. We will camp either here or an hour and a half further along close to Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young) ruins, a grandiose terraced hillside site, with panoramic views of the valley below and just a short hike from Machu Picchu.
On the final day of the hike we climb the steps to the Sun Gate overlooking the peaks that surround Machu Picchu. When the morning is clear, 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 site appears in front of you.
Machu Picchu is both the best and the least known of the Inca ruins. It is not mentioned in any of the chronicles of the Spanish conquistadors and archaeologists today can do no more than speculate on its function. The local Quechua farmers in the area knew of Machu Picchu for centuries, but it was not until an 11-year-old boy led the American historian Hiram Bingham (who was in search of Vilcabamba) to the site on July 24, 1911, that the rest of the world became aware of its existence. At that time the site was covered in thick vegetation, and Bingham and his team returned in 1912 and 1915 to clear the growth. Over the years, much work has been done on excavating and studying the site. Despite these efforts, many unanswered questions remain.
NOTE: Those passengers not able or interested in the hike spend 2 days in Cuzco, 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. There is an additional fee for any changes made once Inca Trail permits are confirmed. This fee may vary depending on the changes that are made to your itinerary. Please advise your agent or Travel Tour Group.
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 inclement weather or other conditions beyond our control. During these periods, any tour affected will hike the Lares Trek.
Cuzco is considered the mecca of Peru. This gorgeous colonial town offers nearby ruins, cobble-stoned streets, museums, churches and a lively atmosphere.
Every year Cuzco attracts thousands of travellers who come to delve into its noble but tragic past. It is the perfect base for optional explorations around the city and area as well as a range of outdoor activities. Relax and explore this fascinating city, and take time.
Cuzco’s numerous colonial churches are one of the city’s most common sights. The Cathedral was started in 1559 and took 100 years to build; it is also one of the city’s greatest repositories of colonial art. Immediately in front of the entrance is a vault containing the remains of the famous Inca historian, Garcilaso de la Vega. Also worth visiting are the churches of La Compañía, La Merced and San Francisco.
While most ruins are just outside of the city, the main ruin within is that of the Coricancha, once the Inca Empire's richest temple. Today the ruin forms the base of the colonial church of Santo Domingo. During Inca times this temple was literally covered with gold, but within months of the arrival of the first conquistadors this incredible wealth had all been melted down. It is left to the individual imagination to envision the magnificence of the original structure.
There are several good museums in Cuzco, including the Archaeological Museum, which also houses a small art museum, the Regional History Museum and the Religious Art Museum. Our best advice for exploring Cuzco is to wear a comfortable pair of shoes, arm yourself with a city map and set off to explore!
Tourist bus to Puno and will do South Valley (Sun route), the first stop is the San Pedro Church of Andahuaylillas is the major attraction for visitors and because of the quality of the art work is considered as the “Sistine Chapel” of America. It was constructed for the Jesuits at the end of the 16th and the princes of the 17th century. Its´ architectural structure is typical for small towns´ churches. Its´ walls are wide, typical for the colonial buildings, made with sun dried bricks of mud, a facade decorated with murals and two stone columns projected towards the main entrance. Although its´ architecture is relatively modest, the decoration of its´ interiors is the most impressive of the building.
After this we will continue to the old village of Pikillacta. This was one of the more impressive regional centers of the Wari culture, seated in Ayacucho, and which was occupied by the Incas through the years. Today it is a national archeological park of great importance.
The word Pikillaqta is a made up Quechua word, meaning lousy town (piki = lousy, llaqta = town), although it is also called “city of the fleas”. The constructions of Pikillacta exist of more than 200 kanchas (apartments), 504 golgas (warehouses) and other constructions. The city must have accommodated a population of approximately 10 thousand people.
Some investigators suggest that in the Inca times, Pikillacta was a city for “mitimaes” (groups of people or tribes who were being transferred from place to place). Then will go to Raqchi (the Temple of the God Wiracocha), a last stop in La Raya, where is the frontier to Cuzco and Puno, before arriving to Puno.
We board our comfortable boat to explore Uros, Amantani, Taquile Island. We stop at various islands to enjoy the lake's scenic splendor and to meet the friendly people of these communities. Titicaca is also the largest lake in the world above 2000m, and the views from both Amantaní and Taquile Islands are stunning. Our first stop on Lake Titicaca is the floating islands of the Uros people. The Uros began their unusual floating existence centuries ago in an effort to isolate themselves from the Colla and Inca tribes. Sadly, the Uros language has died out, and today they speak Aymara due to intermarriage with Aymara-speakers. Today about 300 families live on the islands, however their numbers are slowly declining.
The Totora reeds that grow in the shallows of the lake are used for making everything from the islands themselves to the model boats that the islanders sell. The islands are made up of layers upon layers of reeds; as the layers closest to the water start to rot, they are replaced with fresh reeds on top. The reeds are also used to build their boats, which if constructed well will last up to 6 months.
Located at 3830 m above sea level, Puno is the highest night stop on the tour. As a result the weather can be extreme with very cold nights and a strong sun during the day. Puno is also known for its wealth of traditional dances: there are up to 100 different varieties, usually performed in the street processions celebrating Catholic feast days. Today is a relaxing day, free time to explore Puno, visit its market, buy souvenirs, take optional activities, and get ready for one last night in the city.
Peru’s second most important city after Lima, Arequipa maintains a traditional colonial style and more laid back pace in comparison with the capital. Sitting at 2325 m (7626 ft) above sea level and surrounded by the Andes mountains, this delightful colonial town is well worth a visit. Arequipa was built from a very light coloured volcanic rock called sillar, so older buildings dazzle in the sun, giving the city its nickname, “the White City.” The main plaza with its cafés and nearby cathedral is a top draw for visitors.
Those with an interest in history and architecture may take an optional visit to the Convent of Santa Catalina, offering a brief respite from the outside world and a unique view into a by-gone way of life. Spectacular mountains surround Arequipa, the most famous of which is El Misti Volcano, at 5822 m (19096 ft) with its beautiful snow-capped peak.
Travel a rough, rutted road through high plains flanked by extensive Inca and pre-Inca terracing that goes on for kilometres. Our first stop is Chivay, a picturesque village near the Colca Canyon—one of the deepest canyons in the world. Take a dip in the local hot thermal baths, watch live Andean music at a peña or go for a llama steak. Two nights gives us time to take short hikes to acclimatize to the altitude. Take a tour around the canyon, stopping in fascinating villages and at “miradors” (scenic lookouts), where with a little luck we see Andean Condors soaring over majestic the Andes mountains. Other unusual animals we may see in the Andean landscape include 3 different species of camelids: alpaca, llama and vicuña.
Today is a relaxing day, free time to explore Arequipa, visit its market, and buy souvenirs. You may visit the peaceful Santa Catalina Monastery or watch the local activities, get ready for one last night in the city.
Lima, there are many fine museums in and around the city, including the Museo Rafael Larco Herrera, which houses an equally impressive collection of pottery, mummies and textiles from the Paracas and Nazca cultures. The more affluent districts of Miraflores, Barranco and San Isidro, which are on the coast, offer good nightlife and cafés all within walking distance. Limeños (Lima’s residents) are friendly, and the city is filled with excellent restaurants; seafood lovers in particular should be sure to try a ceviche, for which Lima is well known.
Transfer to the airport and departure day of Peru Explore
Meals budget: Allow USD 200 - 250 for meals not included
Single room: Please note that if you have booked the "Single Room" option for this tour, you will receive your own single room or tent for all night stops and including to the Inca Trail.
Local flights: All local flights are included in the cost of your tour unless otherwise noted. It is important that we have your passport information at the time of booking in order to process these tickets. Internal flight tickets are issued locally and will be given to you prior to the flight departure.
Comfortable/ warm /lightweight/sturdy footwear. Remember you will be walking for four days, so trail shoes or cross training shoes are ideal, or hiking shoes in the rainy season. Also it can get very chilly on the trail so it’s best not to wear flip flops if you don’t want cold toes! Good idea to break them in before the start of the trail!