Peru is a world-class culinary destination. Visit an area unknown to tourists and try a variety of street food and authentic Peruvian desserts. Visit the magnificent Colca Canyon, deeper than the Grand Canyon and dotted with ancient Indian villages. Scan the skies for the mighty Andean Condor, one of the world’s largest flying birds. The floating reed islands of Uros on Lake Titicaca are a marvel of concept, construction and history. Take a boat tour on the world’s highest navigable lake, then spend a couple of nights on a private Island overlooking Lake Titicaca. Watch the sun go down at the highest point of the island while enjoying a truly memorable picnic and drinks. Enjoy a 2-night ‘feature stay’ at the private island of Suasi on the Lake Titicaca.
Discover a country of modern cities and ancient worlds, wandering wildlife and welcoming locals. Explore the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, climb up high up to the mystical blue waters of Lake Titicaca, spot wildlife in the Ballestas Islands, feel energy of past generations in Cusco and the pulse of the modern world in Lima. This trip will show you the best that Peru has to offer.
Optional Hike Add-on’s:
On this trip you can opt to hike the Classic Inca Trail on days 13-16 (or the Quarry Trail on days 13-15, if Classic Inca Trail permits are sold out) or the 1-Day Inca Trail. More information on the treks can be found in the itinerary section your trip notes. Please contact us if you are interested in either of these options.
Welcome to Peru! On arrival into Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport you will be transferred to your hotel. Meet your leader and fellow travellers for a pre-trip briefing, usually held at 2 pm. Please check the noticeboard near the hotel reception for confirmation of the location of the meeting.
After the meeting your leader will take you on a brief orientation tour of the Miraflores area. Your in-depth city tour will be tomorrow morning. Lima has some of the best cuisine in South America and is especially renowned for its seafood. Perhaps sample Peru's national dish of Ceviche, which is raw fish marinated in lime juice and often served with hot peppers.
Note: As this trip takes you to locations at high altitude, it's possible that some travellers may experience adverse health effects due to altitude sickness. Please see the 'Is this trip right for you?' and 'Health' sections of the trip notes for important information about this.
This morning at approximately 8am your leader will take you on a walking tour of downtown Lima, including the city's historical centre. Flanked by streets of ornate 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 of Lima, which houses the remains of Lima's founder, Francisco Pizarro. You have an included visit to the nearby San Francisco Monastery, with its catacombs containing some 70,000 human remains. Continue onto the Central market where you'll take a walking tour. The market has a huge variety of fresh produce on offer, including fruits, vegetables and even guinea pigs. You'll also have the opportunity to try some local Peruvian fruits and street food. Next head away from the tourist trail and visit ‘Alameda de Chabuca Granda’ an area really only known to locals, it is a place where people go as a treat to enjoy a variety local street food and authentic Peruvian desserts such as ‘Mazamorra Morada’ a sweet porridge made from purple corn or ‘Picarones’ Peruvian donuts made from local squash called Macre and sweet potatoes served with a sweet syrup, these are a must try whilst in Peru!
Later in the afternoon, travel by minivan for approximately four hours to Paracas, arriving in the late afternoon/early evening.
This morning rise early for an excursion to the Ballestas Islands. We will depart the hotel at approximately 7:30am. Make your way to Paracas' port to board a boat at approximately 8am.
The Ballestas Islands are home to an abundance of wildlife, including pelicans, red-footed boobies, flamingos, sea lions and even penguins. You'll have the opportunity to see wildlife up close on a boat tour of the islands (approximately 1.5-2 hours). Between June and September the port may be closed due to weather conditions. If this is the case, an alternative land tour of the Paracas National Reserve will be arranged.
Late morning we make the journey in a private van from Paracas to Nazca. This is a three hour drive, but there may be a stop in Huacanchina on the way. The leader will offer the group the option of making this stop and the outcome will be based on a majority decision. Huacachina is a little settlement that sits beside a small lake with dramatic sand dunes. There are opportunities to go sand-boarding or simply enjoy the photo opportunities.
Later in the afternoon on arrival to Nazca, visit the viewing platform of the famous Nazca Lines. Etched into the landscape some 22 kilometres north of Nazca, are an assortment of perfectly straight lines, trapezoidal zones, strange symbols, and images of birds and beasts on a giant scale.
To get some perspective on the Nazca Lines, you can choose to go on a flight tour of the area this afternoon. The flight is 30 minutes long and covers the 26 figures scattered throughout the desert. The flight can be bumpy and is only recommended for those with a strong stomach. There have been safety issues with these flights in the past, so we have done our best to research the best operators in the area to recommend to you. Our tour leaders are prohibited from recommending or booking through any other operators.
Early this morning, make the 10-12 hour journey (depending on traffic and stops) to Arequipa by private van. The trip may be long, but it's well worth the effort. There will be toilet stops and a lunch stop along the way. Arequipa is a beautiful Spanish colonial city. Known as ‘La Ciudad Blanca’ (The White City), the buildings have been built almost exclusively from a white volcanic material called 'sillar'. The city lies in a valley at the foot of the El Misti volcano, a perfectly shaped cone.
This morning starts at approximately 9am. Enjoy a walking tour of Arequipa with a local guide. Explore the main square, the Santa Catalina Monastery, the San Ignacio Chapel with its colonial mural paintings and the suburb of Yanahuara. The tour will finish at approximately 1pm. You may like to spend the rest of the day relaxing in a cafe in the plaza. Another option is a visit to the Juanita museum to see the Inca mummy of a young girl who died in the 1440s.
Take a free day to explore the laid back city of Arequipa further. Pick up an Alpaca jumper and meet the llamas and alpacas of Mundo Alpaca, stroll to the pretty, peaceful neighbourhood of Yanahuara or take part in any optional active adventures in the surrounding hills and rivers.
This morning will begin at approximately 8 or 9am (as agreed by the group the night before) Drive through the 'Altiplano’ (High Plains) to the Colca Valley and Canyon. This drive takes approximately 5-6 hours including toilet stops. On the way you'll see grazing vicunas, llamas and alpacas, as well as stone cairns built by the local indigenous people. More than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, the Colca Canyon provides some breathtaking views. The pre-Incan terraces carved into its walls are still cultivated today, and traditional Indian villages are dotted around it, where it's possible to see locals in colourful traditional dress. Stop at the highest point (4,910 metres) to enjoy views of the bleak landscape below and the snow-capped volcano of the Nevado Ampato in the distance. At this point you might feel a little shortness of breath, but after taking some photos, you'll quickly get back in the vehicle and descend to a lower altitude. Continue on to the town of Chivay, where you'll have some time to visit the local hot springs. In the evening, you may wish to visit a local 'Pena' to enjoy a Peruvian dance and music show. Spend the night in Chivay.
Early this morning at approximately 6:00am you'll visit the Condor View point, where Andean Condors, one of the world's largest flying birds, can often been seen soaring in the air. This journey is approximately 5 hours return. After lunch it's about a six-hour (including stops) drive in the van to Puno. On the way the group will stop at the Sillustani archaeological site. The ruined 'chullpas' or funeral towers of Sillustani were built by a pre-Inca civilisation centuries ago to house the remains of noble men. Arrive into Puno. Located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, Puno is a melting pot of Aymara and Quechuan Indian culture. The town is known as the folklore capital of Peru and is famous for its traditional dances.
Lake Titicaca/Suasi Island
Be enchanted by the striking scenery and unique cultures on a cruise around Lake Titicaca today. As Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, the sun can be extremely strong, so make sure you wear a hat and sunscreen, even on cloudy days.
This morning at about 8am you will depart from the port in Puno for the floating Uros Islands. The boat journey will take about 30 minutes before reaching the Islands. The Uros people constructed these islands to isolate themselves from rival tribes in ancient times. They are built completely from multiple layers of totora reeds, which grow in the shallows of the lake. Next call into Taquile Island for some woollen handicrafts. On the island, knitting is strictly a male domain, while women do the spinning. You will spend approximately 1-1.5 hours here. Later the afternoon you will travel a further 1-1.5 hours to the private island of Suasi where you'll spend the next two nights.
This morning you will visit the cultural museum on the island. Here you will find maps, pictures of the Lake, and books about history of the lake and its communities. There are handicrafts and fabrics from the different groups that developed around the Lake, types of Andean grains like quinoa, and a chance to learn about the painting process of wool. An easy late-afternoon walk (approximately 1-2 hours) will take you to the highest point of the island – the perfect place to witness an unforgettable sunset over the waters of Lake Titicaca. Enjoy a private picnic with drinks; a unique moment to soak in the beautiful landscape, appreciate the serenity, and if the clouds behave, watch the sun go down.
Around midday today you will travel back across the lake to Puno. On the way you will be provided with a packed box lunch. Enjoy a free night in Puno to explore, eat dinner at a local restaurant or relax in the hotel. Puno is famous for its festivals. If you're lucky, your visit might coincide with an evening parade, when the streets fill with costumed dancers and musicians.
This morning we continue to Cusco by private van, this will be a long ride but we will have opportunity stop for breaks but you may want to stock up on snacks for the journey. Cusco is South America'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. At 3,450 metres (11,150 feet) above sea level, it’s important to take time to acclimatize to the city’s altitude.
After settling in at the hotel, embark on a casual walking tour around the hotel and Plaza de Armas with your tour leader. This tour will also include a visit to the Cusco Cathedral with specialist guide, Professor Alfredo Hinojoza Galvez. Alfredo was born and raised in the city of Cusco. He studied at the National College of Sciences of Cusco and later studied Administration and Tourism at National University San Antonio Abad del Cusco (NUSAAC), where he graduated in 1983. He then pursued a Masters in Colonial Art at NUSAAC. Alfredo has served as Dean of the College of Tourism and he has published eight books, including a guidebook for the Touristic Tour of the East Valley. Alfredo is considered an icon among colonial art and tourism students for his impressive career spanning 30 years. Alfredo will be uniquely placed to offer special insight into Cusco Cathedral, which is also a UNESCO world heritage site.