Experience the country’s best during a full day of wildlife activities in the Amazon, explorations of Arequipa and Colca Canyon, and two guided visits to Machu Picchu, reached by 360 train offering unbeatable views of the Andes.. Take in truly stunning surroundings at your feature stay hotel along the Colca River, offering grounds dotted with tumbling waterfalls, organic gardens and gorgeous pools, plus modern rooms, first-class service and fantastic amenities.. Get to know the real Peru as you travel with a local leader, stay in a lodge run by the indigenous Ese Eja people, visit a local community in the Sacred Valley and explore with specialist guides in Cusco and Machu Picchu.. Taste the flavours of Peru during dinner at one of Lima’s best restaurants, a snack at the Manos Unidas social enterprise in Cusco and a home-cooked pachamanca lunch in the Sacred Valley.
Uncover Peru’s best on this 16-day Premium journey through lush valleys, rich rainforests and Inca heartlands. Travel south from Lima to the charming city of Arequipa, see condors circling some of the deepest ravines in the world at Colca Canyon, and experience the wild heart of the Amazon Jungle. Consider trekking along the acclaimed Inca Trail, or relax on a scenic train ride, all to witness the magnificence of the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu. With a local leader each step of the way joining you on orientation walks and filling you in on the histories of the land, you’ll get to peruse Peru the local way.
Welcome to Peru! Your adventure begins in Lima, Peru’s lively capital city. On arrival, you will be collected from the airport and transferred to your hotel. Here you will meet your small group of fellow travellers and your local leader for a 6pm welcome meeting. If you arrive in Lima early, the city is full of bars converted from old colonial mansions, so you may like to head out for your first pisco sour. After your meeting, join your leader and small group for a welcome dinner. Lima has one of the world’s most revered culinary scenes, and this evening you’ll head to one of the city’s best restaurants, set in a historic house in the bohemian neighbourhood of Barranco. Here you’ll enjoy a menu of traditional Peruvian dishes inspired by the chef’s mother, and the welcoming atmosphere of a family home.
Start the day with a walking tour with your leader through Lima’s Barranco neighbourhood – a favourite with local artists, this is the creative heart of the city. Explore streets lined with colourful buildings, vibrant murals and interesting street art. The area is also home to some of Lima’s best bars – stop off at a popular spot to taste a few local specialties. Later on, catch a flight to Arequipa, a beautiful Spanish colonial city. On arrival, head out for an orientation walk with your leader. Known as La Ciudad Blanca (The White City), Arequipa’s buildings have been built almost exclusively from a white volcanic material called sillar, giving the city an appearance like no other. Situated in a valley at the foot of the El Misti volcano, the city also boasts a truly remarkable backdrop.
This morning, meet a local guide who’s an expert on all things Arequipa and set out on a tour of the city. Explore Plaza de Armas, the city’s main square, then continue to the Santa Catalina Monastery while your guide shares stories of the city’s history along the way. Stop by the San Ignacio Chapel to appreciate its colonial mural paintings. Visit the beautiful Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa with another local expert guide who will discuss the many layers of the building’s history – from its construction in 1656 to its subsequent destructions and rebuilds. The afternoon is free your own discoveries. Why not pick up an Alpaca jumper and meet the llamas and alpacas of Mundo Alpaca or take part in an active adventure in the surrounding hills and rivers. Or perhaps visit the museum that houses 'Mummy Juanita' – the well-preserved body of a young Inca girl who died sometime between 1450 and 1480.
This morning, drive through the Altiplano high plains to the Colca Valley and Canyon. On the way you'll see grazing vicunas, llamas and alpacas, as well as stone cairns built by local indigenous communities. More than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, the Colca Canyon provides some breathtaking views. The pre-Inca terraces carved into its walls are still cultivated today, and the area is dotted with traditional Indian villages with locals in colourful dress. Stop at the highest point (4910 metres) to enjoy views of the landscape below. Drive on the town of Chivay, where you'll have some time to soak up the local hot springs, then continue to the Aranwa Pueblito Encantado del Colca Hotel, your feature stay accommodation for the evening. With a prime location along the rugged Colca River, this resort offers tranquillity and comfort in a truly magnificent setting. The grounds are just as wondrous as the surroundings – tumbling waterfalls, organic gardens and gorgeous pools make this a superb spot to explore. With modern rooms, first-class service and fantastic amenities, this stay is sure to be one to remember.
Rise early this morning to visit the Cruz del Condor viewpoint, where Andean condors, one of the world's largest flying birds, can often be seen soaring in the air. After lunch, begin the drive to Puno. On the way you will stop off 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. Located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, Puno is full of Aymara and Quechuan Indian culture. The town is known as the folklore capital of Peru and is renowned for its traditional dances.
Be enchanted by striking scenery and unique cultures on a cruise around Lake Titicaca today. This morning, you will depart from the port in Puno for the floating Uros 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. Call into Taquile Island for some woollen handicrafts. On the island, knitting is strictly a male domain, while women do the spinning. Explore this extraordinary place before travelling to Suasi – the only private island on Lake Titicaca. You will spend the next two evenings here in a fantastic eco-lodge, built with natural and sustainable materials, with all rooms looking out onto the boundless lake. Enjoy total peace, once-in-a-lifetime views, and an escape from the modern world.
This morning you will visit the cultural museum on the island which houses maps, pictures of Lake Titicaca and books about the 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 process of painting wool. Set out on a leisurely afternoon walk, expected to take around one hour over solid terrain, with some parts at a slight incline. This walk will take you to the highest point of the island – the perfect place to witness an unforgettable sunset over the waters of Lake Titicaca. Head back down to a secluded beach and enjoy an exclusive evening picnic with wine; a special moment to soak in the beautiful landscape, appreciate the serenity and – if the clouds behave – watch the sun go down.
Rise early and travel back across the lake to meet your private vehicle to Cusco. The journey will be broken up with plenty of stops. Arrive in Cusco by late afternoon. Cusco is South America's oldest continuously inhabited city, and was the home of the Inca for two centuries before the Spanish built their first capital here. Today Cusco is a fascinating combination of both cultures. At 3450 metres above sea level, it’s important to take time to acclimatise to the city’s altitude. After settling in at the hotel, take a casual walk around Plaza de Armas with your leader and pick up some excellent dinner recommendations along the way.
This morning you will discover the best of Cusco on a walking tour. First, enjoy a special tour of the World Heritage-listed Cusco Cathedral with a local historian guide. Built on top of an Incan palace, the building is now one of Cusco’s greatest repositories of art, and your guide will share its history from past to present. Then, tour the Coricancha Temple with another local guide. The temple was once covered in sheets of gold that were eventually removed to raise a ransom for the life of Atahualpa, and later the Spanish demolished the temple to build a Dominican church on its foundations. Soon after, head to the colourful San Pedro market. Finish with a snack at Cafe Manos Unidos, whose core purpose is to improve the quality of life for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities through vocational training and education in the hospitality industry. The food is all natural and is prepared and served by the students on site – have a chat with them as you enjoy a coffee and a bite to eat. The rest of the day is yours – speak to your leader about the option to arrange a cooking class at a local restaurant using fair trade products, or the half-day Inkilltambo trek, exploring an archaeologic site on the city’s outskirts.
Today you will head for the Sacred Valley. Just outside of Cusco, visit the fortress ruins of Sacsayhuaman. The massive stone blocks forming the settlement's walls give you an idea of the ingenuity of the Inca. Continue on to the Sacred Valley. Treasured for its climate, fertile land and the Urubamba (Sacred) River, the valley has long been the main source of food in the high Andes. Afterwards, stop for lunch at the Chichubamba community in Urubamba to take part in an ancient cooking ritual known as pachamanca. This cooking method, which dates back to the time of the Inca empire, sees meats marinaded in spices then placed in a huatia (earth oven) with a selection of root vegetables and cooked slowly over hot stones. You will also visit a couple of local workshops making pottery and chocolate and a chicheria (corn beer) bar. Later, continue to the town of Ollantaytambo. Built over an ancient Inca settlement, this is one of the few places where the Inca defeated the Spanish. Explore the archaeological site with an expert local guide who will discuss the evidence of the Incas' engineering skills in the ruins of ancient aqueducts, irrigation canals, dams on the Urubamba River and towering sets of terraces.
Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu
Today’s journey from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes will reveal some of the country’s most spectacular scenery. Board the 360 Machu Picchu Train – with high domed windows in each carriage, there’s few better ways to view the magical Andes Mountains. The train also features an open-air observation carriage so you can marvel at the landscape from every angle. Disembark the train in Aguas Calientes then take a short bus up the winding road to Machu Picchu, where you will be joined by a guide who will take you through the ruins and tell you stories of its history and the ancestral people of the region. The true purpose behind Machu Picchu may always be a mystery, since no historical records of the complex exist. Most archaeologists, however, believe it to be the 15th-century headquarters of Emperor Pachacuti. Due to visiting restrictions at Machu Picchu, we recommend exploring the Sun Gate and Inka Bridge before your guided tour starts. Your leader can advise how to get the most out of your visit. Later, take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes to spend the night before heading back up to Machu Picchu first thing in the morning for your second visit.
Rise before the sun and take the winding road back up to Machu Picchu for another morning uncovering its secrets. On your second visit, explore more of the extraordinary architecture of the many temples, palaces and living quarters. The sight of the ruins of Machu Picchu against a lush backdrop of forested mountain is one you are going to want to remember – so be sure to have your camera ready. You'll have time along the way to take any photos you may have missed yesterday. Take the bus back to Aguas Calientes, then catch a standard train back to Ollantaytambo. From here, you will make the drive back to Cusco for the evening.