Peru Explorer    *alt*

23 days, from £2939
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An in-depth discovery of southern Peru from the Andes to the Amazon

This trip is the perfect introduction to the highlights of one of the most diverse countries in South America. Our journey contrasts the incomparable scenery of the Andes with the lush vegetation of the Amazon Rainforest and the barren coastal desert, as we discover ancient cities, buildings and fortresses of colossal size in settings of amazing beauty. For walking enthusiasts there is the option to trek the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or to follow the remote Moonstone Trek (at no extra cost), and for wildlife lovers the Ballestas Islands and the rainforest are sure to impress.

- 19 nights hotels and 2 nights jungle lodge, all with en suite facilities
- Group normally 5 to 16, plus leader. Min. age 16 yrs
- Spends time at altitude
- Travel by internal flight, train, boat and private bus
- Inca Trail option: no extra cost - please request on booking. 3 nights full-service camping replaces 3 nights hotels. Additional meals included during trek

- Cultural Wonders
- Natural Wonders
- Culture

- Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and the colonial cities of Cuzco and Arequipa
- Option to walk the classic Inca Trail, at no extra cost - must be requested at time of booking
- Two nights deep in the Amazon
- Lake Titicaca's traditional island communities
- Beautiful Arequipa plus Colca Canyon and its condors

Activity grade: Leisurely / Moderate

- All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 3 dinners included. Additional meals on Inca Trail option.
- All accommodation
- All transport and listed activities
- Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
- Arrival & departure transfers
- Inca Trail permit (if Inca Trail option selected at time of booking)


 Day 1 Fly to Lima.

The trip starts in Lima today. Those on the group flights from London will arrive this evening. *Hotel El Tambo 1 (or similar) *

 Day 2 Free morning; afternoon city tour.

This morning has been left free, and in the afternoon we have a tour of colonial and modern Lima. We visit the modern residential district of Lima (Miraflores) and then explore the historic downtown area. We will discover the Plaza de Armas, Basilica Cathedral and Government Palace (also known as House of Pizarro ) as we take a short walk around the colonial centre. We also visit the incredible Church of San Francisco, which houses one of the oldest libraries in the Americas and sits on top of a labyrinthine network of catacombs complete with the bones of Lima's wealthy eighteenth and nineteenth-century residents. This evening perhaps a visit to the bohemian district of Barranco for some local food and a taste of the famous Pisco Sour, Peru s national cocktail. *Hotel El Tambo 1 (or similar)*

 Day 3 Drive to Paracas, visiting Pachacamac and Pucusana.

We drive south from Lima today, visiting Pachacamac Fortress, the Incas' largest coastal city at the time of the conquest. We stop for a late lunch on fresh seafood at the attractive fishing village of Pucusana. A stroll around the village where the day's catch is displayed at the market and a boat ride around the bay (subject to weather conditions) offer great insight into a contemporary Peruvian coastal town. We continue southwards to the town of Paracas where we spend the night. *Hotel Gran Palma (or similar) *

 Day 4 Sail to Ballestas Islands; continue to Nazca via Ica.

A short drive from our hotel takes us to the port where we board our launch to visit the world famous Ballestas Islands, a national park which contains the highest concentration of marine birds in the world. There are sea lions and numerous species of birds on the islands themselves and we will also see the Paracas Candelabra, a curious pre-Inca design on the cliff-face, only recognisable from the sea. We drive on to Nazca in the afternoon, stopping first at the interesting Ica Archaeological Museum, and visit the viewing platforms close to the famous Nazca Lines. These are one of the world's great archaeological mysteries, consisting of enormous figures and patterns etched in the desert sand, best seen from the elevated position of the viewing platforms. There should also be time for optional visits to the nearby Antonini archaeological museum, a pre-Inca cemetery, or the Nazca Aqueduct, which gives an insight into the Nazca civilisation's ingenious subterranean irrigation system. We enjoy a traditional 'pachamanca' dinner this evening whereby the food is wrapped up and buried in the earth along with hot stones which cook it slowly. *Hotel Alegria (or similar)*

 Day 5 Drive along coast then turn inland to Arequipa (2350m).

A long drive (approx. 10 hrs) south through the coastal desert, with great views of the dunes and the Pacific Ocean, before heading inland into the mountains on the road to Arequipa. *Ensue o Hotel (or similar) *

 Day 6 Arequipa city tour, including Santa Catalina Convent.

Arequipa is a beautiful colonial city set in a fertile oasis, with many historic buildings characterised by their use of white volcanic stone from the nearby Misti, whose dramatic cone dominates the town. In the morning we visit the Cathedral, the Jesuit church of La Compa ia and the huge serene convent of Santa Catalina, which retains typical features from the 16th and 17th centuries and is a peaceful refuge for the nuns who still live here today. *Ensue o Hotel (or similar)*

 Day 7 Drive to Colca Canyon.

A spectacular drive takes us to the Colca Canyon, one of the world's deepest canyons. On the way we pass volcanoes and will almost certainly see vicu as in the highlands before we cross the Patapampa Pass (4850m) which marks the descent into the canyon itself. The sight of the green and fertile terraces of the canyon as we take the winding road to the town of Chivay is a real contrast to the barren yet beautiful landscapes we have travelled through for most of the day. This is the first day where we may feel the effects of altitude - although we do not linger at the top of the pass we spend the night at around 3600m and so it is a good idea to take it easy on arrival. *Hotel Pozo del Cielo, Chivay (or similar) *

 Day 8 To Colca Canyon; explore and search for condors.

Today we have a full day exploring the Colca Canyon, starting with a visit to the Cruz del Condor, the best place to see the mighty Andean condors as they glide on the morning thermals. We also see ancient tombs which line the cliffs on one side of the canyon, and make stops in the villages along the way which house several interesting colonial churches. Depending on time, we may take a short walk along farm tracks to learn more about the agriculture on which the whole region is dependent. After a long day of exploration, an optional visit to the hot springs near Chivay this evening is a wonderful way to relax. *Hotel Pozo del Cielo, Chivay (or similar) *

 Day 9 Drive via Sillustani to Puno (3800m), by Lake Titicaca.

Today we drive through the mountains to Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. En route we have opportunities to see vicu as before making a short visit to the unique burial towers (chullpas) of Sillustani. The altitude here (3800m) makes physical effort very tiring and the evenings are very cold so taking time to rest is highly recommended. *Casona Plaza Hotel (or similar)*

 Day 10 Sail to floating reed islands; afternoon explore lake shore.

We have a full day on and around Lake Titicaca, visiting the descendants of the Uros Indians, who live on islands of floating reeds and, save for a few modest concessions to the modern world, still live as their ancestors would have done centuries ago. These days, although tourism has had a significant economic impact on the islands, the Indians still use a barter system to trade with those living on the mainland, and fishing and weaving remain key elements of their daily life. An afternoon of short walks is designed to highlight the culture of the indigenous groups who inhabit the small towns and villages alongside the lake. *Casona Plaza Hotel (or similar)*

 Day 11 Drive across the altiplano to Cuzco (3400m).

Today we take a bus ride across the altiplano, the high plains separating the Andes from the jungles. Although it is quite a long drive (approx. 10hrs), it is interesting and often spectacular. There are scheduled stops to visit some of the most interesting sites to help break up the day and appreciate the immensity of the Andean landscapes. These include La Raya Pass (4313m), the watershed and geographical dividing line between the altiplano and the Vilcanota Valley where Raqchi Inca temple is located. We arrive in Cuzco (3400m) in the evening. *Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)*

 Day 12 Visit Pisac market and Inca ruins in the Sacred Valley.

This morning we head out of Cuzco to the colourful handicraft market at Pisac, at the entrance to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. After some free time to browse the stalls, we take a walking tour of the huge Inca ruins above the village. After lunch, we drive down the valley to Ollantaytambo, where we visit the immense Inca fortress and explore the unique village whose streets still follow the pre-conquest grid plan. *Tunupa Lodge (or similar)*

 Day 13 Return to Cuzco. Inca Trail option: start trek and walk to Huayllabamba.

Today the group divides between those doing the Inca Trail and those staying in Cuzco. The trekkers will head to the trailhead for the first day of trekking from KM82 to the hamlet of Huayllabamba, while the rest of the group will return to Cuzco in the afternoon. On all departures, when Inca Trail permits have sold out, the classic Inca Trail can be substituted with the remote and beautiful Moonstone Trek - please ask for details. *Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)* *Inca Trail Option* The Classic Inca Trail is a tangential branch part of a 45,000km road network linking the whole empire to Cuzco. It was built in the 15th Century to reach Machu Picchu but was abandoned soon after the Spanish conquest. American adventurer, Hiram Bingham travelled along the trail when he came across Machu Picchu in 1911. The trail opened to the public in 1970. We leave Cuzco early and drive for roughly two hours to Ollantaytambo; our last chance to buy any items needed for the trek. From here we veer off the road and follow a track beside the river (45 minutes) to the start of the Inca Trail at Piscacucho, commonly known as Km82. After greeting our trekking crew we show our passports at the checkpoint and begin the Inca Trail trek. The trail runs alongside the Vilcanota River beneath the impressive snowcapped Nevado Veronica, passing through cactus gardens and fields of corn until we reach the enormous Inca ruins of Llactapata, where we continue up a side valley to camp near the hamlet of Huayllabamba. Inca Trail option: Meals included - breakfast, lunch, dinner. *Full-service camping, Huayllabamba Camp*

 Day 14 Free time in Cuzco. Inca Trail option: cross 'Dead Woman's Pass'.

For those not walking the Inca Trail today is free to explore Cuzco, which is one of the most pleasant and interesting cities in South America, and an excellent place for shopping, eating and drinking. A variety of optional tours are available, including visits to the sites of Pikillacta and Tipon to the south of Cuzco, exploration of the colonial religious monuments in Cuzco, or hikes in the surrounding hills. *Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)* *Inca Trail Option* This is the longest and most strenuous day of the trek. A long climb takes us first through an area of cloud forest to the meadows of Llulluchapampa, then over the Warmihua usca (Dead Woman's) Pass, at 4215m the highest point on the trek. After quite a long, steep descent we camp in the scenic valley of the Pacamayo River (3600m). Inca Trail option: Meals included - breakfast, lunch, dinner. *Full-Service Camping, Pacamayo Camp*

 Day 15 Free time in Cuzco. Inca Trail option: walk via Runcuracay and Sayajmarca to Phuypatamarca camp.

For those not walking the Inca Trail these days are free in and around Cuzco, which is one of the most pleasant and interesting cities in South America, and an excellent place for shopping, eating and drinking as well as a variety of optional tours, including a visit to the fortress of Sacsayhuaman which lies on a hillside above the city, exploration of the colonial religious monuments in Cuzco, or hikes in the surrounding hills. If you prefer something more active your leader can also help to arrange a mountain biking excursion in the Sacred Valley, or a paddle-boarding tour on a nearby lake. *Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)* *Inca Trail Option: * We start the day with an easier climb which takes us past the ruins of Runquracay and over the Runquracay Pass (3930m). From now on the Inca Trail becomes a clearly defined path made of flat boulders. We pass the ruins of Sayajmarca and suddenly enter rainforest; at one point the trail passes through an Inca tunnel. We camp at a spectacular campsite on the ridge above the Inca site of Phuyupatamarca (3680m) to benefit from the views of sunset and sunrise. Inca Trail Option: meals included - breakfast, lunch, dinner. *Full-service camping, Phuyupatamarca Camp*

 Day 16 Take the train to Aguas Caliemtes. Inca Trail option: walk via Wi ay Wayna to Machu Picchu.

We depart Cuzco in the morning, drive to Ollantaytambo and then make the scenic train journey through the Urubamba River Valley to Aguas Calientes (approx. 1 hour 30 minutes), arriving in the afternoon. The rest of the day has been left free to explore at your own leisure. Aguas Calientes is a bustling town with a large handicraft market (although prices here are at a premium in comparison to Pisac or Cuzco markets). There are some nearby hot springs however they are often overcrowded and the water quality suffers as a result, therefore we don't recommend visiting them. *Hotel Presidente (or similar)* *Inca Trail Option* From the ridge, we embark on the infamous Inca steps: a two kilometre stone staircase taking us rapidly downhill amid a panorama of overwhelming immensity, with the peaks of the Vilcabamba range above, and the river thousands of metres below. After visiting the attractive ruins of Wi ay Wayna, we have an undulating walk through cloud forest high above the river to Inti Punku, the Sun Gate. From here we get our first full sight of Machu Picchu itself, with Huayna Picchu rising behind. Traditionally busy with groups of trekkers clamouring for photos, we plan our arrival at Inti Punku later in the day so we can enjoy unobstructed views of the magnificent ruins. Passing around the edge of the ruins, we exit the site and descend to Aguas Calientes for a well-earned rest, a shower and a comfortable bed for the night. Our trekking permits allow us one entry into the site, which we use for our tour tomorrow, but anyone wishing to visit the citadel on both days can purchase an additional entry ticket today - your tour leader will assist with this. There is usually time for an optional visit to the hot springs in Aguas Calientes, however, in recent years they have become over-crowded and the water quality can suffer as a result. Inca Trail Option: Meals included - breakfast, lunch. *Hotel Presidente (or similar)*

 Day 17 Morning guided tour of Machu Picchu; afternoon return to Cuzco.

In order to beat the day-trippers arriving from Cuzco and reach the ruins as early as possible, a very early start is required to queue for Machu Picchu; only government-registered buses can make the 30-minute drive up the winding road to the site entrance and during high season (May-October) queues can be hours long. Machu Picchu is one of the architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world and what makes it all the more dramatic is its mountain backdrop of staggering immensity. The Spaniards never found it; the Incas left no records of it, and so Machu Picchu remained a great enigma, a city lost for centuries in the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. Having been trialled in 2017, new regulations for visiting Machu Picchu will be fully enforced for 2018; of the three possible visiting slots, Exodus will purchase the morning slot from 06:00 until 12:00 (unless unavailable), you will be limited to a maximum of four hours within the site and must be accompanied by a guide. There will also be three set routes to follow around Machu Picchu; Exodus selects the most comprehensive route. Please note that exploring the ruins involves a reasonable amount of walking, including up and down steep and uneven stone steps. We catch an afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo (1hr 30 mins) and continue by private bus to Cuzco (2hrs 30 mins). *Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)*

 Day 18 Tour of Cuzco and Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman.

We have a full-day tour combining the highlights in and around the city. Outside the town are Inca ruins, notably the fortress of Sacsayhuaman where the Inca armies made their last stand against the Conquistadores. In the centre, we visit the Plaza de Armas, and many examples of the famous Inca stonework like those of the Qoricancha Sun Temple located in the Santo Domingo church and Monastery. *Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)*

 Day 19 Free time in Cuzco.

Today has been left free to relax and enjoy the many attractions of Cuzco. It is possible to visit the Cathedral, San Blas Church and a religious art museum (sites not visited the previous day) on a combined entrance fee ticket for approx. US$15. *Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)*

 Day 20 Short flight to Puerto Maldonado; travel by boat into rainforest; afternoon jungle walk.

We leave Cuzco early today as we take a short flight to Puerto Maldonado, a small town in the rainforest. On arrival, we transfer to the dock for a boat trip to our lodge in the Tambopata Reserve this journey takes between 1 and 3 hours depending on which lodge we stay in. On the way, we may see caimans, river turtles and waterfowl. After some time to settle in, we will take a short walk along the forest trails near the lodge to look for nocturnal animals. *Cayman Lodge Amazonia (or similar) *

 Day 21 Jungle exploration by boat and on foot.* *

Activities today will vary according to the lodge used, but will generally include a mixture of walks along the forest trails, time spent in canoes to explore rainforest lakes, and the opportunity to get high into the canopy for a completely different view of the forest. The resident guides are normally around in the evening to answer questions, and from some lodges (not all) there is the option to take a canoe out onto the river in search of caiman by torchlight. *Cayman Lodge Amazonia (or similar)*

 Day 22 Fly to Lima; depart.

We return to Puerto Maldonado after breakfast today and board our flight back to Lima, where the trip ends. Depending on our arrival time, there may be time for last-minute shopping or optional excursions this afternoon before the group flights depart in the evening. **

 Day 23 Arrive London.

The group flights arrive in London this afternoon. **

Tour Map