Day 1 Saturday Arrive Lima
We meet you on your arrival in Lima airport and check you into the comfortable airport hotel for overnight. (Note: Breakfasts are included daily. Other meals included in land cost are designated as L (Lunch) BL (Box Lunch) and D (Dinner).
Day 2 Sunday Arequipa
We fly to Arequipa, an attractive city at 2,380 m./7,806 ft. We transfer to our hotel overlooking the Chili River, with the classic view of El Misti Volcano just to the west. You have the remainder of the morning free to acclimate. Arequipa’s major sites are within easy walking distance of our hotel, and we spend the afternoon touring the most popular of these: the Santa Catalina Convent, and the Museo de Santuarios Andinos, better known as the Inca Mummy Museum.
Day 3 Monday To Lake Titicaca
We travel by van up into the highlands on a good highway which climbs clockwise around the western flank of Chachani Volcano. At Pampa Cañahuas, a high plain north of Chachani, we see troops of wild vicuñas, the graceful relative of the llama and alpaca. The country is relatively dry, and we pass few signs of habitation along our route until we cross a 4,528 metre /14,852 ft pass and descend into the basin of Lake Titicaca. The highest navigable lake in the world at 3,856 m/12,650 ft, Lake Titicaca is intensively settled around its whole margin. The deep waters of the lake buffer the cold nights at this elevation, making the basin less harsh for agriculture than many highland zones of lesser elevations. The huge inland sea is 110 miles in length and some 45 miles in width, and is rimmed on its eastern edge by the impressive snowpeaks of Bolivia’s Royal Range. We visit the famous burial towers at Sillustani, then continue to our hotel overlooking the lake, in the attractive countryside just east of the city. BL
Day 4 Tuesday Taquile Island
We transfer to the port, and board a launch for the 3½-hour cruise to Taquile Island. Taquile’s rocky terraced slopes rise steeply from the waters in the center of the lake. Formerly a private hacienda, the Quechua-speaking islanders regained ownership in the mid-twentieth century, and have been receiving tourists into their homes since the early 1980’s. Half a century ago, a trip to the island was an adventure, often an overnight trip in precarious sailboats. Now cooperatives of island families operate comfortable motor launches to make the trip a delightful immersion into another world. We spend the afternoon hiking on the island. Overnight in native homes. L
Day 5/Wednesday Taquile Island/Puno
We have a second day to explore this entrancingly beautiful and peaceful island. Only four miles long and less than a mile wide, the island has hidden beaches, hilltop shrines, and a gentle and industrious population of Quechua peasants who welcome us wherever we go. We depart by boat in the afternoon, and visit the astonishing floating reed island communities of the Uros Indians. Return to the mainland, overnight in hotel. L
Day 6 Thursday La Raya Pass/Cuzco
We travel westward across the northern Peruvian Altiplano. The mountains gradually approach as we climb up to spectacular La Raya Pass (4,330 m/14,202 ft). After crossing this pass, we descend along the beautiful valley of the Vilcanota River. This important river flows northwest through the Sacred Valley of the Incas to Machu Picchu. Beyond the famous Lost City of the Incas, it becomes known as the Urubamba River and then the Ucayali River, as it flows northward into the Amazon. Our major afternoon visit is the magnificent Viracocha Temple at Raqchi. We continue down into the narrow valley of Cuzco (3,310 m/10,857'). We check into a comfortable hotel adjacent to the Korikancha, the Inca Sun temple, for two nights. BL
Day 7 Friday Cuzco
We spend the morning touring the city's fascinating streets, palaces and temples on foot. Many of the streets retain the stone Incan walls of the former palaces which made up the heart of the city. Highlights include the Santo Domingo church/Koricancha complex, Casa Kusi Cancha, and San Blas Plaza. Your afternoon is open to visit museums or to shop. Cuzco’s night life is also full of variety, with strolling musicians contributing traditional Andean music in most of the restaurants. B
Day 8 Saturday Pisaq/Ollantaytambo
We depart Cuzco bound for the Sacred Valley of the Incas, so named for its concentration of Inca temples and palaces. Our first stop is at Saqsayhuaman, the enormous fortified temple overlooking Cuzco. We continue north, crossing a low pass and descending to the valley at the village of Pisaq. We follow the road which switchbacks up above the village, to hike amid the amazing ridge-top terraces and sun temple site, high above the village. Continuing west down this valley, we explore the classic town of Ollantaytambo, with its fortified temple site and extensive irrigation system. Overnight in a comfortable valley hotel.
Day 9 Sunday Chinchero/Machu Picchu
We travel up and out of the valley to the traditional village of Chinchero for the colorful Sunday market. Quechua highland natives bring their produce here to barter for sugar, fruit and many other items supplied by traders from the city. There is a lively section specializing in weavings, pottery and handicrafts of all types. We return to Ollantaytambo to catch the mid-afternoon train down the spectacular gorge of the Uru¬bam¬ba River to Machu Picchu. We spend the night in a comfortable hotel in the nearby town of Aguas Calientes, by the river near the base of the granite ridge on which the ruins perch.
Day 10 Monday Machu Picchu
The famous Lost City of the Incas, one of the world's most memorable archeological sites, is one of the trip highlights. On our full day here we have time for a thorough tour of the central part of the ruins. Those who wish to photograph sunrise at the site can take the earliest shuttle bus, which departs at 5.30AM so that you’re able to enter the site when the main gates open at 6.00AM (the sun clears the eastern ridges around 7.15AM). We return in the afternoon train to Ollantaytambo, and continue by van to Cuzco. Overnight in our hotel.
Day 11 Tuesday Amazon Lodge
We take a 30-minute flight east over the Andes to Puerto Maldonado, and travel by canoe up the Tambopata River to our rain forest lodge in the Tambopata-Candamo Reserve. After late lunch, we have a short walk on a nearby trail to introduce you to this habitat. The lodge’s naturalist guides also take us out in the evening to experience the mysteries of the forest at night. LD
Day 12 Wednesday Amazon Lodge
We hike to nearby Lago Condenado, an oxbow lake where you may see a variety of birds along the margin of the lagoon. The lodge’s naturalist guides introduce you to the enormous natural energy and complexity of the world's largest tropical wilderness. In the afternoon you have an opportunity to swim in the clear waters of a stream near the lodge. LD
Day 13 Thursday Amazon Lodge
We take a short canoe ride down the Tambopata River, then hike to a nearby oxbow lake where you may see Giant otters and caimans. Our excursions afford you an opportunity to experience a variety of rain forest habitats, each with a distinctive, complex community of insects, birds and animals. You also enjoy time to relax and explore the forest on your own along the network of nature trails near the lodge. LD
Day 14 Friday Lima
We return to Puerto Maldonado in the morning, and catch an early afternoon flight to Lima. We transfer to our delightful small hotel in the quiet Miraflores or San Isidro district. You have the remainder of the afternoon free. Overnight in hotel.
Day 15 Saturday Home -- or -- Nazca Extension
Airport transfer is included for passengers on 15-day program who depart today.
WITH NAZCA LINES EXTENSION:
The Nazca Lines are the most intriguing of the many remnants of civilizations that prospered along the Pacific Coast for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. Line drawings of figures were created in the desert floor by removing the dark top layer of gravel to expose the lighter sand underneath. Figures include birds, fish, monkeys, spiders, and thousands of seemingly random lines. On this tour you fly over the lines in small aircraft, with opportunities for photography as well as to view the immense scale and precision of the figures. In addition, you visit an offshore wildlife reserve with thousands of nesting marine birds, penguins, and enormous sea lion colonies. Peru's coast is a startling and fascinating finale to this exploration of the Andes.
Day 15 Saturday To Ica
Transfer from your hotel to the bus terminal for the deluxe express bus south along the coast to the desert oasis town of Ica. Overnight in a comfortable hotel with swimming pool. Lunch and dinner are on your own.
Day 16 Sunday Ica
Ica is surrounded by vast sand dunes, and one of the wildly popular activities is taking a dune-buggy ride. Many people try dune-boarding as well. Other popular options are to visit a Pisco distillery, to sample Peru's famous fiery brandy; and teh local archeological museum, which has an excellection. We include breakfast; lunch and dinner are on your own.
Day 17 Monday Nazca Lines / Ballestas Islands
After a one-hour drive across the desert, we reach Pisco Airport, near the town of Paracas. We board a single-engine plane for the 90-minute circuit over the famous lines. The pilot positions the plane to optimize your view and photography of the most famous images: the condor, the hummingbird, and many more. No one knows precisely why the inhabitants of these coastal valleys etched lines and figures in the desert some 2,000 years ago. The overflight gives you an inkling of the scale of their achievements.
We continue to Paracas Bay, and board a speedboat for the cruise out to a wildlife refuge on the offshore Ballestas Islands, a cluster of volcanic rock outcroppings. Here you view sea lion colonies, Inca terns, Humboldt penguins, and large flocks of gannets, pelicans and other birds which live off the rich marine resources of the Humboldt current. After lunch, you return to Lima by express bus. We transfer you to the airport for your overnight flight home, or to a hotel (optional at additonal cost.) We include breakfast; lunch and dinner are on your own.
Tour Leadership: We pride ourselves on the quality, experience, and wide-ranging skills of our guides. They are Peruvians, fluent in English, born and raised in the Cuzco highlands, who have combined their love of the mountains of their homeland with years of professional training. They bring to their groups a variety of personal interests ranging from birding to astronomy. Most of all, they are caring individuals. They make it their personal goal to see that you make the most of your visit to their land, and that you have the trip of a lifetime.
Included in Land Cost:
All land transportation, in private bus or common carrier where trains are used
Airport transfers on scheduled arrival and departure days
Entrance fees to museums and sites mentioned in itinerary: Santa Catalina Convent, Museo de Santuarios Andinos, Uros Islands, Taquile island, Raqchi, Cuzco cathedral, Santo Domingo/Koricancha, Saqsayhuaman, Pisaq, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero, entrance to, single-day entrance to Machu Picchu citadel
Shared twin accommodation in comfortable hotels, one night in homes of islanders on Taquile (single hotel accommodation available at extra cost)
Meals as indicated
Tips for group baggage handling
Included in Nazca Add-on:
2 nights hotel (based on sharing accommodations)
2 Lima tranfers
Express bus Lima/Ica/Lima
Ballestas Island Tour
Nazca Lines overflight with Local Guides
Not included in land cost:
International and internal airfare
Airport fees & border taxes
Beverages with included meal
Meals not specified as included in the itinerary
Insurance, laundry, and other items of a personal nature
Your guide's tip
INRENA visitor fee for the Tambopata-Candamo Reserved Zone. Payment for this ticket is collected directly from passengers in Puerto Maldonado by lodge personnel. For lodge programs in lower river: currently US$12.00 (subject to change).
Not included on Nazca Add-on:
Lunches and dinners, tips to guides