DAYS 69 – 88: PERU
Leaving La Paz you will cross the border into Peru and enjoy a unique experience in Puno. Nestling on the shores of Lake Titicaca it is a friendly, well-kept place and much calmer than the hustle and bustle of La Paz. A must visit attraction on any tour through Peru, Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake at 3800m, it is also the original home of the Uros Indians who have made their dwellings on floating reed islands. By boat you will visit the floating islands during the day and then you go that one step beyond the average and spend the night with one of the Indian families on the lesser known islands Isla Amantani or Taquile. Spending some time in these local communities will provide a unique opportunity to learn more about the traditional lifestyle of the Andean people and their customs.
Continuing your travels through Peru, from Lake Titicaca you drive on very good sealed roads through some spectacular scenery as you make your way to Cuzco, the outdoors capital of Peru. Widely considered to be the most interesting cities in South America, Cuzco is surrounded by the Sacred Valley of the Incas and offers a wide range of activities to explore the region. You will be based here for 6 days giving you enough time for the Inca Trail hike, which is regarded by many to be the highlight of their South America overland tour. When permits are still available, the operator will organise your permit for the Classic Trail trek, but great alternative treks can be arranged when permits are not available for the Classic Inca Trail or by your choice (must be pre-arranged at time of booking). These alternatives mean that you still get to visit Machu Picchu. Tours to Machu Picchu are absolutely unbelievable; a trip to this City in the Clouds is an ancient and awe-inspiring part of your South American overland tour. Besides seeing Machu Picchu, you’re able to enjoy the architectural uniqueness of Cuzco and explore some of the colourful surrounding markets.
Please note that for all those visiting Machu Picchu there is the option to buy a ticket to go up the summit next to Machu Picchu, Huaynapicchu. This must be booked and paid for at the time of booking.
From Cusco, YOU continue west, passing herds of llama, alpacas and unspoilt Andean villages as YOU head towards the world’s deepest canyon. Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, Colca Canyon is an awesome spectacle. Here you have the option, accompanied by a local guide, of a one day excursion to view Condors circling lazily on the thermals rising from the canyon floor. On your trip into the canyon you can overnight in the town of Chivay. Because it was isolated for so many years, customs and dress have changed relatively little, which gives a rare glimpse of what life in the Andes would have been like during colonial times. From here you begin dropping down out of the Andes as you head to Arequipa, a beautiful colonial city set at the foot of the impressive El Misti Volcano.
You then camp on our way to one of the world’s great archaeological mysteries – The Nazca Lines. These huge figures and shapes, carved into the stony desert are best viewed from the air. You will also visit Chauchilla Cemetery with its well-preserved mummies.
You will then travel to the oasis town of Huacachina, where there is the option for the adrenaline rush of a dung-buggy ride across the enormous sand dunes, and you can also try your hand at sandboarding down them, before a barbecue and night out under the stars in the desert.
Following the Coastal Highway, the Ballestas Islands in the Paracas National Reserve is your next stop. Here you take a boat trip to view one of the most important marine reserves in the world with one of the highest concentrations of rare and exotic sea birds and sea mammals.
Further up the coast is Peru’s capital city, Lima. On this stop on your overland trip to the Amazon you’ll encounter both abundant wealth and grinding poverty, modern skyscrapers next to some of the finest museums and historical monuments in Latin America.