DAYS 46 – 71: PERU
From Copacabana you will cross the border into Peru and head to another town on the shores of Lake Titicaca, Puno. From Puno you will travel through the highlands of Peru to the former Inca capital of Cuzco. You will have an included visit to the Inca site of Tipon en route.
Cuzco is the ancient capital of the Inca empire and any adventure tour to Peru is centred around this stunning city. Even today, many of its buildings still retain some of the original Inca stonework as part of their structure. The town is a fantastic place to spend a few days. A good place to start your explorations is the majestic main plaza, heading out into the cobbled streets lined with attractive colonial buildings. Head up the hill into the neighbourhood of San Blas and you will discover another hidden square with a quiet laid back feel. All the streets are lined with shops, bars and restaurants, from small local cafes to five star dining experiences. If you’re interested in learning more about the history and culture of Peru, there are also some fantastic museums here and the many churches are well worth a look as well.
Cuzco is also the gateway to Machu Picchu with most people trekking one of the many Inca Trails to reach this ancient Inca city. There are two different trekking options, and also a non-trekking option for those who aren’t keen on a multi-day hike through the Andes. The options are:
- Community Trek – hike on unspoiled Inca Trails through the stunning remote Andean scenery away from other tourists and through local communities, on our exclusive Community Inca Trek. If you choose this option you will get a small refund from kitty.
- Classic Inca Trail – Trek the Classic Inca Trail up the Royal Inca Road. Your kitty has been budgeted to accommodate for this option as it is the most costly of the 3 options.
- MAPI non-trekking option – Relax in Cuzco and take the train to Machu Picchu without trekking. If you choose this option you will get a substantial refund from kitty.
Note you must advise at the time of booking if you wish to do either the Classic Inca Trail or the MAPI non-trekking option, otherwise you will be automatically booked onto the Community Trek.
Machu Picchu is often a highlight of a trip to Peru. It is stunningly located, perching high in the Andes surrounded by verdant cloud forest, with the River Urambamba running through the gorge far below. It’s thought that the city was the location of a royal palace and estate, home to the Inca emperors, or possibly a sacred religious and ceremonial sight. It was only discovered in 1911 by the explorer Hiram Bingham, and although the ruins were heavily covered by dense jungle foliage, many of the buildings were well preserved and in excellent condition. The city consists of more than 200 buildings, from houses to temples, storage buildings and public spaces. It’s fascinating to be able to gaze down on the city from above and imagine how it would have looked during the height of the Inca empire.
In addition, a guided tour of the Inca temples of Sacsaywaman and the Sacred Valley is included, as is a guided tour of Machu Picchu itself including plenty of time to freely explore before returning to Cuzco.
From Cuzco you will drive south to the small village of Raqchi. Here you will stay at a homestay as guests of the local villagers in their traditional family homes. The houses are very clean and have basic facilities. In the afternoon you will visit the Inca ruins of the Temple of Wiracocha at Raqchi, and then see a pottery demonstration at a local artisan centre. In the evening the villagers will invite you to take part in a traditional Quechua religious ceremony, and you’ll have some lively music from some of the village’s musicians.
Your overland tour will then travel through the stunning landscapes of the Peruvian highlands to the small town of Chivay where you will stay for the night (with an optional visit to the hot springs) before an early start the next day on a short drive to some of the best viewpoints along the spectacular Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world! The canyon is famous for its resident condors, and you will spend a good amount of time at the viewpoints to give ourselves the best chance of spotting them. You will also visit a couple of local communities on the way back to Chivay, then after lunch in Chivay you will drive to the beautiful “White City” of Arequipa.
In Arequipa you will have a free day to explore this beautiful colonial city, or for some optional activities in and around the city.
From Arequipa you will head for the Pacific coast, where you will stay for the night at the coastal resort of Purto Inca where you will camp for the night at a well-equipped campsite on the beach. The next morning you will head north to the world-famous village of Nazca, the location of the mysterious Nazca Lines. You will have an included visit to the nearby ancient sites of the Chauchilla Cemetery and the Cahuachi Pyramid, thought to have once been the religious centre of the Nazca civilisation.
In the afternoon, you will have the opportunity to take an optional 30-minute flight over the Nazca Lines in a small aircraft – this is by far the best way of seeing the figures, and the operator uses a local operator with an excellent safety record. The Nazca Lines are a series of figures, lines, and geometric shapes that were etched into the ground of the desert plateau over a thousand years ago by the ancient Nazca culture, and their purpose is still unknown to this day.
Continuing north from Nazca you will stop at a viewing platform to get a glimpse of some of the Nazca Lines. You will then travel to the stunning desert oasis town of Huacachina, where we have the option to head out for an evening of sand boarding and dune buggying and the further option to camp out under the stars in the deserts.
From the dunes of Huacachina you will travel to Paracas National Park where you will visit the museum and camp for the night in the park. The following morning you board one of the local boats for an included trip to the Ballestas Islands to view its incredible array of resident wildlife and birds.
You will then travel on to the enormous Peruvian capital of Lima. The city has some lovely streets, parks and plazas to explore and whilst you are here there are many museums you can visit, such as the Museo de la Nacion and the Gold Museum, which showcase the finest artefact’s from the country’s many ancient civilisations. You can also visit the finely preserved catacombs at the Church of San Francisco, and take in a bit of local culture at an evening folklore show.
From Lima you will have a spectacular drive up the winding roads of the Paraomonga Route into the Cordillera Blanca section of the high Andes, reaching the mountain town of Huaraz. You will have two days in the spectacular area of the Cordillera Blanca for exploration and optional activities such as visiting the incredible pre-Inca ruins of Chavín de Huantar or trekking and climbing to the nearby lakes and glaciers.
A full day’s drive down the stunning Casma Route will take you to the Pacific Coast and on to Huanchaco, near the city of Trujillo. In Huanchaco you will have an included guided trip to explore the enormous adobe ruins of Chan Chan and the world-famous Moche archaeological site of Huaca de la Luna (Pyramid of the Moon).
Continuing to follow the coast you will have an included visit to the phenomenal Lord of Sipan museum in Lambayeque, home of an incredible collection of Chimu-era treasures before continuing on to a friendly local campsite just outside Punta Sal. (please note that this museum is closed on Mondays, so you will be unable to visit if your trip passes through on a Monday).
In Punta Sal you have free time here to relax on the beach and enjoy some activities in and around this stunning coastal area.