Please see Holiday Information Sheet for this holidays individual departures itinerary (located under View Departures & Book tab)
We depart from London our direct British Airways flight to Lima. On arrival we transfer to the Lima hotel where we stay for one night. Dinner is not included tonight but the leader will point out options to those that wish to eat.
After breakfast we will have a day’s sightseeing in Lima including the Plaza de Armas and the Church of San Francisco. We will visit the Larco Museum and take lunch at the museum restaurant. Late afternoon we fly to Arequipa (two nights) situated 2,335m above sea level, the most "colonial" city in Peru. It is a good place to begin our acclimatisation to high altitude. Please note dinner is not included this evening but the town square, a short walk from the hotel, has plenty of eating options. Your tour leader will advise.
This is the desert or arid region, some 600 miles south of Lima. Arequipa is known as the ‘White City’ because many of its buildings have been made from sillar, the white volcanic rock quarried locally. Our tour might start at the viewpoints for El Misti, the volcano that stands over the city and Yanahuara. We will visit the monastery of Santa Catalina to see the architecture, art and furniture of a world that has stood still since 1570, our guided tour here takes about an hour. Finally we will reach the earthquake damaged cathedral & Plaza de Armas square. Our hotel is within walking distance of the square so we can return to the hotel on foot. There will be free time at the end of the day to relax or explore further.
This morning we depart by coach on the road through the magnificent scenery of the high pampa and over the 4,900m Patapampa Pass. This will be the highest altitude we reach on our holiday. This is the place the affects of altitude are most likely to be felt so we will not stop at the pass this time but descend to Chivay village and our hotel for an afternoon of rest and relaxation. On the journey herds of vicuna, lama and alpaca are often seen along with Andean bird life.
We visit the valley of the Colca Canyon, a cleft in the earth's surface said to be 3,000m deep, double that of Colorado's Grand Canyon, its grandeur creating an enormous impression on visitors. We set out early in order to see (if we are lucky) a display of condors. On a good day these huge birds fly astonishingly close. Later we can walk to Cabanaconde village for lunch. There may also be a chance to visit the local hot springs, the walk from the hotel is about 3km taking a gentle hour. After visiting the hot springs the coach will bring us back to the hotel.
From Colca we take the road back over the Patapampa Pass and continue to Puno arriving late afternoon for a two night stay. The journey takes about 6hrs. This time, being better acclimatised, we can stop to sample life at high altitude. It is likely there will be patches of snow at the pass. Another highlight for some might be to catch sight of flamingos at Lago Lagunillas on the way.
Puno lies on a bay of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world at 3,827m. It sits amidst bleak, almost treeless countryside, with the peaks of the Cordillera Real in the far distance. The local people have retained many ancient customs, which with the existence of pre-Hispanic and colonial monuments make the area another fascinating region to visit. We will visit the Island of Taquile in Lake Titicaca the home of skilled weavers and knitting men. The walk across Taquile Island for many will be the most spectacular walk of the holiday. It takes about an hour to walk up from the jetty to the town where we can take lunch is a local cafe, we then descend back down to the boat. We also stop to see some of the ‘floating’ islands of the Uros Indians in the lake. We also have a chance to visit the Yavari project where local labour is involved in restoring a steam ship made in Victorian Britain and transported over the Andes to Lake Titicaca in pieces by mule. Contributions to this charitable foundation are most welcome.
We travel by road the 250 miles from Puno through mountainous country to Cuzco (approx. 8 hours) for one night. En route we will visit the Sillustani Peninsula, with its mysterious burial mounds or tombs thought to be those of ancient Hatuncolla chiefs.
We visit Cuzco for several reasons not least for its Inca and Spanish colonial remains and the local people who have retained their original clothing and customs but also for the outstanding beauty of the scenery. This region has a strong character of its own. The city is sited at over 3,000m in the Andes. Little is known of its history before the arrival of Pizarro’s rampaging armies. During our stay here we have an opportunity to see the magnificent architecture of the convents and churches.
We leave Cuzco early and drive out to the Sacred Valley to walk down from the ruins above Pisac into the market, another walk with spectacular views. We descend 500m over 4km. The walk takes about 2hrs at a gentle pace with plenty of time to enjoy and photograph the view. The market in Pisac at the end of the walk is probably the best place to buy local crafts on the holiday. We stay one night in the Sacred Valley.
After a leisurely morning we take an afternoon train for Machu Picchu. We travel the 70 miles by train for a night in the village of Aguas Calientes (one night) below Machu Picchu. The train journey takes about 90mins through spectacular scenery and is another highlight of the holiday. On arrival in Aguas Calientes it is short walk to the hotel.
We will take minibuses up to Machu Picchu to enjoy the early morning light and a full guided tour of the ruins before the midday crowds arrive. We will have plenty of time to take in the site, undoubtedly one of the wonders of the world. There is a very good reason why Machu Picchu is a world renown tourist site. We should also have time to walk up to the Inti Punku gate. This is the end of the Inca Trail and offers a great view over the site. The walk climbs 350m over 1.5km on a well trodden, if rocky, trail. The plan is to take lunch here whilst enjoying the view. We catch the early afternoon train back to Cuzco and to our hotel where we stay three further nights.
We begin with a coach journey to Tambo Machay 30 minutes outside Cusco, followed by a visit to the sites of Puca Pucara, Quenko and Sacsayhuaman. This is an enormous construction on the outskirts of Cuzco of whose walls Pedro Sancho wrote in 1534: "Spaniards who have seen them say that not even the Bridge of Segovia nor any construction of Hercules or the Romans can be compared to this". It is possible for clients to walk back down to Cusco from Sacsayhuaman (350m descent, many steps, 1hr) for those who would like. Back in Cuzco we will spend time with our local guide taking the myriad city sights.
This is planned as a free day for you to relax or explore Cuzco in more depth.
We fly from Cuzco down the Andes to Puerto Maldonaldo, we continue by boat on the Madre de Dios River for the 30 min journey to a jungle lodge for two nights.
Here, east of the Andes, is the greatest tropical forest in the world - the Amazon Jungle. We will walk, canoe and explore the jungle with an expert local guide to get the most of a stay. A canoe trip on Lake Sandoval offers the chance to spot otters (endangered and rarely seen), howler monkeys (which you will likely hear before you see), macaws and caimans.
We return to Puerto Maldonado by boat from where we fly back
to Lima for our last night.
We have free time in Lima, before transferring to Lima
airport and flying direct overnight to London.
We arrive back in the Uk.