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Peru Highlights

Trip type: 
Cultural
Adventure level: 
3. Moderate
Max group size: 
12
Avg user rating: 
Awaiting reviews
Americas, Peru | 22 days
Trip code: 
GGSJC
What's included: 

Transport - Bus, Plane, Train, Canoe

Accommodation - Hotel (16 nts), Homestay (2 nts), Jungle Lodge (2 nts)

Meals - 19 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 5 Dinners

 

Trip Highlights: 
See the mysterious Nazca Lines
Walk on floating islands with the Uros Indians of Titicaca
Discover Machu Picchu by train
Explore the Amazon Jungle
see full itinerary >>

Holidays in Peru
You'll follow an itinerary which has been researched and planned by our experts, saving you all the hassle of organising the trip. The itineraries are designed to minimise the time spent travelling and maximise the variety of experiences.
We often have multiple itineraries so please check to see which itinerary is suitable for you, by selecting the relevant tab.
Itinerary options
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Itinerary for Peru Highlights

(Departures in 2014-15)
  • Day 1 - Lima
  • Day 2 - Pisco
  • Day 3 - Nazca
  • Day 4-5 - Arequipa
  • Day 6-7 - Chivay/Colca Canyon
  • Day 8-10 - Puno/Lake Titicaca
  • Day 11-13 - Cusco
  • Day 14 - Sacred Valley/Ollantaytambo
  • Day 15 - Aguas Calientes
  • Day 16 - Machu Picchu
  • Day 17 - Cuzco
  • Day 18-19 - Amazon Jungle
  • Day 20-21 - Lima
Extensions and Extras: Extend your holiday and see more of the world. View additional tours for this trip »
Day
1

Lima

Bienvenidos! Welcome to Peru.

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 4pm on Day 1.

You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until your welcome meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

While Peru's capital officially began life in 1535, when Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro founded the city on the Day of the Three Kings, settlements had been scattered through the valley since before the Incas. The city was built on top of an existing palace and temples that belonged to the local chief who had little choice but to move on. Lima was in its prime during the Spanish colonial days and much of the city's attraction now lies in its well-preserved historical centre.

If you arrive early, we recommend you take a walk around Miraflores. Go from Central Park (Parque Kennedy) to LarcoMar via Larco Avenue. Alternatively go to Parque del Amor (Love's Park) for a nice view of Lima's beaches. Other things to see and do include a tour to Pachacamac (approx 30 km from downtown Lima), the Museo de la Nacion and the Gold Museum. Limenos (Lima's residents) are friendly and there are plenty of great restaurants and cafes to sample ceviche, a local seafood speciality.

Explore the 16th-century monastery of San Francisco which boasts a fresco of the Last Supper that has a distinctly Peruvian flavour: the disciples pictured dine on guinea pig and drink from gold Inca cups. The monastery's catacombs are the real drawcard - they've been Lima's underground cemetery for hundreds of years.

There are many fine museums in and around the city including the Museo del Tribunal de la Santa Inquisicion, which gives a fascinating insight into the Spanish Inquisition.

Visit the Archaeological Museum, which offers a look at Peru's succession of ancient cultures.

ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!

Before your trip: Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.

During your trip: While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.

Optional Activities

  • Archaeological Museum - PEN11
  • Catacombs - PEN10
  • Museum of the Inquisition - Free
  • Gold Museum - PEN35
  • Museo de la Nacion - PEN10

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

Day
2

Pisco

Your leader will take you on a walking tour of downtown Lima, including the city's historical centre - so there's no need for you to visit the downtown area prior to the trip. Flanked by streets of ornate colonial mansions, palaces and churches, Plaza Mayor is the best place to start any exploration of Lima. Take a walk through the old streets to get a feel for colonial life. On one side of the plaza is the Cathedral, which houses the remains of Lima's founder, Francisco Pizarro.

Travel by taxi or minivan to Lima's bus station and take a local bus to Pisco (approx 4 hrs). The bus will stop three or four times before reaching your destination.

This small fishing town is the gateway to the Ballestas Islands and the Paracas National Reserve but it's most famous as the birthplace of Peru's national drink, the pisco sour, made from a local brandy of the same name. For some local food specialities, head to the Plaza de Armas where the locals hang out and munch on tejas, small sweets made from nuts and dried fruits.

Included Activities

  • Leader-led walking tour

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

 

Day
3

Nazca

Sometimes called the 'Galapagos of Peru', the Ballestas Islands are a haven for wildlife including hundreds of pelicans, red-footed boobies, flamingos, sea lions and even penguins. Get up close to this amazing wildlife with a boat tour of the islands (approx 1.5-2 hrs).

Between June and September the port might be closed by the Peruvian Navy due to weather conditions. Should this occur an alternative option of a land tour to the Paracas National Reserve will be offered.

Travel on to Nazca (approx 3 hrs), stopping en route at the oasis of Huacachina.

The town of Huacachina is built around a small natural lake surrounded by dramatic sand dunes, which offer endless photography and sandboarding opportunities.

The entire desert in the Nazca area was once home to the ancient Nazca and Paracas cultures which preceded the Incas by over 500 years. Remains of their cultures are still visible - Nazca is home to the famous and enigmatic Nazca lines, enormous designs inscribed in the desert on the arid high plateau.

The enormous lines have been etched into the ground by scraping away the top darker layer of gravel which then contrasts with the paler one underneath. Animals, insects and birds are depicted, and some of the simpler line formations are up to 10 km (32 miles) in length. Who drew them, how and why, can only be guessed at, but theories range from alien invaders to complex Nazca calendars.

These mysterious shapes are better seen from the air. Small four/six seater planes offer 30 minute flights that allow viewing all 26 figures scattered through the desert floor.

Warning! Planes turn sharply from one side to another to facilitate viewing from both sides of the plane. Plastic bags are provided on board but needless to say, this flight is not recommended for those with a weak stomach.

A safety note. A number of local operators offer flights over the Nazca lines. It should be noted that there have been numerous safety issues over Nazca in the past – as such Intrepid has used its best endeavors to assess the safety of the operation of some of these companies. While it is impossible to guarantee the safety of air operations, your leader can only assist you to book this activity through companies Intrepid assesses are safer to fly with. Your leader is specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting booking this activity through any other operators.

Optional Activities

  • Ballestas Islands tour - PEN55
  • Flight Over the Nazca Lines - USD100

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

Day
4-5
Arequipa

Arequipa

Visit the desert cemetery of Chauchilla. The Nazca people were buried with colourful textiles and ceramics deep in the desert where the dry, arid climate has naturally mummified the bodies for over 1,500 years.

Early in the afternoon you travel from Nazca to Arequipa by local bus (approx 9hrs)

Standing at the foot of El Misti Volcano and oozing the best of Spanish colonial charm, Arequipa vies with Cuzco for the title of Peru's most attractive city. Built out of a pale volcanic rock called sillar, the old buildings dazzle in the sun, giving the city its nickname - the 'White City'. The main plaza, with its cafes and nearby cathedral, is a lovely place to while away the day.

For a glimpse into a bygone way of life, visit the Monasterio de Santa Catalina. When the convent was built in the 16th century it was traditional for the second son or daughter of a family to enter the religious service. The Santa Catalina accepted only women from high-class Spanish families, with each family paying a hefty dowry for her acceptance. But life inside the convent was far from modest - each nun had between one and four servants, many brought rugs, fine china and silk curtains, and they often held parties. 

Included Activities

  • Chauchilla Cemetery Tour
  • Chauchilla cemetery

Optional Activities

  • Santa Catalina Monastery - PEN35
  • Juanita Museum - PEN20

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)

 

Day
6-7

Chivay/Colca Canyon

Travel by minivan to Chivay (approx 5 hrs). Along the way you'll see llamas, alpacas and vicunas and discover the differences between these similar creatures. There will also be the opportunity to stop for pictures. At your second stop (after approx 2 hrs), you'll have the chance to try some coca tea. After a third stop at Patapampa (4800 m above sea level and the highest point on our tour), you descend to Chivay - your base for exploring Colca Canyon.

More than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, Colca Canyon provides some breathtaking views. The Incan and pre-Incan terraces that are carved into the walls are still cultivated and traditional Indian villages are dotted throughout the canyon.

After lunch at Chivay, your local guide will organise a short trek, finishing at the local hot thermal baths. You may choose to spend your evening soaking in the baths, dining on llama steak or listening to live Andean music at a pena.

Your accommodation in Chivay is in a very basic hostel. There are en suite toilets, however there is no heating (you can request extra blankets) and some rooms can be noisy.

The main star of the canyon is not the amazing scenery but the magnificent Andean condor, the world's largest flying bird. Wake up very early to go to the viewpoint where you can admire the condors, followed by an opportunity to explore the incredible canyon.

In the afternoon, you'll meet your host families for a one night homestay. You might like to offer to help your host family with their daily activities such as planting, collecting water, peeling potatoes or preparing the family meal.

The Colca community homestay is also very basic with shared family toilets and no showers. There is however a proper bed with extra blankets and a basic local breakfast.

Included Activities

  • Colca Canyon Tour 3d/2n
  • Trekking
  • La Calera hot springs

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt), Homestay (1 nt)

 

Day
8-10

Puno/Lake Titicaca

Say goodbye to your host family and take an easy trek back to Chivay along an old Inca trail (approx 2 hrs). From there, take a bus to Patahuasi (approx 4 hrs). Travel by bus through the dramatic scenery of the high Altiplano to Puno (approx 5 hrs). Located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, Puno is a melting pot of Aymara and Quechuan Indian culture and traditional Andean customs are still strongly represented here. The town is known as the folklore capital of Peru and is famous for its traditional dances. Many festivals are celebrated here, so if you're lucky your visit might coincide with one of the colourful evening parades, when the streets fill with costumed dancers and musicians. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, sitting at 3,820 m above sea level. From the shoreline, the water stretches out almost as far as the eye can see, its expanses just waiting to be explored. Take a tour of the lake by slow motor boat, stopping off to visit the Uros floating islands. The Uros originally built their islands to isolate themselves from rival tribes. The islands are built from many layers of totora reeds that grow in the shallows of the lake. As the reeds closest to the water begin to rot, more layers are added on top. These reeds are used for making everything on the islands, including the boats which can last up to 12 months. To get a closer look at daily life in the Lake Titicaca region, you'll be welcomed into local homes for an overnight stay on a local community. Make the most of your visit by helping your host family with their daily activities or trying to chat in the local language, Quechua. A game of soccer is also a great way to make local friends. Your homestay is a mudbrick house. Rooms have beds and many blankets, there are shared drop toilets but no showers. After breakfast the next day, board the boat again for a visit to Taquile Island (approx 1 hour), where knitting is strictly a male domain and women do the spinning. This is a great place to pick up some high quality, locally knitted goods. An uphill trek of about an hour brings us to the main area of the island and after the visit you descend about 500 steps back to your boat. Transfer back to Puno by boat (approx 3 hrs).

Included Activities

• Lake Titicaca boat tour & homestay

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts), Homestay (1 nt)

Day
11-13

Cusco

Travel by local bus across the spectacular Altiplano to Cuzco (approx 6 hrs).

The Cuzco region truly is the heart and soul of Peru. The city itself is the continent's oldest continuously inhabited city and was the home of the Incas for two centuries before the Spanish built their first capital here. Today Cuzco is a fascinating combination of both cultures. Inca-built walls line the central streets and many of the elegant colonial buildings are built on or around Inca foundations. This is a city steeped in history, tradition and legend and is a perfect base for explorations into the Inca world or to enjoy a range of outdoor activities.

Take the time to acclimatise to the city's 3,450 m (11,150 ft) altitude and explore the many Baroque churches and ancient temples that dot the city.

Your leader will take you on a walking tour including a visit to the Coca Musuem - where you can learn more about this infamous plant which has been an essential part of life in the Andes for centuries - and the local San Pedro market.

The Boleto Turistico (Tourism Ticket) is a good option if you to visit the many musems in Cuzco. This ticket also includes the archaeological around Cuzco such as Saqsaywaman, Q'enqo, Pica Pakara, Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Some museums in town, like Contemporary Art Meseum, Regional History Museum and Qosqo Native Art Museum can only be accessed by purchasing the Boleto Turistico. 

There are several impressive Inca ruins within the city. The most easily accessible is Coricancha, which was the Inca empire's richest temple. Once plated in thick gold, the Spanish built a Dominican church atop its sturdy walls.

 

Take a bus to the Sacred Valley where you can visit a local community and learn about Andean lifestyle and daily activities.

 

Included Activities

  • Leader-led walking tour
  • Coca Museum

Optional Activities

  • Coricancha - PEN10
  • Saqsayhuaman, Qenqo and Tambomachay archaeological sites - PEN136
  • Boleto Turistico (half ticket) - PEN73
  • City tour - USD15

Accommodation

 

Hotel (3 nts), Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)

 

Day
14
Sacred Valley/Ollantaytambo

Sacred Valley/Ollantaytambo

We'll head to a community along the valley to learn about local lifestyle and activities, and if our visit coincides with market day, we can spend time browsing the stalls in search of hand-painted beads or warm ponchos and maybe practising a little bit of the local language, Quechua. Your leader might also suggest an optional local meal or an Andean picnic with the locals.

The town of Ollantaytambo has been built over an ancient Inca town, which is a magnificent example of Inca urban planning. This is one of the few places where the Incas defeated the Spanish.

Included Activities

  • Sacred Valley community visit

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

 

Day
15

Aguas Calientes

Travel by train through the winding Urubamba Valley to Aguas Calientes (approx 90 mins).

Sitting at the base of Machu Picchu in a picturesque valley, Aguas Calientes takes its name from the numerous hot springs that are dotted throughout the area.

Optional Activities

  • Hot springs - PEN10
  • Machu Picchu Site Museum - PEN25

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

Day
16

Machu Picchu

Take a bus up the winding road to Machu Picchu (approx 30 mins).

Machu Picchu is one of those genuinely magical places, and catching your first glimpse of the lost city of the Incas through the early morning mist is definitely a moment you’ll never forget.

The ruins of this forgotten city are stunningly located, perched high in the Andes surrounded by verdant cloud forest, with the river Urambamba running through the gorge far below. Hidden away on a ridge between the mountains, Machu Picchu is invisible from below, so it's no surprise it's ruins remained a secret for so many years. Historians believe the city was probably completely self-contained, surrounded by agricultural terraces sufficient to feed all it's inhabitants and watered by natural springs. 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.

Discovered in 1911 by the explorer Hiram Bingham, 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.

WAYNA PICCHU: Please note, due to Intrepid's internal safety policy our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking this activity.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

Day
17

Cuzco

Enjoy free time to relax, shop and explore more of Cuzco's sights. Rest weary legs at a cafe on Plaza de Armas. For those who can't get enough active adventure, why not try mountain biking in the hills that surround Cuzco.

Optional Activities

  • Mountain biking - USD35
  • Boleto turistico (general) - PEN135
  • City tyour - USD15
  • Coricancha - PEN10

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

 

Day
18-19

Amazon Jungle

Take a 30 minute flight to Puerto Maldonado.

Upon arrival, the lodge staff will take us to their office in town where you will leave most of your luggage in a safe storage and continue travelling with a small pack with just the necessary items for our next two nights in the jungle. Then take a motorized canoe up river to our jungle lodge in the Madre de Dios Area.

Head into the jungle with our local, multilingual guides and encounter magnificent fauna and flora in their natural habitat. The guides can also teach us about the medicinal properties and practical uses of the plants.

After exploring the wilds, it's time to jump back in the canoe and return to civilisation.

The lodge is eco-friendly and combines low-impact architecture with traditional native style. Rooms are simple, but comfortable with flush toilets (en suite), showers (cold water only), mosquito nets and kerosene lamps for light.

Accommodation

Jungle Lodge (2 nts)

 

Day
20-21

Lima

Travel back to Puerto Maldonado before taking a short flight to Lima (approx 2 hrs).

There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)