Peru

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Day 1: Arrive in Lima

Met on arrival at Lima Airport and transfer to our Miraflores hotel. Remainder of the day is at leisure. Overnight in Lima.

 

Day 2: Fly to Cajamarca in the Northern Andes

After breakfast we take a tour of Lima colonial city center, a UNESCO site, and the Archeological Museum. In the afternoon we take a short flight to Cajamarca in the Northern Andes.

Overnight in Cajamarca. Altitude 8924ft/2720m.

 

Day 3: Cumbemayo Aqueduct and Inca Baths

This morning we explore this beautifully preserved colonial city where the Conquistador Francisco Pizarro captured the Inca Atahualpa. We see the churches of San Francisco, Belen and La Recoleta and the wonderful colonial mansions.

We visit the Cumbemayo Aqueduct (highest point 10,100ft/3,100m) to see an example of pre-Incan hydraulic engineering that is still functioning today.

We then visit the Inca Baths that have also been preserved along with the stone canals and some fountains. While it is not possible to bathe in the old pools, visitors may enjoy a dip in the new pools. The water is known for its healing properties because of the variety of minerals it contains. The baths are located outside of Cajamarca, so those wishing to walk back to town may do so. Overnight in Cajamarca.

 

Day 4: Kuntur Wasi Ruins, to Chiclayo

Heading west from Cajamarca, we pass through the largest pine forests in Peru. A short visit at the picturesque farm co-operative of Porcon, then on to the small archeological site of Kuntur Wasi. The name means "House of the Condor" in Quechua and for good reason - the views from the site over the Jequetepeque valley are spectacular. The small museum has the oldest known gold pieces of pre-Columbian culture in Peru. We travel down the valley through rice paddies to the desert coast and north to Chiclayo. Overnight in Chiclayo.

 

Day 5: Pyramids of Tucume

Today we visit The Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum which exhibits the most important archaeological remains of the Mochica Culture. The exceptional exhibition of jewels, emblems and ornaments were found in 1987 in the tomb of a Mochica government leader called the Lord of Sipan.

This afternoon, we travel to Tucume, which dates back to the classic period of Sican culture and became the most important urban center of the region. The Chimu and Inca conquerors used it both as a political and administrative center. The pyramids of Tucume are known for their huge size. According to estimations, more than 130 million sun-dried bricks were needed to build the largest one, which measures 1,476 ft long, 328 ft wide and 131 ft high. Overnight in Chiclayo.

 

Day 6: El Brujio, Princess of Cao Museum, to Trujillo

Travelling south on the Panamerican Highway we pass Pacasmayo, Paijan and Ascope. Heading to the El Brujo archeological site from the Moche culture, we visit the pyramid and the newest museum on the Northern Coast dedicated to the "Princess of Cao". The 23 year old princess was buried with beautiful ornamentation showing the grandeur of the Moche culture. This afternoon we explore Trujillo, the third largest city in Peru, located at the mouth of the Moche River. We walk through the city's historic center and visit some of the colonial homes, or "casonas", that are found here. Overnight in Trujillo.

 

Day 7: Chan Chan, Temple of the Moon, Fly to Lima

Today, we visit the Valley of the Moche and the city of Chan Chan (UNESCO World Heritage site), the capital of the Kingdom of the Great Chimu. Chan Chan is considered the largest adobe city in the world and archaeologically speaking, comparable to Teotihuacan in Mexico or the old cities of Egypt. We visit Huaca de la Luna, the Pyramid of the Moon, which contains many colored murals and friezes still being uncovered at a ceremonial center located at the top of the pyramid. Later on this afternoon, we fly back to Lima. Overnight in Lima.

 

Day 8: Pachacamac Temple

Today a 5 hour journey will take us to Ica. We stop at Pachacamac, considered one of the most important religious centers of the indigenous peoples of the central Andes. The site contains a number of pyramids, adobe walls and the remains of frescos adorning those walls. We continue on to the Paracas Marine Reserve, surrounded by sand dunes. Overnight in Paracas.

 

Day 9: Ballestas Island, Nazca Lines Scenic Flight

This morning, from the Paracas Peninsula, we board a speedboat to a wildlife refuge on the offshore volcanic island of Ballestas. Here we can see sea lions, Inca terns, Humboldt penguins and large flocks of gannets, pelicans and other birds which live on the rich marine resources of the Humboldt current.

We drive to Nazca where we board single engine planes for the 30-minute circuit over the Nazca Lines, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most intriguing remnants of the civilizations that prospered along the Pacific Coast for thousands of years before the arrival of the Europeans. During your flight, you will be able to photograph the famous images, including the condor, the hummingbird and the monkey. No one knows for certain why these lines were etched into the desert over 2,000 years ago. Overnight in Nazca.

 

Day 10: To Arequipa

We leave early this morning for our long drive to Arequipa. We have a box lunch en route and enjoy the beautiful desert scenery. On arrival in Arequipa we check into our hotel and enjoy dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Arequipa.

 

Day 11: Arequipa City Sights, Santa Catalina Monastery

This morning we explore the city of Arequipa which has been inhabited since approximately 7600 B.C., and was officially named Arequipa in 1540 by Garci Manuel de Carbajal, a Spanish conqueror.

Known as "Ciudad Blanca" (White City) for its beautiful houses, palaces and temples made out of white porous volcanic rock, the city is located near the slopes of Misti, Chachani and Pichupichu volcanoes. We explore the historical city centre, which has been declared a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site, and some of the wonderful museums in the city.

This afternoon we visit Monasterio de Santa Catalina. Our guide will take us through the maze-like convent, to enjoy its citadel, courtyards and colonial architecture. Overnight in Arequipa.

 

Day 12: To Colca, Hot Springs

We drive to the Colca Canyon this morning; en route, we drive through the surreal moon-like scenery of Reserva Nacional Salinas Y Aguada Blanca, with numerous volcanos creating a splendid backdrop. In addition to the stunning scenery, we will see wild vicunas and domesticated llamas and alpacas.

We take our lunch with us to maximize our time. The Colca Canyon, considered the world's deepest canyon, is located in the Augada Blanca National Reserve. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore on your own or perhaps to enjoy the hot springs at our hotel. Overnight Colca Canyon. Altitude 11,811ft/3,600m.

 

Day 13: Cruz del Condor Colca Canyon, to Puno

We depart early for Cruz del Condor viewpoint, at Cabanaconde, where the Colca Canyon starts. Here we can see the spectacular flight of the condors as well as fabulous views of the canyon. Peru's Andean condors are some of the world's largest flying birds and can weigh up to 33 pounds (15 kg).

Time permitting we will visit Mirador del Choquetico to see a shrine dedicated to Apu, the mountain god, and the fascinating hanging tombs. We arrive in Puno late afternoon for our overnight on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Altitude 12,421ft/3,860m.

 

Day 14: Lake Titicaca, Taquile Island Homestay

This morning we board a launch for a cruise to Taquile Island. We visit the floating reed island communities of the Uros Indians on the way. Taquile's rocky, terraced slopes rise steeply from the waters in the center of the lake.

We'll spend the afternoon on a delightful hike on the island and this evening we'll stay overnight in a native guesthouse. Overnight Taquile Island. Altitude 12,421ft/3,860m.

 

Day 15: Return to Puno by Ferry

This morning we explore Taquile Island, only four miles long and less than a mile wide. The island has picturesque villages, hilltop shrines and a gentle and industrious population of Taquile Indian weavers who welcome us wherever we go.

In the afternoon, we depart by boat back to the mainland. Overnight in Puno. Altitude 12,421ft/3,860m.

 

Day 16: To Cusco

A full day's drive takes us over the northern Peruvian Altiplano and down into the narrow valley of Cusco the former capital city of the Incas. Along the way we plan on several stops including Lampa, known as La Ciudad Rosada (the Pink City) for it's pink-coloured buildings. If the church is open we can see the copy of Michelangelo's La Pieta. In Raqchi we can see the remains of the Temple of Viracocha, once one of the holiest shrines in the Inca empire. Overnight in Cusco. Altitude 10,859ft/3,310m.

 

Day 17: Cusco City Sights

Today we enjoy the beauty and history of Cusco and the surrounding area. We have the opportunity to explore many of the important Inca sites in the hills around the town, including Tambo Machay, Kenko and the massive fortress of Sacsayhuaman.

This afternoon is at leisure to relax or shop, or to explore Cusco's colorful streets and many museums. Many of the streets still retain the stone Incan walls of the former palaces, which made up the heart of the city. Overnight in Cusco. Altitude 10,859ft/3,310m

 

Day 18: Sacred Valley, Pisac, Ollantaytambo

Today, we explore the Sacred Valley and its outlying villages.

We stop at Pisac to view the Inca fortress high above the town located on a mountain spur, and we may walk down to the colonial town center. We stop at the market, famous for traditionally dressed locals selling their handmade sweaters and weavings.

Exploring the major Inca site of Ollantaytambo, we experience first-hand the huge, steep terraces that guard the temple area. The village itself is considered the best surviving example of Inca city planning.

Overnight in the Province of Urubamba. Altitude 9,750ft/2,972m.

 

Day 19: Train to Machu Picchu

This morning we travel by train from Ollantaytambo down the rugged gorge of the roaring Urubamba River. This amazing train journey is rated as one of the top 10 train trips in the world, traveling through truly spectacular scenery through the Andes to Machu Picchu (Altitude 8,000ft/2,400m).

This famous "Lost City of the Incas" is one of the world's most memorable archeological sites, and recently declared one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. We have a guided tour of the site this afternoon. Tonight, we stay in Aguas Calientes, the town below the site.

 

Day 20: Machu Picchu, Return to Cusco

A second day at Machu Picchu allows time for individual exploration of the dramatic site and a chance to contemplate its man-made wonders.

Ambitious hikers may consider hiking to the top of Huayna Picchu. This strenuous hike takes between two and three hours and provides spectacular views over the site of Machu Picchu.

Another option is to follow the shorter and less demanding trail to the Sun Gate. Early afternoon we catch the return train to Ollantaytambo and then return to Cusco by bus. Overnight in Cusco. Altitude 10,859ft/3,310m.

 

Day 21: Chincheros

We have a morning visit to Chincheros which has a rich cultural heritage. It is one of the few places in the area that maintains the Incan urban design and one of the few places where the inhabitants still dress as their ancestors did, in colorful native clothing. The women of Chinchero still practice the art of spinning and wool weaving, of which we hope to see a demonstration of.

We return to Cusco after lunch and the remainder of the day is at leisure before meeting with our group for our farewell dinner. Overnight in Cusco. Altitude 10,859ft/3,310m.

 

Day 22: Depart Cusco

Our adventure concludes today with a transfer to Cusco Airport for your departure flight.

 
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