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Day 1: Arrive in La Paz, Bolivia
Upon arrival at the airport in La Paz (11,600 ft above sea level), you will be met and transferred to our comfortable hotel. Here, you will have the rest of the day free to rest. It is important to take it easy at first so that you gradually acclimatize to the altitude before meeting your tour leader and the group for the Welcome Dinner in the evening.
Day 2: La Paz — Costumbrista Museum, Valley of the Moon
We begin our exploration of La Paz this morning with a visit to the Costumbrista Museum featuring the different customs and traditions of La Paz as well as some of the city’s most prominent historical events.
Day 3: To Uyuni Salt Flats
We have a morning flight to Uyuni where we have time to explore the fast and beautiful Uyuni Salt Flats. This is a unique natural wonder with an expanse of over 10,000 sq. km. While we are here we will visit the village of Colchani on the shores to see the locals produce salt. Enter this perfect natural highway to cross to “Isla Incahuasi”, a special habitat of volcanic rocks and giant cactus. We continue north to the pre-Columbian Aique Pucara fort and the nearby chullpares in the foothills of the Tunupa volcano.
Day 4: Tiahuanaco to Copacabana
Today we take an early morning flight from Uyuni to La Paz. Upon arrival we visit the ruins at Tiahuanaco. Tiahuanaco is the most important archaeological site in Bolivia and the historical ceremonial center of this pre-Inca civilization.
Day 5: Copacabana, Lake Titicaca; To Peru
We begin traveling across the 12,500 ft Altiplano, with views of Illimani and its neighboring peaks in the Royal Cordillera.
Day 6: Taquile Island
In the morning we’ll board a launch for a 3-1/2 hour cruise to Taquile Island. 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.
Day 7: Taquile Island, Puno
This morning we can 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.
Day 8: To the Inca Capital of Cuzco
A full day’s drive takes us over the northern Peruvian Altiplano and down into the narrow valley of Cuzco (11,100 ft), the former capital city of the Incas.
Day 9: Cuzco — Tambo Machay, Kenko, Sacsayhuaman
Today we enjoy the beauty and history of Cuzco 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.
Day 10: Cuzco
We have the day at our leisure to relax or shop, or to explore Cuzco’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. Cuzco’s night life is also full of variety, with musicians contributing traditional Andean music in most of the restaurants.
Day 11: Pisaq
Today, we explore the Sacred Valley and its outlying villages. We stop at Pisaq to view the Inca fortress high above the town located on a mountain spur and walk down to the colonial town center. We’ll stop at the market, famous for traditionally dressed locals selling their handmade sweaters and weavings.
Day 12: Ollantaytambo & Train to Machu Picchu — the Lost City of the Incas (or Join a Trek to Machu Picchu)
This morning we explore the major Inca site of Ollantaytambo, and experience first-hand the huge, steep terraces that guarded the temple area. The village itself is considered the best surviving example of Inca city planning.
Day 13: Machu Picchu/Sacred Valley, to Ollantayatambo
A second and early morning visit to 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.
Day 14: Fly to the Amazon, Canoe up the Tambopata
Please note: For those choosing the more strenuous Inca Trail Option, Days 13–15 diverge from the following itinerary.
Day 15: Lake Condenado — Giant River Otters, Caiman, Piranha
To begin our introduction to the diverse flora and fauna of the Amazon rainforest, we hike to nearby Lago Condenado, an oxbow lake where you may see a variety of birds along the margin of the lagoon. Our knowledgeable local guides explain the natural energy and complexity of the world’s largest tropical wilderness.
Day 16: Tambopata River — Observation Tower, Shaman’s Medicine Garden
Today, we hike to an observation tower to watch the sunrise (or sunset) over the steamy canopy. In the heat of the afternoon, we take a siesta and later, we visit a shaman’s medicinal garden in the jungle.
Day 17: To Ica via Paracas
We begin with a flight from Puerto Maldonado to Lima. Driving south along the coast road to Paracas we see wonderful vistas of huge desert sand dunes, oceanside villages and the Pacific Ocean rolling in to this spectacular coastline.
Day 18: Ballestas Islands
From the Paracas Peninsula, we board a speedboat for the cruise 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 from the rich marine resources of the Humboldt current.
Day 19: Fly over Nazca Lines
Today we will enjoy the 90-minute circuit flight over the Nazca Lines, 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 our 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. Our flight provides a bird’s eye view of this great mystery.
Day 20: Lima City Tour, Larco Museum
This morning we drive back to Lima for a city tour and a visit to the Larco Museum. This famous museum houses a collection of pre-Columbian art, and galleries that provide a thorough overview of 4,000 years of Peruvian pre-Columbian history. It is well known for its pre-Columbian erotic pottery, as well as its collection of gold and silver.
Day 21: Departure
After breakfast, we may have some free time before we transfer to the airport for departing flights.
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