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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. Overnight in La Paz.
Day 2: La Paz — Murillo Museum, Valley of the Moon
We begin our exploration of La Paz this morning with a visit to the Murillo Museum featuring the rich folklore of this ethnically diverse country.
Day 3: To Uyuni Salt Falts
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. We return back to Colchani to enjoy a great sunset and overnight in a salt hotel.
Day 4: La Paz
Today we take a flight from Uyuni to La Paz. If time permits we will visit the ruins at Tiahuanaco. Tiahuanaco is the most important archaeological site in Bolivia and the historical ceremonial center of this pre-Inca civilization. Overnight in La Paz.
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. Overnight on Taquile Island.
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. Overnight in Cuzco.
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. Overnight in Cuzco.
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. Overnight in Cuzco.
Day 11: Pisaq & Ollantaytambo
Today, we explore the Sacred Valley and its outlying villages. Exploring the major Inca site of Ollantaytambo, we 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 12: Arrive at Machu Picchu — the Lost City of the Incas (or join a trek to Machu Picchu)
We travel by train 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. This famous “Lost City of the Incas” is one of the world’s most memorable archeological sites. Tonight, we stay in Aguas Calientes, the town below the site.
Day 13: Machu Picchu/Sacred Valley, to Ollantayatambo
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.
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. Overnight at our Amazon lodge.
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 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. Overnight in Paracas.
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, Gold Museum
This morning we drive back to Lima for a city tour and a visit to the Gold Museum (Museo de Oro del Peru). This famous museum houses a collection of hundreds of gold items, as well as silver and precious stones. We have our farewell dinner in Lima tonight at a wonderful restaurant overlooking the ocean.
Day 21: Departure
After breakfast, we may have some free time before we transfer to the airport for departing flights.
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