From the hustle and bustle of Lima to Peru's dramatic coast, this tour of Peru's south and Pacific seaboard is perfect for travelers with a thirst for adventure. Explore the colonial-era southern city of Arequipa, then explore the nearby Colca Canyon—the 2nd deepest in the world. Visit pre-Inca petroglyph sites, dinosaur prints, and mummified trees, then continue to Camana on the coast. From soaring Andean condors to the Paracas nature preserve, this exploration of Peru's wild nature is a must-see. 

Highlights

  • Explore Peru's diversity, from metropolitan Lima to small mountain towns
  • See the spectacular Andean condor in the dramatic Colca Canyon
  • Experience Peru's pre-Inca cultures
  • Spot marine wildlife in the Paracas preserve, including the Humboldt penguin

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Lima Lima
Day 2 Arrival in Arequipa Arequipa
Day 3 Free Day in Arequipa Arequipa
Day 4 Colca Valley: Patawassi, Sibayo, Chivay Chivay
Day 5 Chivay to Arequipa - Viewpoints on the Route Arequipa
Day 6 Drive from Arequipa to Camaná Camaná
Day 7 Camaná to Puerto Inca puerto inca
Day 8 Puerto Inca to Paracas Paracas
Day 9 Paracas - Lima Lima
Day 10 Lima: Free Day to Explore Lima
Day 11 Departure from Lima  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Lima

Lima's Plaza Mayor
Lima's Plaza Mayor

¡Bienvenidos! Welcome to Lima, Peru's largest city and central metropolitan hub, and home to one-third of the country's population. Located at the site of a pre-Columbian indigenous Ychsma settlement, which was conquered by the Inca empire in the 15th century and later by the Spanish conquistadores, Lima has a fascinating history and a diverse mix of cultures. Amerindian, European, Afro-Peruvian, and Asian—especially Chinese and Japanese—influences make Lima a dynamic and exciting city to explore. 

Lima's breezy location on the Pacific Ocean and mild desert climate make it the perfect city for exploring on foot. Head downtown to mingle with locals, stretch your legs, and grab a bite to eat in one of the many award-winning restaurants. 

Suggested activities include: 

  • Explore the historic center of Lima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site packed with fascinating Spanish architecture. Start with a scenic tour of the colonial downtown, which emanates from the main square. Stroll over to the 16th-century Cathedral, which took 80 years to construct and was built in the grandiose style of the Spanish Empire. 
  • Visit the Casa Aliaga, a colonial mansion granted by chief conquistador Francisco Pizarro to Jerónimo de Aliaga, one of his captains, in 1535. This is the only house from that era that still belongs to the same family. 
  • Stroll around the Pueblo Libre district to the privately owned Larco Museum of pre-Columbian art, housed in a beautifully restored viceregal mansion built over a 7th-century pre-Columbian pyramid. The museum boasts a vast pre-Colonial collection of gold and silver artifacts. 
  • In the evening, head to the eclectic "Love Park" in the upscale coastal district of Miraflores, where you can admire a huge kissing statue and beautiful mosaic walls.  The park is built on the cliffs of Chorrillos and is a perfect place to enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Pacific. 
  • Enjoy a nightcap at an open-air cafe or restaurant in the diverse Miraflores neighborhood.

Day 2: Arrival in Arequipa

Plaza de Armas in Arequipa
Plaza de Armas in Arequipa

Transfer to the airport and take a domestic flight to the Arequipa Airport. You'll be met there by a tour representative, who will give you a brief intro to the city on the drive to the hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax, settle into the hotel, and get acquainted with the city at your own pace. 

Late afternoon is a great time to head to the Plaza de Armas, one of South America's most beautiful central squares. Enjoy the view of the sun setting over the three volcanoes that surround the city, grab a bite to eat, and rub shoulders with locals out on the town.

Day 3: Free Day in Arequipa

Courtyard in the Monastery of Santa Catalina
Courtyard in the Monastery of Santa Catalina

Today you will have a free day to explore the city center. Visit museums, enjoy lunch on a rooftop terrace, and explore hidden courtyards. Arequipa is a colonial-era city filled with baroque-style buildings built from white volcanic stone. For thousands of years, the Yarabaya, Chimbe, Cabana, and Collagua tribes settled in the valley, creating wide agricultural terraces that were fed by major irrigation channels. The area was later conquered by the Inca Mayta Capac. After conquest by the Spanish in the mid-16th century, Arequipa grew into a culturally, politically, and economically powerful city with strong ties to the crown. 

Suggested Activities Include: 

  • Start your tour in the Plaza de Armas, the city's historical center. This plaza is framed by several churches and political buildings. Several of the buildings surrounding the plaza has restaurants and cafes on the roof, making it a pretty place to sit and enjoy the cityscape.
  • Visit the colonial Monasterio de Santa Catalina to explore a large complex of rooms, secret plazas, and ornate gardens. Continue to the Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus, famous for its incredible baroque style and colorful cupola. 
  • For a tour of Arequipa's most famous museums, visit the Museo de Arte Virreinal Santa Teresa and Museo Santuarios Andinos, which showcase the two cultures in the valley: the former a Spanish convent, art gallery, and living museum, the latter a museum of Indigenous Andean art and archaeology. 
  • Head to the Calle de la Monasterio de Santo Catalina, a popular shopping street, to peruse shops and local cafes. Nearby Calle Mercaderes is a pedestrian walkway with well-known stores and tourist amenities. 
  • Explore the traditional district of Yanahuara, with its beautiful plaza and views of the volcanoes Misti, Chachani and Pichu Pichu. 
  • For some of the best coffee in town, head to Palacios' Coffee, a local coffee roastery that features single-source coffees from all over Peru. Sit down for a hot cup and enjoy tasting a variety of flavors and styles of coffee. 
  • If you're looking for souvenirs and handicrafts, take a short taxi ride to the Plaza de San Fransisco and visit the Fundo El Fierro, an open-air market with affordable jewelry and alpaca wool textiles. For the more expensive vicuña wool, visit the Patio del Ekeko. In either case, look for the official patch that certifies the wool. 
  • Grab a snack or sit down for a meal at one of Arequipa's many street vendors or restaurants. For a real taste of the Peruvian south, try the anticuchos—skewered beef heart served with potatoes, a popular snack that dates from the time of the Inca.

Day 4: Colca Valley: Patawassi, Sibayo, Chivay

Looking into the canyon
Looking into the canyon

Get an early start to your morning with a tour pickup. You will travel to the Colca Canyon, a stunning canyon that drops deep into the earth. On the ride there, enjoy the views of the wide valley, agricultural terraces, and small towns that dot the hillside. 

Your first stop is Patawasi where you will have a chance to sample the traditional Coca Tea and see the Bosque de Piedras of Patawasi, a mummified tree forest. From here, continue to the Cuevas de Mollepunku to see ancient carvings in the rock walls. 

Keep going to the town of Sibayo, a typical small Andean town. Stop here for lunch and a chance to purchase souvenirs, before continuing on to the last destination of the day—your hotel in the tourist town of Chivay.

Day 5: Chivay to Arequipa - Viewpoints on the Route

Cruz del Condor
Cruz del Condor

Get an early start this morning with a hotel pickup. Your first stop on today's tour is the Chullpas—ancient tombs which hang from the cliffside—followed by a visit to Cruz del Condor. From here, you will be able to see a spectacular view of Andean condors taking flight in the warming morning air. Continue to the Antahuillque viewpoint to see more of the canyon. Return to Chivay for lunch. 

In the afternoon, stop at a viewpoint with panoramic views of the surrounding volcanoes. Continue to see the Las Cuevas de Sumbay, another example of paintings made by pre-Inca cultures. In the evening, return to Arequipa for the night.

Day 6: Drive from Arequipa to Camaná

Toro Muerto petroglyphs
Toro Muerto petroglyphs

Today you travel from Arequipa to the coastal town of Camaná. Along the way, stop at the Toro Muerto petroglyphs of the Huari and Chuquibamba cultures which date to 500 B.C.E, which depict humans, plants, animals, and more. Nearby you will find Huella de Dinosaurio, where you can see the fossilized footprints of 3 different species of dinosaur. Continue to Corire for lunch and arrive in Camaná in the afternoon. Check in to your hotel, rest, or go for a sunset walk along the beach—the evening is free.

Day 7: Camaná to Puerto Inca

Dramatic landscapes along the coast
Dramatic landscapes along the coast

Today you will visit the small town of Puerto Inca, located several hours up the coast from Camaná . Take a break for lunch and to explore this sleepy beach town, then head out for some sightseeing in the afternoon.

The Huaca Ruins are one of the most important archaeological centers of the Peruvian southern coast and a settlement of pre-Inca and Inca cultures. This archaeological complex is also known as the Quebrada de la Waca. 

Return to Puerto Inca for a relaxing evening of beach walks, dinner, and rest.

Day 8: Puerto Inca to Paracas

The Huacachina Oasis
The Huacachina Oasis

Early in the morning, travel from Puerto Inca to Chauchilla Graveyard, a Nazca cemetery and one of the culture's most important archaeological sites.  

Continue to Cahuachi, an ancestral ceremony center of the Nazca Culture. From here it's another 20 minutes to the Nazca Viewpoint, where you can see the enigmatic Nazca Lines carved into the desert floor. Head into the desert to see the Huacachina Oasis, where you will stop for an afternoon of dune buggy rides. Rent a sandboard and experience a new type of snowboarding—from the tops of desert dunes! 

Later in the afternoon, head to your hotel in Paracas.

Day 9: Paracas - Lima

Spectacular coastline in the Paracas reserve
Spectacular coastline in the Paracas reserve

Get an early start for your eco-tourism adventure today. Start your day with a pickup from the hotel in Paracas, then head to the port in Pisco. Take a guided boat trip west to the Ballestas Islands,  a group of small rocky islands that provide vital nesting grounds for marine birds like the guanay guano bird, the blue-footed booby, and the tendril. These outcroppings are also home to fur seals and sea lions, as well as other mammals. The most notable characters of this island are the Humboldt penguins, which live along the Pacific coast of Chile and Peru. 

On the way to the islands, you will pass the Paracas Candelabra, a pre-historic geoglyph which dates back to 200 BCE and pre-dates the Inca Empire by 1600 years. Dug several feet into the ground, this 595 ft (181 m) tall motif can be seen 12 miles (19.3 km) out at sea, and might have served as a beacon to sailors. 

Stop to see the turritellas—fossilized remains of sea snails that hint at the area's ancient underwater past. Visit La Catedral, a million-year-old rock formation that sits just off the coast. Later, visit the Hacienda San Jose where you will visit the Tunel de los Esclavos (Slave Tunnels) and the surrounding farmlands. 

Continue to your hotel in Lima.

Day 10: Lima: Free Day to Explore

The romantic neighborhood of Miraflores at sunset
The romantic neighborhood of Miraflores at sunset

Take today to explore Lima at your leisure. Lima's breezy location on the Pacific Ocean and mild desert climate make it the perfect city for exploring on foot. Head downtown to mingle with locals, stretch your legs, and grab a bite to eat in one of the many award-winning restaurants.

Day 11: Departure from Lima

A pretty street view in Lima
A pretty street view in Lima

Today is your last day in Peru! You will be met at your hotel for a transfer to the Lima Airport, where you will transfer to your international departure. Alternatively, stay and extend your time in Peru — there's so much to see and explore. ¡Buen viaje!