- Explore the gourmet side of Lima on a walking food tour
- Discover the pre-Inca ruins of the Sacred Valley
- Fly over the awe-inspiring Nazca Lines geoglyphs in a small plane
- Shop for traditional handicrafts in the markets of Cusco
- Marvel at the ruins of Machu Picchu on an early-morning tour
- Hike to the photogenic "Rainbow Mountain"
|Day 1||Arrive in Lima & Get Oriented||Lima|
|Day 2||Tour the City & Sample Local Delicacies in Barranco||Lima|
|Day 3||Visit the National Museum of Anthropology, Archaeology, and History||Nazca|
|Day 4||Fly High Over the Nazca Lines||Arequipa|
|Day 5||Sightsee in Arequipa||Arequipa|
|Day 6||Discover the Colca Canyon||Colca|
|Day 7||Spot Condors in the Wild||Puno|
|Day 8||Explore Lake Titicaca||Puno|
|Day 9||Follow the Route of the Sun to Cusco||Cusco|
|Day 10||Tour Pisac, Ollantaytambo & Chinchero||Cusco|
|Day 11||Visit Machu Picchu||Cusco|
|Day 12||Sightsee in Cusco||Cusco|
|Day 13||Trek to "Rainbow Mountain"||Cusco|
|Day 14||Depart Cusco - End of Trip|
Day 1: Arrive in Lima & Get Oriented
Welcome to Lima, Peru! The country's largest city is home to one-third of the country's population. Located at the site of a pre-Columbian indigenous settlement, 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 makes it a perfect city for exploring on foot. Head downtown to mingle with locals, stretch your legs, and grab a bite to eat in one of many award-winning restaurants. Or take in views over the ocean in the clifftop neighborhood of Miraflores. You'll go on a guided tour tomorrow, but this afternoon, you can take it easy and enjoy Lima!
Day 2: Tour the City & Sample Local Delicacies in Barranco
Get out and explore Lima today on a guided tour. First, you'll head to the historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site packed with fascinating Spanish architecture. Stroll over to the 16th-century Cathedral, which took 80 years to construct in grandiose Spanish colonial style. Visit the Casa Aliaga, a colonial mansion given by 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. Walk around the Pucllana Pyramid, a magnificent ceremonial and archeological center built in the 4th century CE and considered a sacred village by the Incas. You will also visit the monumental San Francisco Convent, which displays the largest collection of religious art in America, and the underground Catacombs.
Later in the day, you'll have the chance to try a wide range of Peruvian snacks, street foods, traditional dishes, and drinks on a walking food tour of artsy Barranco. A local chef will teach you how to prepare Peru's most famous treats, including ceviche and pisco sours.
Day 3: Visit the National Museum of Anthropology, Archaeology, and HistoryYou will start your tour today at Peru's National Museum of Anthropology, Archaeology, and History, located in the Pueblo Libre district. It is the oldest national museum, founded in 1826, and houses a huge collection of pottery, textiles, and gold and silver artifacts from various indigenous cultures. You will then visit the Larco Museum, located inside a mansion built on a pre-Columbian pyramid, to see an incredible collection of pre-Hispanic gold and silver artifacts. In the evening, you'll travel to Nazca and check into your hotel.
Day 4: Fly High Over the Nazca Lines
Head to the nearby airport in Pisco. From here you will take a 90-minute flight south aboard a 12-passenger plane to view the sprawling Nazca Lines. These massive images, the longest of which are 1,200 ft (370 m), vary from geometric lines to figures of animals and people. Due to the stable environment of the Nazca Desert, these geoglyphs — which were created by removing the top layer of iron-oxide coated pebbles to reveal the light-colored clay underneath — have been remarkably well preserved. You will get a chance to see many of the most famous geoglyphs, including the hummingbird, dog, tree, whale, lizard, and more. In the evening, you'll board an overnight bus to Arequipa.
Day 5: Sightsee in Arequipa
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 city filled with baroque buildings built from white volcanic stone. For thousands of years, native tribes settled in the valley, creating wide agricultural terraces that were fed by major irrigation channels. The area was later conquered by the Inca. After Spanish conquest in the mid-16th century, Arequipa grew into a culturally, politically, and economically powerful city with strong ties to the crown.
Start your tour in the Plaza de Armas, the city's historical center. 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 Compañia 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 cafés. Nearby Calle Mercaderes is a pedestrian walkway with well-known stores and restaurants.
Day 6: Discover the Colca CanyonStart the day early, setting off on a scenic drive to Colca Canyon. This drive will last around three hours and will take you through spectacular landscapes with snowcapped volcanoes and quaint Andean villages. As the road climbs up to the Reserva Nacional de Salinas y Aguada Blanca, keep your eyes open for wild vicuñas (smaller cousins of the llama) and viscachas (small chinchilla-like rodents). At the highest point of your journey, you’ll reach Patapampa Pass, located at a breathtaking 15,300 feet (4,820 m) above sea level. Here, you'll visit the lookout point of Mirador de Los Andes, offering incredible views of the peaks of the various volcanoes surrounding Arequipa.
Next, descend down into the town of Chivay, where you’ll begin to see pre-Inca agricultural terraces that characterize the landscape of the canyon. Upon arrival in Chivay, you'll stop in the main square to enjoy lunch. Then head to your hotel to relax. It's also possible to visit some of the region's natural thermal baths this afternoon.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 7: Spot Condors in the WildEarly this morning, you’ll meet your guide and drive to Condor Cross Lookout Point, one of the best viewpoints over the canyon and home to the famed condors that gracefully soar on the thermal currents. The road leads past picturesque villages and pre-Inca ruins dominated by the Ampato and Hualca glaciers, both visible in the distance. Once you reach Cruz del Condor, you can stand at the viewpoint and gaze into the depths of the canyon. You will return to Chivay where you can enjoy lunch and browse the local market before starting the journey by land to Puno, enjoying spectacular views of the Andes on the way. Note that Puno is at a higher altitude than Arequipa, and if you haven’t already sufficiently acclimatized, it is a good idea to take it easy after arrival.
Day 8: Explore Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca, the largest freshwater lake in South America, straddles the border between western Bolivia and southern Peru. Today you will visit the floating Uros Islands, home to the Uros indigenous people, believed to be one of the first ethnic groups to populate the Andean region. The Uros live on manmade floating islands constructed out of reeds from a local plant.
Today's nine-hour tour embarks from Puno by boat to one of these floating islands to learn about the life and traditions of the Uros. Following this is a visit to Taquile, a small, non-mobile island. At a local restaurant, a traditional lunch of quinoa soup and fresh-caught fish will be served, then there will be time to explore the island. Taquile is unique in that it remained mostly isolated from the outside world until the 1950s, and as a result, the Taquileños enjoy a different way of life. Decisions on the island are made communally, there are no cars, and there is little electricity, which is just how the residents like it. The island is also famous for the exquisite weavings created by local artists. Board a boat back to Puno at the end of the day.
Day 9: Follow the Route of the Sun to Cusco
After breakfast at your hotel, you'll transfer to the bus station to catch a bus to Cusco. During the journey, which takes about ten hours, you will enjoy several excursions and guided tours. You'll stop at the pre-Inca museum in Pukara, the high-elevation Raya Pass, and the Temple of Raqchi. You'll arrive in Cusco in the evening. This ancient city is the former capital of the Inca empire, which reigned from the 13th to 16th centuries. Remember: you will be 11,000 feet (3,000 m) above sea level, so take it easy and remember to drink lots of water. Since Cusco was designed by the Incas as a city for walking, start your exploration of the narrow stone alleyways on foot.
Day 10: Tour Pisac, Ollantaytambo & ChincheroThis morning you will depart from your hotel in Cusco and travel to Pisac, one of the most important archaeological sites in the region. In this area, you'll explore ancient Inca burial grounds, irrigation systems, and astronomy centers. Next, go down to the town of Pisac, located at the bottom of the valley. This town is famous for its bustling textile market. Select from a wide assortment of colors, styles, and designs for gifts and souvenirs to take home with you.
Next, you'll stop for lunch, enjoying traditional Andean cuisine at a restaurant in a beautiful setting overlooking the Urubamba River. Then head to the ancient Incan city of Ollantaytambo, one of the few remaining places in the Sacred Valley that have retained their original Inca urban planning. Walk through the streets with Inca-era canals and view the ancient houses still in use today. Climb the agricultural terraces where you can enjoy an Inca’s-eye-view of the valley. From the top, you’ll be able to see some of the quarries from where the stone for Ollantaytambo was sourced. It’s amazing to think how far these large stones were transported from, especially considering the Incas didn’t have pack animals strong enough to carry them. Finish the day's tour in Chinchero, exploring more ruins before making your way back to Cusco for the evening.
Day 11: Visit Machu PicchuThis morning you will be transferred to the Ollantaytambo train station to catch your early morning train to Aguas Calientes. From there, it's an easy 25-minute bus ride up to Machu Picchu. Get an early start to beat the crowds and get the best views of the ancient ruins. The 15th-century Inca citadel is located at 7,970 feet (2,430 meters) and is a masterpiece of engineering that served as a sanctuary and retreat for the Incan Emperor Pachacutec and his royal court. Machu Picchu, which means "Old Mountain," is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Built as a seasonal residence for the emperor's family, Machu Picchu was rarely home to more than 800 people; during the royals' absence, a mere 100 servants would remain at the site to maintain the grounds. Machu Picchu was abandoned 100 years after construction and remained largely hidden to the outside world until the early 20th century.
Day 12: Sightsee in CuscoToday you'll tour Cusco and its surrounding area, starting with Sacsayhuamán and Quenqo, archaeological complexes used mostly for religious and agricultural rituals. Although the site of Sacsayhuamán was religious, the Spanish considered it a military fortress because of its location and the way it was built. From here, walk through San Blas, an old bohemian quarter famous for its picturesque white walls, blue doors, and creative artisan community. Continue to the Plaza de Armas, where you will be able to explore the Cathedral and admire its exquisite interiors and priceless paintings. Its construction lasted for almost 100 years, beginning in 1560 and ending in 1654.
Day 13: Trek to "Rainbow Mountain"
Rise and shine! You'll start the last full day of the itinerary with an early morning pick-up. Enjoy a scenic drive to the start of the trek. When you reach the trailhead, enjoy some breakfast before starting the hike. You'll begin at Chillca, hiking uphill to reach the famous Rainbow Mountain. Along the way, enjoy amazing views of the Andes, glacial peaks, red mountains, and rocky hills, along with llamas and alpacas grazing along the valley. Once you reach the top, you'll have time to rest and take in the scenery. You will also see amazing views of the valleys, Cordillera Vilcanota Range, and Ausangate Glacier Peak, the tallest mountain of the Cusco region. Drive back to Cusco and enjoy one last Peruvian dinner on the last night of the trip.
Day 14: Depart Cusco - End of Trip
Today the trip comes to an end. You'll transfer to the airport to catch a flight out. Safe travels!
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