Get off the beaten path with this unique itinerary through Peru. Take an aerial tour of the famous Nazca Lines. Visit the Ballestas Islands to see endangered birds, marine mammals, and charismatic Humboldt penguins. And dive into the history, culture, and food scene of vibrant Lima, where you'll tour eclectic Miraflores, the Larco Museum of pre-Columbian art, the historic central plaza, and more.

Highlights

  • Take in the sights, aromas, and tastes of Lima
  • Get an aerial view of the famous Nazca Lines geoglyphs
  • Learn about Peru's coastal wildlife in the Ballestas Islands

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Lima, Transfer to Hotel Lima
Day 2 Lima Market & Food Tour Lima
Day 3 Lima History Tour Lima
Day 4 Nazca Lines & Huacachina Adventure Paracas
Day 5 Ballestas Islands - Paracas Paracas
Day 6 Paracas - Lima Lima
Day 7 Lima - Shopping & Miraflores Lima
Day 8 Departure from Lima  

Detailed overview

Day 1: Arrival in Lima, Transfer to Hotel

Lima's Plaza Mayor
Lima's Plaza Mayor

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. 

Settle into your hotel before sitting down to a delicious meal. With some of the worlds' top restaurants and an eclectic mix of culinary styles, there is no shortage of delightful and exciting dining options. 

Day 2: Lima Market & Food Tour

Peruvian ceviche
Peruvian ceviche

Spend the day discovering Lima through its food. With a vibrant combination of Indigenous American, African, Asian, and European culinary influences, Lima is one of the world's most impressive gastronomic and cultural centers. 

Start the day early in Lima's Historical center to visit a local mercacado—a fresh food market—to taste the local produce and sample spices, fruits, and various baked bread. Taste different types of Piscos—a high proof brandy produced locally in the wine-making regions of Peru and Chile. Make sure to try ceviche, a fresh seafood dish marinated with salt and lime juice, and the traditional pisco sour—a Peruvian classic.  

Stop for lunch at one of Lima's top restaurants and enjoy a delicious meal on a patio overlooking the Pacific ocean. Stroll to the bohemian district of Barranco—a popular oceanside neighborhood for artists, tourists, and locals alike—for a relaxed afternoon drinking coffee and sampling Peruvian desserts.

Day 3: Lima History Tour

Lima's Basilica Cathedral
Lima's Basilica Cathedral

Spend today discovering the cultural and historic center of Lima. 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. 

Suggested activities include: 

  • 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, as well as pieces of erotic art.

Day 4: Nazca Lines & Huacachina Adventure

View of the Nazca Lines from above
View of the Nazca Lines from above

Your day begins with a 6:30 AM pick up from your hotel in Lima, followed by a scenic 4-hour drive along the coast south to the seaside town of Paracas. After arriving, transfer to the nearby airport in Pisco. From here you will take a 90-minute flight south aboard a 12-passenger Cessna Grand Caravan to view the sprawling Nazca Lines. You will get a chance to see many of the most famous geoglyphs, including the hummingbird, dog, tree, whale, lizard, and more.

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.  

After the flight head to Huacachina for an adventure in the desert sand dunes. Hop on a sandboard to surf down the larger dunes. 

Return to Paracas for the night.

Day 5: Ballestas Islands - Paracas

The charismatic Humboldt penguin
The charismatic Humboldt penguin

Get an early start for your eco-tourism adventure today. Start your day in Pisco's port—the launch point for today's trip. From here the tour heads 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 The Cathedral, a million-year-old rock formation that sits just off the coast. 

Later, explore the colorful beaches of Playa Lagunilla, Red, and Yumaque. Return to Paracas in the evening.

Day 6: Paracas - Lima

Spend the day relaxing in the city
Spend the day relaxing in the city

In the morning you will be transferred to a bus for the 4-hour ride back to your hotel in Lima. Spend the rest of the day relaxing and unwinding, or exploring your local neighborhood. Lima's walkable streets and easy to access transportation make getting around enjoyable and effortless.

In the evening, enjoy some fine dining at one of Lima's best restaurants. 

Day 7: Lima - Shopping & Miraflores

Lima's coastline at sunset
Lima's coastline at sunset

Today is a free day in Lima. Catch up on some souvenir shopping at Dedalo in the Barrancos neighborhood, a chic store that specializes in high-quality Peruvian handicrafts.

In the evening, head to the eclectic "Love Park" in the upscale coastal district of Miraflores to catch the Pacific sunset and admire huge kissing statues and beautiful mosaic walls.  Built on the cliffs of Chorrillos, this park boasts sweeping vistas and is a perfect place wind down after your day.

Afterward, enjoy a nightcap at an open-air cafe or restaurant in the diverse Miraflores neighborhood.

Day 8: Departure from Lima

A pretty street view in Cusco
A pretty street view in Cusco

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!

Map

Map of Flavor, History, and Wildlife in Peru - 8 Days
Map of Flavor, History, and Wildlife in Peru - 8 Days
Kristy
Written by Kristy T, updated Mar 18, 2019