Essential Peru

Resort: Essential Peru
Operator: Exodus
Destination: Peru
Price From: £2699.00

Overview


Discover southern Peru’s archaeological and natural wonders

 

A spectacular journey through Peru’s varied landscape encompassing coastal
desert, snow-capped Andean peaks, the high altiplano and lush cloud forest.
The most famous sites are all visited including the mysterious Nazca Lines,
awe-inspiring Machu Picchu in its incredible mountaintop setting, Lake
Titicaca, where the night is spent in an island homestay, and the remarkable
3000m deep Colca Canyon. On the way we encounter traditional culture,
condors, llamas, and a warm welcome from the Peruvian people.

Highlights

* Discover the iconic Machu Picchu by train with guided tour
* Homestay on traditional Amantani Island, Lake Titicaca
* See Colca Canyon and its soaring condors
* Wander through the colonial city of Arequipa and the Santa Catalina
Convent
* Drive deep into the Andean highlands and the Apurimac Valley

Itinerary

Day 1
Fly to Lima.

The group flights arrive into Lima this evening. You will be met at the
airport and transferred to our hotel in the Miraflores district of
Lima.There will be a notice board in the hotel reception with details of
where and when the group welcome briefing will be held.

*Hotel El Tambo 1* (or similar)

Day 2
Drive south along the coast and sail to the Ballestas Islands, home to the
highest concentration of marine birds in the world; overnight in Ica.

We set off very early this morning (around 5.30am) and drive south from Lima
until we reach the port of Paracas (4-5 hours’ drive). The Ballestas Islands
lie a short distance off the coast here and are home to one of the highest
concentrations of seabirds in the world we visit them by boat.

On the outward journey we pass the curious pre-Inca Candelabra geoglyph, a
huge (over 150m high) three-pronged trident shape etched into the sandy
hillside, the origin and purpose of which remains unknown (although there are
many theories). Upon reaching the islands we explore the caves and rock
archways by boat and observe the Sea lion and Fur seal colonies as well as
Humboldt penguins and an array of birds such as cormorants, pelicans,
tendrils, and Peruvian Blue-footed booby birds.

The boats are open-top motorised boats and are shared with other non-Exodus
clients (occasionally the sea is too rough and the boats can’t operate). Take
heed of seabirds above it is advisable to wear a hat!The boat trip
lasts around two hours.

Once back on dry land we drive for an hour or so to Ica, the heart of Peru’s
wine-growing region where we spend the night.

*Hotel Vila Jazmin *(or similar)

Day 3
On to Nazca; see the Nazca lines; optional scenic flight.

We drive towards Nazca, stopping to visit the viewing platforms overlooking
the Nazca Lines. These are one of the world’s great archaeological mysteries,
consisting of enormous drawings and patterns etched in the desert sand.

In the afternoon, for those who wish there is usually time to take a scenic
flight over the Nazca Lines (additional cost), weather permitting. Due to the
small planes used, this is not suitable for those with a fear of flying or
who suffer from travel sickness. Alternatively your leader can help arrange
optional visits to the nearby burial grounds,Antonini Museum, or the
Planetarium.

*Casa Andina Hotel / Alegria*(or similar)

Day 4
Turn inland from coastal desert, climbing high into the Andes.

We turn inland from the coastal desert today, climbing high into the Andes on
today’s long (12-13 hrs) but spectacular drive. Vicuas (a smaller wild
relative of the llama) can be seen along this road, as this area is Peru’s
largest vicua reserve. This region has only recently become easily
accessible to tourists due to an upgrade of the Abancay/Chalhuanca road. The
altitude here can make physical exertion difficult (the highest point we
reach today is Negro Mayu, a high pass at approx. 4600m). It is recommended
to rest in the evening. Tonight, we stay in Abancay on the road to Cuzco.

**Hotel de Turistas Abancay*(or similar)*

Day 5
Drive to Cuzco (3400m) visiting Inca sites on the way.

We set off towards Cuzco this morning, stopping to visit the unique Inca
Saywiti stone and Tarawasi ruins. The glaciated summits of the Vilcabamba
Mountain range and the descent into the Apurimac River valley demonstrate the
dramatic contrasts of the Andes Mountains, and we should expect stunning
scenery throughout today’s 7-8 hour drive.
It is recommended to take it easy upon arrival into Cuzco and to drink plenty
of water to allow your body time to acclimatise to the altitude (3,400m).

*Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha*(or similar)

Day 6
Free day to explore Cuzco.

To help acclimatise, we have a relaxed walking tour this morning to discover
its historic buildings and winding streets of Cuzco, one of South America’s
most beautiful cities.The rest of the day has been left free for exploring
on your own. The Plaza de Armas is a fantastic spot for people watching, and
the Koricancha Sun Temple located in the Santo Domingo Church and monastery
is worth a visit. The Mercado San Pedro is the place to try some local
produce and there are many handicraft markets to shop for souvenirs such as
alpaca jumpers and scarves.
Outside the town are more Inca ruins, notably the fortress of Sacsayhuaman
where the Inca armies made their last stand against the Conquistadores. A
combined entrance fee (Tourist Ticket) for these sites and many others is
recommended please see the Optional Excursions section below for prices.
Sightseeing excursions to places outside Cuzco, including the Sacred Valley
of the Incas, are also available. Please ask your tour leader.

*Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha*(or similar)

Day 7
Train to Aguas Calientes; tour of Machu Picchu.

For most people, the highlight of the trip is the visit by train to the
greatest ruin in the world, the lost city of Machu Picchu. This is one of the
architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world, in a mountain
setting of staggering immensity. The Spaniards never found it; the Incas left
no records of it, so Machu Picchu remains a great enigma, a city lost for
centuries in the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911 by the American
historian Hiram Bingham.

We transfer to Ollantaytambo train station to catch a train to Aguas
Calientes (the town below Machu Picchu). The railway line follows a beautiful
route through the Urubamba River Valley. In the afternoon we take a short bus
ride up the winding road to Machu Picchu for a guided tour of the ruins.

New regulations for visiting Machu Picchu are now fully enforced; you will be
limited to a maximum of four hours within the site and must be accompanied by
a guide. There will also be three set routes to follow around Machu Picchu;
Exodus selects the most comprehensive route. Please note that exploring the
ruins involves a reasonable amount of walking, including up and down steep
and uneven stone steps.

Visiting in the afternoon tends to be quieter than the mornings and the mist
which shrouds the ruins at dawn has usually dispersed.

*Inti Punku El Tambo *(or similar)

Day 8
Free morning or optional second visit to Machu Picchu; afternoon return to
Cuzco by train and by road.

Today we have a free morning to enjoy the buzz of this little town in the
jungle below the ruins. There are some hot springs nearby, however they tend
to suffer from overcrowding and therefore poor water quality, so are not
recommended.

Should you wish to visit Machu Picchu again this morning, your leader will
help you to purchase a second entrance ticket (subject to availability) which
will allow you a further four hours to explore the ‘Lost City’ for the
second visit it is not mandatory to have a guide. At the time of writing a
morning ticket costs PEN152 (approx. US$47).

In the afternoon we board the train back to Ollantaytambo and then continue
by minibus to Cuzco, arriving in the late evening.

*Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha *(or similar)

Day 9
Free day for optional excursions.

We have a final chance to enjoy the sights and shopping of this beautiful
city. If you fancy something more active then there is an array of optional
activities available from Cuzco that your leader can organise. These include
paddle-boarding on a lake, mountain biking, or a combination of via ferrata
and zip-lining in the Sacred Valley.

*Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha*(or similar)

Day 10
Drive to Lake Titicaca (3800m), with stops en route; boat to Amantani Island
for homestay.

Today we travel for 8-10 hours along the Vilcanota River and onto the
altiplano, the high plains separating the Andes from the jungle. Although it
is quite a long drive, the views are often spectacular. There are scheduled
stops at interesting sites to help break up the day and we will get to
appreciate the immensity of the Andean landscapes. This afternoon we arrive
at the shores of Lake Titicaca (3800m) and board a boat for our trip to
Amantani Island. Hiking around the island offers great views across the lake,
whilst the night spent with a local family is afantastic cultural insight
into lives very different to our own. (A packed lunch is included today).

*Amantani Island homestay *(Basic)

Day 11
Explore the island; afternoon boat to Puno visiting the floating reed
islands.

We explore the island in the morning before boarding our boat for the
three-hour journey to Puno on the lakeshore. On the way, we visit the Titinos
Indians, who live on islands of floating reeds and, save for a few modest
concessions to the modern world, still live as their ancestors would have
done centuries ago. Most tours visit the Uros islands closer to the shore but
we go to the more isolated Titinos Islands for a more authentic experience.

*Casona Plaza Hotel *(or similar)

Day 12
Drive across the altiplano to Colca Canyon.

Today we head off across the altiplano again. This time we cross to the south
west, heading back towards the coast to the high Colca Canyon (5-6 hours’
drive). En route we have opportunities to see vicuas and possibly
flamingos, crossing the Pataampa Pass (4810m) before descending into what is
considered to be the second deepest canyon in the Americas (the deepest, the
Cotahuasi Canyon, is also in Peru). There is time in the evening for a visit
to the hot springs near the main town of Chivay (3635m) a warming
pleasure after the chill of Lake Titicaca.

*Hotel Pozo del Cielo *(or similar)

Day 13
Morning condor viewing; afternoon drive past huge volcanoes to the ‘White
City’ of Arequipa (2350m).

An early start to view condors soaring on the morning drafts rising out of
the canyon. Extensive terraces, stunning colonial churches, and burial tombs
are viewed before we ascend out of the canyonand cross Patapampa Pass
(4910m)on our way to Arequipa, known as the ‘White City’ due to the pale
volcanic stone used to construct many of its colonial buildings. The
picturesque city enjoys a year-round pleasant climate and is surrounded by
6000m volcanoes, including the near-perfect cone of El Misti.

*Ensueo Hotel or*Su Majestad Hotel**(or similar)

Day 14
Morning visit Santa Catalina Convent; afternoon fly to Lima.

In the morning we visit the huge and serene convent of Santa Catalina. Built
in 1580 and only opened to the outside world in the 1970s, it offers a rare
insight into the lives led by the nuns and has changed little through the
centuries. There are still around 20 nuns living in the northern corner of
the complex. In the afternoon or evening we fly to Lima where will transfer
to our hotel in Miraflores.

*Hotel El Tambo 1 *(or similar)

Day 15 Depart Lima.

There is time today for optional tours of Lima including visits to the Gold
Museum and tours of the historic downtown before we are transferred to the
airport in the afternoon for the overnight flight to London.
**

Day 16 Arrive London.

The group flights arrive in London this afternoon.
**

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