Best of Peru

Best of Peru information and booking

from
$2720
  • Duration
    16 days
    Days
  • Group size
    6-16
    Persons
  • Difficulty
    Introductory
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Schedule Details

Summary
  • 16 day trip
  • 4 day trek
  • 11 nights hotel/jungle lodge
  • 4 nights camping/homestay
Equipment Required
Specialist gear required include walking boots and day pack (a comprehensive gear list is provided in the pre-departure information provided on booking).

Highlights

  • The splendor of Cusco with its churches, cathedrals, plazas, markets and cultural heritage
  • Walking in the beautiful Sacred Valley to view ancient Inca salt pans
  • Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu with dramatic mountain views
  • Visit Machu Picchu on two occasions and at the best times of day
  • 3 hearty meals a day on trek prepared by our cooks
  • Extra day at leisure in Cusco after trek
  • Lake Titicaca – Island Homestay

Tour description provided by World Expeditions

Peru offers so much variety and this 16 day itinerary combines it all. From colonial Lima, we fly across the Andes to our Amazon jungle lodge and with our naturalist guides explore this diverse environment. While in Cusco and the Sacred Valley we wander some of South America's best markets and discover a variety of Spanish and Inca heritage. The discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911 revealed an incredible Inca architectural masterpiece, and this startling find provides a grand finale to our trek along the Inca Trail. On the trail, our unsurpassed expertise in organising treks in the Andes comes to the fore as we ascend from the jungle to the snow capped Andean peaks to complete our spectacular approach to Machu Picchu. Travelling onto Lake Titicaca, we visit the Uros Indians who live on floating reed islands and enjoy a night in a homestay on an island before returning to Lima.

What's included

  • 15 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 5 dinners
  • Airport transfers if arriving on the first or last day
  • Expert bilingual guide
  • Group medical kit
  • Comfortable and central hotels, primarily casa andina classic hotels
  • Private internal transportation
  • Gear pack including sleeping bag, fibre filled jacket and sleeping mat
  • Group camping equipment
  • Porters to carry personal gear
  • Sightseeing and site entrance fees as listed (including machu picchu entrance fee)

Itinerary

Day 1 Fly to Lima
You will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel where you are free to rest in the hotel or just wander around Miraflores, the area of Lima where our hotel is located. Some of Lima's best galleries and shops and restaurants are found in this area. Founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535, Lima is the oldest capital in South America, with a superb combination of Spanish Colonial and 19th century European architecture. If you have time to visit a museum we would recommend the Museo de La Nacion or the Larco Herrera Museum.
Day 2 Fly across the Andes to Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon jungle
Early morning wake-up call, breakfast and short drive to the airport for the the flight to Puerto Maldonado via Cusco. This provides an opportunity to experience a real jungle frontier town. A brief drive through the town takes us to the offices of the lodges we use where we leave our main bags to be stored for our return. We continue to the river wharf where we board a 30-40 foot open launch for a short river journey to one of our lodges. During this journey which can take between 45 minutes and 2 hours we can relax watching the river bank and jungle canopy for the particularly abundant bird life in this region. Among the birds we may expect to see (dependent on weather and river height) are horned screamers, raptors, plovers, terns, macaws, parrots, kingfishers and toucans.The lodges we use are beautifully set jungle lodges that, apart from being our jungle home, also serve as a base for naturalists to work from. The rainforest (both pristine primary and secondary growth forest) surrounding the lodges is a naturalist's paradise. (It is important to be aware that the lodge is comfortable but basic - only one of the lodges - Sandoval Lake Lodge - has electricity or hot water for instance). During the remainder of the day we go for walks with our naturalist guide along forest trails. After dinner we get a chance to relax and discuss with resident naturalists the research projects taking place in the area. Serenaded by a chorus of jungle noises we go to sleep in the lodge's comfortable double rooms.
Day 3 At Lodge
Today is spent going on a long jungle walk to find monkeys and capybaras. We'll also take canoes out on to some of the jungle lagoons in the area. On the shores of these lagoons there are often lots of hoatzin to be seen - a really remarkable bird. Before the evening meal we head out for a short river trip using torches to look for cayman - this always proves to be exciting. PLEASE NOTE: it is important to be aware that the programs may vary according to flight schedules, weather, river height, group sizes, etc and participants should be aware there is no guarantee of seeing specific animals or birds and in general you may not see much wildlife since the rainforest provides such good camouflage for its inhabitants - but you will have a good chance to experience true rainforest first hand.
Day 4 Fly to Cusco
Early morning departure after breakfast for the downriver trip to Puerto Maldonado and the short flight back to Cusco 11,200' (3,400m), arriving there around midday. You'll be met by your guide and transferred from Cusco airport to our hotel for a short initial briefing and then a few hours of rest, essential to initiate successful acclimatisation. In the evening you'll have a longer briefing to discuss aspects of the itinerary and in particular the trek.
Day 5 Tour of Cusco and the nearby ruins
Every alleyway we enter or corner we turn brings another surprise or enigma in the form of the superbly constructed Inca walls or the more architecturally extravagant colonial churches and palaces. The city, once capital of the extensive Inca Empire, has seen many changes since Francisco Pizarro's men took the city with such apparent ease in November 1533. We also take a short drive to visit the monolithic walls of Sacsayhuaman, spectacularly set above the city. In the afternoon you may have time to explore some of the central parts of the city and a chance to look at some of the great varieties of local craft work on sale in open air stalls and shops.
Day 6 Drive and walk down into the Sacred Valley of the Incas
We leave Cusco and head to the Chinchero Plateau from where we get impressive views of three mountain ranges. We then walk down through the remarkable Inca Salt Pans below Maras. We end up in the Sacred valley near a good restaurant where we can savour dishes made with locally grown produce. After a leisurely lunch we head for our hotel in the valley. The rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy the beauty of this famous valley.
Day 7 Second day in the Sacred Valley of the Incas
Another day in this beautiful place. The valley actually follows the course of the famous Urubamba River, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon River. During our time in the here we visit some of the enthralling citadels, fortresses and temple ruins that are found along the valley including the site at Ollantaytambo. The village itself is a fascinating mixture of Inca and Colonial architecture. If the weather is good and we have time we can enjoy some short walks in the valley - a good way to prepare for the trek ahead. The evening is spent preparing for the trek at our hotel.
Day 8 Inca Trail trek commences
An early morning departure for the drive to Chilca or Piscacucho where we start our first day of trekking. At this point we meet some our cooks, porters and camp staff before setting off on this famous ‘Royal Highway of the Incas’, built more than 500 years ago. The first day involves approximately five to six hours of walking. During the first few hours of walking we follow the course of the famous Urubamba River before stopping to admire the archaeological site of Patallacta 2750m (9,020ft) – an ancient Inca city built on a series of terraces below the trail. From here we continue to follow the narrow valley of the Cusichaca River to camp at one of two sites near the village of Huayllabamba – this means we actually avoid the very crowded camp sites within the village used by most of the trekkers on the trail. Camp.
Day 9 Trek towards first pass
Next morning we continue up this narrow valley on the left bank of the river - whose source is one of the great glaciers of Mt Salcantay. We then start a relatively steep climb up this classic trail towards the first pass – Warmihuañusca 4,200m (13,700ft). After a rest at the pass and time to take in the spectacular views we descend steeply into the Pacamayo Valley where we spend our second night on the trail. Camp.
Day 10 Trek over second and third pass to Phuyupatamarca
After breakfast in our campsite in the verdant Pacamayo Valley we start ascending towards the small but impressively set ruins at Runkuraqay and on to Cochapata set just below the second pass at 3,900m (12,800ft). From here we walk the short distance to the pass and then descend past a mysterious small green lake to the large ruins of Sayacmarca and on to the last pass at 3,800m (12,450ft) which is more like a low ridge-line than a true pass. From here we get a great view down into the forested gorge of the Urubamba River set more than 1700 metres below us. A short hike from here takes us to our stunning final campsite set above the site of Phuyupatamarca 3,600m (11,900ft), so aptly named the ‘City in the Clouds’. This wonderful campsite – perhaps the most beautiful on the entire trail – is used by very few groups since the vast majority continue for another 90 minutes to camp at the often extremely crowded site at Wiñay Wayna. Below us are laid out the great forest-covered peaks and deep dark valleys - the setting of our goal, Machu Picchu.
Day 11 Last day of trek to Machu Picchu
After a good night's sleep at this lower altitude, and an early breakfast, we start the last day of the trek. We walk down along an incredibly well preserved section of the trail with great white granite slab walls and staircases all impressively set in high jungle. On the way we'll take time out to explore the recently cleared extensive ruins of Wiñay Wayna, before covering the last couple of miles to finally reach Inti Punku (The Gateway to the Sun) awe-inspiringly set above the 'lost city' of Machu Picchu. Your first view of the ruins really does take your breath away! After a brief 'first look' at the ruins, we head down to our hotel in Aguas Calientes for a well deserved soak in the nearby hot springs (optional). *Important: It is important to be aware that, because of all the rules on the Inca Trail, there may be changes in the actual trek itinerary and the campsites we use.
Day 12 Explore Machu Picchu and return to Cusco
Today we start early to give us the maximum time in this remarkable and truly enigmatic Inca site. After a professionally led tour we’re free to explore the rest of the amazing sights found here high on a ridgeline in the cloud forests of Peru. Mid-afternoon we depart for the extremely pretty train ride back to Ollantaytambo where we transfer to our private vehicle for the drive back to our hotel in Cusco.
Day 13 Cusco - free day
A good day to relax, do your washing and re pack after the trek and perhaps a chance to do some 'tourist shopping', selecting from a great variety of expertly made craft work - including alpaca sweaters and hats, ceramics, weavings and traditional Andean instruments. In the evening we prepare for the next stage of our journey through the Andes.
Day 14 Overland journey to Puno and Lake Titicaca
We depart early in the morning for the 6 to 8 hour journey by private vehicle to Puno set on the shores of Lake Titicaca at 12,630' (3,820m). The road takes us south along the great valley below Cusco and then as we head further south we start to climb towards the great continental divide at La Raya. To the east we see some of the strange peaks of the Carabaya Range. From the pass we descend quickly onto the vast dry altiplano with its isolated villages and herds of Andean camelid including the alpaca and vicuña. Our first glimpses of lake Titicaca remind us that this is hardly a lake - its more like a vast inland sea that also happens to be the highest navigable lake in the world! The fact that we travel by private vehicle means we can stop where we wish during this fascinating journey (this is a tremendous advantage over the many companies who use public transport for this unique drive). We spend our night at our hotel in Puno.
Day 15 Lake Titicaca, Uros Islands and island homestay
Puno is a typical high Andean town, set on the great altiplano that surrounds the lake and stretches all the way to La Paz. After breakfast we head down to the old lake port with its century old steamers still tied up at the wharf. From here we board small motor boat to cruise out to visit the famous Uros Islands. These islands often given the misnomer of 'floating islands' are in fact tortora reed mats that grow out of the shallower waters of the vast bay of Puno. The islands have for centuries been occupied by the small Uros community who continue their traditional methods of 'farming' and fishing the lake. From here we continue to the islands of either Taquile or Amantani where we spend a night in a local island home. These islands have been occupied by traditional farming communities and spending a night gives us a good chance to learn more about the Andean people and their traditional lifestyles.
Day 16 Drive to Juliaca Airport, trip concludes
Return by boat to Puno and drive to Juliaca airport for flight to Lima airport where your services end.