All content by World Expeditions
An exhilarating itinerary combining many of Peru's highlights
Peru's diverse landscapes and colourful history are worthy of intimate exploration. This itinerary does just that by combining the historical and natural attractions with a trek along the classic Inca Trail. The range of highlights begins in Lima where we gain a fascinating insight into Peru's history with visits to the well adorned museums and galleries. Next, we cruise to the Ballestas Islands taking in the marine mammals and birdlife, then continue to the fascinating Nazca Lines. From Arequipa, the beautiful 'white city' where the 16th century Santa Catalina Convent is located, our journey continues to the Colca Canyon, the deepest in the world, and a great location for spotting Andean Condors. On Lake Titicaca we spend a night on an island homestay before continuing across the high altiplano to explore Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Our classic trek along the Inca Trail winds its way to the Sun Gate providing us with a superb view of the Machu Picchu ruins - a fitting finale to this all encompassing adventure.
- Lima sightseeing
- Ballestas Islands “Mini Galapagos”
- Nazca Lines Arequipa and the Colca Canyon
- Lake Titicaca – Island Homestay
- Cusco the former capital of the vast Inca Empire
- Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo
- The magnificent Classic Inca Trail
- 3 hearty meals a day on trek prepared by our cooks
- Two entries to Machu Picchu
- Free day at leisure in Cusco at the end
Day 1 Arrive 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.
Day 2 In Lima - city tour
This morning we will be taken on a guided tour of the city, founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535. It has a superb combination of Spanish Colonial and 19th century European architecture. We'll also visit the famous Museo de la Nacion or the Larco Herrera Museum - which give us an excellent overview of the Andean cultures. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 3 Drive to Paracas and visit Ballestas Islands
We drive down the coast of Peru to the small coastal resort of Paracas. On the way we visit the huge desert site of Pachacamac. Many believe this was one of the most important sites in the pre Hispanic world of the Andean peoples. It was home to the great oracle. Much of the site has been superbly reconstructed. From here we continue down the coast to the fishing port of Pisco and on towards the Paracas Peninsula where we take small sturdy launches for a 3 hour cruise out to the Ballestas Islands – described as Peru's mini-Galapagos – a haven for marine wildlife and birdlife. On the way we get a chance to see the huge 'candelabra' - a massive figure of what looks like a giant cactus etched in the huge sand dune. This can only be seen from the sea.
Day 4 Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines are located in the coastal desert of Peru and are best described as remarkable and astonishing. The huge designs etched into the desert by the people of the Paracas and Nazca cultures between perhaps 500BC and 900AD. The safety of our travellers is our utmost priority, something that we will not compromise on. We would therefore like to highlight that we are unable to recommend the air services of any of the airlines who are servicing the Nazca Lines overflights. There have been three fatal accidents in two years, the most recent in early October 2010. There are limited civil aviation controls at Nazca and no effective safety authority inspecting aircraft or pilots. In light of this, we cannot offer or assist in sourcing tickets locally. Our trip offers fantastic vantage points from watch towers where these remarkable markings can be surveyed with our expert guides on hand to help you interpret such wonders. Afternoon departure for the drive by first class public bus to Arequipa (please note the departure times of the bus may vary).
Day 5 Arequipa
The city of over 1 million inhabitants is known as the white city because of the lovely pale volcanic rock that is used for many of its buildings. Arequipa is set at the foot of the Andes, with El Misti a perfectly formed snow capped volcano towering above the city at 5822m. In the afternoon we take a tour of the city and surrounds including the beautiful convent of Santa Catalina, which feels like a town within a city.
Day 6 Arequipa to Colca Canyon
After an early breakfast we board our private vehicle for a spectacular drive past Mount Misti to an altitude in excess of 5000m to the dry semi-desert where we often see herds of wild vicuña. We spend the rest of the day visiting parts of this massive canyon – the deepest in the world! We visit interesting villages and towns in this rarefied environment and enjoy the panoramic views over this spectacular canyon.
Day 7 At Colca and drive to Puno
An early start to go visit the famous Condors Nest where we get a chance to see these magnificent birds (the heaviest flying bird in the world) gliding below and above us. Early in the morning, as the sun starts to heat the air, is the best time to view the condors as they set sail from the rocky valley sides into the thermals. This is without a doubt one of the most dramatic locations to view condors in South America. After a last look at the Colca area we depart via the north for the 7 hour drive by private vehicle to Puno set on the shores of Lake Titicaca at 3820m (12,600ft). This is a stunning road journey across high and remote pampas. We get a good chance of seeing vicuñas - that most delicate and smallest of the Andean camelids. A picnic lunch will be taken during the journey. Our first glimpses of lake Titicaca remind us that this is hardly a lake - it's more like a vast inland sea that also happens to be the highest navigable lake in the world!
Day 8 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 a small motor boat 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. Please be aware that this is basic accommodation.
Day 9 Return by boat to Puno
After breakfast on the island and a farewell to our hosts we head back by boat to Puno. We continue with the spectacular 6 to 8 hour journey by bus to Cusco. 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). The road takes us north ascending to the continental divide at La Raya. To the west are the strange peaks of the Carabaya Range as we descend along the great valley below Cusco.
Day 10 In Cusco
In the morning we take a tour of the city of Cusco. 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 huge ruins at Sacsayhuaman, spectacularly set above the city. After lunch we take an informal walking tour with our guide to other places of interest in the city. Perhaps to one of the large local markets near the city centre and a chance to look at some of the great varieties of local craft work on sale in open air stalls and shops.
Day 11 To 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 beauty of this famous valley.
Day 12 Day in Sacred Valley
Another day in this idyllic valley. The valley actually follows the course of the famous Urubamba River, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon River. During our time 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 13 Commence Inca Trail
An early morning departure for the drive to Chilca 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 ruins of Patallacta at 2750m (9000ft) – an ancient Inca city built on a series of terraces below the trail. From here we decide whether to continue to follow the narrow valley of the Cusichaca River or camp near Patallacta. Camp.
Day 14 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 reach the village of Huayllabamba before starting a relatively steep climb up this classic trail towards our first camp at Lulluchapampa at 3780m (12,400ft). We spend our first night on the trail after a spectacular day on the trail. Camp.
Day 15 We cross the main passes on the trail - the longest day
A brisk 2-hour hike up to the 'Inca Trail's' highest point, the Warmihuañusca Pass, at 4198m (13,700'). By now we are pleased to have spent so many days at altitude at the Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca and Cusco. At 4100 m the air is thin and with that additional time to acclimatize, we should be cope better wit the altitude. After a rest at the pass and time to take in the spectacular views we drop very steeply down into the Pacamayo Valley and then continue up the trail to the small but impressively set ruins at Runkuraqay and on to Cochapata set just below the second pass at 3900m (12,800'). From here we walk the short distance to the pass and then descend past a mysterious small green lake to the large ruins of Sayamarca and on to the last pass at 3800m (12,450'). From here we get a great view down into the forested gorge of the Urubamba River set more than a vertical mile below us. A short hike from here takes us to our stunning campsite set above the ruins of Phuyupatamarca at 3600m (11,900'), so aptly named the 'City in the Clouds'. Below us are laid out the great forest-covered peaks and deep dark valleys -- the setting of our goal, Machu Picchu.
Day 16 Final days trek into Machu Pichu
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 the best 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 at 2400m (7,900'). 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). PLEASE NOTE: It is essential that participants are aware that we may be affected by changes in air and train schedules, something that is not unusual in South America.
Day 17 Explore Machu Picchu and return to Cusco.
Today we start early to thoroughly explore these remarkable and truly enigmatic ruins. After a professionally led tour of the site we're free to explore the rest of the amazing sights. Mid-afternoon we depart from Machu Picchu for the impressive train ride back to Ollantaytambo where we transfer to our vehicle for the drive back to Cusco. Here we transfer to our hotel for two nights.
Day 18 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 19 Fly to Lima
We depart Cusco today and fly to Lima. Upon arrival trip concludes.
- 18 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners
- comfortable and central hotels primarily Casa Andina Classic hotels
- airport transfers if arriving/departing on first or last day
- expert bilingual guide
- private transportation
- medical kit
- 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)
- 19 day trip
- 4 day trek
- 14 nights hotel
- 4 nights camping/homestay
Trip Main Activities
- Adventure Touring
- Day Walking
- Wildlife Safari
Group Size Min
Group Size Max
Specialist gear required include walking boots and day pack (a comprehensive gear list is provided in the pre-departure information provided on booking).
What You Carry
In your daypack you will need to carry extra warm clothing (depending on the altitude, location and weather), a rainjacket, water bottle, film and camera gear, valuables and personal items such as sunscreen, lip-eze etc. Porters and mules carry all group gear and your trek pack.