Peru Traverse

Peru Traverse information and booking

from
$3290
  • Duration
    19 days
    Days
  • Group size
    6-16
    Persons
  • Difficulty
    Introductory
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Schedule Details

Summary
  • 19 day trip
  • 4 day trek
  • 14 nights hotel
  • 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

  • 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
  • Visit Machu Picchu on two occasions and at the best times of day

Tour description provided by World Expeditions

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.

What's included

  • 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 (except the transfer from nazca to arequipa which is by first class bus)
  • 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)

Itinerary

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 and drive to Chincha
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. This afternoon we drive down the coast of Peru from Lima in a private vehicle to the vibrant town of Chincha. On the way (if the site is open) we visit the famous centre of the oracle at Pachacamac, which is a superb example of a reconstructed Inca temple site. 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. Overnight in Chincha.
Day 3 Ballestas Islands and drive to Nazca
This morning we will drive to the small coastal resort of Paracas. From here we continue 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. The bird and seal life here in this protected reserve is impressive. 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. We then drive to the desert oasis of Ica before arriving in Nazca where we will spend the night.
Day 4 Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines are located in the coastal desert of Peru and are best described as remarkable and enigmatic. The huge designs etched into the desert by the people of the Paracas and Nazca cultures between perhaps 500BC and 900AD. There are several ways to see the lines and our leader will take us to a fantastic vantage point, a watch tower set high above the desert. Another option is to take an optional overflight. Previously, there were limited civil aviation controls at Nazca and no effective safety authority inspecting aircraft or pilots. The Peruvian airport authority has taken over the running of the small Nazca airport from where all aircraft take off for the overflights of the Nazca Lines which has resulted in much better control of the flight schedules and general flight safety at Nazca. World Expeditions cannot arrange these flights on your behalf and they are not included in the trip cost. We can assist you locally to arrange them however it is important you are aware that you take full personal responsibility for contracting and paying for your own over-flight. These flights take place in small single-engine high- winged aircraft, generally with 10 or 12 seats with their own window. The cost varies between US$50 and US$120 per person for a 30 minute flight (cost depends on demand on the day). Please discuss this with your leader locally should you like to arrange it. In the afternoon, following our exploration at Nazca, we will drive by first class public bus to Arequipa (please note the departure times of the bus may vary). The 9 hour (approx) drive across the vast Peruvian Desert follows the Pan American Highway, which is a good sealed road by Peruvian standards. The buses are a standard long distance bus that you might find in Europe, North America or Australia. They are quite comfortable with reclining seats. You will arrive late into Arequipa and upon arrival transfer directly to you hotel.
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 for a drive along the top of the canyon to visit the famous ‘Condor's Lookout' where we get a chance to look for these magnificent birds (the heaviest flying bird in the world) gliding below and above us. Since they are wild birds we cannot guarantee sightings but most groups do get to see them. 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 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 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 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 15 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 16 Final day of trek to Machu Picchu
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. Since we have the luxury of another full day to reach Machu Picchu we’ll take time out to explore the recently cleared extensive Inca site at Wiñay Wayna, 2,700m (8,800ft) before covering the last few kilomtres to finally reach Inti Punku (The Gateway to the Sun) awe-inspiringly set above the ‘lost city’ of Machu Picchu 2,400m (7,900ft). 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 very important to be aware that, because of all the new rules on the Inca Trail, there may be changes in the actual trek itinerary and the campsites we use.
Day 17 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 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.