DISCOVERY THE PERU MILLENARY 16D/15N

OVERVIEW

  • Day 1: Arrival in Lima
  • Day 2: Lima City Tour
  • Day 3: Arrival in Paracas & Nazca Lines Tour
  • Day 4: Ballestas Islands Tour & Return to Lima
  • Day 5: Arrival in Arequipa & Arequipa City Tour
  • Day 6: Colca Canyon Tour & Overnight
  • Day 7: Colca Canyon Tour & Arrival in Puno
  • Day 8: Lake Titicaca Tour
  • Day 9: Arrival in Cusco
  • Day 10: Cusco City Tour
  • Day 11: Sacred Valley Tour
  • Day 12: Machu Picchu Tour
  • Day 13: Arrival in Puerto Maldonado
  • Day 14: Amazon Tour
  • Day 15: Amazon Tour
  • Day 16: Departure from Puerto Maldonado

DESCRIPTION

See the very best of Peru in the time you have. In just 16 days, you’ll visit each of Peru’s three distinct geographic regions  (Coast, Mountains and Jungle) – beginning on the desert coast, continuing to the Andes Mountains, and ending with a few nights in the wondrous Amazon rainforest.

All of the top attractions and activities in Peru are covered: you’ll fly over the Nazca Lines, marvel at marine wildlife on the rocky Ballestas Islands, sit by seaside on Paracas Bay, descend into the depths of the Colca Canyon to watch condors soar from its edges, tread on floating islands in Lake Titicaca, wander the cobbled lanes of historic Cusco, watch mists swirl around Machu Picchu, and discover the magic of a pristine rainforest ecosystem living and breathing all around you.

From cities that abound with first-class restaurants to local markets where you can see the natural bounty of the land, Peru with all its treasures and its contrasts awaits your visit.

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1: Arrival in Lima

Upon arrival at the Lima airport, meet our representative for a transfer to your confirmed Lima hotel. Spend the evening at your leisure. Go to the seaside promenade “Malecon” for amazing views of Lima’s coastline or mingle with locals in and around Park Kennedy in Miraflores.

Day 2: Lima City Tour

Enjoy breakfast at your hotel and then resting and relaxing or explore more of the city on your own.

In the afternoon, meet your English-speaking guide for an exciting tour of Lima, which takes you to the city’s main historical, religious, and contemporary sites. The tour starts at the Huaca Pucllana ruins in the Miraflores neighborhood. The structure is an enormous adobe pyramid dating from the 4th century A.D., which stands surrounded by an upscale neighborhood.

Next, visit Lima’s historic center, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and founded by the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro in 1535. Admire the colonial Plaza Mayor (the central square), which is surrounded by 5 key buildings: the Government Palace, the Cathedral (where Pizarro is buried), the Archbishop´s Palace, the Municipal Palace, and the Palace of Lima. Travel a few blocks to the San Francisco Monastery, famous for its catacombs where over 250,000 human bones are still on display.

Your tour of Lima ends with a visit to some of the modern, upscale areas of the city, now peppered with numerous world-class restaurants, lively neighborhoods such as San Isidro, Miraflores, and the Larcomar Complex, which is perched on a Cliffside overlooking the Pacific Ocean with views of islands off the coast.

Return to your hotel in the early evening.

 Day 3: Arrival in Paracas & Nazca Lines Tour

After breakfast at your hotel, meet your transfer to the bus station for your trip to Paracas, a city located 3.5 hours south of Lima and reached by a comfortable first class bus. The port town of Paracas is near the famous Paracas National Marine Sanctuary, and a gateway to both the nearby Ballestas Islands and the Nazca Culture, which flourished in the area for nearly a thousand years.

Upon arrival in Paracas, meet our representative for a transfer to your confirmed Paracas hotel.

Check in, drop off your luggage, and head to the Pisco airport, located about 30 minutes by car from your hotel. Board a small aircraft for an exciting flight over the world-famous Nazca Lines. Built between 500 BC and 500 AD, the Nazca Lines are a World Heritage Site whose significance continues to perplex researchers despite more than half a century of careful study. Many scientists believe the lines served an astronomical function for the Nazca civilization, although other more colorful theories abound.

During your hour-long flight, look out for famous “etchings” such as the condor, the hummingbird, and the monkey. The giant figures were made by removing dark stones that then reveal the lighter color soil underneath. Some are up to 600 feet long.

After you touch back down on earth, return to your Paracas hotel, arriving in the late afternoon or early evening. Relax and ponder the mysterious Nazca Lines as you enjoy a beautiful sunset over the Paracas Bay.

Note: Flights from Pisco to Nazca require a minimum of two passengers per departure.  Please contact your Travel Advisor for single passenger options.

Day 4: Ballestas Islands Tour & Return to Lima

Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before departing on an adventurous boat trip to the nearby Ballestas Islands, an important sanctuary for marine life. From your boat, see and hear raucous sea lions, fur seals, Humboldt Penguins, guano birds, and possibly even Green Sea Turtles and dolphins. The tour lasts approximately 2 hours.

On the way to the islands, the boat passes by the Candelabra, a nearly 595-foot (181-meter) long, candlestick-shaped symbol etched into the side of a hill that can be seen from the sea. Some experts believe it may have served as a navigational guide for ancient sailors and was based on the constellation of the Southern Cross. Others believe that it was somehow related to the Nazca Lines. Still others believe it to have been inspired by a local cactus with hallucinogenic properties!

During the tour, you can get up close and personal with marine birds and sea lions. Some of the unique bird species you might see include the Humboldt Penguin and the Peruvian Booby which only live along the Humboldt Current, as well as the Guanay Cormorant and the Red-legged Cormorant. Depending on the season, you’ll see sea lions playing with their young or simply frolicking on the rocks.

After your boat excursion, enjoy some free time at your hotel before going to the bus station to return to Lima for the night.  After you check in to your hotel, you have the evening in Lima to enjoy at your leisure. Be sure to try one of Lima’s restaurants, which are some of the finest in the world.

 Day 5: Arrival in Arequipa & Arequipa City Tour

Transfer from your hotel to the airport for your flight to Arequipa. Arequipa is often called the White City because many of its buildings are constructed of Sillar, a white volcanic rock. It’s also the birthplace of the Nobel-Prize winning Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa.

Upon arrival at the airport in Arequipa, meet our representatives and go to your confirmed Arequipa hotel where you can relax before your City Tour.

Next, meet your guide for your Arequipa City Tour. The Arequipa historic center boasts a distinctive integration of European and native architectural features and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. The tour stops at Chapel of San Ignacio, as well as the beautiful, colonnaded main square, the Plaza de Armas, bordered on one side by the soaring neoclassical Cathedral. You’ll also explore the Santa Catalina Monastery, a strikingly beautiful, 16th century convent that once housed 500 nuns. The tour will end at one of two famous miradores, or lookout points, either the Mirador de Yanahuara or Carmen Alto, where you can appreciate views of the city framed by the majestic Misti Volcano nearby.

Spend the evening at your leisure, but don’t call it a night before sampling one or two of the regional dishes, such as rocoto relleno (stuffed peppers) or adobo soup, which have made Arequipa a top culinary destination in Peru.

 Day 6: Colca Canyon Tour & Overnight

Start the day early with a filling breakfast before setting off on a scenic drive to the Colca Canyon. The 3 hour drive takes you through spectacular, high altitude landscapes of the Reserva Nacional de Salinas y Aguada Blanca. Keep your eyes open for wild vicuñas (smaller cousins of the llama) and viscachas (small rodents that resemble rabbits).

The highest point of your journey, at Patapampa Pass, reaches a breathtaking 16,109 feet (4,910 meters) above sea level. On the descent into the town of Chivay, pre-Inca agricultural terraces blanket the sides of the valley walls. The Ampato, Sabancaya, and Mismi volcanoes tower in the distance.

In Chivay, visit the main square and stop for lunch (not included).

After lunch, ride to the Calera Hot Springs, renowned for the therapeutic effects of its thermal waters. You can either take a dip in the natural baths or just take in the stunning scenery.

Later, transfer to your Colca Canyon hotel, where you can continue to relax amidst the pastoral beauty of this incomparable Andean landscape.

 Day 7: Colca Canyon Tour & Arrival in Puno

Early this morning, meet your guide and drive to the Mirador Cruz del Condor, one of the best viewpoints over the canyon and home to the famed condors that soar on the thermal currents. The road leads past picturesque villages and pre-Inca ruins dominated by the Ampato and Hualca glaciers, both visible in the distance. Once you reach Cruz Del Condor, you can stand at the viewpoint and gaze into the depths of the canyon, which stretches nearly 4,000 feet below.

Return to Chivay where you can enjoy lunch (not included) or browse the local market before starting the journey by land to your Puno hotel. Puno is located between 5 and 6 hours from Colca Canyon by car. Enjoy spectacular views of the Andes on the way.

Puno is at a higher altitude than Arequipa, and if you haven’t already sufficiently acclimatized, it is a good idea to take it easy after arrival. Many of our recommended hotels are located along the lakeshore and away from the hustle and bustle of the city center, so you can take in views of the lake as you rest and relax.

 Day 8: Lake Titicaca Tour

Be sure to fuel up this morning, as this full day experience lasts around 9 hours. Your Lake Titicaca tour takes you to two fascinating islands. First, the floating Uros islands are composed of about 75 islands constructed of many layers of totora reeds woven into thick mats. Hosts teach visitors about local customs and how they use reeds to make their homes and boats.

This exciting tour continues to Taquile Island, located about 30 miles by boat from Puno. Along the way, enjoy panoramic views of Lake Titicaca, perched at 12,500 feet in elevation, and of the surrounding peninsulas. Taquile Island is home to numerous pre-Inca and Inca ruins, and the island inhabitants still maintain many time-honored traditions which are reflected in their clothing and in their beautiful handicrafts.

On Taquile, visit the most important sites of the island, including the main plaza and the market. Take pictures of the island landscape and surrounding lake views. Be prepared for some effort, though, as due to the island’s geography, the tour of Taquile involves hiking up hills and climbing stone stairs. Taquile’s 500 stone stairs from pier to town re infamous, so be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes. Fortunately, the lake views are well worth the climb, and there are many places to stop and rest along the way.

After touring Taquile, enjoy a local lunch (not included) before your return by boat to Puno.

Arrive back in Puno in the early evening. Relax at your hotel or head to the city center to enjoy some traditional cuisine in one of the local restaurants.

 Day 9: Arrival in Cusco

After breakfast in your Puno hotel, transfer to the bus terminal for your journey to Cusco.

Travel to Cusco aboard a comfortable tourist bus. The ride lasts between 9 and 10 hours and includes a stop for lunch, as well as guided visits to several ruins and tourist sites along the way.

Upon arrival in Cusco, meet our Peru for Less representative at the bus station for a transfer to your hotel. Spend the remainder of the evening at your leisure, resting at your hotel or enjoying the Cusco nightlife.

Day 10: Cusco City Tour

Spend the morning at your leisure. This is a good time to explore some of Cusco’s less-visited attractions including the famous San Pedro Market, the bohemian neighborhood of San Blas, or one of Cusco’s many fine museums. Get a glimpse of Peru’s long artistic heritage at the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, hone your knowledge of the Inca Empire at the Casa Concha (“Machu Picchu Museum”), or make your own chocolate from scratch at the Choco Museum.

In the afternoon, meet our expert Cusco guide to tour the city’s must-see attractions. Stops include the Cusco Cathedral in the Plaza de Armas, the fabulous Temple of the Sun or Qoricancha, the gargantuan ruins of the Sacsayhuaman fortress/temple overlooking the city, as well as the ruins of Q’enko, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay nearby.

In the late afternoon, return to your Cusco hotel and spend the evening at your leisure. Enjoy the local cuisine and the splendor of Cusco at night, the surrounding hills twinkling with lights and the sky overhead littered with stars.

 Day 11: Sacred Valley Tour

Explore the beautiful Peruvian countryside with a full-day tour of the magical Sacred Valley, home to several royal estates of Incan emperors. First, visit the town of Pisac, famous for its bustling indigenous market and for the beautiful Inca ruins on the hillside overlooking the city. In the market, browse stalls brimming with beautiful handicrafts and handwoven garments. In the center of the market, village women in traditional dress gather to buy and sell local fruits, vegetables, and other natural products. While exploring the Pisac ruins above, wander narrow paths with walls of spectacularly cut stones and enjoy stunning views of the village and the Sacred Valley below.

After Pisac, stop for lunch (not included) at a buffet restaurant to sample a variety of Peruvian and international dishes near the town of Urubamba. The town is named after the sacred river (whose upper stretch is called the Vilcanota) that flows through the valley, on its way to Machu Picchu and eventually the Amazon jungle.

Next, visit the spectacular fortress of Ollantaytambo. These magnificent Inca ruins that cling to the hillside were part of the royal estate of the Incan emperor Pachacuti. Later, during the Incas’ heroic resistance against the Spaniards, a great battle was fought, during which the Spaniards were repelled by the guerrilla emperor Manco Inca. The small town of Ollantaytambo at its base still has Inca houses, making Ollantaytambo the only Inca city that is still inhabited today.

The tour ends at your comfortable hotel in the Sacred Valley. If you’ve selected a hotel in Ollantaytambo, you can explore the former Incan town at your leisure, which still boasts mountain water coursing through Inca-built gutters in the center of its streets and where many of the inhabitants still speak the Incan language, Quechua.

 Day 12: Machu Picchu Tour

After breakfast at your Sacred Valley hotel, take a train to Machu Picchu, the hidden Inca citadel. This 2.5-hour train journey is one of the finest in the world. Much of the path winds along the rushing Vilcanota river and snakes through gorges cut into the bases of massive mountainsides, offering passengers dramatic views of the Andean landscape as the train descends from high altitude plains down through the cloud forest. The foliage dramatically changes as the train approaches the meeting point of the Andes and the Upper Amazon rainforest, providing visitors an intimate view of one of the most spectacular transitions in the world.

The train arrives in Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu, which is surrounded by tall granite cliffs and a cloud forest inhabited by orchids and hummingbirds. Meet our representative at the train station gates and walk to the bus station for a 20-minute ride up to the secluded Inca citadel high atop a mountain ridge.

Next, meet your expert, English-speaking guide for a 2-hour tour of the most important sites in Machu Picchu, including the Intihuatana (Sun Stone), the Sun Temple, and the Room of 3 Windows. Machu Picchu is ranked as one of the “must see” archaeological sites in the world. Royal palaces, temples and astronomical observatories cling to a granite spur some 2,000 feet above the valley floor, affording spectacular views of the cloud-wreathed Andes and the Urubamba River far below.

After your tour, you have the option to explore more of the ruins on your own and capture some final photos.

In the late afternoon, take a comfortable train back to Cusco and then meet our driver for a transfer to your Cusco hotel for the evening.

Want an extra day at Machu Picchu? Customize this package to include an overnight stay in Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. The next morning, make a second visit to get your fill of the enigmatic citadel and then return to Cusco in the evening.

*Optional: Hike up Wayna Picchu, the peak overlooking the Machu Picchu ruins. This hike is steep and takes about 3 hours round trip to complete, but affords spectacular views of the surrounding Andes and views over the Machu Picchu citadel from above. Numerous Inca burials have been found in cavities on this mountain. Please let your Travel Advisor know if you’d like to add this to your itinerary.

 Day 13: Arrival in Puerto Maldonado

After breakfast at your hotel, meet your transfer to the airport for a flight to Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon.

Upon arrival at the airport, meet a representative for a short ride to the port and a transfer by boat to your jungle lodge. Distances to each lodge vary, but most lodges are located between 30-minutes and 1-hour by boat from the city.

Additionally, many of the lodges are located within the territory of the Ese’eja native community, and are built with the same materials and architectural techniques as those used by native communities throughout the Amazon. As you leave the city of Puerto Maldonado behind, you’ll be enveloped in the tranquility of the Tambopata River and surrounding rainforest.

Upon arrival at the lodge, you have time to settle in and relax. Then meet your guide and learn about the activities available during your stay. This evening, enjoy a delicious dinner before tucking in early to get ready for your jungle tour at the break of dawn.

 Day 14: Amazon Tour

Mornings in the jungle start early and today you’re first Amazon adventure begins at dawn. Have breakfast at your lodge and then head to a nearby lake to see some of the wildlife that call this part of the Amazon home. Today you may be able to spot caimans, turtles, hoatzin, wading birds, and if you are lucky, endangered giant river otters. Morning tends to be the best time of day for wildlife-spotting and as the sun comes up, you won’t want to miss the experience of watching the jungle come to life.

Return to the lodge for lunch and then set out for another adventure with your expert naturalist guide. This afternoon focuses on flora. With your guide, walk through the forest and learn about hidden jungle inhabitants and indigenous plants. Many of the plants serve a variety of purposes, and are often still used by native communities. Some plants are medicinal, while others are used for construction or even for transportation.

After dinner, return to the jungle for a night walk with your expert guide and see what nocturnal creatures you can spot. Alternatively, you can simply relax to the sounds of the jungle in your cabana hammock.

*Note: Activities may vary due to weather conditions and other considerations. Your Amazon guide will provide details about the activities that you will enjoy each day.

 Day 15: Amazon Tour

After breakfast, go for a jungle hike to learn more about how local communities interact with the forest in their everyday lives. During the hike you may be able to see toucans, several species of birds, monkeys and sloths.

Return to the lodge for lunch and take some time to rest and relax before setting out for another tour. This time you learn more about human life in the jungle, seeing the type of fruits and vegetables that local communities grow.

Return before dark to the jungle lodge for your last evening in the Peruvian rainforest.

*Note: Activities may vary due to weather conditions and other considerations. Your Amazon guide will provide details about the activities that you will enjoy each day.

 Day 16: Departure from Puerto Maldonado

After an early breakfast at the lodge, return Puerto Maldonado by boat and transfer to the airport for your flight back to Lima (via Cusco) and journey home or on to your next destination.

INCLUSIONS

  • Airport pick up
  • 3 night’s hotel in Lima
  • 1 night Hotel in Paracas
  • 1 night in Arequipa
  • 1 night hotel in the Colca Canyon
  • 2 night’s hotel in Puno
  • 3 night’s hotel in Cusco
  • 1 night hotel in the Sacred Valley
  • 3 nights lodges in the Amazon in Peru hotels based on standards
  • All tours stated in the itinerary with English-speaking guides
  • Ground transportation
  • Bus: Lima – Paracas – Lima
  • Flight over Nazca Lines
  • Bus: Puno – Cusco
  • All meals at the Amazon lodge
  • Train service: Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes town Round/trip
  • Machu Picchu entrance fees
  • All entrance fees

EXCLUSIONS

  • Airfare and airport taxes
  • Lunches or dinners (unless otherwise specified)
  • Gratuities