Explore the extraordinary civilization of the Incas, the colonial heritage of the Spanish Conquistadors and the colourful culture of present-day Peru. Plus, experience the Peruvian Amazon basin with a two-night stay at an eco-lodge in the jungle.
Peru is without doubt the most intriguing and fascinating of all South American countries. The incredible remains of the Inca civilization are a huge draw and combined with its colonial architecture, the stunning vistas of the jagged peaks of the Andes, the Amazonian jungle, its superb cuisine and the warmth of the Peruvians themselves, this is one of the most captivating destinations in the world!
The most striking image of Peru, and probably the entire continent, is of course the awesome Machu Picchu. One of the greatest archaeological discoveries of modern times, it is set in a breathtaking landscape of rich rainforest, deep perilous gorges and lofty snow-covered peaks.
Nothing can prepare you for the sheer exhilaration felt as you approach the site and it gloriously comes into view. You ascend a slope and suddenly there it is, its magic hits you right between the eyes: the classic view from countless travel posters, it will truly take your breath away!
What You’ll Love
- Enjoy peace of mind with Flexible Booking*
- Happy by day two or we’ll bring you home with a full refund
- Scheduled return flights from London Heathrow & transfers
- Stay in hand-picked three and four-star hotels with daily breakfast and nine meals
- Explore the extraordinary civilization of the Incas, the colonial heritage of the Spanish
- Conquistadors and the colourful culture of present-day Peru
- Guided visit to Machu Picchu, the fabled ‘Lost city of the Incas’
- Tour of Sacred Valley of the Incas
- Guided sightseeing of Cusco, once capital of the Inca empire, now one of South America’s most enchanting cities
- Visit to the famous floating islands of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world
- See the great South American condor in flight, at the stunning Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest
- Guided tour of Arequipa, one of South America’s most charming Spanish colonial cities
- Experience the Peruvian Amazon basin with a two-night stay at an eco-lodge in the jungle
- Escorted by an experienced tour manager
Subject to availability. Single supplements apply.
*Full terms and conditions can be viewed here.
Day 1 – Departure
Arrive at the airport for your overnight flight to Lima, via Bogota.
Day 2 – Arrival in Lima
After checking in, this afternoon we enjoy a city tour, visiting Lima’s most important colonial sites. You will see the Presidential Palace, the Plaza del Armas, Lima’s central square, surrounded by colonial-era buildings in the central UNESCO listed area of the city. We will also visit the Casa Aliaga one of Lima’s best known colonial mansions built by Pizarro for one of his lieutenants in the 16th century.
Day 3 – Arrival in Arequipa
Transfer straight on to a domestic flight to the beautiful colonial city of Arequipa. The rest of the day is yours to relax.
Day 4 – Arequipa
Situated at an altitude of 7,660ft, Arequipa is Peru’s second-largest city and a good place to start acclimatising to the higher altitude. Its skyline is dominated by a trio of spectacular volcanoes – in fact many buildings are constructed from volcanic sillar rock, the hue of which gives Arequipa its ‘White City’ moniker.
After breakfast we set out on a tour that begins at the Carmen Alto viewpoint, which offers spectacular views of the city. We head through the Yanahuara quarter with its cobbled streets and beautiful mestizo baroque church dating from 1750. We then head downtown to Arequipa’s UNESCO-listed historic centre and pretty Plaza des Armas, which features the 17th century baroque Jesuit church of La Compáñia. We then head across the plaza to the cathedral, a grand piece of colonial architecture. With 12 giant marble columns, a high vaulted ceiling, the cathedral is impressive on its own, but is given further dramatic emphasis when viewed against the backdrop of the three mighty snow-capped volcanoes. We move on to the Monastery of Santa Catalina, founded by the Spanish in 1580 for the nuns of the Order of Saint Catherine of Siena.
The afternoon is at leisure, giving you the opportunity to browse the local craft marketor further explore the pretty streets of dazzling colonial buildings. Try locally caught trout cooked on a hot stone, the sweetest corn on the cob you’ll ever taste or even an alpaca steak, all washed down with a pisco sour, of course.
Day 5 – Colca
After breakfast we head north to Colca, site of one of the world’s deepest canyons. As we pass through the Pampa Cañahuas Reserve we see desert landscapes, exotic rock formations and grasslands populated by vicuñas, llamas and Andean deer. We climb even further to over 12,000ft and the Pampa de Toccra, a plain featuring a lake where pink flamingos reside in season. The trip features several jaw-dropping viewpoints, including the Mirador de los Andes at Patapampa – at over 16,000ft above sea level the air here is thin but the view of the volcanoes around Arequipa is simply jaw dropping. In the afternoon we reach Chivay (alt.11,900ft), a small town near Colca Canyon.
Day 6 – Colca Canyon
Today we head to Condor Cross for some magnificent views of the Colca Canyon. Prepare to be amazed, the canyon is more than twice the depth of the Grand Canyon and is one of Peru’s most popular sights. This is also where you can get some amazing close-up views of one of the world’s most spectacular birds in flight – the Andean Condor. The Colca Canyon region is one of the last remaining habitats of this endangered giant vulture, which has a wingspan of up to 10ft. At around midday we continue eastwards to Puno on Lake Titicaca, where we stay two nights overlooking the lake. A packed lunch is included today.
Day 7 – Lake Titicaca
The panorama of Lake Titicaca must be seen to be believed. Reflecting the blue sky above, is a fabulous deep blue expanse of water stretching as far as the eye can see. After breakfast we board our private motor launch and visit the famous floating Uros Islands where the indigenous communities, living much as they always have, construct these islands using many layers of totora reeds. We then visit the island of Taquile, further into the lake and famed for the highest quality knitwear in Peru. It’s very much a typical village, with no roads or electricity, where the Uros people proudly still adhere to their traditional culture and dress. Lunch is included in Taquile.
Day 8 – Cusco
This morning we say goodbye to Lake Titicaca and head northwards to Cusco. We firstly drive
through the altiplano, the high-altitude Andean plateau observing small herds of llama, alpaca and the low mud-brick, thatch-roofed houses of the local farmers. As the scenery slips by, we start climbing gradually towards La Raya, at 14,170ft, the highest point on this stunning journey.
After our included lunch, we also visit the fascinating church of the Andahuayillas, known as the Sistine Chapel of the America’s due to the high quality of its artwork, arriving in Cusco in the late afternoon.
Day 9 – Cusco
After breakfast we have a tour of Cusco, one of the most beautiful cities in South America, a heady mixture of traditional colonial architecture interspersed with fascinating Inca remains. Today it is the site of three churches, including the 16th century cathedral, so huge it took 100 years to complete.
We then visit the Qorichancha, the Incas’ principle temple to the sun. This was the ‘navel’ of the Inca world, originally covered in sheets of pure gold and contained the Incas’ most sacred object, the golden disc of the sun.
Our final Inca site is the extraordinary Sachsayhuaman with three vast megalithic walls, a staggering thousand feet long and with the largest blocks of stone ever found in Inca structures, all moved with no wheels. This was also the site of the final epic four-day last stand of the Inca rebellion. Had the conquistadors lost, the history of South America could have been quite different.
Day 10 – Pisac & Sacred Valley
The Sacred Valley was the empire’s breadbasket, spiritual centre and home to some of its most
iconic symbols. Its wide fertile plain, with ancient terraces hugging the valley sides and the imposing peaks of the Andes beyond is truly an awesome sight.
Firstly we visit Pisac, famous for its dominating fortress and colourful indigenous market. Every kind of local handicraft is available – from vibrant hand-made rugs and ponchos in bright reds and yellows, to local ceramics and high quality llama and alpaca knitwear.
After an included lunch we visit the massive fortress and temple of Ollantaytambo. Built along a dominant rocky bluff, and was the site of a rare Conquistador defeat. You can examine the astonishingly intricate Inca stonework – its beauty and precision unique in the world and all hand-crafted using stone tools. We return by train to the Urumbamba Valley, known as the ‘Sacred Valley of the Incas.’
Day 11 – Machu Picchu
Today we board the specially constructed Explorer train from Ollaytambo station, taking us on one of the world’s most spectacular rail journeys through the narrow Urubamba river gorge to the legendary Machu Picchu. As we descend, the scenery changes from semi-arid brush and cactus to dense, lush rainforest. Below us, the river rushes headlong into numerous rapids whilst above, the precipitous sides of the gorge rise to dizzying heights.
The ‘Lost City of the Incas’ suddenly and magically appears before you, its wonder and mystique astounds – the only Inca settlement never discovered or destroyed by the Spanish. Set on a ridge overlooking the gorge of the Urubamba River, it was rediscovered in 1910 by Hiram Bingham, an American explorer. No one knows why it was built in such an inaccessible spot or why it was mysteriously abandoned. As you walk through its gates, temples and houses, our guide will explain the significance of the location in relation to the equinoxes and how central mountain-worship was to the Incas.
Day 12 – Amazon
This morning you begin your journey into the vast Amazon rainforest with a short flight from Cusco to Puerto Madonaldo. We make our way to the Madre de Dios River where our adventure starts with a 25-minute ride by motorised canoe to the lodge. After lunch, we take a guided walk through the local nature trails, where you’ll discover the differences between primary and secondary rainforest, its complex ecosystem and the many fascinating uses of its plant life. At dusk, we’ll navigate the river by motorised
canoe, to spot nocturnal animals’ behaviour and the southern constellations above us.
Day 13 – Amazon
Today you will understand why the Madre de Dios is called the biodiversity capital of Peru! We will use the motorised canoes to cross mirror-like oxbow lakes and visit the Tambopata National Reserve, home to the endangered giant river otter, black caiman, and one of the world’s biggest fresh water scaled fish, the paiche, as well as blue and yellow macaw and red howler monkeys.
After a buffet lunch back at the lodge, we’ll enjoy a unique view of the rainforest from a canopy walkway. Ascend one of the two 98-foot towers and cross the 7 hanging bridges that connect the treetops, with the chance to watch white-throated toucans, woodpeckers, squirrel monkeys and three-toed sloths.
Day 14 – Fly to Lima
After breakfast, we take the motorised canoe back to Puerto Maldonado from where we fly to Cusco for one final night.
Day 15 – Lima & Return Flight
You have the chance to enjoy a late breakfast before your transfer to the airport for your return flight home – via Lima and Bogota.
Day 16 – Arrive Home
Arrive back in the UK.