The Essence of Peru: The Ultimate Peru Tour

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The Essence of Peru: The Ultimate Peru Tour

The Essence of Peru: Cuzco, Machu Picchu, Colca Canyon, Nazca Lines, Arequipa & Lima

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Trip Itinerary

15 Days / 14 Nights

The Essence of Peru: Cuzco, Machu Picchu, Colca Canyon, Nazca Lines, Arequipa & Lima

Embark on a two week journey through the Land of the Incas, where the remnants of a great civilization continue to dazzle the imagination. Starting in the City of Kings, Lima, you'll learn about the history of the Spanish conquistadors. Continue on to the heart of Peru, visiting the mysterious Nazca Lines, the beautiful bay of Paracas, the mythical Lake Titicaca, and of course, the city in the sky, Machu Picchu.

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This tour includes:
  • 14 nights in 4-star Hotels
  • All Breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners
  • All Tours and Transfers
  • All Entrance Fees
  • All Domestic Flights
  • First-Class Train or Bus Transportation

  • Lima & Arequipa City Tour
  • Paracas Bay Beach Resort
  • Ballesta Islands Cruise
  • Nazca Lines Overflight
  • Colca Canyon & Condor Mirador
  • Lake Titicaca & Floating Islands
  • First-class Train from Puno to Cuzco
  • Tour of Machu Picchu
Day 1

Arrive in Lima, the City of Kings

The capital of Peru was also the viceroyalty for the Spanish conquistadores.
Upon arrival at the Lima airport, you will be greeted by one of our travel representatives and transferred to your Lima hotel in the Miraflores district. Spend the rest of the day at your leisure exploring the fascinating and sprawling capital of Peru, known as the City of Kings.

Day 2

Lima to Paracas Bay

Wake early and enjoy breakfast in your hotel. Spend the day at your leisure before transferring to the coastal town of Paracas on a deluxe coach. You'll stay in beautiful Hotel la Hacienda Bahia Paracas. Spend the evening at your leisure, perhaps walking along the waterfront and enjoying the peaceful bay views.

Day 3

Ballestas Islands Tour & Ica Tour

Cruise through the Ballestas Islands, "The Poor Man's Galapagos"
Wake early and enjoy breakfast in your beachside hotel. Then walk to the waterfront, where you will head out on a tour of the spectacular Ballestas Islands.

Home to hundreds of thousands of seabirds, sea lions, cormorants, and Humboldt penguins, the Ballestas Islands are one of the most breathtaking sights along the southern coastal desert of Peru. Your motorboat ride will whisk you from the Paracas bay – where you are likely to spot a few friendly dolphins – to the Candelabra geoglyph carved into the cliffside and visible only from offshore. Then continue to the Ballestas themselves. Make sure to bring a warm waterproof jacket and hat for this excursion.

After you have had your fill of the Paracas sunshine, you will take a private transfer to the nearby city of Ica, where a local guide will show you the sand dune oasis called Huacachina, as well as a wine bodega, where you can taste some of Peru’s finest Pisco brandy and wines. Continue about 2 hours to the desert town of Nazca, where you can check into your Nazca hotel, the gorgeous Hotel Nazca Lines.

Day 4

Nazca Lines Flight & Transfer to Arequipa

Early in the morning, you will transfer to the Nazca airport for a short overflight to see the famous Nazca Lines. The overflight includes sightings of 12 Nazca Lines, including the monkey, eagle, and astronaut. The Nazca Lines were etched into the desert floor thousands of years ago, but are still visible today due to the incredibly dry climate. There are many speculations about the purpose and meaning of the lines,but none are conclusive. Take the overflight and try to unravel the mystery of the lines for yourself!

After your Nazca Lines flight, you'll take a comfortable coach for an eight hour journey along the south central region of Peru to the high altitude city of Arequipa, nestled at the foot of the towering El Misti volcano. You'll stay at the Hotel Posada del Inca Arequipa, centrally located on the Plaza de Armas.

Day 5

Arequipa City Tour

Tour the Dazzling "White City" of Arequipa
Enjoy a delicious breakfast at your hotel, then take a three hour Arequipa City Tour to visit the highlights of this city known as The White City because of its gleaming buildings made of white volcanic sillar stone. Arequipa was once an important city along the trade route between Lima and Santiago. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Arequipa has preserved much of its colonial architecture, including the Cathedral de San Francisco, La Compañía de Jesús Church, and the Santa Catalina Convent. On this tour, you will also visit Yanahuara, a neighborhood where you can walk down cobblestone streets and enjoy magnificent views of the city as well as three volcanoes, El Misti, Chachani, and Pichupichu.

Day 6

Transfer to the Colca Canyon

See Inca terraces and quiet villages
Early in the morning, you will take a 5 hour transfer to Chivay, located in the Colca Valley. The road winds through the Pampa Cañahuas, where you might spot vicuñas, llamas and alpacas. Once you arrive, you will be taken directly to your lodge, where you can relax. You might even want to try a warm soak in the thermal springs of La Calera. Spend the night at Mama Yacchi Lodge, which overlooks some of the most beautiful scenery in the Colca Canyon.

Day 7

Colca Valley Tour & Cruz del Condor

Delve into the Colca Canyon, where Andean Condors rule the skies
Enjoy a delicious breakfast at your hotel. You’ll leave early and drive to the Cruz del Condor, the perfect spot for catching sight of the giant Andean Condors riding the thermals over the spectacular canyon. Enjoy a short hike to peer into the Colca canyon. We will continue to the village of Cabanaconde, from where the view of the canyon and Andean farming terraces is even more amazing. Choose from another hike, a horseback ride, or a chance to relax in the shade and enjoy the afternoon. On the return, you will stop to visit the Andean villages of Lari and Yanque. Spend the rest of the evening at your leisure at Mama Yacchi Lodge.

Day 8

Arrive in Puno

Spend the night on the shores of Lake Titicaca
After breakfast at the lodge, you will set off for a 6 hour journey to the town of Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Check in to your Puno hotel and spend the rest of the day at your leisure. Go for a stroll along the shores, admire handmade crafts of the locals, or take a tour of the Yaravi, the oldest motorized iron ship of the world.

Day 9

Lake Titicaca Floating Islands Tour & Sillustani Ruins

Rise early and have breakfast at your hotel before setting out on a tour of the Uros Floating Islands. No trip to Puno would be complete without a 3 hour boat tour to see the fascinating floating islands of Uros. The people of Uros are reeds craftsmen, who continue the ancient tradition of building boats, crafts, and even the islands themselves from the totora reed.

In the afternoon, enjoy a 3 hour excursion to the Chullpas de Sillustani. These funerary towers were built in the 13th century, and are a testament to the rich cultural heritage that the Puno region has preserved. From the ruins, approximately 35 km from Puno, you can see the nearby Lago Umayo and other breathtaking vistas.

Day 10

Train Ride from Puno to Cuzco

Ride through the Andes & Altiplano aboard the Orient-Express
After breakfast, a guide will meet you and take you from your hotel to the train station. Take the 10 hour Orient Express Andean Explorer train ride through the beautiful landscapes of central Peru to the capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco. This spectacular rail journey rolls through the Andes Mountains and the valley of the Huatanay River to the sacred city of the Incas. Along the way, you’ll have lunch and can enjoy views from the glass-walled observation car. The journey is broken by a scenic stop at La Raya, which is also the highest point on the route.

Upon arrival at the Cusco train station, you will be greeted by one of our travel representatives and taken to your Cusco hotel near the heart of downtown Cusco.

Day 11

Full Day Sacred Valley Tour

Visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas
A must-see full day tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas takes you from Cusco along the Urubamba river valley to the towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Pisac is most famous for its market, which takes place on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Local farmers and crafts people bring their goods to town to sell and trade. Stroll along the rows of goods and you are sure to find something you can’t live without. The tour includes lunch at a local restaurant, and then continues on to Ollantaytambo, the town known for its imposing cliffside ruins built by the Incas. Enjoy a tour of the ruins and breathtaking views of the valley, before checking into your hotel for the evening. You'll stay at the charming Hotel Pakaritampu in the Sacred Valley, halfway between Cusco and Machu Picchu.

Day 12

Full Day Machu Picchu Tour

Have an early breakfast in your hotel, and then prepare for the tour of a lifetime to see Machu Picchu, the breathtaking city in the sky.

Travel through the Sacred Valley into the cloud forest, where the city of Machu Picchu lay relatively hidden for centuries. The first class Vistadome train, with its glass ceiling, allows you ample room to enjoy the unbeatable scenery as you take the 2 hour journey towards Machu Picchu. You will arrive in Aguas Calientes, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu. Take a short walk over to the shuttle bus station, which will whisk you up the mountain to the entrance to Machu Picchu. There your guide will greet you and take you on a tour of this fascinating city of the Incas. As you gaze in wonder at the expansive stone ruins, steep terraces, and looming cliffs, you will realize why Machu Picchu has been called one of the natural wonders of the world. The stonework at Machu Picchu is so well-engineered that many of the walls are almost perfectly intact since the days of the Incas in the 15th and 16th centuries.

After the tour, wander around the ruins on your own, or return to Aguas Calientes for lunch. You can relax in your hotel in town. An alternative would be to meet your train for the ride back to Ollantaytambo or Cusco.

Day 13

Machu Picchu & Aguas Calientes Free Day

Enjoy breakfast in your hotel in Aguas Calientes. If you wish, you can return to Machu Picchu for another day exploring the majestic city in the sky. In the early afternoon, catch your train from Aguas Calientes to Cusco. Once you arrive in Cusco, you will be greeted and taken back to your Cusco hotel.

Day 14

Cusco City Tour

Visit the capital of the Inca Empire
Enjoy an early breakfast in your hotel. Discover the fascinating historical and cultural legacy of the Incas in the capital of the Inca Empire on this 4 hour Cusco city tour. You will visit Korikancha, known as the Temple of the Sun during Inca times in the 13th-15th centuries, and the site of the Spanish conquistadors Convent of Santo Domingo. You’ll also see the Cathedral, which faces the Plaza de Armas in the heart of downtown Cusco. Continuing on, you’ll tour the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, located above the city, and you can enjoy spectacular views of Cusco below. Follow the road up to several other Inca stone ruins, including Q'enqo, Puca Pucara and Tambomachay.

In the evening, you'll be taken out on the town for a night of Andean culture and entertainment during this dinner and folklore show. Dine on traditional Andean food while you are serenaded by a troupe of musicians and dancers wearing traditional garb and performing tunes such as Andean Huaynos, Sikus, Tuntunas, Sanjuanitos.

Day 15

Return to Lima & Lima City Tour

After breakfast, your driver will take you to the Cusco airport to catch the flight to Lima. Once you arrive at the Lima airport, a guide will take you on a Lima city tour. Among the highlights of Lima, you will see its colonial architecture and its beautiful coastline. Visit the Monastery of San Francisco, the San Isidro olive groves, the pre-Inca worship centers of Huallamarca and Pucllana, the Miraflores Parque Central, and the romantic Parque del Amor. Go to the main square to see the Government Palace, Cathedral, Archbishop Palace, and City Hall and walk around to see old streets with colonial mansions and Moorish balconies, Paseo de la Republica and San Martin Square.

After this Lima city tour, your Peru tour ends and you will be taken back to the airport for your flight home or to your next destination on your South America tour.

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We are newly returned from our WONDERFUL South American adventure

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We are newly returned from our WONDERFUL South American adventure, and I am SO THANKFUL to you for all your planning and ideas. The trip surpassed even my highest expectations. Everything went SO smoothly and safely, with spectacular scenery and good health and amazingly lucky good weather. ALL of our travelers said it was marvelous in every way!!

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