Peru & Bolivia by Rail
- Full Itinerary
- Price & Contact
This multi-faceted tour combines the highlights of Peru such as Machu Picchu, the Nasca-Lines and the Titicaca Lake with a trip to La Paz, Bolivia's seat of government and highest metropole in the world. Guests who have a little more time can make use of the extension program to the Uyuni salt lake and the surrounding area. Many routes of this tour, which is especially designed for rail travel friends, will be undertaken with the Andean railway, an unforgettable experience. You will get a comprehensive insight into the culture and history of the countries and the railways.
- Lima, with its churches, monasteries and museums
- Rail trip to Huancayo and Huancavelica
- Ballestas Islands lines of Nazca Cuzco ruins of Sacsayhuaman
- Machu Picchu by train
- Lake Titicaca
- Sun island Huatajata
- San Pedro
- Uyuni salt lake
- Nights in hotels in the very good mid-range (4 stars), in the province in 3 stars (but best choice spot) and Theme Hotels
- Any other program mentioned in the travel services and meals
- Excursions, transfers and entrance fees according tender
- English-speaking guide
- Travel documents and taxis Service
- Lima: Casa Andina Select Miraflores ****
- Huancayo: Hotel Loma Verde Concepción ***
- Huancavelica: Hotel Presidente Huancavelica ***
- Cuzco: Hotel Costa del Sol Picoaga ****
- Sacred Valley: Sonesta Posada del Inca Yucay Hotel ****
- Aguas Calientes: Hotel Hatuchay Tower ***
- Puno: Hotel Posada del Inca ****
- La Paz: Hotel El Rey Palace *****
- Colchani: Cristal Samaña Salt Hotel
Your train:Like no other railway in the world, the Peruvian Central Railway leads through a breathtaking landscape, over 7 switchbacks, 60 bridges and through 66 tunnels through the Cordilliers to the Andean Highlands. The rail line Huancayo - Huancavelica leads through a narrow valley. The train passes more than 800 vertical meters. The trip to the fabled Inca city of Machu Picchu is romantic and the Andean Train offers an impressive scenic ride over the Altiplano with snowcapped peaks to Puno located at the picturesque Lake Titicaca. The endless vasteness is the dominant impression on the trip from Oruro to Uyuni through the highlands of Bolivia. Unlike in the European Alps no peaks are visible in the distance. Only small hills limit the horizon, even at 3.600 meters above sea level. The sparse plain is only vegetated with scattered bushes and grass.
Day 1 Arrive in Lima, Peru
On this Peru tour, once you arrive in the Lima airport, your travel guide will greet you and take you to your 4* Casa Andina Select Miraflores Hotel, located in the coastal neighborhood of Miraflores. Relax in the hotel's jacuzzi, salon & spa, or gym. Or you may want to explore the district of Miraflores, which has lots of shops and a beautiful malecon, or boardwalk that overlooks the Pacific Ocean.
Day 2 Lima City Tour
Enjoy a breakfast in the Casa Andina hotel, and then head out on a guided Lima city tour. Lima is called the "City of Kings," because the Spanish conquistadors, Francisco Pizarro and his crew, made Lima the capital of their Spanish empire. Today, the historic district of Lima is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Plaza de Armas seems like a step back in time.
This 3 hour Lima city tour begins with an excursion to the pre-Colombian highlights of the city, suchas the Pucllana Pyramid ruins, a magnificent ceremonial and archaeological center built in the 4th century AD and considered a sacred site by the Incas. Then visit the historic district, where you can appreciate the monuments and colonial-era buildings, including the Paseo de la República, the San Martín Square, the Plaza de Armas, the Government Palace, the Archbishop's Palace, the Cathedral Basilica, and the City Council Palace amongst others.
Next, visit the Museum of the Central Bank Reserve to admire a fine selection of objects made of gold, ceramics and textiles from pre-Columbian cultures. Also be sure to visit the San Francisco Convent, which houses the largest collection of relgious art and the oldest library in the Americas. The highlight of the tour is the underground catacombs beneath the convent, including the "Well of Souls."
Lastly, visit the traditional residential areas of Lima, such as El Olivar of San Isidro, Miraflores and the mall Larcomar, with its spectacular view to the Pacific Ocean.
You may also want to visit the Larco Museum, touted as one of the best museums in Lima. On this 3 hour guided tour of the Larco Museum, view 45000 gold and silver objects and an erotic archaological collection, many from the pre-Colombian era.
Afterwards, return to your Lima hotel and spend the rest of the day at your leisure.
Day 3 Train Ride to Huancayo
After breakfast this morning, transfer to the Desamparados Train Station. Ride the First Class train from Lima to Huancayo, a 10 hour scenic journey including lunch along the way. The train across the Andes between Lima and Huancayo is a great engineering achievement of the 19th century. After many years of being out of service, the train has started again, now with two departures per month (one departure from January to March). The journey begins in the desert coast around Lima and climbs through a subtropical river valley, into the highlands, up and over the snow-covered Cordillera Blanca to finally enter the plentiful and green Mantaro Valley. The train crosses 68 bridges, passes through 71 rock tunnels - one at 4,781 meters (15,686 feet) - and uses 21 switchbacks. It is a breathtaking experience enjoying beautiful landscapes, canyons, mountains and lakes.
Upon arrival at the La Oroyo train station in the Mantaro Valley, check in to the 3* Hotel Loma Verde Concepción. This hotel is located on a farm about 20 km from the city of Huancayo, in the picturesque Mantaro Valley.
Day 4 Mantaro Valley Artisans Tour
After breakfast at the Hotel Loma Verde, enjoy a full-day Mantaro Valley Artisans Tour. This valley is one of Peru's most important agricultural regions, and boasts stunning Andean landscapes. Scattered throughout the valley are Andean villages renown for their festive market days and especially for its artisans. First visit a pottery workshop in Aco, where potters create masterful vases and handicrafts. Then visit a viewpoint at Matacruz, where you can see the snow-capped Huaytapallana Mountain. Next, head for the ñahuimpuquio Lagoon, stopping at the pre-Inca archaeological site of Arwaturo on the way. Also visit an artisan's workshop in Cochas, where carved gourds are made for shops around the country. Lastly, visit two more workshops, including a textiles shop in Hualhuas, and a silverware shop in San Jeronimo. After seeing all these places where Peruvian handicrafts are produced, transfer back to the hotel.
Day 5 Train Ride to Huancavelica
Have breakfast in the hotel, and then transfer to the train station for the 6 hour train ride to Huancavelica. Upon arrival, your guide will greet you and take you on a tour of the Sacsamarca & Santa Barbara Mines. Sacsamarca is a small village filled with stone houses, surrounded by beautiful landscapes. Next, visit Santa Barbara and the ruins of old mercury mines, which used to be called the Mines of Death and were closed in 1970. Next, visit the viewpoint above Huancavelica. Check in to the 3* Hotel Presidente Huancavelica, located in the historic center of the city.
Day 6 Train Ride to Huancayo & Tour of Concepción and Ocopa
After breakfast, transfer to the train station for the return journey to Huancayo. Then your guide will take you on a 4 hour tour of Concepción and Ocopa in the Mantaro Valley. First stop at Piedra Parada to see the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the visit a bakery where artisan breads are made, and next tour a dairy farm. Finally, visit the Convent of Ocopa, established in 1726 by Franciscan monks who prepared missionaries to go into the Amazonas region. The library here is famous for over 20,000 books, and there is a museum of natural and ethnic artifacts collected by the missionaries. In the afternoon, check in to the 3* Hotel Turismo Huancayo, a colonial-style building located in Huamanmarca Square.
Day 7 Return to Lima
Have breakfast in the hotel, and then transfer to the bus station for the journey over the Andes Mountains back to Lima. Once in Lima, a driver will transfer you to the 4* Casa Andina Select Miraflores Hotel.
Day 8 Flight to Cuzco & Cuzco City Tour
Have breakfast in the Casa Andina hotel. Then transfer to the Lima airport and fly to Cuzco, about a 2.5 hour flight. Upon arrival, your Cuzco travel guide will transfer you to your 4* Hotel Costa del Sol Picoaga Hotel, built in a colonial mansion.
Then they will pick you up for a 4 hour Cuzco City Tour. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cuzco was the capital of the Inca Empire until the Spanish conquest, when the Spanish razed the city and then built Spanish colonial-style buildings right over the Inca stonework. On this Cuzco city tour, you can see many of these Spanish buildings with Inca stone foundations. Begin with a visit to Sacsayhuaman, located in the outskirts of Cuzco. Sacsayhuaman was an Inca fortress or sacred site, and is a remarkable remnant of Inca stonework, especially the huge limestone slabs that weigh several tons. Next visit the ceremonial site of Qenqo, from where you can see the White Christ statue overlooking the city.
Return to the city and visit Korikancha, which used to be the Inca Temple of the Sun, but was replaced by the Spanish Convent of Santo Domingo. Next walk through the busy strets to the Plaza de Armas, where you can enjoy the beautiful Spanish colonial architecture, including the Cathedral and the La Compañia Church. In the evening, transfer back to the hotel and rest for the evening.
Day 9 Sacred Valley Tour & Lunch
Enjoy breakfast in the Cuzco hotel, and then enjoy a full day Sacred Valley tour. The Sacred Valley is a river valley located between Cuzco and Machu Picchu, and features several towns, farmlands, and Inca ruins. Early in the morning, see the archaeological site of Pisac, located on a mountain side. Its terraces offer a breathtaking view of the Sacred Valley. In the town of Pisac, you'll have the opportunitiy to browse the indigenous market, where local farmers and artisans sell their produce, textiles, and handicrafts.
Then continue to Urubamba, in the heart of the Sacred Valley, and enjoy a delicious lunch in a local restaurant. Lastly, stop in Ollantaytambo, which is the only town that has been in operation since the Inca Empire. Built into the hillside are huge terraces that date to the Inca era. It may have been a fortress or a ceremonial site, and you can walk along the terraces and see the whole Urubamba valley.
Check in to the 4* Sonesta Posada del Inca Yucay Hotel in the Sacred Valley. This country lodge is on the site of a 350 year-old monastery. Enjoy views of the Sacred Valley from all around, and you may want to try optional additional activities such as hiking, mountain biking, ATV rides, horseback riding, or river rafting while staying in the Sacred Valley.
Day 10 Train to Machu Picchu & Machu Picchu Tour
Enjoy an early breakfast in the hotel, and then transfer to the train station for the 2 hour train ride through the Urubamba River valley to Aguas Calientes, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu. Take the shuttle bus up from the town to the entrance of Machu Picchu, the most remarkable remnant of Inca stonework and architecture.
This "city in the sky" was built high up on a mountain side, above the Urubamba River, and there are verdant mountains looming up above the river on all sides. Built in the 15th century, Machu Picchu was so well tucked into the cloud forests of Peru, on the edge of the Amazon Rainforest, that the Spanish conquistadores never found it during their raze. For centuries, it fell into neglect, until the American Hiram Bingham sought it out with the help of local farmers and guides. He published a story about his findings of this Inca masterpiece in the National Geographic, and it has been a world wonder ever since.
Your Machu Picchu guide will take you on a 3 hour guided tour of the ruins, and you'll also have free time to explore this stone city on your own. In the afternoon, return to town of Aguas Calientes, and stay the 3* Hotel Hatuchay Tower in Aguas Calientes. Alternatively, you can take the 4 hour train back to Cuzco and spend the night there.
Day 11 Free Day at Machu Picchu & Return to Cuzco
Have breakfast in the Hatuchay Tower, and then return to the magnificent Machu Picchu citadel for a second day. This time, you will be able to see Machu Picchu right as it opens, before the crowds rush in. If the skies are clear, you may also be able to see the sun rises, and slowly burn off the fog that surrounds the beautiful Inca stones. If you feel adventurous, you may want to hike the trail to Huaynu Picchu, which allows you to get a view of Machu Picchu from the cliff that rises up behind Machu Picchu. When you are ready, return to Aguas Calientes and catch the train back to Cuzco.
Arrive at the Cuzco train station in the afternoon, and your driver will transfer you to your 4* Hotel Costa del Sol Picoaga Hotel. Relax in the hotel or walk along the streets and go people-watching in the Plaza de Armas.
Day 12 Train Ride from Cuzco to Puno
After breakfast, transfer back to the train station for the 10 hour scenic train ride on the luxurious Orient Express "Andean Explorer" train. Travel from Cuzco to Puno, located at the southern border of Peru on the shores of Lake Titicaca. This train journey climbs through the Andes Mountains, valleys along the Huatanay River, and plains where you might spot vicuña and alpaca. En route, stop at the scenic vista point La Raya, the highest point on the route. Once in Puno, check in to the 4* Hotel Posada del Inca Puno. This hotel is located on the edge of Lake Titicaca, and boasts a private pier where you can watch the sunset over the lake. There is also a Yaravi boat, the oldest motorized iron ship in the world, docked right on the pier.
Day 13 Lake Titicaca Tour
After breakfast overlooking Lake Titicaca, take a full day Uros & Taquille Islands tour including lunch. First stop at the floating islands of Uros, where expert reedcraftsmen have constructed islands, boats, huts, and other objects out of the totora reed that grows around the lake. The Uros people are descendents of the oldest people in the region, although many have mixed with the Aymara and now speak their language.
Continue navigating through the lake, stopping at the island of Taquille. This beautiful island is home to 1500 Quechua-speaking indigenous people, who are known for their mastery of textiles and weaving abilities. Eat lunch at a restaurant on the island, and then spend some free time walking around the island or visiting with the locals. Return to Puno in the late afternoon.
Day 14 Arrive in La Paz, Bolivia
Have breakfast, and then transfer to the coach station in Puno. Take the bus across the border into Bolivia, and arrive in La Paz, the legislative capital of Bolivia and the highest capital in elevation in the world. Check in to the 4* Hotel El Rey Palace, located near the center of La Paz and the shopping mall El Prado.
Day 15 Tour of the Tiahuanaco Ruins
Breakfast in the hotel, and then a 4 hour guided tour of the Tiahuanaco Ruins, located 45 miles (72 km) outside of La Paz. The Tiahuanaco Ruins were left by the Tiahuanaco, a pre-Inca civilization and one of the oldest American civilizations in the Americas. Its temples and ruins are some of the largest in the continent. Lunch on the tour is included, as well as a stop at Laja, the place where La Paz was originally founded. Laja has a beautiful old church in the Renaissance style. After this tour of the La Paz region, return to the city and relax in the hotel or explore the city on your own.
Day 16 Transfer to Ouro & Train to the Uyuni Salt Flats
After breakfast in the La Paz hotel, transfer to the bus station and travel to Oruro, 4 hours away. Then transfer to the train station, and take the 7.5 hour Expreso del Sur train to Uyuni, famous for its vast salt flats. Check in to the Cristal Samaña Salt hotel in Colchani.
Day 17 Tour of the Uyuni Salt Flats
Breakfast in the hotel, and then head out to experience the Uyuni Salt Flats. These salt plains, spread out over 12,000 sq km, are the largest salt flats in the world, and an absolutely breathtaking natural wonder. Beyond the desert salt flats and salt mounds, is the Thunupa Volcano and the hills. Stop at the Incahausi Island, a mound that is surrounded by salt. From the top of the island, you can see panoramic views of the salt flats. Then travel up to the volcano and stop at the Museum of Chantani. Visit the Coquesa Mummies Museum, and the Salt Factory, where locals scrape and harvest the salt. Return to the Cristal Samaña Salt Hotel.
Day 18 La Paz City Tour and Moon Valley Tour
After breakfast this morning, take the train to Oruro, and then the bus back to La Paz. Once in La Paz, your guide will take you on a 3 hour La Paz City Tour as well as a visit to the Moon Valley for the sunset. La Paz is over 3000 m above sea level, and is called the "City That Touches the Sky." Overlooking the city are the snow-capped peaks of Illimani. Start the La Paz city tour with a visit of the Plaza Murillo, once called the Plaza de Armas but renamed to commemorate General Murillo, a hero in the Bolivian independence movement. The plaza is bordered by the Cathedral, the Government Palace (also called the Palacio Quemado for the number of times it has burned). Stroll down the colonial-era cobblestone Jaen Street, and see a replica of a Tihaunaco temple. Also visit the Mercado de Hechicería, also called the the Witches Market. Here you can purchase magic charms, aphrodesiacs, and other herbs.
Then get out of the city and escape to the Valle de la Luna, the Moon Valley. Just outside of La Paz, this valley has bizarre rock formations, gulleys, and crevices that have a lunar appearance. From the edge of the valley, you might even be able to catch a beautiful sunset. On the way back to the hotel, visit a ceramic workshop and see local potters show off their skill.
Day 19 Departure from La Paz
Eat breakfast in the hotel, and then meet your driver for the trip to the La Paz airport. Catch your flight home or to your next destination in South America.
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