This complete program will provide you with a wide knowledge of Peru. From desert and ocean landscapes to the beauty of the enigmatic Andes, you will explore the highlights of every region, including Colca Canyon, a home stay on the islands of Lake Titicaca and to finish, a visit to the impressive Machu Picchu. Don’t miss this perfectly designed itinerary to enjoy the jewels of the South.
After arriving Lima and clearing customs, meet our representatives and transfer to your hotel.
Transfer from the hotel to the bus station to take the first class bus to Paracas (3 hours approx). You will be welcomed by our staff in Paracas and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to relax and experience the incredible sunset over the Pacific Ocean while enjoying a Pisco sour, our national drink. Alternatively, you can spend an active afternoon paddleling, kayakin or even trying the kite surf.
The day begins with an early transfer from your hotel to the pier accompanied by your local guide. On arrival, board a speedboat equipped with life vests and comfortable seats. It is advisable to wear a good jacket or windbreaker, as it gets very windy once the boat sets off. We head off on the 30 minute journey to the Ballestas Islands following the coast where we see the famous figure known as The Candelabro or Chandelier, an enigmatic giant trident form similar in style to the Nazca lines etched into the desert floor hundreds of years ago by pre-Inca cultures.
The Candelabro overlooks the Ocean, giving you the chance to take pictures, while learning about the most popular theories of its creation, which range from pirates marking a hiding place for their treasure to soldiers fighting for Latin-American independence from Spain. Unfortunately, it is not allowed to get off the boat to walk around the islands, but the boats get close enough to see the amazing marine life, with over 200 types of migratory and resident birds, including Peruvian Pelicans, Belcher’s gulls, Humboldt penguins, Guanay cormorants, red-legged cormorants, Inca terns, Peruvian boobies, turkey vultures, among many others. The Islands are also home to hundreds of sea lions resting on the beaches, sleeping on the rocks or swimming nearby. Equally, the islands provide shelter for the shy Humboldt penguins. After touring around the islands for about 1 hour we return to Paracas or Chaco pier. The land tour of the Paracas National Reserve, a must for nature lovers now continues. You tour the terrestrial area of Paracas National Reserve by private car and take in the spectacular view of the desert dunes and Pacific Ocean. As the tour continues, the next stop is in the fishing town of Lagunillas for lunch overlooking the sea.
Take the opportunity to try Ceviche, one of the most famous Peruvian dishes made with local ingredients. There is also time to swim in the cold water of the Pacific. (Meals not included). Return to your hotel on time to get the bus to Ica, 1 hour approx (buses can also go directly to Nazca or back to Lima)
The journey begins with a visit to Huacachina, an oasis located just 5 Km from Ica city and situated in the desert surrounded by huge sand dunes, palms, huarangos (carob tree) and picturesque houses. This is an ideal place for those who like to relax and also those who like their activities a little more adrenaline filled. Very few places in the world offer sand dunes of the size found in Huacachina, so why not see them up close? This is the ever-popular sandboarding / dune buggy tour that made Huacachina famous. The dune buggy ride is much like a rollercoaster. All of the decent drivers will drive at high speeds up and down the dunes while the tourists shriek with delight (and fear.) Although many tourists go to Huacachina especially to try sandboarding, at least half the visitors say they preferred the adrenaline of the dune buggy. Be advised: It is not possible to drive or rent the dune buggy. Only trained professionals are allowed to drive. Relaxing Exploration of the Dunes: If you want to explore the dunes around Huacachina but aren’t interested in raising your adrenaline levels or blood pressure then this tour is for you. At a much slower pace, you will be taken on a desert tour and have the opportunity to take photos of the desert and the oasis from a higher vantage point. A perfect activity for younger children and those interested in taking life at a relaxed pace. After your adventure in the desert we continue the tour visiting the local wineries. Ica is very famous for its Pisco (grape liquor) and wine. This tour includes a visit to some of the best wine and pisco cellars in the region, where you learn the process of preparing the Pisco and the wine. At the “bodegas”, as they are locally known, we take a pleasant walking tour accompanied by our guide to explore where this traditional Peruvian drink is made visiting the whole vineyard, its main tasting room and chatting with the Pisco makers. According to history, this Brandy-like liquor has been made since 1540 in Peru, and at the time it was known simply as a spirit drink.
It was not until the XVII century that the grape brandy became known as Pisco. It is said that when the Incas arrived in this area around 1450, the area was filled with sea birds along the shore of the Pacific Ocean that they chose to name the area with the name of Pisco, a Quechua word that means “bird”. At the end of the afternoon we visit the Plaza de Armas to try Tejas, a typical dessert of this part of the country. At the appropriate time, your guide will help you transfer to the bus station for the 2 hours trip to Nazca, or for the slightly longer trip to Lima.
NOTE: VISITORS WHO ARE RUSHED FOR TIME SHOULD CONSIDER TAKING A TOUR OF THE NAZCA LINES THAT LEAVES FROM THE CITY PISCO SAVING LOTS OF TIME FOR THEIR TRIP IN CASE THEY HAVE TO GO BACK TO LIMA CITY. ASK OUR EXPERTS FOR ADVICE
Nazca would not make most Peru vacation itineraries if it were not for the mysterious Nazca Lines, which were declared an “Archeological World Heritage Site” by UNESCO (1994). It is highly likely that you have seen aerial pictures of the Lines of Nazca, either on television or in a magazine, however, these images do not do the lines justice, and the only way to truly experience them is to take a sightseeing flight over the area. Culturandes Adventure Travel will make the reservation for you with the best Nazca operator, but payment for the flight is to be made locally with the operator, solely for the possible cancellations that are necessary owing to the weather. At the designated time, our staff will pick you up from your hotel for transfer to the local airport of Nazca, located just 4 kilometers away from downtown. Upon your arrival at the airport, our staff will show you a documentary about The Nazca Lines, Nazca culture as well as the figures you will see from the air. For this aerial tour, you will board a small single-engine aircraft in which each person will have a window seat. After the video, our English speaking pilot will proceed to give you a briefing about this air tour and will give each participant a map of the archaeological zone, which shows all the figures you will see from the air. After some basic information about the Lines and safety instructions, you will board the airplane and take off. In a matter of just 2 minutes you will be flying over the Nazca Lines zone. Among the figures you will see are the whale, the wing, the condor, birds, animals, the lizard, the tree, the hands, the spiral, the spider, the flower, the dog, the monkey, the astronaut and the triangle among many, many others.
The flight over the Nazca lines will last about 30-45 minutes. If you are prone to motion sickness be sure to take medication as the plane is small and the elevation is low which leads to more turbulence. The plane also banks continuously in order for both sides of the plane to view the lines properly. Don’t worry there are bags in the back of every seat and the pilots frequently check how you feel during the entire flight. The flight lasts around 40 minutes, and with transfers just about two hours so there will be plenty of time to take some optional tours in Nazca city. Therefore, we also recommend a visit to the Maria Reiche Museum, the Museo Antonini, the Chauchillas cemetery or the pre-Inca aqueducts.
Early in the afternoon you will be transferred to the bus station for your journey to Arequipa in a first class bus with comfortable 180° seats. Transfer to the hotel.
Standing at the foot of El Misti Volcano and brimming with colonial Spanish charm, take the opportunity to walk the most important parts of the city accompanied by your private guide. Founded in 1540, Arequipa vies with Cuzco for the title of Peru’s most attractive city, and retains an elegant historic center constructed almost entirely out of a pale volcanic rock called sillar. Old buildings dazzle in the sun, giving the city its nickname of the ‘White City’. The main plaza, with its cafes and nearby cathedral, is a lovely place to while away the day.
A visit to the Monasterio de Santa Catalina is a must for a glimpse into a bygone way of life. When the convent was built in the 16th century it was traditional for the second son or daughter of a family to enter the religious service. Santa Catalina accepted only women from high-class Spanish families, with each family paying a hefty dowry for her acceptance. But life inside the convent was far from modest – each nun had between one and four servants. Many brought rugs, fine china and silk curtains, and they often held parties.
A visit to Arequipa is never complete without a visit to see the mummy of the teenage Inca maiden, now christened Juanita. Learn the story of one of the most important archeological finds of the recent decades in the museum. Return to the hotel.
After an early breakfast and pick up from your hotel, we depart from Arequipa heading northwest following a paved road, which will lead us to Colca Canyon. Going round the Chachani volcano, head towards the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve where you will be able to stop and take pictures of wild llamas, alpacas and vicuñas while learning how to identify the differences between all of them.
After a stop at the Tocra swamps where you will see a flamingo, Andean geese, ducks, Andean eagle “Kara Kara” where we get to take in the crater of Chucura, an extinct volcano. After, we continue ascending along a dirt road to the highest point of the trip, Patapampa (4800 meters-15000 feet), where the view of the volcanoes Ubinas, Mismi, Misti, Chachani, Sabancaya (which is still active) and Ampato is simply magnificent. The journey then continues downhill to the main village of Colca Canyon, the village of Chivay.
The Incan and pre-Incan terraces that are carved into the walls are still cultivated today and traditional Indian villages are dotted throughout the canyon.
Time for lunch. Transfer to your lodging.
We strive to lodge our clients in hotels which own their own hot spring pools, but should this not be possible, later in the afternoon you will be able to visit Calera hot springs (35ºC/95ºF), to enjoy a relaxing bath in their large thermal pools surrounded by huge mountains. Walking around the town experiencing the local life is a good idea before having dinner with a traditional Peruvian musical performance.
The main star of the canyon is not the amazing scenery but the magnificent Andean condor. To fully appreciate this majestic bird, an early start is necessary. After a two hour ride along the edge of the Canyon having the best view of the Colca Valley, we arrive at a natural lookout point, from where you will be able to see these dignified Andean creatures soaring gracefully on the rising thermal air currents.
On the way back to Chivay we stop in the beautiful local towns of Pinchollo, Maca and Yanque with their beautiful colonial churches, and interact with the kind locals with their typical needlework dresses. At the observation points, experience a fantastic view of the beautiful pre-inca terraces which are still used to grow corn, quinua or kiwicha.
After a relaxing lunch in Chivay, you will continue your trip by bus to Puno. Transfer to your hotel.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Move off the beaten track to experience a different face of Lake Titicaca, and become immersed in the authentic Andes Quechuan culture and people before exploring the natural reserves and beauty of our region. Begin the journey visiting two of the 60 manmade islands, discovering the fascinating history of this ancient fishing culture and continue on by navigating to Llachon. Take a gentle walk on a pre-Inca pathway and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Departing from Llachon, take a 1-hour ride to arrive at Ticonata, where we are welcomed into the community and accommodated in the eco – village, with conical houses & thatched rooves made as a remembrance of the pre Incan houses in the region, giving the area a unique character. Visit the local museum to see the recently discovered mummies before taking a short hike to the top of the hill to a site of ancient rituals, where even today, it is still used by the locals in authentic ancestral ceremonies. The sunsets from here are simply spectacular. By involving the community in this tourism project ensures its sustainability and guarantees an equal share of work and profitability for all those involved. After enjoying a typical dinner, relax around the bonfire experience Ticonata, one of the few places where you can breathe the essence of a culture. Ocasionally, one of the local wise men will tell us about their magical world and traditions, daily life and customs. All of this while taking in the breathtaking sight of the Milky Way and other constellations, making for an unforgettable night in the Andes.
Overnight at the Ticonata Eco Lodge.
Note: Basic facilities, outhouse toilets, only warm shower available.
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Kayak the highest navigable lake in the world. Kayak trips are available along the coast of Llachon, before continuing onto the Ticonata Islands.
After an early breakfast of regional cereals, set sail to Amantani Island with experienced fishermen at the helm. With the west winds behind us, we arrive at our destination around 1 to 2 hours later, depending on the season. Some paddling may be necessary as we arrive, but a private escort motorboat is ready to assist if needed. On Amantani Island visit the main village and take a pleasant gentle walk to observe the locals farming and herding. You will have some free time to have lunch in a local house and to learn about the culture and people of Amantani. Later we return to return to Puno city by motorboat.
It is possible to change the visit of Amantani Island for Taquile Island.
Breakfast and lunch
After an early start, transfer to the bus station and depart on a sightseeing bus to Puno with a Spanish / English speaking guide.
The bus follows the same route as the Andean train but offers a greater experience, stopping in at such interesting archeological sites as Pukara, which was the first regional population center in the northern end of Lake Titicaca Basin during the Late Formative Period (500 BC- AD 200), and will provide valuable insights into the origins of Andean civilization in the highlands. The bus will also allow a stop in Abra La Raya (4338 m or 14,232 feet), ), the watershed between the valley that drains into Lake Titicaca and the valley that leads down to Cusco and the Sacred Valley as well as a stop in one of the most important temples to the God Wiracocha, in Racchi. The next stop is in the Chapel of Andahuaylillas. Referred to as the Andean Sistine Chapel owing to its magnificent frescoes, the church is one example of the prominent 17th century Mestizo Baroque style of architecture, which is typical of the Cusco School. Take the time to marvel at the ceiling of carved panels covered with gold leaf. This excursion will provide you with an authentic Andean experience.
On arrival, meet up with our representative in Cusco and transfer to your lodging.
It’s time to take a private guided walking tour to see and experience Cusco first hand. Your perfect English-speaking guide will help you explore and discover the Inca capital. Wander through this city of terra-cotta roofs, cobblestone streets, and colorful markets and visit the stunning bohemian area of San Blas, meeting the locals and taking in some of the key sites in Cusco as well as some off the beaten track.
In a private guided visit, you will get to enjoy one of the best and most renowned examples of Incan architecture, Sacsahyuaman. For those looking for an active itinerary, horseback riding, mountain biking or even whitewater rafting can be arranged. The rest of the evening is free for you to relax, explore and shop with your private guide in this incredible cosmopolitan Inca capital also named as Navel of the World. Explore the nightlife in Cusco´s varied and exciting pubs where there is plenty of live folk music and good food to enjoy in a lively atmosphere.
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Love to Cook? Peruvian Cuisine is widely regarded one of the most delicious and diverse in the world. Our rustic kitchen set in the countryside of Cusco provides the perfect setting for your hands-on cooking lessons and demonstrations with our talented Peruvian chefs. Our products are bought from the local markets and providers, whom you will get to know during our market tour. You can also hand-pick some of your own ingredients from our very own on-site garden and greenhouse.
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This full day tour will take you through all the most famous and popular parts of the Sacred Valley. Its “Sacred” character (for which it was named) has survived the passage of time and that magic continues to amaze visitors today. Few places in the Inca Empire could compete against the beauty and wealth of this valley. This private guided tour will become one of the highlights of your trip. Stopping in the famous and vibrant market of Pisac, take in the sights and sounds of this unique experience, test your bargaining skills and don’t forget to stock up on affordable souvenirs for friends and family!
You may also hike the amazing Pisac ruins located on a nearby mountaintop from where you will enjoy a breathtaking view of the valley including hundreds of famous Inca agricultural terraces.
There are a number of additional sites worth exploring on this day trip, including the unique terraced crop fields of Moray, the seldom visited town of Maras, the Maras Salt Mines which were extremely important to the Incas as their supply of salt and still provides salt today that you can buy for a few soles. As well as their historical importance, the Maras salt mines are also a beautiful sight to see. You may also enjoy a colorful textile demonstration based on ancient Inca techniques, visit the living Inca town of Chincheros with its unique colonial church that was built on the top of an Incan palace by the Spaniards, or stop at Awanakancha or Textile Palace, where you can meet native weavers and see South American camelid species, including llamas, alpacas, guanacos and vicuñas. You will stay overnight in one of the principal villages of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Ollantaytambo or Ollanta (as the locals call it); a spectacularly beautiful place along the Urubamba River with a gorge lined by agricultural terraces and snowcapped peaks rising in the distance.
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We highly recommend having an extra day in the Sacred Valley. Many visitors without a lot of time on their hands almost race through the valley’s highlights and markets on a daylong guided tour. Seeing it this way is certainly a worthwhile experience, but it really doesn’t compare to experiencing everything the valley has to offer at a more leisurely pace that allows you an overnight stay or two in the valley and the chance to soak up the area’s immense history, relaxed character, stunning scenery, and in the dry season, gorgeous spring weather.
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The huge, steep terraces that guard Ollantaytambo’s spectacular Inca ruins mark one of the few places where the Spanish conquistadors lost a major battle. Early in the morning you will visit this formidable temple-fortress. A finely worked ceremonial center sits at the top of the terracing. Stone quarried from the mountainside 6km away, high above the opposite bank of the Río Urubamba was used to build surrounding walls at the time of the conquest, which were never completed. Transporting the huge stone blocks to the site was a stupendous feat. The Incas employed an ingenious technique to move massive blocks across the river by moving the blocks to the riverside and then diverting the entire river channel around them.
After this visit you will hop on board of one of the prettiest train rides in South America destined for Machu Picchu which sits majestically among the massive Andes, swathed in cloud. It was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height. Its giant walls, terraces and ramps seem as if they have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments. The natural setting on the eastern slopes of the Andes encompasses the upper Amazon basin with its rich diversity of flora and fauna.
The “Lost City of the Incas” is one of the most spectacular sites on earth and a place that retains its mystery, allure and mystical appeal, despite its enormous popularity. Exploring the site remains a thrilling experience, especially at sunrise, when dramatic rays of light creep over the mountaintops. After a private guided tour, we then take a late afternoon bus to the town of Machu Picchu where you spend the night. Hit the bars along the railroad tracks to share stories with some of the backpackers who’ve survived the Inca Trail, or end your fantastic day soothing your muscles in the hot springs.
If you do want to see the beautiful scenery and ancient buildings of Machu Picchu, book your trip early. The Peruvian government has placed a limit on the number of people allowed to hike the trails to the city per day. Be sure to book your tickets well in advance. The high season tends to book up quickly!
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Take the option of a full day Inca Trail or the 4 days trekking Inca Trail.
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Without a doubt the best time to view Machu Picchu is at dawn before the crowds arrive on the train. We can optional drive up to the ruins in time for the opening and savor the views and the atmosphere as the light changes as the sun rises having the rest of the morning to explore the ruins by your own and perhaps walk up the famous Inca Trail to the ‘Gateway of The Sun’ (Inti Punku) or hike the Huayna Picchu Mountain for the best view of Machu Picchu. During the afternoon we descend to the railway station, and embark on the afternoon train, which slowly winds its way through the Andean countryside to Ollantaytambo where we transfer to our vehicle for the drive back to our hotel in Cusco. (the entrance fees and hiking permits for today are not included, please ask our staff if you would like to include, remember that it sell out in advance)
Fly back home.
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Ask our experts about an extension to the enigmatic Amazon or the impressive Northern Peru.