Day 1 - Friday: Lima
Arrive in the Peru capital of Lima - City of Kings. Transfer to your hotel in the Miraflores district.
Day 2 - Saturday: Lima (B)
Lima - City of Kings
This was the principal city of Spanish South America from its founding in 1535 until the independence of the South American republics in early 19th century. It never rains in Lima and the skies are blue for only 2 months of the year – January and February.
You have the whole day to explore Lima. A city tour of the Greater Colonial Lima allows you to appreciate the wonderful colonial buildings in downtown Lima such as the Santo Domingo Convent and the Casa Aliaga, one of South America’s oldest Spanish homes. Drive by the elegant tree-lined avenues of San Isidro and Miraflores.
This afternoon, take an optional visit to the world famous Gold Museum where you can browse through the unique ceramics gold and weavings. There is also one of the world’s largest collections of armoury and a very extensive display of Pre-Columbian textiles.
Day 3 - Sunday: Lima – Paracas (B)
Continue south by bus along the Panamericano Highway through desert countryside alongside the Pacific Ocean to Paracas.
This afternoon we have included an excursion into the Paracas Nature Reserve - a marine sanctuary located at the shore of the Pacific Ocean.
Day 4 - Monday: Paracas- Nasca (B)
This morning visit Ballestas Islands, known as Peru’s mini Galapagos. This is a great opportunity to watch resident and migratory birds, including flamingos, red-legged cormorants, Inca terns, bobbies, as well as playful sea lions, amusing Humboldt penguins and, if we are lucky, marine otters.
This afternoon travel by bus to Nasca.
This small oasis town is famous for the mysterious lines etched in the desert pampas. Are they messages to travellers from outer space that landed here thousands of years ago or the works of an ancient culture depicting a planting calendar? Cut into the stony desert, like a giant sketching pad, these many lines include geometrical figures, giant animals and birds. Enjoy a flight over these amazing lines – the only way to appreciate this archaeological mystery. Come away with your own theories and questions.
Day 5 - Tuesday: Flight over Nasca Lines – then to Arequipa (B)
This morning it is your turn to become airborne and theorise on these mysterious lines etched in the desert. Wow - up you go to witness this gigantic sketching pad in the desert pampa. Who drew them and why? Draw your own conclusions or come away with as many questions as answers!
This afternoon visit the Chauchilla cemetery where the hot dry weather has preserved the mummies and clothing they were wrapped in hundreds of years ago.
For the rest of the afternoon feel free to relax and explore before the super comfy late night bus departs for Arequipa.
Day 6 - Wednesday: Explore Arequipa (B)
Arrive early morning to the beautiful city of Arequipa sitting at 2300 metres above sea level and gateway to the Colca Canyon. Lying at 2880 metres above sea level at the foot of El Misti Volcano (5882m) is the ‘Ciudad Blanca’ – the white city, boasting a delightful climate, plenty of fascinating colonial buildings and gateway to the famous Colca Canyon, home of the condors, one of the world’s deepest canyons.
Must sees here are a visit to the peaceful Santa Catalina Convent, one of the most fascinating religious colonial buildings in Peru. The convent, opened to visitors in 1970, is surrounded by imposing walls and the 450 nuns who lived here led a completely secluded life. Also here is “Juanita” the mummy of a young girl found in 1995 by an American mountain climber on Mt Ambato. She is encased in a freezing chamber inside the Museum and open for viewing.
Day 7 - Thursday: 2 Day Colca Canyon Adventure (B,D)
Drive through the awesome Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest canyons. It is only accessible by a dirt road over the Altiplano before dropping to the village of Chivay at 3600 metres above sea level. The landscape is remarkable for its Inca and pre-Inca terracing which goes on for many kilometres and is the most extensive in Peru. Life here has changed very little through the centuries where the campesinos still farm the remarkable Inca terracing as their ancestors did before them. We continue deep into the Canyon to the Cruz de las Condors. This is truly a highlight – you can watch the impressive condors rising with the thermals – your chance to get great photos of these wonderful birds.
Stay overnight in the small village of Chivay where you can relax in the hot thermal springs and delight in the haunting melodies of the panpipes.
Day 8 - Friday: Colca Canyon- Cusco (B,L)
Todays journey takes you by bus through isolated communities arriving in Cusco late afternoon.Cusco, heart of the Inca Empire, known by the local Quechua Indians as 'Navel of the Universe'. Transfer to our hotel in Cuzco and a chance to rest to acclimatize .
Day 9 Sat Cusco (B)
Cusco is a true experience. Lying in an exceptionally beautiful countryside 3300 metres above sea level, here you will encounter a fine blend of Spanish and Inca cultures, colourful Quechua Indian markets, Inca temples and massive stone walls which form the foundations of Colonial Cusco, originally part of the impressive monument of Sacsayhuaman, situated above the town.
This afternoon you'll take a walking tour of this delightful city, including the Cathedral, Plaza de Armas, Temple of the Sun.
Day 10 - Sunday: Cusco (B,L)
Visit Sacsayhuaman -this magnificent Inca fortress, which overlooks the city of Cusco. Sacsayhuaman can be variously translated as 'speckled falcon' or 'speckled head'. The last interpretation refers to the belief that the city of Cusco was set out in the form of a puma whose head was the hill of Sacsayhuaman. The origins are uncertain but the fortress is generally attributed to the period of Inca Pachacuti, the man who essentially founded the Inca empire. We also visit the ruins of Qenko, an area of well - preserved archaeological ruins and the Red Fortress of Puca Pucara. Afternoon at leisure.
Day 11 - Monday: Sacred Valley /Day 1 – Inca Trail - Trekkers depart for Inca Trail (B)
Drive through stunning scenery to Chinchero, which has a colourful market. Continue on to Maras Salt Pans. Another fabulous walk today. Discover these amazing salt pans still mined as they were hundreds of years ago and enjoy a beautiful walk back down to the Sacred Valley.
This afternoon relax and enjoy the countryside and visit the Semanario Pottery – it’s hard to resist. Stay overnight in an old monastery. (Completely restored of course!)
Day 12 - Tuesday: Sacred Valley/Day 2 Inca Trail (B)
Full day to explore the beautiful Sacred valley of the Incas.
Then continue to Pisaq where you will enjoy a panoramic walk along the original Inca pathways and terracing to the ancient town below. Visit the markets. We then continue through this lush valley where the towering fortress of Ollantaytambo dominates the surrounding area.
Day 13 - Wednesday: Train to Aguas Calientes/Day 3 Inca Trail (B)
After breakfast you have an early morning transfer to Ollantaytambo to catch the train to Aguas Calientes, a small railroad town with tons of character –enjoy a soak in the hot pools under the Andean sky.
Day 14 - Thursday: Bus to Machu Picchu/Day 4 Inca Trail (B)
It’s an early start today. The best time to enjoy the peace and tranquillity not to mention the magic of Machu Picchu before the trainload’s of visitors arrive. Machu Picchu, known also as ‘Lost City of the Incas’ is undoubtedly the best known and most spectacular archaeological site on the continent and is considered a must for all visitors to Peru. You will travel by bus up the zig-zag Hiram Bingham highway to the ruins where your first views will take your breath away. Enjoy a fully guided tour of the ruins, meet up with the trekkers and take some time to explore on your own, before returning down the mountainside for the night.
Return to Cusco on the afternoon train
* Seperate Itinerary available on request for Inca Trail *
Day 15 - Friday: Cusco (B)
Day at Leisure to Explore Cusco
Day 16 - Saturday: Cusco - Puno (B,L)
Bus ride to Puno along the dramatic landscapes of the highland plateau, with occasional views of tiny Andean villages and herds of llamas and vicunas. We will stop at Andahuaylillas, where there is a beautiful baroque church built at the beginning of the XVIIth century. It is very well known thanks to its beautiful mural paintings. We will make a second stop at Raqchi, where there is an Inca temple built to worship Wiracocha, one of the most important Inca gods. Finally, we will stop at the archaeological site of Pukara (200BC-AD300). We will have lunch at a restaurant en route.
Arrive in Puno late afternoon
Day 17 - Sunday: Uros & Taquile Islands (B,L)
Enjoy a complete day of sailing in Titicaca Lake, the highest navigable lake in the world. Depart early in the morning for the floating islands of Uros, where the inhabitants still live as they did centuries ago on floating islands they make with the totora reeds that grow on the lake. Continue sailing towards
Day 18 - Monday: Isla del Sol – La Paz (B,L)
This morning continue through lovely scenery, which follows this mighty lake to the Bolivian border. After border formalities continue to the sleepy town of Copacabana.
Take a boat trip out on the lake to tranquil Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) where legend has it the first Inca King rose out of the lake. Return to Copacabana for lunch and continue through even more stunning scenery, with snow-capped peaks and the blue lake, to La Paz, capital of Bolivia and highest capital in the world.
Known as City of Contrasts, here ancient traditions meet the new millennium of chaotic traffic and towering buildings.
Day 19 - Tuesday: City tour and shopping (B)
A morning tour takes you down to where the air is thicker and the elite live. Visit the witches markets, Calle Jaen with its museums, San Francisco Church, Plaza Murillo, National Congress, Cathedral, Presidential Palace, continuing to the very unusual eroded formations of the Moon Valley.
The afternoon is free to enjoy the uniqueness of this colourful bustling city and shop for bargains and gifts.
Day 20 - Wednesday: La Paz (B)
Yours to explore – spend the day shopping and soaking up the atmosphere of this city of contrasts OR take an optional tour to the fascinating pre-Colombian ruins of Tiwanaku.
Day 21 - Thursday: La Paz (B)
Time to say adios to the Andes. Transfer to the airport for your flight.
Dates & Prices:
Departures: Weekly on Fridays
Prices NZ$ Per Person
Jan - Dec 2016 $5990
Jan-Dec 2017 $5990
Inca Trail Option: additional NZ$495
Galapagos Islands Pre Extension :
Depart to Quito on Thurs, 1 week earlier for 3 nights in Quito, Otavalo Tour, 4 night Galapagos Islands Cruise & 1 night in Guayaquil. Additional Cost: NZD$5495 (twin/double share, includes additional airfares)
Amazon Pre Extension: Arrive Lima on Sunday for 2nights, then 4nights in Tambopata Reserve. Additional cost: NZD$2450 (twin/double share, includes airfares & taxes from Lima )
(Itineraries for Galapagos & Amazon Extensions available on request)
Bolivia’s Colonial Past, Salt Flats & North West Argentina Post Tour Extension: NZD$3695
Pantanal Wildlife & Iguassu Post Tour Extension: NZD$3350 per person