Imagine a landscape that is dotted with ancient tombs, forgotten temples and UNESCO World Heritage Sites and you will begin to form an image of Peru. On this trip you will discover history and culture in Lima, be inspired by the incredible masonry of the Incas in Cuzco and see Inca ruins in the Sacred Valley en route to the iconic and awe inspiring Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. There are museums bursting with culture, lakes to awe at and mouth watering cuisine to try. Your next stop will be Bolivia, South Americas most indigenous country. Unparalleled beauty can be found in the UNESCO world heritage cities of Potosi and Sucre, locals living in their traditional way can be found in Isla del Sol, and a magnificent natural wonder can be seen at the extraordinary Salar de Uyuni. At 12,000 square km's this is the largest salt flat in the world - it is breathtaking in every sense of the word. Another unforgettable sight on this trip is La Paz, nestled high in the Andes in a deep sided bowl; this city has one of the most unique settings in the world.
Day 1 Depart the UK for your flight to the Peruvian capital, Lima. After a long travel day you will be met at the airport and transferred to your base for the next 2 nights, Jose Antonio Deluxe, in the upmarket area of Miraflores.
Day 2 Visit the historic centre of Lima with your guide and explore the Government Palace, the Archbishop’s Palace, the City Hall and Cathedral. Also included is the church of the 17th century San Francisco, a world cultural heritage site and the Santo Domingo Convent. After your introductory tour we recommend a visit to the Larco Herrera Museum. A renovated hacienda the museum now displays 45,000 pieces, mainly pottery, excavated by the famous Peruvian archaeologist Rafael Larco Hoyle. An on-site café provides an ideal stop for some modern Peruvian cuisine.
Day 3 Take the short flight to the Peruvian highlands and the colonial city of Cuzco. From here you will be transferred to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, which as lower in altitude, makes it an ideal base for acclimatisation. Spend 2 nights at the charming Sol y Luna Lodge & Spa which oozes Peruvian charm with a variety of art and tapestries.
Day 4 Free day in the Sacred Valley. The Sol y Luna offers a wide variety of optional excursions ranging from cooking demonstrations and workshops, weaving and pottery. For the more active - hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, quad biking, white water rafting and even paragliding. There is definitely activities for everyone! At the end of the day enjoy a meal in the a la carte restaurant which serves casual cuisine from seasonal, local produce and drink the local pisco sour.
Day 5 As part of a group, transfer to Ollantaytambo train station for the Vistadome train to Aguas Calientes, the base for your visit to Machu Picchu. With your local guide, explore this vast citadel which was only discovered just over 100 years ago by the American explorer, Hiram Bingham. Bringing alive the Inca history your guide is a continual source of interesting information and facts. Overnight in the town of Aguas Calientes at the lovely El Mapi by Inkaterra hotel.
Day 6 Morning at leisure for your to return to the Machu Picchu citadel to explore independently (entrance not included). In the afternoon you will return by train to Ollantaytambo or Poroy and continue your journey to Cuzco by bus. Aranwa Cuzco is situated in a restored building close to the main Plaza del Armas in the heart of the city and features a lovely restaurant.
Day 7 With your expert local guide explore the city of Cuzco as part of a small group. Cuzco is a fascinating example of a city built on the foundations of Inca palaces. Be inspired by the incredible masonry of the Incas at Koricancha (Temple of the Sun) and the intricacy of the carved woodwork, alters and paintings at the Cathedral which flanks the main square (Plaza de Armas). The Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman overlooks of the city and is the last stop along with the nearby sites of Kenko and Tambomachay.
Day 8 Take the tourist bus southbound through the Andes to the town of Puno on the shores of shimmering Lake Titicaca. During the trip admire the magnificent Andean mountain backdrop, the deep valleys and the meandering Rio Huatanay. Stops are made along the way for photographic opportunities where you can see flat plains with grazing alpaca and vicuna. Spend one night at the Casa Andina Private Collection, a short distance from town, and overlooking the highest navigable lake in the world.
Day 9 Our Bolivian partners will collect you from Puno and transfer you into Bolivia. En-route to the Bolivian side of the lake visits are made to the churches of Pomata and Juli and In the town of Copacabana (yes it does have a beach!) visit the sparkling white Moorish-style cathedral and local market. From Copacabana dock embark the hydrofoil to Moon Island and the northeast shore for the Virgins of the Sun Inca Nunnery. Occupying an amphitheater-like valley it is constructed from well worked stone in adobe mortar. Isla del Sol (Sun Island) and the Posada del Inca Eco Lodge are your next stop with the walk to the lodge a journey in itself. You will be accompanied by the local llama who even carries your bag. Occupying a historic colonial compound next to San Antonio church, Posada del Inca is the most luxurious option on the island but retains it's rustic charm and the surrounding view is truly spectacular.
Day 10 After a hearty Bolivian breakfast, visit the Inca Staircase & Sacred fountain. Here the sacred water is believed to offer eternal youth and happiness. Following lunch at the 'Uma Kollu' restaurant and a visit to the handicraft market the hydrofoil takes you back to the mainland. Nestled high in the Andes in a deep sided bowl, beautiful La Paz, has one of the most unique settings in the world. You will never forget the first sight from the rim of the basin as you descend into the city. Overnight at the boutique La Casona hotel in the heart of the downtown area.
Day 11 From La Paz airport, one of the highest in the world, take a short flight to the new runway in Uyuni, gateway to the extraordinary Salar de Uyuni. At 12,000 square km's this is the largest salt flat in the world and situated in the high Bolivian Altiplano it is breathtaking in every sense of the word! Crystal clear blues skies, perfect pentagons of crystalline salt, towering cacti and vibrant pink flamingos all make up this spectacular corner of Bolivia. At the centre of the salt flat lies Isla Pescado (fish island) covered in cacti. With the salt backdrop this is a photographers dream so as the sun drops behind the mountains enjoy a cold Pacena beer whilst admiring the myriad of colours. Your hotel for this evening, Luna Salada, is made completely of salt - beds, walls, furniture - a surreal experience.
Day 12 Overland travel to Potosi, the highest city in the world, now takes roughly 3 hours. Potosi was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 in recognition of its rich, tragic history and spectacular colonial architecture. Industry centres around the silver-rich Cerro Rico mines although in recent days the demand for tin has rescued Potosi from obscurity. In the afternoon explore the narrow streets, the Royal Mint and the Santa Teresa convent. Hacienda Cayara, located around 30 minutes from the city and at a lower altitude, is ideal for an overnight stop.
Day 13 Before leaving Potosi you will make a visit to the mines at Cerro Rico. Conditions are harsh - 4200m altitude, primitive tools and underground temperatures which vary from below freezing to 45C. This tour isn't for the claustrophobic but gives a real insight into these medieval conditions...
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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