Day 1 - Welcome Introduction to Lima
Take a BA direct flight to Lima, arriving same evening. Lima is known as the "City of Kings" and has an interesting and attractive historic centre containing valuable examples of colonial and republican architecture. The commercial and administrative centre of the Spanish empire in South America, bringing a period of prosperity to the city until an earthquake in 1746. Today's wide streets, huge plazas and old houses with ornately carved balconies are a legacy of this period.
You will be met at the airport by your tour guide who will take you to your hotel and given a walking introduction to the local area (30 minutes). This is given with your arrival transfer after checking in at your hotel. It is also an opportunity for our guide to provide advice, explain your programme, answer any questions you may have; and to make suggestions about where to go, restaurants, and places to visit that may be of particular interest to you.
Day 2 - Nasca Lines
Journey South along the Panamerican Highway, through the coastal desert to Ica, passing small asparagus fields that break up the vast desert landscape. It is hard to believe that the desert is in fact very fertile. When the El Nino phenomenon occurs, the desert transforms, blossoms and the sand becomes covered by a blanket of green.
You arrive at Nasca in the afternoon, where you will catch a flight over the Nasca Lines. These are an incredibly precise collection of figures and lines, as yet unexplained but may represent an astronomical calendar. The images include that of a monkey, hummingbird, whale and astronaut.
Day 3 - Excursion to Ballestas Islands
Today is an early morning start to Paracas Peninsula for a boat ride out to the Ballestas Islands, in a national Reserve that boasts the highest concentration of marine birds in the world, including some very rare species. The islands lie off the coast, and are a hive of activity throughout the year. Birds vie for positions and many nests are perched precariously on tiny ledges high above the water. The islands themselves are beautiful, with eroded caves and inlets, and sea lions frolicking around in our wake. We will see gannets, pelicans, and maybe the elusive Humboldt Penguins. Returning to the mainland and back to Lima in the evening.
Day 4 - City Tour & Santa Catalina Convent
Leaving in the early morning, travel by plane to Arequipa, Peru's second largest city, set in a rich green valley at the foot of the mighty El Misti Volcano. The buildings in the centre have been built almost exclusively of the volcanic material 'sillar', a white, porous rock, giving Arequipa its nickname of 'The White City'.
Your guide and transport will meet you at your hotel for a delightful city tour which visits the church of La Compania and other colonial buildings, including the Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral. The Santa Catalina Convent once held some two hundred nuns and is a maze of colourful alleyways and rooms, providing a fascinating insight into the way the nuns once lived.
Day 5 - Excursion to Uros Islands
In the morning you fly to Juliaca and onto Puno, located on the shore of Lake Titicaca. In the afternoon you have a guided excursion to the floating reed islands of Uros. The Indians began living on the reed islands over five hundred years ago when the Uros built the islands in an effort to isolate themselves from the Collas and the Incas. Although the Uros Indians of these islands have intermarried with Aymara Indians and no pure-blooded Uros exist, many of the inhabitants of the islands still practice the old traditions of fishing, trapping birds and living on the lake plants. The totora reeds which grow abundantly in the shallows of the lake are used for their boats, houses and islands.
Day 6 - Journey to Cusco
Journey by bus (Tourist) or private vehicle (First) to Cusco. This is an unforgettable journey across the Andean altiplano, offering dramatic landscapes throughout. On arrival in Cusco, you will be met by our representative and taken to your hotel in Cusco, staying for 4 nights.
Day 7 - Excursion to the Sacred Valley of the Incas
Enjoy our extensive, special Full Day tour of the Sacred Valley. Begin by visiting the market at Chinchero, where locals come to barter and sell local produce and handicrafts. Also visit a local weaving collective, to learn the traditions of weaving by hand on a back-strap loom. Next you will proceed to Moray, thought to have been an open-air crop laboratory of the Incas, followed by the pre-Inca salt pans of Maras. After lunch, visit the stunning fortress town and ruins of Ollantaytambo. This large archaeological complex is believed to have been a significant agricultural, administrative, social, religious and military centre. The town itself is geometrically perfect; with straight streets, trapezoidal doors, and Inca drainage systems. Finally we travel to the colonial town of Pisac, built on the ruins of an Inca citadel and located at the entrance to the immensely fertile Urubamba "Sacred" Valley. Here you can see the bustling market, and watch the sunset over the mountains from the ruins.
Day 8 - City Tour & Ruins Of Cusco
Beginning in the main square of Cusco we visit the cathedral, built by the Spanish on Inca foundations and with an unusually variation of the Last Supper. From the city centre we travel into the mountains above Cusco to visit the archaeological sites of Sacsayhuaman and Kenko. The mighty fortress and complex of Sacsayhuaman was built with massive stones, some weighing over 100 tons and placed together like a jigsaw. On the return we stop at a vantage point for a superb view of the city and the surrounding mountains, before returning to your hotel.
Day 9 - At Leisure in Cusco
Today you have the flexibility to pursue your own interests and relax
Day 10 - Journey to Machu Picchu
Travel aboard the "Vistadome" train from the Sacred Valley to the Aguas Calientes village located at the foot of Machu Picchu. This is a spectacular journey through a dramatic and changing landscape with some fantastic views. Upon arrival in Aguas Calientes, you will be met by your guide and travel via a winding road up the mountain before finally glimpsing the magical site of Machu Picchu. After lunch at Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge you will be given a guided tour of the site to learn about the history and culture of the Incas before having dinner at the Totos restaurant.
Day 11 - Return to Cusco
The morning is free to explore Machu Picchu. You may wish to climb Huayna Picchu, a steep climb but well worth it for the fantastic views of the valley and a different perspective of Machu Picchu. Alternatively, there is a gentle climb, back along the Inca Trail, to Intipunku the Gate of th...
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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