Bienvenidos! Your journey into the Sacred Land of the Inca begins today. With indigenous cultures dating back millennia, Peru is an indomitable land of Amazonian rainforests teeming with wildlife and soaring mountains harbouring secret cities. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm at your hotel in Lima, where you’ll meet your tour leader and travel group. Next, dive into life in Lima. Jump on public transport and head downtown for a guided walking tour of the city’s historical centre and take in the ornate spectacle of the colonial mansions, palaces and churches that line the streets. Following the tour, you have the rest of the afternoon and evening to do as you please. You might want to visit the Museum of the Inquisition, where you can learn more about the brutal reality of Spanish colonialism in Peru to get some context for your trip. Or take a lighter approach and maybe do some wandering until night falls, then embark on an optional Lima Bites and Sights Tour. This guided exploration of the bohemian Barranco district will see you sampling some of the best local street food and Pisco cocktails. Ask your leader about the full range of optional activities available in Lima.
Rise and shine for your journey into the wilds of the Peruvian Amazon. Take an early morning transfer to Lima airport, then board a three-hour flight to the frontier town of Puerto Maldonado. Here, board a motorised canoe and cruise deep into the jungle. Then journey to your eco-lodge in the Madre de Dios region. Arrive and settle into your thatched-roof lodge before a short orientation walk of the immediate area and a briefing. Spend the evening getting acquainted with the sights and smells of the jungle and fall asleep to the sounds of nature.
Get ready for an unforgettable day exploring the depths of the jungle! Set out on a half-day trek guided by local experts on the area’s flora and fauna. Learn from your guides about the medicinal and practical uses for some of the plants that grow here, which indigenous people have been studying and using for thousands of years. On your walk, keep an eye out for rainbow coloured macaws and butterflies, and listen for the barking call of the peccaries and chattering of monkeys that call the jungle home. This part of the Amazon is also known to house capybaras, giant otters and jabirus, so keep your eyes peeled for these exotic creatures. Return to the lodge for lunch and some free time to relax. Once the sun goes down, venture out on a night walk in search of some of the jungle’s nocturnal inhabitants.
Leave behind the natural wonders of the Amazon for the man-made wonders of Cusco today. Take a short 35-minute flight to the lofty city. If Lima is Peru’s head, then Cusco is definitely the country’s heart. Once you’ve spent some time acclimatising to the altitude of 3450 metres, head out on an orientation walk with your leader. See wonders of the ancient, colonial and contemporary variety on this stroll, including the Plaza de Armas (Main Square), the San Pedro Market, the 12 Angled Stone, Regocijo Square and San Blas Square. This tour will also include the most significant temple in the ancient Inca empire – Qoricancha. Despite being covered with a Baroque facade in the 17th century by the Spanish, the original Inca masonry has been uncovered in some areas. Wrap up your tour at the ChocoMuseo where you can sample hot chocolate made from local beans. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy as you wish. Maybe head out for dinner with your fellow travellers – your leader can recommend some good places to grab a meal. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try one of the many establishments serving up cuy, which you might know by the English name of guinea pig. Or perhaps head to Cafe Daria, a central pizzeria which also provides vocational training for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Hop on a private bus in the morning and travel through the lush terraces of the Sacred Valley to Ollantaytambo, one of the few places where the Inca defeated the Spanish. On the way, stop at a village and enjoy lunch and conversation in a community that still practices many Inca traditions. Why not head to the archaeological park that lies to the left side of the main square? If you’re feeling energetic you can climb to the top of the squared terraces and gaze down over the valley.
Depending on the travel arrangements you made before the trip, during the next four days you’ll be doing one of the following: hiking the Classic Inca Trail, hiking the Inca Quarry Trail or staying in Cusco for another two days before taking the train to Aguas Calientes.
Enjoy free time to relax, shop and explore more of Cusco’s sights. Perhaps rest your weary legs at a cafe on Plaza de Armas or head to the San Pedro Market where you can find vegetables, meats, local cheeses, chocolates, herbal medicines and many local handicrafts. It’s a great place to purchase some souvenirs or pick up ingredients for a picnic lunch. The market is also a place where many locals (and daring travellers) go to eat ‘mystery soups’. Some may be just chicken; however, the most popular among the locals usually contain frog or offal. For those who can’t get enough active adventure, why not try mountain biking in the hills that surround Cusco? If you’ve fallen in love with the Peru’s national beverage, the Pisco sour, consider joining an Urban Adventure where you will learn to craft your own.
Bid farewell to Cusco and travel by public transport through the dramatic scenery of the high altiplano to Puno. Located on the shores of vast and serene Lake Titicaca. At an altitude of 3800 metres, Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake. Along the way there will be stops to drop off and pick up passengers, which may affect travel times slightly, but the journey should take around six hours. The long drive is worth it for the first glimpse of immense Lake Titicaca, whose seemingly endless waters stretch into the horizon. Puno is a melting pot of indigenous Aymara and Quechuan culture and traditional Andean customs, and it wears its traditions on its sleeve. If you’re lucky, your trip will coincide with one of the many cultural festivals here.
Embark on a tour of the lake by slow motor boat, stopping at the floating Uros Islands. Built by the Uros people to protect themselves from encroaching Inca forces hundreds of years ago, the islands are constructed from many layers of totora reeds that grow in the shallows of the lake. Feel the bizarre sponginess of the island underfoot and learn a little about the history of the communities that called them home. Then, get a closer look at contemporary life on the shores of the lake with a homestay in a local community.
Help your host family with their daily activities, try out a few words in Quechua (most importantly ‘solpayki’ or thank you!) and perhaps join a local soccer game and make some friends on the makeshift pitch.
This morning after breakfast you’ll board the motorboat again and cruise to Taquile Island (approximately 1 hour), which is known for the intricate, hand-knitted textiles the locals produce. Here, knitting is strictly a male domain, and women do the spinning. It’s a great place to pick up some high quality, locally knitted goods. An approximately one-hour uphill trek brings you to the main area of the island, where you can shop for handicrafts and observe the symbolic clothing items worn by the local folk. After the visit, descend about 500 steps to the boat. Return to Puno, a journey that will take around three hours. Once back in Puno, perhaps gather a crew and find a local watering hole to enjoy a drink or two. By now you’ve probably had your fair share of Pisco sours, so maybe try a chilcano. While it also features a Pisco base, the cocktail is completed with ginger beer instead of egg whites.
Trade the still waters and quiet villages of Lake Titicaca for the bustling highland city of La Paz. Travel by comfortable local bus to Desaguadero and cross the border into Bolivia. At the border you will say goodbye to your Peruvian leader and a Bolivian leader will take over for the last portion of your tour. After border formalities at the Peruvian migration office, cross the bridge to Bolivia, submit your passport at the Bolivian migration office, then board the bus again. Continue to La Paz, stopping en route for another document check. The journey to La Paz takes about 5 hours (don’t forget that Bolivia’s timezone is 1–2 hours ahead of Peru). Discover the colonial architecture and browse the markets on a walking tour, taking in the vibrant expressions of indigenous culture. According to a 2012 census, just over 40 percent of Bolivia’s adult population are of indigenous origin, but discrimination stymied overt expressions of indigenous heritage until very recently. Aymara women wearing the traditional, distinctive bowler hat and long, layered skirts, for example, were banned from many public buildings until 2006. Over the last decade, grassroots activism and a shifting political landscape has created space for various indigenous cultures to live openly. After the walking tour, why not head to the Witches’ Market in search of folkloric remedies, potions and totems – it’s a great place to pick up a last-minute souvenir.
Your trip comes to an end today after breakfast; there are no activities planned for the day. You are free to leave at any time after check-out.
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Advertised prices are person twin share, tour only and correct at time of publication and are subject to availability and change at any time without notification due to fluctuations in charges, taxes and currency. Offer is valid on new bookings only. ^Bonus is included in the advertised price. A travel insurance needs to be purchased prior to departure. A blackout period between 15 Dec 2019 and 15 Jan 2020 applies. The discount applies to the land tour price only and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer and are not combinable. Discount does not apply to local payments/kitty, permits, additional travel arrangements, international and local airfares. A deposit of $400 per person, per tour, is required on booking with full payment due at least 56 days prior to departure. A $99 deposit per trip is applicable on tours in the 18 to 29 years old range only. If booking within 56 days of departure, full payment is due immediately. Other conditions apply. Please contact your personal travel manager for full terms and conditions.