Hike through the Sacred Valley to iconic Machu Picchu, visit the historic city of Cusco, spot caiman and monkeys in the Amazon basin, try sandboarding in the desert oasis of Ica & spot the giant condor from Colca Canyon, the world’s deepest canyon
Day 1: Casa Andina, Arequipa
Upon arrival into Arequipa, via Lima, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your accommodation, Casa Andina.
In the afternoon, after a few hours at the hotel to relax, you will be taken on a tour of the city. Visit the extraordinary Santa Catalina Monastery, closed for 400 years to the public until 1970. Afterwards visit the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral and the Church of La Compañia, with all its colonial jewels. Afterwards you will be driven to Carmen Alto viewpoint for an excellent view of the city and surrounding valley. In the evening you can have dinner at the hotel or in town, where there is an exceptional, authentic Peruvian restaurant serving Inca meals such as guinea pig with an assortment of potatoes.
Day 2: Hotel Aranwa Colca, Chivay, Colca Canyon
After breakfast you will depart for the Colca Canyon,a scenic drive over 4,500 metres, with views of the surrounding volcanoes and of the Pampa Canñahuas, home to the vicuña (relative of the alpaca). After a stop for lunch you will arrive at Chivay, where you will stay for 1 night in Hotel Aranwa Colca.
Day 3: Tour of Colca Canyon
After breakfast you will be transferred to the Condor Cross viewpoint, the best place to see Condors, the largest bird in the world and closely related to the vulture, flying past or sat on the larger rocks. After a few hours watching these magnificent creatures you will head back to Chivay, stopping off at any of the traditional villages for local crafts, such as alpaca wool jumpers, before driving on to Puno.
Upon arrival into Puno you will check-in to Hotel Libertador for 2 nights, with excellent views of Lake Titicaca, the largest navigable lake in the world and the spiritual home of the Inca (and their Quechua and Aymara ancestors).
Day 4: Hotel Libertador, Puno
In the morning you will depart on a private boat trip to the Uros Islands, floating islands made of reeds inhabited by local indigenous fishermen. On the islands you will be shown how the islands are made to float and given an insight into local life. Afterwards you will continue on to Taquile Island, culturally unique, traditional and famed for its craft production, as well as being exceptionally beautiful. On the island you can buy goods from the village cooperative and visit numerous pre-Inca and Inca ruins, including still used agricultural terraces.
Day 5: Hotel Monasterio, Cusco
The morning will be spent at leisure, allowing you to wander around town until it is time to board the ‘Andean Explorer’ train to Cusco. After a luxurious journey through the Andean altiplano, surrounded by mountains and vast plains, you will be met at Cusco train station and transferred to your accommodation for the night, Hotel Monasterio.
Day 6 & 7: Sol y Luna Hotel, Urubamba, Sacred Valley
After an early breakfast you will be driven to the put-in point for your river rafting trip down the “Sacred River of the Incas”, the Urubamba, which has class 2-3 rapids all the way down, after a leisurely start, and spectacular views of the mountains and archeological sites and Inca terraces of the valley. Lunch will be provided at a traditional restaurant on the riverside, owned by the local community and sourcing local Andean cuisine. In the afternoon you will be taken on a guided, car-supported mountain bike trip following the Urubamba River. This route is little visited and enjoys breathtaking views of the Vilcanota mountain range and passes through traditional Quechua villages and Andean terraces. At the end of the trip you will board a train at Ollantaytambo to your hotel, Sol y Luna Hotel.
On your second day in the Sacred Valley you will visit Pisac, a picturesque town with daily fairs and colourful local markets. In the afternoon you will visit the remarkable fortress of Ollantaytambo, built by the Incas.
Day 8-11: Inca Trail
This morning you will be taken by bus to Piskacucho, the start point of your private, guided hike to the world-famous Machu Picchu archeological complex.
Over the next few days you will spend roughly 6 hours a day hiking, stopping off for the night at pre-prepared camps, complete with modern tents and sleeping bags. En-route, you will pass through numerous archeological sites on the ancient route to Machu Picchu and climb to a maximum altitude of 4,200 metres. Four daily meals will be provided by your very own chef, consisting of high energy, local produce, such as quinoa, salad and llama steaks.
Day 11: Sanctuary Lodge, Machu Picchu
This morning you will depart in the early morning from your final camp in order to get to the Sun Gate for dawn, when you will have a spectacular view over Machu Picchu as the sun splashes light over it terrace by terrace. After a short walk down to the sight itself, you will have a 2 ½ hour guided tour to visit the main sites of the complex including Huayna Picchu, the residence of the high priest, overlooking the main site.
After the tour you will be taken to your hotel, Sanctuary Lodge, which is the ideal place to relax in luxury and complete comfort after a tiring few days’ hike. The rest of the day will be at leisure, allowing you to relax in the hotel’s gardens or enjoy some spa treatment.
Day 12: Monasterio, Cusco
After breakfast you will be transferred to Aguas Calientes village, from where you will catch a train to Ollantaytambo and a private transfer from there to Cusco.
In the afternoon you will be taken on a tour of the city. Cusco is renowned as being the archaeological capital of the Americas, having been the Incan capital for centuries before being built over by the Spanish in the 16th Century. On the tour you will visit Cathedral, from the early 17th century, a fine example of colonial baroque architecture, the Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman and the fascinating San Pedro market, selling countless llama-fleece clothes, souvenirs and arts and crafts. The Mercado Central is worth a wander around as well, with excellent, cheap eats throughout, although those with a sensitive stomach should probably stay clear.
In the evening you can take part in private Spanish classes if you wish.
Day 13-16: Reserva Amazónica, Puerto Maldonado
In the morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight into the amazon basin, to the city of Puerto Maldonado. Upon arrival you will be transferred to the wharf, via the Inkaterra Butterfly House (if you want to visit it), from where you will take a 45-minute boat ride along the Madre de Dios River to your accommodation, Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica lodge, in the heart of the amazon basin.
Over the next few days you can spend the days as you wish, with a number of different excursions available to allow you to explore the rainforest. You can do guided walks into the rainforest during the day or at night, boat trips to look for turtles, caiman and birdlife during the day or night, a canopy walkway tour or a canoe trip on Lake Sandoval. The range of excursions available is designed to allow you to catch a glimpse of the diverse wildlife in the area, from sloths in the canopy to insects at ground-level, and from nocturnal caiman to diurnal squirrel monkeys.
Info: Madre de Dios Area & Reserva Amazónica Lodge
The local area is extremely rich in wildlife, with a number of diverse habitats supporting a range of different species. During your stay you are likely to see howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, capuchins, 3 species of caiman, hundreds of insect species, toucans, parakeets, owls, coatis, sloths, capybara and a number of interesting plants and enormous trees. Lake Sandoval in particular, which you will canoe to, is home to the extremely rare giant otter and black caiman.
Rooms at the lodge are spacious and designed in a typical Amazonian manner, with a thatched roof and hammocks along the balcony, complete with modern amenities inside to make your stay more comfortable. The lodge also has a bird-watching platform, a nice communal seating area, bar and a lovely restaurant making use of local, fresh ingredients.
Day 16: Paracas Hotel, Paracas
After breakfast you will return by boat and private transfer to the airport, stopping at the Butterfly House en-route, boasting a large number of Peru’s 2,700 species.
Upon arrival into Lima airport, you will be met and transferred to your accommodation in Paracas, Paracas Hotel, where you will spend 2 nights. The area is renowned for its sand dunes, adventure sports and the famous Nazca Lines and the 5-star, luxury hotel is located on the coast, meaning you can also spend time at the beach or visit the Ballestas Islands nature reserve.
Day 17: Day trip to Nazca Lines & Ica
The next morning you will drive in sand-buggies into the desert, driving over dunes up to 100m high. En-route you can stop to try sand-boarding down the dunes, which is really exhilarating once you get used to the board. Afterwards you will continue on to Pisco for your flight over the Nazca Lines, which are formed of 32 fascinating sand markings made over 2000 years ago in the desert (some up to 180m in length) which are only visible from above.
After lunch you will drive on to Ica to visit Huacachina Lagoon, where you can rent more sandboards or relax in the small town. Afterwards you will return to the hotel in Paracas and have the rest of the afternoon at leisure.
Day 18: Departure
This morning you will be transferred to Lima airport for your return flight home. Alternatively, you are welcome to spend a few nights in Lima sightseeing and doing some last-minute shopping.