Lima, Paracas & Nazca, Arequipa & Colca, Cusco & Machu Picchu, Puno, Amazon - 16 Days
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- Day 1: Arrival in Lima
- Day 2: Lima City Tour
- Day 3: Arrival in Paracas & Nazca Lines Tour
- Day 4: Ballestas Islands Tour & Return to Lima
- Day 5: Arrival in Arequipa & Arequipa City Tour
- Day 6: Colca Canyon Tour & Overnight
- Day 7: Lake Titicaca Tour
- Day 8: Puno to Cusco
- Day 9: Cusco Tour
- Day 10: Sacred Valley Tour
- Day 11: Machu Picchu Tour
- Day 12: Cusco to Puerto Maldonado
- Day 13: Amazon Tour
- Day 14: Amazon Tour
- Day 15: Amazon Tour
- Day 16: Departure from Puerto Maldonado
See the best of Peru on a whirlwind tour from the coast to the Andes and down to the Amazon.
Begin in the vibrant capital of Lima and soak up Peru’s culture and gastronomy. Travel down the desert coastline to wonder at wildlife on the Ballestas Islands and ponder the mystery of the Nazca Lines from a low-flying aircraft.
Enter the Andes: glimpse colonial treasures in Arequipa, observe the flight of the condor over the gaping valleys of the Colca Canyon, sail across one the world’s highest lakes, visit floating islands anchored by reeds, admire photogenic Inca ruins and Spanish churches in Cusco, and explore Machu Picchu, masterpiece of the Inca Empire.
A trip to the Amazon is the only fitting end to this thrilling tour. From Puerto Maldonado, you’ll ride a motor boat to a jungle lodge and learn about the extraordinary biodiversity of the rainforest.
Day 1: Arrival in Lima
Arrival at Lima airport. Meet our representative for a transfer to your hotel in Lima.
Day 2: Lima City Tour
Start exploring Lima at your leisure. Walk to the Malecon for Pacific ocean views along the promenade lined with beautiful parks and sculptures. You can also find a cafe at Parque Kennedy, visit the artisan market to get a preview of the crafts you’ll see for sale throughout your trip, or just relax in your hotel.
In the afternoon, meet your guide for a tour of the city’s main attractions. You’ll start at Huaca Pucllana — the 4th century temple is one of the few visible remnants of Lima’s long pre-Columbian history, made all the more remarkable because it sits amid the city’s most modern high-rises. After a tour of the ruins, you’ll continue to the historic Plaza de Armas, where the “City of Kings" was founded by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535. Standing on the scenic plaza, your guide will explain the political, social, and architectural history of Peru as it intersects with Lima’s main square. Then you’ll continue to San Francisco Monastery, one of Peru’s most beautiful colonial complexes and home to extensive subterranean catacombs where more than 25,000 human bones rest in ghoulishly artful patterns. The last stop is at Larcomar, an open-air shopping and entertainment center built into the red-brown cliffs of the Lima coastline and an excellent place to see the sun plunge into the Pacific.
In the evening, start your discovery of Peruvian cuisine at one of Lima’s many excellent restaurants before returning to your hotel for a good night’s sleep.
Day 3: Arrival in Paracas & Nazca Lines Tour
Transfer to the bus station and enjoy the ride (about 3.5 hours) to Paracas.
Check in to your Paracas hotel and transfer to the Pisco airport for a flight over the Nazca Lines. Built in three phases between 500 BC and 500 AD, the lines are massive drawings in the earth whose dimensions can only be appreciated from high above land. There are two types of geoglyphs: representational (animals, birds, flowers, and everyday objects) and geometric (straight lines, triangles, spirals). Your Nazca flight will provide you with a sampling of both and an opportunity to puzzle over the significance of this world historical site.
Return to your hotel in the early afternoon. Enjoy a beautiful sunset over Paracas Bay.
Note: Two passenger minimum for flights from Pisco to Nazca. Inquire for single passenger options.
*Restrictions apply for passengers weighing 100 kg (220 lbs) or more. Please inquire for more information.
Day 4: Ballestas Islands Tour & Return to Lima
Transfer to the dock and board a boat for a 2-hour tour to the Ballestas Islands, often called the “Poor Man’s Galapagos.” Sea lions, cormorants, boobies, and Humboldt penguins are among the most notable inhabitants of this protected marine reserve. When not feeding in the nutrient-rich coastal currents, colonies of birds and animals cacophonously populate every available inch of the rocky isles, making for fantastic photo opportunities On clear days, the boat tour also provides views of the Candelabra geoglyph etched onto a mountain slope.
After the tour, transfer to the bus station for the ride back to Lima. Spend the evening at your leisure and rest up before your first stop in the Andes.
Day 5: Arrival in Arequipa & Arequipa City Tour
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Arequipa, a city renowned for its delectable cuisine and its beautiful colonial architecture. Upon arrival at the airport, meet our representative for a transfer to your hotel.
In the afternoon, meet your guide for a tour of Arequipa's highlights. The first stop, Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus, exemplifies the city’s distinctive architectural heritage. The church exterior is a masterpiece of Andean baroque details sculpted from white sillar stone, while the interior displays a collection of paintings and wood carvings from the Cusco School of Art. The highlight is San Ignacio Chapel, the former sacristy, with a stunning dome and walls covered in multicolored murals depicting rainforest flora and fauna — an artifact of the Jesuits’ missionary efforts in the Amazon. Your next stop is the Plaza de Armas, where the elegant stone-sculpted facade of the Basilica Cathedral steals the spotlight. You’ll continue to Santa Catalina Monastery, where the Spanish colony’s wealthiest nuns once resided within a convent big enough to have its own streets and plazas. The final stop on this tour will be a mirador (lookout point), either Yanahuara or Carmen Alto, where you will be able to get pictures of Misti Volcano looming over the city.
Enjoy dinner at one of Arequipa’s many fine restaurants; recommended dishes include rocoto relleno and chupe de camarones, two Arequipean specialities. Visit the Plaza de Armas for evening photos of the Cathedral. Then go back to your hotel for some rest before an early morning pickup tomorrow.
Day 6: Colca Canyon Tour & Overnight
Transfer by car from Arequipa to the Colca Canyon where you’ll spend the night.
Keep your eyes open and your camera ready because the drive is among the most spectacular in the Andes. From Arequipa, you’ll gradually ascend to the highland plains and enter the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve, which includes the volcanoes Misti and Chachani within its borders as well as free-roaming herds of llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, and guanacos. You’ll reach Patapampa Pass at 15,300 feet (4,820 meters) above sea level before beginning the descent into Colca Canyon with breathtaking views of agricultural terraces along the way .
Stop in the small town of Chivay for lunch, then drive to La Calera, where you can soak in the natural hot springs or simply enjoy the beautiful terraced landscape that surrounds you.
In the afternoon, check-in to your Colca Canyon hotel for a relaxing night under the starlit Andean sky.
Cruz del Condor & Transfer to Puno
Wake up early to go to Mirador Cruz del Condor, where you can spot condors soaring across the massive mountain landscape. You’ll drive about 40 minutes along a road flanked by soaring glacier-capped peaks: Mismi on one side and Sabancaya and Ampato on the other. (The headwaters of the Amazon River have been tracked to Mismi; while the Ice Maiden mummy was discovered following the 1990 eruption of Sabancaya). The viewing platform at Cruz del Condor stands 3,960 feet (1,200 m) above the canyon floor, providing mesmerizing views over into one of the world’s deepest valleys.
Return to Chivay for lunch (not included), take some time to browse the local market, and then begin the overland journey to Puno (5 to 6 hours by car).
Upon arrival in Puno, check-in to your Lake Titicaca hotel. Explore the city of Puno or find a spot to enjoy inspiring views over the lake.
Day 7: Lake Titicaca Tour
Enjoy breakfast and then embark on a full-day tour of the world’s highest navigable lake. First, you’ll visit the floating islands of Uros, handwoven islands made from Totora reeds that perfectly complement the dream-like quality of Lake Titicaca. You’ll meet Uros islanders and learn about their culture and way of life. Next, you’ll sail 30 km across the vast blue waters to Taquile Island. Be forewarned: Taquile is infamous for its rugged topography and the 500 steps that lead from the boat dock into town. Once you’ve tackled the stair challenge, you’ll learn about Taquile’s history as an Inca settlement, a Spanish colonial prison, and a modern example of community-based tourism. Then you'll hike across the island for incredible views over the lake. Enjoy lunch (not included) and then begin the trip back to Puno.
Upon arrival in Puno, spend a quiet evening at your hotel or head into town to partake of the nightlife on the Plaza de Armas.
Day 8: Puno to Cusco
After breakfast, transfer to the bus station for the trip to Cusco. (As an alternative, inquire about flight and train options.) The comfortable tourist-class bus includes a stop for lunch and guided visits to archaeological sites along the way. Notable landmarks include La Raya Pass at 14,220 feet (4,335 meters), the monumental remains of the Temple of Viracocha at Raqchi, and the baroque style Andahuaylillas Church, nicknamed the Sistine Chapel of America for its interior frescos.
Upon arrival in Cusco, meet our representative for a transfer to your hotel in the historic center and spend the rest of the evening at your leisure.
Day 9: Cusco Tour
This morning you’ll have time to explore Cusco on your own. Visit the Pre-Columbian Art Museum (MAP) or Casa Concha (Machu Picchu Museum). You can also explore the vendor stalls at San Pedro Market or browse artisan workshops and art galleries in the San Blas neighborhood.
After lunch, meet your guide for an afternoon tour of Cusco’s must see sights. You’ll start on the Plaza de Armas, where your guide will begin to tell you about the history of South America’s oldest continuously inhabited city. You’ll enter into the Cusco Cathedral, formerly the site of a temple to the Inca creator deity Viracocha and today a treasure trove for religious art produced by native artisans in the years after the Spanish Conquest. You’ll continue to Santo Domingo Monastery, which was also constructed on the site of an Inca temple, Qoricancha or the Temple of the Sun. The building of the church atop the ruins ironically preserved parts of the Inca structures, which were revealed intact after a devastating earthquake in 1950 crumbled the Spanish construction. Next, you’ll visit the Inca ruins outside of Cusco, beginning at the fortress of Sacsayhuaman (site of an important battle between Inca and Spanish troops), and wrapping up the day with stops at Q’enko, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay.
At the end of the tour, you’ll be returned to your hotel in Cusco. Hit the town to see Cusco by night or enjoy a quiet evening in.
Day 10: Sacred Valley Tour
After breakfast, meet your guide for a tour of the Sacred Valley, which in Inca times was littered with royal palaces and temples and today is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes. Your first stop is Pisac town, with its famous market and impressive hilltop ruins. At the market, your guide will point out local products like potatoes, giant corn, and natural dyes, and you’ll have a chance to browse the souvenir stalls for one-of-a-kind gifts. Next, you’ll drive up the hill to the Pisac ruins, which sprawl across a narrow mountain ridge and most likely protected the southern entrance to the Sacred Valley. You’ll continue down the road to Urubamba and stop for lunch (not included) at a buffet restaurant serving Peruvian specialties. The final stop is in Ollantaytambo, where you’ll climb to the top of the fortress ruins for panoramic views across the former Inca heartland.
At the end of the tour, you’ll be dropped of at your hotel in Sacred Valley.
Day 11: Machu Picchu Tour
Take an early train to Machu Picchu, traveling for 2 hours along a path that follows the banks of the Urubamba River and descends dramatically from the Andean highlands to the cloud forest. On clear days, you can glimpse the glacier-capped peaks that rise over the valley. Upon arrival at the train station, meet our representative for a transfer to the bus stop and the 25-min shuttle ride to the ruins.
Meet your guide at the ruins entrance for a 2-hour tour of Machu Picchu. You’ll visit the primary temples and palaces of the Inca citadel and then you’ll have time to explore the ruins on your own. Take an optional hike to the Sun Gate (entrance from the Inca Trail) or to the Inca Bridge.
In the late afternoon, return to the train station for the trip back to Cusco.
Day 12: Cusco to Puerto Maldonado
After breakfast, transfer to the Cusco airport for the short flight to Puerto Maldonado. Upon arrival, meet our representative for a transfer by river boat to your Amazon lodge.
Most lodges are located between 30 minutes to 1 hour by boat from Puerto Maldonado. As you leave the city behind, you’ll see the wide river open up before you, walled in by jungle growth on either side. Over the course of the next few days, you’ll learn more about rainforest and you’ll be able to add defining details to what at first glance seems like a vast green space.
Upon arrival at your lodge, settle in to your cabana and then meet your guide to discuss the schedule of activities for the next few days. Enjoy dinner and then tuck in early. Your day tomorrow will begin at dawn.
Day 13: Amazon Tour
Specific activities vary by lodge and by season, but you’re guaranteed to be immersed in the rainforest of southern Peru.
Day 14: Amazon Tour
You’ll walk jungle trails to spot flora and fauna, hop aboard skiffs to spot wildlife in hidden lagoons, and witness sights and sounds unique to Peru's rainforest environment. Some lodges have tree canopy towers where you can see the rainforest from the perspective of a bird or monkey.
Day 15: Amazon Tour
You may also have an opportunity to visit indigenous communities and learn how they interact with the jungle environment. Night walks offer yet another angle on the Amazon, revealing critters that only emerge when the sun goes down.
Day 16: Departure from Puerto Maldonado
Enjoy a final breakfast at your lodge and then return by boat to Puerto Maldonado. Upon arrival at the port, you’ll be transferred to the airport to begin your journey home or on to your next destination.
- 3 nights in Lima, 1 night in Paracas, 1 night in Arequipa, 1 night in the Colca Canyon, 2 nights in Puno, 3 nights in Cusco, 1 night in the Sacred Valley, 3 nights in the Amazon in Peru hotels based on US standards
- All tours stated in the itinerary with English-speaking guides
- Ground transportation and entrance fees
- Breakfast at all hotels
- Bus: Lima - Paracas - Lima
- Flight over Nazca Lines
- Bus: Puno - Cusco
- All meals at the Amazon lodge
- Trains: Ollantaytambo - Machu Picchu - Cusco (Vistadome Train for 4-star and 5-star packages / Expedition Train for 3-star packages)
- Budget tours are designed to offer the best value and comfort possible, and have some variations compared to our 3, 4, and 5-star packages. Call or email us to learn more about our Budget tours.
- Lunches and dinners (unless otherwise specified)
- Airport taxes
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