A new day, a new country – let’s do this! Steeped in Spanish colonialism yet buzzing with modern metro vibes, Lima is sure to ignite your love for Peru. Spend your morning marvelling at lavishly decorated churches and an underground tunnel cemetery overflowing with bones or catacombs, then hit the Barranco district this afternoon to get a feel for its bohemian ambiance. A stroll over the Bridge of Sighs is also a must. And of course no trip to Lima is complete without devouring at least one portion of ceviche – it’s a pretty massive deal in the city. Round off the day watching the sun set over the Pacific, most likely with a pisco sour in hand…
Lima: The skies are calling this morning as we board our included flight bound for the ‘White City’ of Arequipa, Peru’s second largest city which lies in the shadow of three majestic volcanoes.
Arequipa: The town of Arequipa, or La Ciudad Blanca, is both culturally and aesthetically astounding. A city tour will gets us orientated, taking in highlights including the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Plaza de Armas, then this evening is all about something we reckon you’re going to love…food. Racoto Relleno (stuffed hot peppers) and Chupe de Camarones (crayfish chowder) are both on the menu, and after a busy day exploring this ancient city, we’ll sure be deserving of a feast.
Arequipa: Are you ready for another nature masterclass? Waving farewell to Arequipa this morning, we’ll pass through Salinas and Aguada Blanco national reserve on route to one of the world’s deepest canyons.
Colca Canyon: After a journey of windswept landscapes, sandstone cliff & stops for hot coca tea, we will arrive at the highest point of our entire journey, which at 4910 metres/16,108ft above sea level is the same height as Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak. Those jaws will be on the floor as you catch a first glimpse of this epic natural masterpiece. Can you feel the tingles already?
Colca Canyon: This morning promises to be pretty mega as we hop out of bed in search for the King of the Andes, otherwise known as the Andean Condor, which boasts a mega 3-metre wingspan. Fingers crossed luck is on our side – some days we may spot 10 condors, other days none – but that’s the fun of Mother Nature. Either way, the majestic view of the Colca Canyon never ceases to impress, and we know you’ll leave feeling like you’ve witnessed something truly special. Back on the road, we’ll roll past quaint villages, stop for lunch in Chivay, then head on to the high plains of Peru.
Puno: Yet more natural beauty will be dished up this afternoon as we pull in to Puno, located on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Spend the evening settling in to our cosy hotel, our head into town for some dance floor action but a word of warning – Puno sits at an altitude of 3657 metres, so go easy on the piscos and the energetic dancefloor moves as the altitude could leave you feeling more breathless than normal. Tomorrow promises to be one to remember as we take to the lake for a taste of ancient Peruvian life…
Ready to explore this area in all its multi-coloured glory? We thought so. Jumping in a triciclo (a three-wheeled bike taxi) we’ll bump our way down to the port and get our first taste of life on the Lake (fun fact – Lake Titicaca is South America’s largest freshwater lake). Our boat ride will take us first to Taquile Island, which to this day remains one of the most culturally intact communities in the whole of Peru, and it’s here you’ll meet local weaving groups and stop for lunch. After exploring, we’ll then jump back on the boat and make for the Uros Islands, or as they’re more commonly called, the floating islands. Stepping off the boat you’ll feel like you’re walking on a water bed – unsurprising given the islands are made entirely from reeds. Here, we’ll hang with locals, visit a fish farm and even explore the local museum (yes, on an island made from reeds). The island community survives by selling textiles and totora reed boats to tourists, so after stocking up on one-off souvenirs, it’s back on the boat as we head home for the night to Puno.
Puno: Heading out of Puno this morning we’ll make our way to Pukara to visit a small museum offering up archaeological findings and Peru’s iconic ceramic bulls. Hitting the road again we’ll journey through the snow-capped surrounds of La Raya, stopping for lunch in the town of Sicuani. Eagle eyes, this is llama country, so have those cameras at the ready.
Raqchi: Ancient Incan culture suggest that the Raqchi ruins are sacred for their powerful healing waters. Your entry tickets on us, and our local guide will paint the full picture as we explore the ruins. The Temple of Wiracocha is the pride of the site, and we’ll learn that the ruins were built as a village defence. History lesson complete we’ll head on to Cusco, the next stop of our adventure.
Cusco: Our final leg of the day lands us in Cusco, the hub of ancient Incan culture. This place is a feast for the senses and will call you out for an evening of exploration and maybe even some after dark antics, Cusco style.
Another day, another incredible Latin American destination to uncover; today it's sun up 'til sun down in Cusco. Shop for artisan jewellery and woodworks, roam the cobble-stone streets or just stroll the San Pedro markets eating cacao buds and sipping on coca leaf tea. Today really is what you make it as you’re in total control…except for dinner with the crew – that’s on us.
Cusco: Heading out of Cusco and bound for the Sacred Valley on our private coach, this is where our journey into the ruins and mystique of this land truly begins. But first, llamas. An iconic symbol of Peru, we’ll be stopping off at a llama farm to show some love to these furry favourites up close, and we’re talking the whole humpback family – llamas, vicuna and alpacas. #llamaselfie achieved, we’ll then stop off to witness the ancient Incan art of weaving in practise by a group of talented local artisans. Throughout the journey, play close attention to your surrounds – there’s the chance to spot the Incan farming technique of terracing, as well as the ‘salineras’ (salt mines). Want to know what the Peruvians do for fun? You’ll get the chance to play the traditional game of “Sapo”, and exactly what that entails we’ll leave to the imagination…
Sacred Valley: Our explorations of the Sacred Valley will begin with a guided tour of the Pisac and Ollantaytambo ruins. Our Local Guide will give you the d-l on both, visiting the circular terraced Pisac ruins first which date back to the 1400’s. Moving on to Ollantaytambo, base camp for those taking the trek tomorrow, we’ll appease dry mouths with some homemade Chica de Jora brew. This tiny town may be small in geographical terms, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in attitude, with artisan shops and cafes spilling out onto streets, and the roaring Urubamba river providing the perfect natural background noise. For those embarking on the Inca trail tomorrow this is your final chance to stock up on last minute essentials (socks, socks and more socks). For all others, spend your time soaking in the vibes, hanging with other travellers and just getting a feel for this iconic little town. Stay
Sacred Valley: For those embarking on our epic 1 day trek, we’ll catch the train to KM104 and the start of a day to remember. With just 3.5 hours on foot and 6-kilometres to cover, the enchanting site that awaits us will make it all worthwhile. Descending into the site we’ll take in Wayana Picchu 'Little peak' – the iconic peak you’ll have seen in every picture ever – marvelling at the incredible handiwork of the ancient Incas. Satisfaction levels at an all-time high and with a big ol’ smile on your tired face, we’ll head back to Aguas Calientes and a squishy hotel bed you couldn’t be more deserving of. For those not embarking on the Inca Trail, the morning is yours to enjoy the surrounding lush mountains of Aguas Calientes.
Aguas Calientes: Can you feel the excitement mounting? Yep – those are pretty much the feels when Machu Picchu is quite literally on the horizon. This afternoon we’ll hop on the train to Aguas Calientes, a cute town in its own right complete with roaring river, quaint bridges and local haunts, but most famously known as the gateway town to Machu Picchu. We’ll meet up with those who opted for the one day trek, and basically spend the evening hyping each other up for what’s to come tomorrow.
Aguas Calientes: Excitement levels at an all-time high, the day we’ve all been waiting for is finally here – it’s Machu Picchu time! Built around 1450 at the height of the Incan Empire, Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the seven wonders of the new world. We’ll be treated to a guided tour of the site taking in such wonders as the Temple of the Three Windows and Wayana Picchu (the peak you’ll of seen in every Machu Picchu image ever), and of course you’ll have some alone time to explore the area as only you can do. This is one big old tick off the life goals list, so enjoy every single second of it.
Cusco: Back on the train we’ll de-brief on our once-in-a-lifetime experience as we head back to Cusco. Last time round was all about getting acquainted with the city, so now you’ve got you’re bearings you can really get lost amongst the market stalls and cobbled streets, maybe even going truly local by trying out a serving of cuy.
The last few days have been pretty full on, so today is all about seeking out some much needed r’n’r. Grab a lie in at the hotel then sip fresh mountain coffee in the Plaza de Armas, or maybe take a stroll around town to pick up an alpaca sweater or ten (they are super snuggly). Can’t shake that taste for adventure? We hear you.
Cusco: Saying a final farewell to Cusco, we’ll hop on our included flight over the Andes to the city of Puerto Maldonado. With the sound of macaws and toucans welcoming us in, this can only mean one thing…it’s jungle time.
Puerto Maldonado: A quick tour of the city will reveal colourful fruit stalls, open air markets and locals going about their day. But now we're back underway and we just want to get to the jungle…
Jungle Lodge: What’s accessible only by boat, is made from wood and clay and surrounded by the sounds and colours of nature? Answer – our rainforest lodge, your blissful home for the night. We’ll work up a pre-dinner appetite by hiking to the canopy tower, then after a tasty home-cooked dinner continue our outdoor pursuits by heading out to spot caimans – a member of the alligator family native to the Amazon. Tonight promises to be one for the story bank as you fall asleep in your open-walled room to the exotic sounds of the surrounding jungle.
Jungle Lodge: If the vibrant morning song of the jungle birds hasn’t roused you early doors, the prospect of the Tres Chimadas lake teeming with wildlife will. Our morning catamaran cruise will have us spotting prehistoric hoatzin birds and giant river otters. Satisfaction levels on high, the rest of the afternoon is all yours – canopy climbing or kayaking ticking any of the boxes?
Puerto Maldonado: Tired and hungry after another adventure filled day, we’ll head back to Puerto Maldonado to make camp for the night. After such an epic day of jungle antics, we’re guessing a good night’s sleep and some sweet group hangs are pretty high on the agenda.
Puerto Maldonado: Today our Peruvian encounter comes to an end. As heartbroken as you'll be to wave goodbye to this incredible country, you'll be leaving with countless memories and a whole army of new friends.
Lima: We'll arrive back in Lima where our trip ends on arrival. Sob. How about easing the pain by making reunion plans is somehwere equally exotic - Thailand, anyone?