21 days - ex Lima
Our most in-depth 3 week exploration of Peru, featuring mountain vistas, jungle adventures, colonial
cities and the once-in-a-lifetime Inca Trail.
What's Included: Guided tour of Nazca desert cemetery and potter's studio, Guided tour of Colca
Canyon (2 nights), Guided tour of Taquile and Uros Islands on Lake Titicaca, 4-day Inca Trail hike
with local guide, cook and porters, Guided tour of Machu Picchu, Amazon Jungle Excursion (2
Day 1 Arrive Lima
Arrive in Lima at any time. There are no planned activities so check into our hotel and enjoy the city.
Known as the City of Kings, Peru's capital city Lima was founded by Francisco Pizarro on the Day of
the Three Kings (Epiphany) in 1535. The Plaza de Armas is the heart of old Lima, and it is here you
find the Cathedral, Government Palace and Archbishop's Palace. The Cathedral dates back to the
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1700s and houses the remains of the conquistador Pizarro. To get a feel for colonial Lima, take a cab
to the Plaza de Armas and watch the changing of the Palace Guard in the afternoon. Walk the streets
surrounding the Jirón de la Unión for great examples of Spanish-colonial architecture and to get a
taste for life in a large South American city. An optional city tour visits many of the city's highlights.
There are many fine museums in and around the city, including the Museo Rafael Larco Herrera,
which houses an equally impressive collection of pottery, mummies and textiles from the Paracas and
Nazca cultures. The more affluent coastal districts of Miraflores, Barranco and San Isidro offer good
nightlife and cafés all within walking distance. Limeños (Lima's residents) are friendly, and the city is
filled with excellent restaurants; seafood lovers in particular should be sure to try a ceviche, for which
Lima is well known.
Day 2 Pisco
Take the morning to explore more of Lima before hopping on a bus for our short trip down the coast
to Pisco. Walk the town's lively peatonal (pedestrian avenue) and find a café to sample some
Peruvian food, such as ceviche or papa a la huancaina (potatoes with a chili cheese sauce).
An important port town, Pisco gives its name to the white grape brandy produced in the region. If you
haven't tried the national drink, don't pass up this chance to sip on a tasty and frothy Pisco Sour in the
heart of Pisco country. While the town itself is of considerable historical and archaeological interest,
we also use it as a starting point for an optional visit to the Ballestas Islands, where you can see sea
lion colonies, Humbodlt penguins and a variety of other birds.
Approximate Distance: 250km
Estimated Travel Time: 4.5 hours
Day 3-4 Nazca
There is time this morning for an optional excursion to the popular Ballestas Islands, an excellent
chance to view a lively sea lion colony, pelicans, penguins and other varieties of bird life.
Back on land, catch a bus south to Nazca. On the way we pass by the pleasant colonial town of Ica.
Ica enjoys a dry, sunny climate year-round and is known for its huge sand dunes. In the nearby oasis
of Huacachina, the dunes are perfect subjects for photography and for a favourite local past time:
sandboarding. Apart from the dunes, Ica is famous for its wines and there are several wineries and
distilleries in the area.
Next visit one of the world's greatest archaeological mysteries, the Nazca Lines. The lines consist of
patterns and pictures etched in the ground, crisscrossing a wide area of flat desert. Some of the lines
measure up to 10 km (32 miles) in length, and yet remain perfectly straight. The depictions of birds,
insects and animals are only recognizable from the air. Who drew the lines, and why, is something
modern archaeologists can only theorize about, but current beliefs suggest that they may be part of
complex agricultural calendar. From the ground we can make out very little, and the best view is from
a light aircraft, which can easily be arranged.
The entire desert area was also once the home for the ancient Paracas and the Nazca cultures,
which preceded the Incas by more than half a millennium. Remains of the Nazca culture are still
visible during our included tour of the ancient Pre-Inca desert cemetery site of Chauchilla, with 1500
year-old mummies, bones and pottery on the desert floor. The tour also includes a visit to an artisan's
workshop, where modern masters create Nazca style pottery.
Approximate Distance: 210km
Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours
Day 5 Arequipa
Peru's second most important city after Lima, Arequipa maintains a traditional colonial style and more
laid back pace in comparison with the capital. Sitting at 2325 m (7626 ft) above sea level and
surrounded by the Andes mountains, this delightful colonial town is well worth a visit. Arequipa was
built from a very light coloured volcanic rock called sillar, so older buildings dazzle in the sun, giving
the city its nickname, "the White City." The main plaza with its cafés and nearby cathedral is a top
draw for visitors.
Those with an interest in history and architecture may take an optional visit to the Convent of Santa
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Catalina, offering a brief respite from the outside world and a unique view into a by-gone way of life.
Spectacular mountains surround Arequipa, the most famous of which is El Misti Volcano, at 5822 m
(19096 ft) with its beautiful snow-capped peak. Also looming nearby are the volcanoes Chachani and
Approximate Distance: 570km
Estimated Travel Time: 8-9 hours
Day 6-7 Colca Canyon
Travel a rough, rutted road through high plains flanked by extensive Inca and pre-Inca terracing that
goes on for kilometres, en route to the Colca Canyon—one of the deepest canyons in the world. Our
first stop is Chivay, a picturesque village near the canyon, where we can take a dip in the local hot
thermal baths, watch live Andean music at a peña or go for a llama steak. Two nights gives us time to
take short hikes to acclimatize to the altitude. Take a tour around the canyon, stopping in fascinating
villages and at "miradors" (scenic lookouts), where with a little luck we see Andean Condors soaring
over the majestic Andes. Other unusual animals we may see in the Andean landscape include 3
different species of camelids: alpaca, llama and vicuña.
Approximate Distance: 158km
Estimated Travel Time: 4.30 hours
Day 8-10 Puno/Lake Titicaca (L, D, B)
We climb over the mountains today, descending at Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Located at
3830 m above sea level, Puno is the highest altitude of any place we sleep on the tour. After
spending a night in Puno, we head out by boat across Lake Titicaca. En route to Taquile Island we
visit the floating reed islands of the Uros people. An overnight homestay provides an opportunity to
learn more about rural life in the Peruvian highlands and to participate in local traditions.
Located at 3830 m above sea level, Puno is the highest altitude of any place we sleep on the tour. As
a result the weather can be extreme with very cold nights and a strong sun during the day (don't
worry, if you get cold, buy an alpaca sweater from the market — they are inexpensive here). Puno is
also known for its wealth of traditional dances: there are up to 100 different varieties, usually
performed in the street processions celebrating Catholic feast days. If you are fortunate enough to be
visiting at the right time you may even catch one of these celebrations.
A popular optional activity in Puno is a visit to the spectacular chullpas (funerary towers) of Sillustani,
a pre-Inca archaeological site only a short drive away.
Titicaca is also the largest lake in the world above 2000m, and the views from both Amantaní and
Taquile Islands are stunning.
This morning we board a boat on Lake Titicaca. We head to Taquile Island for lunch in a local
restaurant and the chance for some shopping in the local weaving cooperatives. From there we head
to Amantani where overnight with a local family and enjoy typical music of the area. The following
morning we will visit the floating islands of Uros en route to Puno.
The Totora reeds that grow in the shallows of the lake are used for making everything from the
islands themselves to the model boats that the islanders sell. The islands are made up of layers upon
layers of reeds; as the layers closest to the water start to rot, they are replaced with fresh reeds on
top. The reeds are also used to build their boats, which if constructed well will last up to 6 months.
The people of Taquile Island's unique culture, style of dress and lifestyle make for a memorable visit.
The men of the community do all the knitting, as this is strictly a male domain, while the women do
the spinning. High quality, locally knitted goods are available for purchase at various cooperatives on
the island. Despite the short distance that separates the two islands, Amantaní is quite distinct. Its soil
is a rich terra cotta red, due to the high iron deposits, and the colour contrasts brightly with the deep
azure blue of the lake and sky and the greenery of the local crops. For the night we split into smaller
groups and billet into family homes to experience their style of living first-hand.
The following morning we visit the Uros Islands on our way back to Puno.
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HEALTH NOTE: when you arrive in Puno, the altitude and resulting lack of oxygen may affect you. It
may take a little time to acclimatize to this, but before long you probably will not even notice it. Just
take it easy for the first day or two, and cut back on alcohol and cigarette consumption to minimize the
effects. You may also find that your appetite is reduced. This is no cause for alarm, but simply a
reaction to the altitude. Be sure to drink plenty of water and do not attempt too much in any given day.
Approximate Distance: 250km
Estimated Travel Time: 6 hours
Day 11-12 Cuzco
The trip from Puno to Cuzco takes the better part of the day, with stark, beautiful scenery en route as
you travel through the high Altiplano region.
Cuzco is the continent's oldest continuously inhabited city, and the hub of the South American travel
network. The city attracts travellers who come not just to visit a unique destination but also to
experience an age-old culture very different from their 20th century way of life; one could easily spend
a week just in and around the area. Inca-built stone walls line most of the central streets and you don't
have to go far to see other major Inca ruins. It is a city steeped in history, tradition and legend.
Every year Cuzco attracts thousands of travellers who come to delve into its noble but tragic past. It is
the perfect base for optional explorations around the city and area as well as a range of outdoor
activities. Relax and explore this fascinating city, and take time to acclimatize to the high altitude.
Cuzco's numerous colonial churches are one of the city's most common sights. The Cathedral was
started in 1559 and took 100 years to build; it is also one of the city's greatest repositories of colonial
art. Immediately in front of the entrance is a vault containing the remains of the famous Inca historian,
Garcilaso de la Vega. Also worth visiting are the churches of La Compañía, La Merced and San
While most ruins are just outside of the city, the main ruin within is that of the Coricancha, once the
Inca Empire's richest temple. Today the ruin forms the base of the colonial church of Santo Domingo.
During Inca times this temple was literally covered with gold, but within months of the arrival of the
first conquistadors this incredible wealth had all been melted down. It is left to the individual
imagination to envision the magnificence of the original structure.
There are several good museums in Cuzco, including the Archaeological Museum, which also houses
a small art museum, the Regional History Museum and the Religious Art Museum. Our best advice
for exploring Cuzco is to wear a comfortable pair of shoes, arm yourself with a city map and set off to
Approximate Distance: 389km
Estimated Travel Time: 7.30 hours
Day 13-16 Inca Trail (3B, 3L, 3D)
The 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is physically challenging but worthwhile, and the excursion is
within the ability of most reasonably fit. It is a 40-km (25 mile) hike, with 3 high passes to be crossed,
one of which reaches an elevation of 4200m (13776 ft). The trail is often steep, and it may rain even
during the dry season. The temperatures at night may fall below zero, so it is important to come
Depart Ollantaytambo for km 82 where we begin our walk in the footsteps of the Incas. Our local crew
of porters, cook and guide look after us well for the duration of the hike. Porters carry the majority of
the gear for the hike, so those passengers doing the hike only carry a small daypack with water, rain
gear, snacks, a camera, etc. As you walk the trail that linked this ancient empire, admire breathtaking
views at every step as we move from high plateau areas to dense cloud forest. Depending on the
season, you may see a great variety of flora, including miniature and large orchids, and fiery
You pass several smaller ruin sites, the first of which is Llactapata. The second day climb the long
steep path to Warmiwañusca, or Dead Woman's Pass. At 4198 m (13769 ft) above sea level, this
pass is the highest point of the trek. The second pass of the hike is at 3998 m (13113 ft) where on
clear days, we enjoy superb views of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba. The trail goes through
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some beautiful cloud forest on the gentle climb to the third pass, where you will walk through a
causeway and a tunnel, both original Inca constructions. The highest point of the third pass is at
3700m (12136 ft). On clear days you are rewarded for all this work with beautiful views of the
Urubamba Valley below. Soon you reach the serene ruins of Phuyupatamarca, or the 'Town above
the Clouds', at about 3650 m (11972 ft) above sea level. We will camp either here or an hour and a
half further along close to Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young) ruins, a grandiose terraced hillside site, with
panoramic views of the valley below and just a short hike from Machu Picchu.
On the final day of the hike we climb the steps to the Sun Gate overlooking the peaks that surround
Machu Picchu. When the morning is clear, there is no way to describe the feeling of the first views of
Machu Picchu, as the mist rises off the mountains early in the morning and the famous site appears in
front of you.
Machu Picchu is both the best and the least known of the Inca ruins. It is not mentioned in any of the
chronicles of the Spanish conquistadors and archaeologists today can do no more than speculate on
its function. The local Quechua farmers in the area knew of Machu Picchu for centuries, but it was not
until an 11-year-old boy led the American historian Hiram Bingham (who was in search of
Vilcabamba) to the site on July 24, 1911, that the rest of the world became aware of its existence. At
that time the site was covered in thick vegetation, and Bingham and his team returned in 1912 and
1915 to clear the growth. Over the years, much work has been done on excavating and studying the
site. Despite these efforts, many unanswered questions remain.
NOTE: Those passengers not able or interested in the hike spend 2 days in Cuzco, then travel by
train to Aguas Calientes, where they overnight. Next morning they take the bus to the Machu Picchu
entrance and rendezvous with the hikers at the ruins. If you decide not to do the hike we need to
know at time of booking. Please advise your agent or G.A.P Adventures.
Also note that portions of the Inca Trail will be closed for general maintenance during the month of
February each year. Also, closures may occur at various times throughout the year due to inclement
weather or other conditions beyond our control. During these periods, any tour affected will hike the
Approximate Distance: 95km
Estimated Travel Time: 2 hours
Day 17 Cuzco
Today is free to relax, explore and shop in Cuzco, or discover its surroundings on any number of
Cuzco is considered the mecca of Peru and rightly so. This beautiful colonial town offers much to the
visitor with its nearby ruins, cobble-stoned streets, museums, churches and lively atmosphere.
Among the more adventurous optional activities available in Cuzco are: horseback riding around
archaeological sites such as Sacsayhuaman, Tambo Machay and Puca Pucara; white water rafting
on the Urubamba River; and mountain biking down to the Sacred Valley, perhaps visiting an Inca ruin
along the way.
Approximate Distance: 118km
Estimated Travel Time: 3.15 hours
Day 18-20 Amazon Jungle (2B, 2L, 2D)
Fly from Cuzco, high in the Andes, to Puerto Maldonado, deep in the lowlands of the Amazon jungle.
Travel by motorized canoe to our lodge in the Tambopata Rainforest Area, which holds the world
record for the most bird sightings in one area. Explore the jungle with local guides before flying to
Lima for a final night out.
About half of Peru is located within the Amazon Basin, however, due to its isolation, not a lot of it is
available to the casual traveller. Puerto Maldonado is the region's principal city and is serviced by air
from the capital and from Cuzco. The town is situated at the confluence of the Madre de Dios and
Tambopata Rivers, and is a bustling, booming tropical frontier town. Its principal activities are gold
mining, Brazil nut collecting, timber extraction, agriculture and ecotourism. After a brief stop in the
town we depart on an afternoon boat trip by motorized canoe to our jungle lodge. Depending on flight
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arrival times we have either a boxed lunch aboard the boat or lunch upon arrival at the lodge. During
our voyage you will have the chance to see bird species typical of the river or forest edge such as
Black Skimmers, Pied Lapwings, Capped Herons, Jabiru Storks, Roadside Hawks and several
species of kingfishers, swallows, and flycatchers. The Tambopata area includes habitats ranging from
the Andean highlands around the rivers' headwaters through some of the last remaining intact cloud
forests to the lowland rainforests of the Amazon basin. The area is renowned for its diverse plant and
animal populations and include over 1,300 bird species (including 32 parrot species - 10% of the
world's total), 200 mammal species including 4 species of primates, 90 frog species, 1,200 butterfly
species and 10,000 species of higher plants—all protected within the reserve. Some of the more
famous residents are the Harpy Eagle, the prehistoric looking Hoatzin, tapir, peccary, jaguar, ocelot
and playful river otters who live in the area's oxbow lakes.
The lodge itself combines native architectural style and materials with low-impact eco-friendly
technology. Rooms are simple but comfortable, with mosquito netting for individual beds, flush toilets,
showers (no hot water), and kerosene lamps for lighting (no electricity). Local community members
make up the majority the lodge staff, including multilingual Naturalist Guides. Here you have the
opportunity to learn from them not only about the area's rich flora and fauna, but also about their
extensive practical uses for medicinal plants and other forest plant resources, through traditional
techniques for building, fishing, and hunting.
After exploring the jungle with local guides, fly to Lima for the final night and one last Pisco Sour.
Cuzco to Jungle Lodge:
Approximate Distance: 320km
Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours
Jungle Lodge to Lima:
Approximate Distance: 856km
Estimated Travel Time: 6 hours
Day 21 Depart Lima
There are no planned activities today, you may leave at any time.