This tour is a suggested itinerary designed by our specialist team! Choose this itinerary or alter it to design your own Journey.
This comprehensive tour visits all the major highlights of Peru. Starting in Lima the trip journeys south to Ica, Nazca and Arequipa before heading up into the Andes via Arequipa. Once in the Andes we spend time on Lake Titicaca before heading onto Cusco and of course Machu Picchu.
After Machu Picchu we take a trip down to the Amazon Jungle - a perfect place to relax in your Jungle lodge after such a long itinerary.
DAY 1: Arrival transfer in Lima
On arrival into Lima you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Guided assistance is included.
Lima, the capital of Peru, sits on the country's arid Pacific coast. Founded in 1535, its colonial centre is well preserved, but today Lima is a bustling metropolis and one of South America’s largest cities. The city is home to the various museums including the Museo Larco that houses a collection of pre-Columbian art and the Museo de la Nación, tracing the history of Peru’s ancient civilizations. Lima is known as the “gastronomical capital of the Americas”, encompassing specialties from ceviche and traditional coastal cooking to refined global fare. It even boasts several of the top restaurants in the world.
DAY 2: Lima - City Tour
Today is spent touring Lima, the Colonial ‘City of Kings’. On the city tour you will visit a number of well-known sites including the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, the Plaza de Armas as well as the Catacombs located beneath the San Francisco Convent. This is a chance to appreciate Lima's magnificent Colonial architecture as well as vignettes of its pre-Colombian past.
DAY 3: Transfer to bus station for onward destination
You will be collected from your hotel to transfer to the bus station for your onward journey from Lima.
Travel by bus from Lima to Paracas in a comfortable bus offering a great designer interior with ample leg-room for you to relax or read a book in comfort, large panoramic windows through which to view the landscape and with an on-board toilet and full air-conditioning. The bus drive takes approximately 4 hours.
On arrival into Paracas you will be met and transferred from the bus station to your hotel.
Paracas meaning ''sand rain'' in Quechua, is a small port town and beach resort on the southern coast of Peru, a few hours south of Lima. The cliffs that fringe the beaches teem with birds, ranging from guano birds to Humboldt penguins. Paracas is the access point for tours to Islas Ballestas and to Paracas National Reserve, where there are huge colonies of seabirds as well as sea lions.
DAY 4: Paracas – Ballestas Islands Boat Trip
From the small port of Paracas we take a boat cruise around the Ballestas Islands to see the remarkable marine mammals and birdlife the islands are famous for. We also check out the incredible ancient etchings in the coastal cliffs including the mysterious three-pronged Candelabra of the Andes. This 180 metre tall geoglyph is carved into the side of the hill alongside Paracas Bay.
Includes Transfer Hotel - Pier and vice versa.
Later in the day you will be transferred from your hotel to the bus station for your onward journey.
Travel by bus from Paracas to Nazca.
On arrival into Nazca, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Nazca is located in the Ica region of Peru, on the southern coast, one of the most arid regions in the world. The name is derived from the Nazca culture that flourished in the area between 100 and 800 AD and was responsible for the Nazca Lines, the ceremonial city of Cahuachi and for constructing an impressive system of underground aqueducts (Puquios) that still function to this day.
If you have some free time in Nazca, you may like to consider an optional flight over the Nazca Lines or a trip to the Chauchilla Cemetery.
DAY 5: Nazca Free Day
Free day to explore the Nazca area. Options include a flight over the mysterious Nazca Lines where hundreds of years ago ancient Peruvians etched huge designs into the desert floor, which can be seen only from the air (flight payable locally) or an excursion to the Chauchilla Cemetery. The tombs contain pre-Hispanic mummified human remains and pottery of the Nazca people. This is the only archaeological site in Peru where ancient mummies can be seen in their original graves, along with ancient artefacts.
You will be collected from your hotel at the appropriate time for the transfer to the bus station for your onward journey from Nazca.
Travel by comfortable bus with bus bed-seats, hostess service and dinner on board to arrive into Arequipa at midnight. The bus journey takes approximately 10 hours.
On arrival into Arequipa, you will be met and transferred from the Arequipa bus station to your hotel.
Arequipa lies on the edge of the Altiplano, 2380m above sea level and framed by the volcanoes Misti, Pikchu Pikchu and Chachani. It is known as “La Ciudad Blanca” (White City), as many of its buildings are made of sillar, a white volcanic stone. The historic centre of Arequipa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its historic heritage, natural scenery and cultural sites, make the city a popular destination.
DAY 6: Arequipa Free Day
Today is free for you to explore and discover the city of Arequipa at your leisure.
Wander around the Plaza de Armas, the main square of Arequipa and see the cathedral with El Misti (5825m) rising behind it.
Explore the Santa Catalina Monastery, built in 1579 in the Mudéjar style, enlarged in the 17th century and characterised by vividly painted walls. The monastery covers an area of 20,000 sq. metres. It served as a cloister for Dominican nuns from the 16th to the 18th century and still houses around 20 nuns in the northern corner of the complex.
Visit the “Mummy Juanita” in the Museo Santuarios Andinos. Also known as the Inca Ice Maiden, Juanita is the well-preserved frozen body of an Inca girl who was killed and sacrificed to the Inca gods in the 15th century. She was discovered in 1995 on Mount Ampato in the Andes Cordillera in southern Peru.
DAY 7: Arequipa to Colca Canyon
This morning we leave Arequipa and cross the snow-capped Misti, Chachani and the Ampato Volcanoes to arrive at the Colca Valley. We travel towards the Pampa Cañahuas National Reserve, home to many wild vicuñas, alpacas & llamas. We continue our journey, passing the villages of Torja and Patapampa with their Colonial churches and Inca terracing to arrive in Chivay in the afternoon. Chivay lies at an altitude of 3,600m above sea level.
There is an optional visit to the 40ºC thermal-medicinal baths in La Calera. (Entrance fee to the pools is not included and is US$ 7.00 per person approximately – subject to change.)
Note: The optional visit to La Calera Hot Springs is for clients staying in Chivay town only.
DAY 8: Colca Canyon to Puno
Following breakfast, we travel to the ‘Cruz del Condor’, a spot considered to be the best viewpoint to watch the majestic Andean condors ascending from the valley.
The Colca Canyon is a canyon of the Colca River and one of the deepest canyons in the world. It is home to the Andean condors that can be seen at close range as they fly past the canyon walls, rising on the thermals. At the 'Cruz del Condor' viewpoint, the canyon floor is 3,960 feet (1,200 m) below the rim of the canyon.
After this amazing spectacle, we continue our journey back to the town of Chivay, taking in the beautiful Andean scenery and fascinating pre-Inca, Inca and Colonial history of the area. The road passes through several small villages founded in Spanish colonial times and still inhabited by people of the Collagua and the Cabana cultures. The local people maintain their traditional way of life and continue to cultivate the pre-Inca stepped terraces. Many of the women wear traditional dress with colourful embroidered blouses and flower-patterned hats.
In the afternoon, travel by bus to Puno, situated on the shores of the famous Lake Titicaca. You will board a touristic bus with hostess. Duration: 6 hours approximately.
On arrival in Puno, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Puno lies on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. It is the largest city in the Southern Altiplano and an important agricultural and livestock (llamas and alpaca) region. It sits at an altitude of over 3,800 metres and is a picturesque hillside city and a melting pot of the Aymara and Quechua culture.
DAY 9: Uros and Amantani Overnight - Day 1
Travelling by boat from Puno, we begin by visiting the floating islands of Uros, where the locals continue to practice their traditional way of life, living by fishing. Situated 4 kms from Puno, the original inhabitants of these floating islands are said to descend from one of the most ancient peoples of the Americas. The Uros Islands, as well as the houses on them and the boats used by their inhabitants, are all made from the Totura reeds that grow in Lake Titicaca.
We continue to Amantani Island, where you will have the chance to enjoy traditional local hospitality while taking in some incredible landscapes. The island is also home to some captivating archaeological sites including the temples of Pachatata and Pachamama. You will spend the night with a local family and in the evening experience first-hand the traditions and customs of this fascinating island. Lunch & dinner included.
DAY 10: Uros and Amantani Overnight - Day 2
After bidding a fond farewell to your host family, we travel to the island of Taquile, a place where time appears to have stood still. Around 350 Quechua-speaking families live here, operating a collective agricultural system dating from the 14th Century and renowned for their textiles - beautifully woven chumpis (belts), chullos (caps) and ojotas (sandals). Taquile’s charm is further enhanced by the stunning landscape and outstanding views of the snow-capped Cordillera Real mountain range.
From Taquile, we board the boat once more to return to Puno where you will be transferred to your hotel.
DAY 11: Puno to Cusco
This morning, you will be collected from your hotel and transferred to either the bus or train station for your journey from Puno to Cusco.
The spectacular journey from Puno to Cusco takes you across the Altiplano and you will travel accompanied by an English-speaking guide. The drive takes you through sleepy Andean villages and past spectacular snow-capped mountains, sheer cliffs and rampaging rivers. Stops along the way include the atmospheric towns of Pucara and Andahuaylillas and the pre-Inca ruin of Raqchi. Lunch is included and you will arrive in the famous city of Cusco in the early evening.
Approximate duration of drive: 10 hours.
Available alternative: The luxury Andean Explorer Train can be booked for an extra charge. Monday-Wednesday-Saturday (November to March) or Monday-Wednesday-Friday-Saturday (April to October). For more information, please ask your Chimu Travel Specialist.
On arrival into Cusco, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Cusco, set at an altitude of 3,400 metres in the Peruvian Andes, was once the capital of the Inca Empire. It is known for its Spanish colonial architecture and Incan remains. Narrow, cobble-stoned streets lined by Inca walls stretch out from the main plaza in every direction. Many of the colonial buildings were built on top of Incan foundations and the stonework is unparalleled in its precision and beauty.
DAY 12: Cusco - City Tour
Take a sightseeing tour through Cusco, the heart of the Inca Empire. Visit the fascinating Qorikancha Temple of the Sun, the 12-Angled Rock and the Cathedral, built on the ruins of an Inca Palace. From here head to the archaeological remains located around the city, including the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo (giant rock), the ancient site of Puca Pucara and finally the Water Temple of Tambomachay.
DAY 13: Sacred Valley
Today, explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This fertile river valley was home to many important sites for the Incas, both strategic and religious. The first stop is the village of Pisac, with its famous market. The colonial village of Pisac sits at the base of the spectacular Pisac Ruins – a hilltop Inca citadel and fortress with impressive agricultural terracing. On market days Pisac comes alive with locals from nearby hillside villages in traditional dress selling local fruit and vegetables as well as handicrafts. There is free time to wander the colourful market stalls before a typical Andean lunch at a local restaurant.
This evening travel by train from Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes.
DAY 14: Machu Picchu Guided Tour
Machu Picchu is a 15th century Inca site, located 2,430 metres above sea level on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley. It is the most famous of all Inca sites, but it was not until 1911 that it was brought to the world’s attention by the American historian Hiram Bingham. The Incas abandoned the city just prior to Spanish colonisation, the city was never pillaged and as a result the ruins are still in fantastic condition. With its location on a dramatic ridgeline surrounded by sheer cliffs and the Urubamba River on three sides, the city of Machu Picchu is a remarkable place to visit. Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and in 2007 it was voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
The tour starts with a bus ride from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu. You will be astonished at your first view of Machu Picchu, a stunning display of ancient architecture with incredible surroundings. Enjoy a guided tour of the ruins and monuments such as the Main Square, the Circular Tower, the Sacred Solar Clock, the Royal Quarters, the Temple of the Three Windows and the Cemeteries.
Tour includes guided group tour and return bus from Aguas Calientes village.
Please be aware that your tour of Machu Picchu does not include an entry permit to Huayna Picchu (the iconic hill behind the Machu Picchu ruins). If you want to climb Huayna Picchu then you need to pre-book your permit. Please contact your travel specialist if you would like to do this.
This afternoon travel by train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo.
Transfer from Ollantaytambo train station in the Sacred Valley to Cusco.
DAY 15: Transfer to the airport for onward destination
You will be collected from your hotel at the appropriate time and transferred to the airport for your flight from Cusco.
You will be met on arrival at Puerto Maldonado Airport to transfer by road and a two and a half hour boat journey to Refugio Amazonas, located in a 200-hectare private reserve. The boat ride from the Tambopata Port to Refugio Amazonas takes us past the Infierno Community and the Tambopata National Reserve checkpoint and into the 1.3 million hectare conservation unit.
We venture out at night from the lodge to the river’s edge, scanning the shores with headlamps and flashlights to search for caiman, spotting the red reflection from their eyes.
DAY 16: Amazon Activities
After breakfast venture out onto the lake by canoe or catamaran, looking for wildlife such as hoatzin, caiman, horned screamers, macaws and otters that are sometimes seen in the area. Back on land, a 30 minute walk from the lodge takes you to the 25 metre scaffolding canopy tower, complete with staircase running through the middle and providing safe access to the platforms above. The tower has been built on high ground to give views of the primary rainforest extending out towards the Tambopata National Reserve. Enjoy excellent views across the canopy and look for toucans, macaws and raptors.
After lunch you will visit a farm to learn about local agriculture and Amazonian crops before an ethnobotanical tour to learn about the medicinal uses of the various plants and trees of the region. In the evening, Refugio Amazonas staff offer lectures covering topics such as conservation threats, opportunities and projects in the Tambopata National Reserve.
DAY 17: Amazon Activities
Witness the audio and visual spectacle of a clay lick, watching vibrant coloured macaws, parrots and parakeets feast on clay. Species such as dusky-headed and cobalt-winged parakeets are often seen and with luck we may also see mealy and yellow-crowned Amazons, blue-headed pionus, severe macaw and orange-cheeked (Barraband`s) parrots.
Later, a short hike from the lodge brings you to a beautiful Brazil nut forest that has been harvested for decades. Here you can learn about the whole process of the rainforest’s only sustainably harvested product, from collection through transportation to drying. You will also see the remains of a camp used by the Brazil nut gatherers for 2 months each year.
In the afternoon, there will be a visit to a peccary clay lick, this time to see mammals. Wild rain forest pigs show up in herds of up to twenty to eat clay, alongside deer, guan and parakeets. After dinner you have the option of a night hike when most mammals are active.
DAY 18: Refugio Amazonas Departure
After breakfast, return to Puerto Maldonado for your departure flight. Depending on airline schedules, this may require a dawn departure.
If you're looking for something more adventurous then consider our El Chimu Grande tour. A little longer than this tour and including the four day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.