Inca Explorer 1
NB : Please note that some excursions also require a non-refundable deposit to be paid in advance. This includes £150 for any client booking the Inca Trail Trek or Lares Trek in Peru and £250 for any client booking the Gorilla Trek in Uganda.
Day 1: Arrive Lima
Lima was founded by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535, after he eradicated the Incas and made the city his capital. Now the fifth largest city in Latin America, Lima is home to around one-third of the country’s population.The Historic centre of Lima is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the city has many fine colonial buildings and some of the best museums in South America including the Gold Museum, Museum of the Inquisition and the Catacombs below the San Francisco Church. Peru's capital has plenty to offer and many of the sights, including the city's two main squares the Plaza de Armas and Plaza San Martin, are within easy walking distance of your hotel.Lima offers an ample range of restaurants and bars where local as well as international cuisine is served – the city is known as the gastronomic capital of the Americas. A nice spot to head out at night for a meal is Miraflores on the coast.
Day 2: Huacachina
Leaving Lima, a short drive south along the Pacific coast brings us to Paracas, where upon arrival we will have the option to go by speedboat to explore the Ballestas Islands, passing the unusual ‘Candelabra', a giant design carved into a desert hill, along the way. On and around these celebrated islands you'll see thousands of sea lions plus many varieties of aquatic birds. Continuing on, we stopover at spectacular Huacachina, a desert oasis surrounded by massive sand-dunes. You’ll have the option to do an overnight excursion into the desert, sleeping under the stars. This also incorporates the chance to take an awesome ride in dune-buggies, an unreal way to spend the afternoon and night. Tonight is a good time for a Pisco sour party!Approximate Driving Time:Nine hours
Day 3: Nazca
We continue south along the famous Pan American highway, travelling further inland to Nazca, renowned for the mysterious parallel lines and geometrical figures etched into the desert floor. Here you can take a flight in a light aircraft to see the ‘monkey', ‘hummingbird', ‘condor', ‘spider' and even what appears to be a spaceman. There are many more designs to be seen on this 30-minute flight. To this day no one is entirely sure why they are there.Approximate Driving Time:Four hours
Day 4: Puerto Inca
As we head out of Nazca we will visit the bizarre Chauchilla Cemetery where you'll see ancient mummies, some with hair and even skin intact after thousands of years.Heading back along the coast our journey takes us to Puerto Inca, the Inca's original fishing port, which was only rediscovered in the 1950s. Tonight we camp by the beach just down from the actual ruins.Approximate Driving Time: Six Hours
Days 5-7: Arequipa & optional Colca Canyon
Arequipa is located 2,380 metres above sea level and dominated by the conical snow-capped El Misti volcano. Although an earthquake in 2001 damaged the cathedral, it has not diminished any of the splendour of this charming square. One of the ‘must see’ attractions here is the vast Santa Catalina Convent (optional), a maze of cobbled streets, cloisters and other decorative buildings, it has only been open to the public since 1970 and it is certainly well worth visiting.Another popular attraction is the acclaimed ‘Museo Santuarios Andinos’, which highlights well preserved mummies including the famous ‘Ice Princess Juanita’ - a young Inca maiden who was sacrificed some 500 years ago atop the Nevado Ampato volcano. You can enjoy a free day in Arequipa to explore these sights, and more, at your own leisure.From Arequipa you have the option for an overnight visit to the Colca Canyon. Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, it is the world's second deepest. From the lookout point at Cruz del Condor you can see the river flowing 1,200 metres below and from this vantage point have a good chance of seeing condors as they soar out of the canyon on the hot thermal currents.If you choose not to travel out to the Colca Canyon you have free time to explore Arequipa.Approximate Driving Time: Full Day Drive
Days 8-16: Cusco
Cusco is our base for the next eight days for some really special optional excursions, including the challenging three night/four-day Inca Trail trek and the two night/three day Amazon Jungle excursion both of which must be requested at the time of booking your group tour. We have plenty of time here to squeeze in both of these excursions and much more, or if you prefer, to relax and absorb the great atmosphere in the cultural and friendly city.As you travel towards Cusco, the landscape gradually becomes greener as we get closer to the former Inca capital. The word Cusco means ‘Navel of the Earth' in the Inca language of Quechua. This enchanting city has a mostly indigenous population of around 275,000 and is centred around the Plaza de Armas, which is dominated by the cathedral and La Compañia de Jesus Church. Nowadays, Cusco is also legendary for its party atmosphere and brilliant nightlife and is jam-packed with narrow streets housing many fine restaurants, bars and shops.Along with the Inca Trail Trek and Amazon Jungle excursion, some of the optional excursions available include full-day trip through the Sacred Valley of the Incas which visits the Pisac ruins perched on a hill high in the mountains and the famous local market of the same name, in the valley below. This is a great place to buy textiles, pottery and jewellery, not to mention the delicious empanadas (pasties) at the famous bakery. After spending time here, on the Sacred Valley tour, we move down the valley to the temple fortress of Ollantaytambo, with its enormous terraces climbing up the hillside.Two night/three day Amazon Jungle Excursion: Covering the greatest area of South America, the Amazon Jungle is a must see part of your trip. If you wish to take part in this 2 night excursion, please inform your Adventure Specialist at the time of booking as this excursion has to be arranged in advance.You will take a quick flight from Cusco, deep in to the jungle to Puerto Maldonado where you will board a small boat to take you further in to the canopy. Checking in to your jungle hut, it is not long before you are out exploring the trails with a trained guide. Your guide will help you identify some species endemic to the jungle with Peru's Amazon Jungle being home to some of the most diverse wildlife. You will journey out to Monkey Island where monkeys are rescued and rehabilitated, cared for by the jungle lodge.Three night/four day Inca Trail Trek: If you have chosen to hike the Inca Trail Trek you will cross spectacular passes and visit more Inca ruins en route to the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu. A local guide will lead this expedition and there will be cooks and porters to carry the main equipment, leaving you with just a small daypack. The trek begins after a short bus journey and the first day is a relatively easy four-and-a-half hour, 13-kilometre walk which will get you limbered up for the highest pass at Warmiwañusca (4,200 metres) that you will reach before lunchtime on the second day (Warmiwañusca translates as “Dead Woman's Pass”). During the second day you will cover approximately nine kilometres in about five to seven hours and after the high pass it's all down hill as the trail winds its way down old Inca stairs to our campsite. On the third day we pass the ruins of Runkurakay, Sayacmarca and Phuyupatamarca, walking approximately 15 kilometres in seven hours. On the last morning, after an overnight stop at Wiñay-Wayna, you will rise early for the final walk to Machu Picchu and greet daybreak over the famous “Sun Gate”. There will then be time to explore on your own or simply take in the magnificence of the place after your guided tour. After an action packed few days, return to Cusco for the night and celebrate reaching Machu Picchu.Due to a limited number of people being allowed on the trail a day, permits are limited and can sell out far in advance. If you wish to book the Inca Trail Trek, please provide your Adventure Specialist with your passport details by email as soon as possible so that we can secure your permit. Without your passport details, we are unable to arrange your Inca Trail Trek. Please click here for more information.Should the Inca Trail Trek be unavailable, you have the option to book the three night/four day Lares Trail Trek to Machu Picchu. For more information click here.The porters, cooks and guides work incredibly hard on the Inca Trail Trek and the Lares Trail Trek, carrying food needed for the four days, cooking equipment, tents and your personal items. While it is an optional payment, we recommend a tip of 100 Soles per person to be split between your trek guides, porters and chefs at the end of the route.Alternatively, you can also book the train to Machu Picchu should you not want to hike. This option also needs to be booked before you travel so please let your Adventure Specialist know your preference at the time of booking.A guided tour of Machu Picchu A guided tour of Machu Picchu is included on all three optional excursions to the site. The Lost City of Machu Picchu was originally completely self-contained, surrounded by agricultural terraces sufficient to feed the population, and watered by natural springs. Located high above the fast flowing Urubamba River, the cloud shrouded ruins have palaces, baths, temples, storage rooms and some 150 houses, all in such a remarkable state of preservation that will simply take your breath away.The ruins were only uncovered by the outside world in 1911, when American explorer Hiram Bingham found them while looking for another ‘lost city’ called Vilcabamba. Due to their isolation many of the buildings are still relatively intact and you can't help but admire Huayna Picchu or ‘Young Mountain’ (Machu Picchu means ‘Old Mountain’), which towers above the ruins. After spending most of the day at Machu Picchu you have the chance to soak your tired muscles in the hot springs at Aguas Calientes or meander through the markets before returning to Cusco by train.
Day 17: Puno
Leaving Cusco, we drive along roads bordered by herds of llamas, alpacas and vicuñas before reaching the Altiplano (high plain). Our journey takes us past hot mineral pools, snow-capped mountains, through villages where the indigenous locals sell food, fur hats and alpaca sweaters. And over the La Raya Pass at 4,321 metres before arriving at the Sillustani ruins, a pre-Incan burial ground on the shores of Lake Umayo. Here you will have the option to visit these ancient burial towers. Our final destination for today is Puno on the edge of Lake Titicaca and the opportunity to try fresh fish from the lake in one of the many restaurants.Approximate Driving Time:Nine Hours
Day 18: Lake Titicaca
From Puno we have an included overnight excursion to the islands of Amantaní and Taquile. On Amantaní we arrange home-stay accommodation with local Quechua families and you will have the chance to eat with the family, perhaps enjoy a party and dancing and maybe play football with the local children. The next morning you'll visit Taquile Island where the people live in simple adobe huts. You will also visit the astounding floating reed islands in the Bay of Puno, to see the first-hand the indigenous Uros’ way of life and ride in a traditional reed boat. Continuing back to Puno, you'll arrive in time to visit the colourful markets. That night back in Puno, you can try some of the local dishes; guinea pig, llama or some of the trout or kingfish from the lake and maybe check out some of the nightlife.
Day 19: Puno
After spending the morning on the lake, we return back to Puno for the night
Day 20: La Paz
La Paz is built in the basin of a spectacular ancient crater caused by a meteorite, with the snow-capped Illimani in the background. At an altitude of 3,660 metres, the city is said to host the highest football stadium in the world.The city has colourful indigenous street markets including the ‘witches market' where women in flared skirts sell, amongst other things, dead cats and llama foetuses which are placed under new buildings in a bid to keep evil spirits away. The main square, Plaza Murillo, is where many years ago a president of the republic was lynched from a lamppost. La Paz is one of the best places to see a traditional peña show of Andean music and dance where local musicians play their time-honoured instruments such as zampoñas (pipes) and charangos (ukulele).There are plenty of excursions available in La Paz. Check out the Moon Valley with its strange rock formations shaped by the weather. Another fantastic excursion is to Coroico, the gateway to the Bolivian jungle region and a great place to see sub-tropical vegetation and plants. En-route you will cross a 5,000 metre high pass before descending to 1,300 metres on narrow mountain roads bordered by sheer drops. The excursion to Coroico can also be done by mountain bike, as it is downhill nearly all the way and very exhilarating, but beware, colloquially known as ‘Death Road’, it is not at all for the fainthearted and great care must be taken!Please note: On arrival in Bolivia you will be required to pay an entry fee of US$10.
Day 21: Depart La Paz
Your adventure of a lifetime comes to an end today. If you have a late flight or have lengthened your stay by adding post tour accommodation you will have more time to explore the sights.Services end today. However, if you lengthen your stay, you will have time to fully explore La Paz, or partake in some optional excursions that depart from the city. You might like to visit the Moon Valley with its strange rock formations shaped by the weather. Another fantastic excursion is to the emerald green area of Coroico, the gateway to the Bolivian jungle region and a great place to see sub -tropical vegetation and plants. En route you will cross a 5,000 metre high pass before descending to 1,300 metres on narrow mountain roads bordered by sheer drops. The excursion to Coroico can also be done by mountain bike, as it is downhill nearly all the way and very exhilarating, but not for the faint-hearted!Your adventure of a lifetime comes to an end today. If you have a late flight or have lengthened your stay by adding post tour accommodation you will have more time to explore the sights.
13 night(s) in hotels, 1 night(s) in hostels, 5 night(s) camping, 1 night(s) in homestays 10 Lunch(es), 6 Dinner(s), 7 Breakfast(s) Stay with a local family on Lake Titicaca Overland Truck
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