You arrive in Lima and will be met at the airport by a member of our team and taken to your hotel. Overnight Lima
This morning you will be picked up from your hotel by your private bilingual guide and together with your local guide you will visit the colonial part of Lima – founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535 and known as “the City of Kings” – Lima has a rich colonial history. From here you will visit one of Latin America’s top archeological museums which gives your guide a chance to introduce you to some of the amazing cultures of Peru both past and present which provides a perfect introduction to your trip. Afternoon free to relax. (B)
Lima – Arequipa
This morning you take your flight to the ‘White City’ of Arequipa a UNESCO World Heritage Site which rests in the shadow of ice-capped volcanoes whose pale rocks were used by the Spanish to construct the city below. After checking into your hotel, together with your guide you will take a tour of the beautiful Santa Catalina Convent, a walled colonial town within a city. Opened to the public in 1970 after 400 years of secrecy – the size of the site is amazing, with its brilliant cobalt blue and rich salmon walls makes for some fantastic photography. This afternoon you are free to explore the historic centre of Arequipa on your own, and enjoy the wonderful setting of this city. (B)
Today you will be picked up from your hotel and will set off across to the Colca Canyon, with its rugged and dramatic landscape dominated by volcanoes and home to wild llama and vicuna – it is an area of superlative works of nature – one of the world’s deepest canyons (twice that of the Grand Canyon!) and also the Condor.
It also has the world’s highest active volcano mountain chain and is home to some of the oldest Peruvian ethnic groups – the Collaguas and Cabanas. The landscape has been completely fashioned by the hands of the pre-Incan farmers, and to this day the land is farmed as it was 1500 years ago to grow indigenous crops including potatoes, maize, quinoa and beans. Your home for the next two nights will be Colca Lodge. (B,L,D)
Condor Pass – Colca Canyon
An early start this morning as you head to the Condor Pass – one of the few places in the world where you are virtually guaranteed to see wild Andean Condors at fairly close range as they float on the rising thermals and scan for carrion far below them. The afternoon is free to relax, or some light hiking in the areas around the lodge.
Colca – Puno
Today after breakfast you set off across the altiplano – the high Andean grasslands – towards Puno and Lake Titicaca. You will stop on the way for a box lunch arriving in the afternoon to your hotel in Puno set on the shores of Lake Titicaca. (B,L)
Lake Titicaca – Uros and Taquile
The mighty Lake Titicaca straddles the border of Bolivia and Peru and is the world’s highest navigable lake, at 3,830m above sea level. The snow-capped Andes, often cloaked in an ethereal mist, are a spectacular backdrop against the electric blue waters. The Andean people refer to the lake as “The Sacred Lake” and legend has it that the first Inca rose from its depths before he founded the Inca Empire.
Lake Titicaca is dotted with dozens of islands waiting to be explored. The best known include the man-made floating reed islands of the Uro Indians and Taquile, home to spectacular pre-Inca ruins where traditional beliefs and ways of life still predominate – today you will visit both before heading onto your hotel for the night. Your hotel is a unique solar-powered ecolodge – on Lake Titicaca’s only private island with panoramic lake views from every room. – the magnificence of Lake Titicaca can be captured from every corner of the island. Here the chance to relax in a place of great tranquillity and explore with activities from hikes, to canoeing and boating available (it also has a sauna and massage room). (B,L,D)
Spend the morning at Suasi exploring the area around the lodge and enjoying the activities here, at noon you take a boat trip back across Lake Titicaca to Puno where you arrive in the afternoon. Afternoon free to relax (B, box lunch) – Overnight at your hotel on the shores of Lake Titicaca
Puno – Altiplano – Cusco **
Today you will travel by coach throughout the day across the altiplano with the Inka Express, which will take you across the spectacular scenery of the altiplano, making strategic stops along the way to visit sites of interest with a bilingual guide, and also including a buffet lunch at Sicuani. Visits today include:
The Raqchi Inca remains, the world’s largest Inca temple ruins. Central to the ruins is the Temple of Wiracocha, which is 300 feet long — the length of a U.S. football field — by about 80 feet wide and 60 feet high, with Inca stonework covering the first 13 feet high and adobe the rest. The site is thought to have been inhabited from 200 BC, but undoubtably the main attraction are the structures dedicated it the Inca Wiracocha. Very few tourists visit this site as it is out of the way, but makes a great strategic stop on todays journey.
Checacupe site with its Inca rope bridge and the Andahuaylillas Church, described as the Sistine Chapel of the Andes because of the beauty of its mural painting. Built by the Jesuits in the 16th Century over a pre-Colombian sacred site.
Arriving in Cusco late afternoon, where you will be taken to your hotel. ( B, L) Overnight Cusco
** today you have the option also of the Belmont luxury sleeper train
This morning you will be picked up by your private guide and taken on a tour of the city of Cusco the ceremonial heart of the Inca Empire. Cusco was inhabited by ‘proto-Incas’ as early as the 12th Century AD and was completely rebuilt in the early 15th Century by Pachacuteq, the Inca warrior-King and stood as the heart of the Incan kingdom. Inca walls remain the foundations of many of the city’s colonial buildings.
You will also visit Saqsayhuaman, the monolithic Inca fortress overlooking Cusco, and the temple and amphitheatre at Kenko. Saqsayhuaman has some of the most impressive Inca walls in existence, built of hundreds of perfectly fitted stone blocks that weigh up to 130 tonnes each. The site is often called a fortress but more likely it was a sanctuary and temple to the sun. In the afternoon some time to relax and explore Cusco on foot – a really beautiful city that is perfect for walking around. (B)
Sacred Valley of the Incas – Pisac & Ollantaytambo
After breakfast you will be picked up from the hotel by your guide and join a small group tour through the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Urubamba. The Urubamba Valley was sacred to the Incas for many reasons; one being that it had an agreeable climate and fertile planes, a rare combination in the high Andes. In the morning you will visit Pisac, a village above which lies a majestic Inca fortress overlooking the valley, filled with wonderful examples of Inca stonework and engineering. After lunch you will visit the magnificent Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo, a major fortress and the last stronghold of the Incas as they fought off the Spanish invaders. Below the fortress is an exquisite traditional community and a living Inca village that retains the stonework, narrow streets and family courtyards of its original Inca plan. From here you will be taken to your hotel for the night in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. (B,L)
This morning together with your private guide you will take the train to Aguas Calientes and then onto Machu Picchu. So well hidden in the jungle of the Cordillera Villcabamba that the Spaniards never knew of it, Machu Picchu affords a glimpse into the Inca world and is one of the most stunning archaeological sites on earth. You will have a private top local guide with you today to ensure you get the most of your visit to this spectacular site. You will have lunch together at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, then in the afternoon some time to explore and soak up the ruins once the day crowds have dispersed, before going to your hotel for the night. Overnight Aguas Calientes,
Machu Picchu – Cusco
This morning a chance to have an early start maybe before breakfast to see Machu Picchu in time for the sunrise and chance to explore more the ruins at our own pace and soak up the amazing setting. In the afternoon you return to Aguas Calientes to take your train, with fantastic views of the Sacred Valley, back to Cusco where you will be met and taken back to your hotel. Casa Andina Private Collection Cusco (B)
Cusco – Lima – Guayaquil
Today you will be picked up from your hotel and taken to the airport for your flight to Lima and connecting flight to Guayaquil on the coast of Ecuador. Upon arrival to Guayaquil you will be met by one of our team of guides and taken to your hotel for the night. Overnight Guayaquil (B)
Guayaquil – Galapagos to start your cruise
This morning you will be picked up from the hotel and taken to the airport for your flight to Galapagos. Upon arrival to the Galapagos Islands you will be met by your bilingual Galapagos National Park guide and will be taken to board your yacht, and begin the cruise.
Galapagos Cruise: The following 8 days you will be cruising gently between the Galapagos Islands experiencing some of the most pristine and intimate wildlife encounters on earth in the company of an expert guide.
Galapagos – Guayaquil – onward flights
Today on the last day of your cruise you will have an early visit in Galapagos before being taken to the airport for your flight back to mainland Ecuador and onward flights home.