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INCLUDES: Flights & Tour
Peru is an adventurer’s paradise. Immerse yourself in the rich history, abundant wildlife and fascinating culture on this small group Journey. You’ll take in all the highlights: sample Peruvian street food in Cusco; seek out rare wildlife in the Ballestas Islands; explore the ancient colonial city of Arequipa; and wander among the ruins of Machu Picchu, learning the incredible story of the Incas.
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Your Example Itinerary
Fly from the UK to Lima.
Spend your morning explore the old streets of Lima – from its dramatic churches to the fascinating catacombs of the San Francisco Monastery, where some 70,000 humans remains are found. Sample Peruvian street food at the Central Market before heading to local favourite Alameda de Chabuca Granda, where you can try ‘Picarones’ (a type of doughnut) and a sweet porridge known as ‘Mazamorra Morada’. Finish the day by journeying onto wildlife-rich Paracas, a national park where desert, beach, sky and sea meet.
From the port at Paracas, your wildlife adventure begins. Weather permitting, you’ll set sail for Islas Ballestas, famed for its pelicans, sea lions, flamingos, penguins and red-footed boobies. After getting up close to these majestic creatures, continue onto the 2nd-century town of Nazca. The pre-Colombian geoglyphs that have been carved into the desert floor here are world famous. It is thought the sand etchings were created more than a millennium ago and, from above, reveal a whole range of shapes – from swirls and zigzags to animal outlines. Observe them from the viewing platform or opt for a flightseeing tour if you wish.
Journey to the Spanish city of Arequipa, otherwise known as ‘La Ciudad Blanca’ or The White City. Flanked by mountains, high-altitude deserts and yawning canyons, it is undoubtedly one of the prettiest cities in Peru. Pay particular attention to the 5,822-metre-high El Misti, a perfect cone volcano which towers over the city. The next day, enjoy a walking tour of Arequipa’s labyrinthine alleyways. You’ll visit the main square, take in the colourful murals of the San Ignacio Chapel and stop off at the Santa Catalina Monastery – which offers a fascinating insight into colonial times here.
San Ignacio Chapel visit
Santa Catalina Monastery
On your way to Puno, gateway to Lake Titicaca, you’ll stop off at the Sillustani archaeological site, a pre-Incan cemetery renowned for its tower-like tombs called chullpas. The town of Puno is a fusion of Aymara and Quechuan Indian culture and is beloved for its traditional customs, folklore and dances. The next morning, embark of a Lake Titicaca boat tour to visit the floating islands, all of which are unbelievably made from totora reeds. Pick up some local knitted wares on Taquile Island and soak up the majestic views across this magnificent body of water.
Travel by bus to Cusco, crossing the incredible Altiplano – the high plains of the Andes. When you reach the former capital of the Inca Empire you’ll have plenty of time to acclimatise to the altitude – and time to realise that there’s more to this pretty town than its close proximity to Machu Picchu. Your tour leader will take you out on a tour of the area, stopping to admire the Qoricancha temple, the San Pedro Market and San Blas Square, to name a few. Also included is a trip to the Chocolate Museum, but the rest of the evening here is to spend at your leisure: perhaps head out in search of some delicious Peruvian food.
Begin your day with a visit to Sacsayhuaman – fortress ruins that perfectly display just how advanced Incan engineering was. Onto the meandering Sacred Valley and the Urubamba River, where you’ll enjoy lunch with a local community before heading to the town of Ollantaytambo. With its storehouses and agricultural terraces, this town offers the photo opportunity.
Take the train through scenic mountain panoramas to Aguas Calientes. Tucked within a cloud forest at the foot of Machu Picchu, it is the gateway to this ancient site. Spend the afternoon at your leisure – perhaps soak in the hot springs, admire the lush scenery of the botanical gardens or visit the butterfly house (all optional, extra cost). For the adventurous, there’s also the option to undertake the 1-day Inca Trail (must be pre-booked). On this tour you will visit the Inca ruins of Chachabamba and trek uphill to the Inca sites of Winay Wayna (Forever Young) and Inti Punku (The Sun Gate). From here you can gaze across at Machu Picchu in all its splendour…
After an early start and a short bus ride up the winding road to Machu Picchu, you will meet your guide for the day. They will introduce you to this magnificent site, and give you plenty of time to take photos – although nothing beats seeing it in person. Explore the Inca city as it’s bathed in soft morning light, and embark on your guided tour of the complex. You’ll learn all about the history of this World Heritage-listed gem and have the chance to decide for yourself what its origins are – was it a luxury country retreat for the Incas, a sacred site or an astronomical observatory?
Relish in some extra time to explore this fascinating city – perhaps visit the Cusco Cathedral and the Cusco Planetarium, or chat to your Flight Centre Travel Expert about arranging a Peruvian cooking class.
Fly back to Lima for your final night. Visit any sights you missed out on, or take up a tour – your Flight Centre Travel Expert can arrange, cooking, biking and foodie tours for your last day in this city.
Depart Lima and return to the UK.
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