In a nutshell, the best sights of the Inca Heartland, Lake Titicaca and Lima; the ideal introduction to Peruvian history and culture.
11 days from £1,970
This essential selection of sights and experiences is unmissable! In 11-days you will see why Peru has become one of the top destinations in the world: history, stunning landscapes, living traditions and first-class tourist services.
Your adventure begins in the capital city of Lima where you can enjoy a guided tour and plenty of free time to explore on your on. You then fly to Cusco, everywhere you look, the central streets are overflowing with evidence of Inca and colonial history. At the same time, modern Cusco has all the services that the 21st century traveller expects. Heading into the Sacred Valley you’ll see how some aspects of life have changed little over the centuries, as farmers work their terraced lands and villagers still speak Quechua, the language of the Incas. A scenic train journey will take you to the fabled lost city of Machu Picchu, where you’ll have two separate visits to absorb the history and atmosphere.
Next there’s a change of scene as you head off on the long journey across the high Andean plateau on the Titicaca Train to Puno, with stylish Pullman carriages, a delicious three-course lunch and a glass-walled observation deck. You’ll have two days to explore Lake Titicaca, visiting three different island communities and staying in one as guests of a local family.
For the excursions you’ll be accompanied by your own guide, but we have also given you time to explore on your own. What’s more, we’ve chosen some lovely hotels for you, to make this trip all the more special. The holiday is available year-round, so you can travel at any time to suit you.
Classic Peru Highlights
- Inca ruins
- 2 days at Machu Picchu
- The main sights of Cusco
- Lake Titicaca and its islands
- Train rides in the Andes
- The main sights of Lima
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DAY 1: ARRIVE LIMA
Fly to Lima today, where you'll be met and transferred to Casa Andina Miraflores Centro, where you will stay for two nights. As well as comfortable accommodation, the hotel offers a restaurant where a self-service breakfast buffet is served, it's also open for lunch and dinner. Relax after your flight or head straight out to explore this popular neighbourhood. Later enjoy a good night's sleep in anticipation of what lies ahead.
DAY 2: TOUR OF LIMA
After a good night's rest and breakfast, you'll be collected for a half day private tour of the city. Together with your guide you will get your bearings and visit some of the highlights of Lima. You'll see some of the fine architecture, colonial and later, including the cathedral and presidential palace which stand on the main Plaza de Armas. There's also a visit to Pueblo Libre district and the well-known Larco Museum, with its impressive displays of pre-Columbian art. These include a gold and silver gallery, chronological culture galleries and the famous collection of ceramics, a major part of which comprises erotica of startling realism. After the tour you'll return to your hotel and have the afternoon at leisure to explore under your own steam.
DAY 3: FLY TO CUSCO
This morning you'll return to the airport for your hour-long flight to Cusco. You'll be met at Cusco airport by our local representative and transferred to your hotel, which is a short walk from the main Plaza de Armas. As this will be your first day at altitude (3,300m), we suggest you don’t do anything too adventurous while you acclimatise. There are plenty of sights and shops close by so you can find your feet on short walks in the centre. Likewise, there is no shortage of cafés and restaurants; have some coca tea, eat lightly and get a feel for the atmosphere.
DAY 4: IN CUSCO
After breakfast you will be collected from the hotel for your guided tour of the city. On today’s itinerary is a detailed look at the Plaza de Armas (main square), on which stands the Cathedral. This fine colonial building has an extensive collection of art from the Cusco School and other exhibitions. You will visit the Qoricancha, the Incas’ Temple of the Sun. Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the temple walls were covered in gold sheets and its courtyards filled with golden images of plants and animals. Having plundered the gold the conquistadores built the Convent of Santo Domingo on top of the Inca walls. From here you will head to the city’s northern outskirts and the 15th-century Inca ceremonial complex of Sacsayhuaman. Many of its stones were used to build the cathedral, but those that remain in situ are massive; how they were brought here is an unsolved mystery. After the tour you will return to the hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure so you can choose where to take lunch and how to spend the afternoon and evening.
DAY 5: TO THE SACRED VALLEY
After breakfast you will leave the hotel for a full-day guided tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Your starting point is the market in the town of Pisac. The stalls fill a square surrounded by colonial buildings and sell colourful alpaca textiles, replicas of Inca artefacts, necklaces, paintings and other crafts. Above the town are the ruins of a remarkable Inca complex, with an impressive area of agricultural terraces. After lunch you will head along the fertile valley to Ollantaytambo to explore the old town, a living example of Inca urban planning, and the breath-taking Inca ruins on a high promontory above the town and valley. They include a ceremonial complex, baths and unbelievable stonework. You will spend the night at Pakaritampu Hotel which is set in lovely gardens. Ollantaytambo has many restaurants from which to choose for dinner.
DAY 6: MACHU PICCHU
Today you will take the train to Machu Picchu. From Ollantaytambo it’s a 1½-hour journey to Aguas Calientes (also called Machu Picchu Pueblo), the town below Machu Picchu itself. You’ll travel in style in a carriage with picture windows and then take the 20-minute bus ride, zig-zagging up the hill to the sanctuary. Your in-depth tour of the site will be with a guide who can bring the history and significance of the ruins to life. Lunch is served at the Sanctuary Lodge, the only hotel next to the site entrance. Afterwards you can stroll round town back down at Aguas Calientes, where you will spend the night at El Mapi Hotel.
DAY 7: MACHU PICCHU TO CUSCO
This morning you may return to Machu Picchu for some private time at the site. You can take trails and visit areas that you may not have already seen, and take a few moments to meditate on how beautifully the buildings echo the mountains around them. In the afternoon you will take the train back to Cusco, where you will return to your hotel for the night.
DAY 8: TITICACA TRAIN TO PUNO
After breakfast your guide will take you to the railway station where you'll board the Titicaca Train for the full day journey through the Andes to Puno. As the railway line crosses the high plateau, sometimes climbing over 4,000m, you will pass small communities and see some of Peru’s highest mountains. A three course lunch is included and is served in the elegant dining car. The journey ends at Lake Titicaca, where you'll be met and transferred to your lakeside hotel, the Casa Andina Premium in Puno.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 9: LAKE TITICACA AND HOMESTAY
Today’s voyage of discovery will be at a different pace. You will take to the water to explore the famous lake. First visit the floating reed islands of the Uros people where you'll learn about their daily lives and how they build the floating rafts on which their houses sit. You'll then travel across Lake Titicaca to Amantaní Island, home to the pre-Inca Aymara people. This is where you'll be spending the night, as guests of a local family. It's an excellent way to gain an insight into life on Titicaca.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 10: LAKE TITCACA AND PUNO
You'll have breakfast with the family before rejoining your guide and heading back out on the lake. Next stop is Taquile Island where you see a different culture and hear a different language, Quechua. The community here is known for its weaving. While both women and men spin the fibers, unlike most other weaving tradition, only the men here know how to knit. You'll have lunch in the main village square before travelling back across the lake to the Casa Andina Premium Puno.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 11: FLY TO LIMA
After breakfast you'll check out of the hotel and set off on the 45-minute drive to Juliaca airport. The flight to Lima takes under 2 hours. It's then time to check in for your flight home, we're sure you'll be taking some amazing memories with you of your time in Peru. Breakfast
Trains to Machu Picchu either depart from and return to Poroy station near Cusco or Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. At certain times of year some trains only operate from Ollantaytambo. Your exact itinerary will be dependent on the train ticket we are able to purchase for you at the time of booking. This may mean that part of the journey between Ollantaytambo and Cusco is by road.
Machu Picchu entrance
Tickets to Machu Pichu are currently restricted to a maximum of 4 hours within the site and with no re-entry. Your itinerary may vary according to your train arrival time to allow you to make the most of the 4 hours. That may mean an early lunch before the visit or a late lunch after it. You have to be accompanied by a guide on your first visit.
If you are revisiting on the next day you may enter without a guide and with a second new ticket. However, you have to produce the original ticket to show that you first entered with a guide.
Guide price from (pp sharing): 2019 prices from £1,970 based on travel throughout 2019.
Includes: 10-nights accommodation in the properties mentioned; private transfers; private sightseeing tours with an English-speaking guide in Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Titicaca and Lima; entrance fees to Cusco, Machu Picchu and Lima; return train ticket to Machu Picchu; train ticket from Cusco to Puno; meals as indicated in the itinerary.
Excludes: International and domestic flight (we would normally book these for you and add this to the package); visas (not currently required by British passport holders); insurance; Huayna Picchu entrance; meals not mentioned as included; drinks; tips; personal expenses such as laundry.
The climate in the Andes varies according to the altitude. In general though, the rainy season is from December to March, but it varies in intensity from area to area and from year to year. For most people the best time to come to the Andes is between June and September. Days are mostly dry and sunny, but it can be very cold at night. April and May, after the rains, and October and November are also good months to visit the Andes. Being at high altitude you will need to pack for variable weather at any time of year.
Note that June is the busiest month for festivals in Cusco, including the Inca festival of Inti Raymi, so there will be high tourist occupancy then. In Puno the same applies at the main festivals of La Candelaria, first two weeks in February, and the celebration of the founding Incas on 4-5 November.
On the Pacific coast of Peru, the climate is sub-tropical and dry. Temperatures are warmest in the summer from December to March, when they can reach up to 30°c. The winter lasts from June to September, when temperatures can drop to 15°c and days are usually misty (locally called garúa) and damp. You are more likely to experience some rain in these months.
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Call: 01473 599008