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The moment when you catch your first glimpse of the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu is simply unforgettable, and for many this is the reason to visit Peru. But there is so much more to this diverse country. Spend time with the locals during a homestay at Lake Titicaca, watch condors wheeling over the Colca Canyon and unwind in the tranquil sacred valley on this journey through ancient lands.
Explore Tour Leader
10 nights comfortable hotel
2 nights premium hotel
1 nights simple village house
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Lima, Peru's capital, which was founded in 1535AD by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro. Today it is a modern, cosmopolitan city, but in the old centre there are obvious reminders both of its colonial and pre-hispanic past. Its location on the shores of the Pacific Ocean mean that you can easily escape the busy traffic of the city for a little calm on nearby coastal walking paths.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7.30pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Lima at any time. If you would like an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport (airport code LIM) which is approximately a one-hour drive from our hotel. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to take an independent stroll along the coastal path to Miraflores and through the bohemian district of Barranco, or alternatively visit the excellent Larco Museum for an introduction to Peru's ancient history. The city is also gaining a reputation as a culinary centre; try some ceviche (fish marinated in citrus juices) or sip on a Pisco sour.
Arawi Express Miraflores Hotel (or similar)
This morning we transfer back to the airport and fly to the beautiful city of Arequipa. This afternoon is left free for you to explore and acclimatise.
Casona Plaza Colonial (or similar)
This morning we visit Santa Catalina Convent, a miniature walled town which once housed 450 nuns and serving ladies in total seclusion. The rest of the day is free to explore this beautiful city, situated at 2380m and surrounded by snow-capped mountains including the perfect conical peak of El Misti (5822m). Arequipa is famed for its colonial architecture and the arcaded city square, dominated on one side by the twin towered cathedral (1612), is among the finest to be found in South America. The city is growing in renown for its magnificent sunset, casting red light over the foreground of the conical volcano and classic architecture. A pisco sour in one of the city's rooftop bars is highly recommended this evening!
We head north today where we enter the world of the Altiplano, passing behind the volcanoes that ring Arequipa and on to Chivay. There are herds of llama and alpaca en route, and if lucky we may spot the elusive vicuña. Today we briefly reach the highest point of our trip at 4,910m where we stop for a photo before descending towards Colca Canyon.
Casona Plaza Ecolodge (or similar)
We have an early start this morning to the Colca Canyon. A spectacular river gorge, the Colca Canyon measures twice the depth of the more famous Grand Canyon and at one time it was believed to be the deepest gorge on earth (until it was eclipsed by the deeper Cotahuasi Canyon). Largely unknown to the outside world until the latter years of the 20th century, today it affords us an opportunity to discover a world of Andean villages and Inca terraces that make up one of the most outstanding natural settings in the Americas. This is the world of the Altiplano, where the Rio Colca meanders through a landscape of towering volcanic peaks that offer a stunning backdrop to a land inhabited by Cabana and Collagua Indians. Home to the massive and majestic Andean Condor, these awe-inspiring vistas derive their name from the old Incan practise of storing harvested grain in natural vaults carved into the canyon walls, vaults that the Indians called colcas. This afternoon we drive east, via the Patapampa pass again at 4910 m, heading towards the beautiful landscapes that surround the unique waters of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the word (3856m). Our destination is the town of Puno, a centre of Incan folklore nestling in a bay at the northwestern tip of the lake and the perfect base from which to explore something of the cultural and historical significance of the lake itself.
Xima Puno (or similar)
From Puno we take a boat trip on Lake Titicaca to explore the floating reed islands, home to the Uros people who live on the lake itself. Their islands are made from totura, a reed-like papyrus that grows in the shallows and is used in most aspects of their life, including the construction of their boats and homes. We then continue to the less visited island of Taquile which has preserved much of its Inca and pre-Inca heritage and the islanders still speak the language of the Inca - Runa Simi or Quechua. We take our time walking across the island and we will have the chance to buy locally produced embroidery - the men's handiwork for once. This evening we stay overnight in a village house on Taquile Island.
Taquile Village House (or similar)
Simple Village House
This morning is free on Taquile Island to make the most of a setting where the local people still preserve a rich tradition of music and dance. You might like to take a walk up to the Inca ruins , or visit the market, presenting an ideal opportunity to buy some of the locally made embroidery that is produced by the men of the island. Later this afternoon we then return to Puno by boat, where we can take a stroll through the markets in search of excellent llama and alpaca wool items.
Today we follow the legendary route taken by the first Inca ruler - Manco Capac - on his way towards Cusco. Our destination is near Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley.
During our bus journey we drive up to the northern limit of the Altiplano, crossing La Raya pass (4,335m) and descending via the Inca temple at Raqchi to Andahuaylillas. Here, we will swap our public bus for a private vehicle, and we'll bypass Cusco by driving straight through the scenic Sacred Valley, winding through small towns and villages with the Andes flanking us on either side. The scenery is desolate but magnificent and we may spot flocks of llamas and alpacas grazing on the windswept pastures. The total journey from Puno to our hotel is approximately 11 hours including stops.
Hotel Tikawasi Valley (or similar)
Today is a free day in the beautiful Sacred Valley with a wide choice of things to do. For water-lovers there is a the opportunity to go white water rafting on the Urubamba River; grade 2-3 rapids (optional and seasonal), or take a more leisurely approach with a stand up paddle session on the Piuray Lagoon in the heart of the area's spectacular scenery. No previous experience of rafting or stand up paddle is necessary - full instruction and safety equipment are provided. Alternatively, take a trip to Maras and Moray, two of the Sacred Valley's most impressive sights; first, visit the huge concentric Inca terraces of Moray, a sort of botanical laboratory that the Inca's used to test their crops. Then, visit the weirdly beautiful Maras salt mines, all laid out across the mountainside like a chess board in the mountains - a final 45 minute descent to the small salt-producing town of Pichingoto ends this excursion.
For those who want a bit less exertion, there is the chance to visit a craft beer brewery, including a tasting of the various different beers on offer. Craft beer is still relatively new in Peru, but growing quickly. The range of local ingredients used in the brewing process is fascinating.
This evening we visit the community of Misminay, home to many of the porters who work along the Inca Trail. We will share an Andean meal with them, prepared from local supplies, before spending the evening underneath a (hopefully!) starry night sky, hearing about the ancient Inca theories of the cosmos. Their rich history comes to life during this stargazing experience.
We take an early morning train along the side of the Rio Urubamba, flanked by high cliffs and peaks, towards the mountain town of Aguas Calientes. Once a tiny village of no more than a few houses, this town throngs with travellers and trekkers coming to-and-from the famous 'lost' city of Machu Picchu. After dropping bags at our hotel, we climb by bus to the ancient site at 2,400m. The existence of this exquisite masterpiece of ancient civilisation remained unknown to the outside world until it was 'discovered' by an American archaeologist, Hiram Bingham, in 1911. We explore this mountain-top stronghold - the most spectacular feat of engineering in ancient America. Returning to the valley floor, we stay in a hotel in Aguas Calientes, with the chance to soak in the nearby natural hot baths.
El Mapi Hotel (or similar)
This morning is free with several options available to you. Each one requires an additional permit that should be pre-paid at the time of booking.
The first option is to simply revisit the site a second time, offering you another chance to explore (unguided) at your own pace. There are one-way circuits in place in the site, and if you choose to revisit a second time we would aim to buy you a permit that allows you to choose which circuit you wish to take on the day.
Alternatively, there are two optional hikes available within the site, each one unguided. These climb to the summits of either Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu Mountain to look down on the citadel. Machu Picchu Mountain is a 700m climb from the top of the citadel. There are cobbled stairs all the way up with a few eye-opening drops in some parts, but predominantly very enclosed and with a fairly steady, but not too strenuous, gradient. The round-trip takes about 2.5-3 hours. Huayna Picchu Mountain is only 350m, half the size of Machu Picchu Mountain, but much steeper. There are many more sheer drops, and it is definitely not suitable for someone with a fear of heights. For those who fancy doing the 1 hour climb, you'll be rewarded with world-beating views of Machu Picchu, and the feeling that you're standing on a precipice at the top of the world.
These three options must be pre-paid at the time of booking, and if you change your passport between your time of booking and prior to travel please take your original passport with you.
A final option is to simply relax in Aguas Calientes - it's a really fantastic little town with a great market, excellent cafes and a very laidback vibe. The perfect place to absorb your visit. Later we take the afternoon train all together to Ollantaytambo, from where we get the bus to Cusco.
Yawar Inka Hotel (or similar)
This morning we take an immersive walking tour through the captivating city of Cusco, kicking things off in the colossal archeological site of Sacsayhuaman, a stone fortress still at the core of Cusco's traditions. Winding our way along an old Incan trail, we head down to the colonial neighborhood of San Cristobal, where the plaza will surprise us with sweeping view over the cities roof tops. Navigating the narrow streets of the old city we reach the aqueduct of Sapantiana, a hidden engineering marvel only known by locals. This aqueduct directs us to arty San Blas, where coffee shops converge with traditional artisan's workshops, we explore the cobbled calles, venturing inside the studios to marvel at the local craftsmanship.
Entering the main Plaza de Armas of Cusco, the focal point of the city, we are welcomed by the baristas of Three Monkeys Coffee who serve us up the finest Peruvian beans. Revived, we continue walking, gazing upon the Qoricancha complex, once the Inca's most sacred site dedicated to the Sun God. Our final destination is Mercado de Wanchaq, a truly local affair jammed with rows of colourful stalls and filled with the aromas of seasonal fruit. Slurping freshly pressed juice we witness the sellers hawking their wares before returning to the hotel. The walking tour is approximately four kilometres, expected to take around four-to-five hours.
Today has been left free to further explore the winding streets and alleyways of Cusco. There are plenty of fascinating museums, lively plazas and bustling markets to explore here, and it's a relaxing place to spend a day people watching while having a coffee - or a pisco sour!
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Cusco.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Cusco at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like an airport transfer today, you need to depart from Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ), which is around 15 minutes' drive from our hotel.
Depending on the schedule of your flights, you may have some additional time to visit a museum or do some souvenir shopping in the winding streets and alleys of the city.
If you are travelling on to the Amazon, you will be transferred to Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport this morning for your flight to Puerto Maldonado.
There is a rainy season from Dec - Mar however on the coast it rarely rains. Jun-Oct is damp and misty, but temperatures never drop below 10°C. At high altitudes although there are sunny days temperatures can drop dramatically, and conditions can change suddenly.
2 Pin Flat
Cusco and the Sacred Valley - Half day Maras and Moray - US$54 (min 4 pers); Kayak and Paddle Board - 3-5 pers US$107, 5-7 pers US$90, 8 pers US$87.50; Craft beer tasting - US$58 (min 3 pers) Taquile Island - Evening folklore show US$44 Puno - Andahuaylillas entrance US$5 Aguas Calientes - Hot Springs US$6 Machu Picchu - Second visit £81; Huayna Picchu Mountain £95; Machu Picchu Mountain £95 (all including transport) - All Subject to availability - these must be pre-paid at time of booking and is non-refundable. If you change your passport between your time of booking and prior to travel please take your original passport with you to avoid being fined. Lima - City tour approximately US$36; Larco Herrera Museum US$35 guided, US$18 unguided; Pachacamac site US$45 (based on 4) Mainly cash is accepted
Select your clothing carefully. A complete set of clothes which can get grubby and muddy are useful. Bring warm clothing such as a warm fleece, thermal underwear, warm hat and gloves for cooler nights in the mountains when temps drop dramatically. Lightweight waterproofs are essential. Bring your swimsuit.
Comfortable shoes and lightweight walking shoes and sandals. If participating in the rafting, old trainers (as they will get wet).
One pieceluggage, a daypack plus one small bag for your nights in Aguas Calientes and on Taquile Island where you will leave your main luggage in storage. On Taquile, your main bag will be left in Puno while you stay on the island for one night. In Aguas Calientes, your main bags will be left in storage in your hotel in the Sacred Valley for the two nights and will meet you when you arrive in Cusco. Remember, you are expected to carry your own luggage (i.e. on and off transport etc.) so don't overload yourself. It is recommended you bring lockable bags.
A good insect repellent is essential. Also bring a small torch, sun hat, sunscreen and a swimsuit and a small towel (for rafting and thermal baths). Please note drones are prohibited in most tourist areas in Peru. We advise you bring a water bottle for day to day use.
Bus, Boat, Flight, Train
During this trip we spend one night in a homestay on the island of Taquile, on Lake Titicaca and we are able to experience life on the island. Rooms are simple but comfortable, and there are several toilets for communal use. It's a very serene, quiet place and for many it is one of the highlights of their stay.
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Peru: Visas are not required for UK, New Zealand, Australian, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate. USA: If your flights pass through the USA, even if only in transit, you will require either a visa or an ESTA (an e-visa). Please read on for more information. Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and passport holders from several EU countries can apply for an ESTA under certain conditions. This applies if you enter the country by sea or by air, and this must be done online via https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov, no later than 72 hours prior to travel. Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely be refused boarding. You must have a biometric passport to apply for an ESTA. UK passports which are biometric feature a small gold symbol (camera) at the bottom of the front cover. If you have visited Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen since 2011 or are dual nationals of these countries, you cannot travel with an ESTA and instead you will need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. If you are unable to provide a valid visa before boarding flights to the US, or entering via another method, you may not be permitted to travel. You should also be aware that if you have travelled to or have been in Cuba since the 12th of January 2021, you will not be eligible for an ESTA visa waiver and will need to apply for a US visa. You should consult the US State Department website to determine which you will need. Your ESTA application will ask for Point of Contact information. Please note that if you're only transiting through the USA then this is not required. If you're visiting or staying in the USA on an Explore trip, then our USA contact information will be listed on your final documentation which you will receive approximately 3-4 weeks before departure. Entry requirements for the USA can change regularly, therefore, please ensure you have the most up to date information before you travel by checking the US embassy website. Visa applications - http://london.usembassy.gov/niv/apply.html Canada: An electronic travel authorisation (ETA) is required by British citizens transiting via Canada. For more information see the official Canadian government website: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
We have specifically designed this itinerary to allow you to acclimatise gradually against the symptoms of altitude sickness, a common and usually harmless condition caused by reduced air pressure and a lower concentration of oxygen. At altitudes of over 3000m, minor symptoms such as headaches and shortness of breath are commonly experienced for a day or two, and there is no preparation that you can do for this. Symptoms aren't related to general fitness. The best remedy is to rest, not ascend any further and ensure that you're well hydrated. If the symptoms persevere or get worse, then the main course of action is immediate descent. If any symptoms do occur - whether minor or more severe - then you should let your Explore Leader know immediately. As this tour reaches altitudes of over 4000 metres, we strongly recommend that travellers with heart or lung conditions, anaemia, asthma, high blood pressure or on the pill should seek the advice of their GP. Please also ensure that your insurance policy covers you to the maximum altitude of 4910m.
An ability to swim is essential for your safe enjoyment of the water based activities on this trip. If you wish to participate in these activities then we insist that you are able to swim.
Nothing compulsory, we recommend protection against typhoid, tetanus, polio and hepatitis A. Please consult your travel clinic for the latest advice on Malaria, Dengue and Zika Virus. Please take preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites - these include mosquito repellent as well as long trousers and long sleeve shirts to cover up when necessary. Please note many countries in Central America, South America and the Caribbean require a yellow fever vaccination certificates if travelling from infected areas. A detailed list of these countries can be found on the NaTHNaC website - http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries. Also on the NaTHNaC site there is a list of Countries (and specific areas within a country) which are at risk of infection and a vaccination is therefore recommended. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.