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Majestic condors, Machu Picchu and the pristine Amazon grab the headlines here. And rightly so. But there's also the warmth with which Emma and her three daughters welcome you into their home for dinner, the pride with which Nilda shares her weaving co-operative and the broad smile that spreads across Mercedes' face at the chirchería. This tailor made holiday lets you experience Peru more deeply, at a better pace.
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Fly to Peru today. Assuming a daytime flight, you arrive in Lima this evening and stay at the comfortable airport hotel to save the long transfer into the city. Please note: international flights for this holiday are quoted separately.
Check-in for your morning flight to the Amazon, then up the Tambopata River by boat. The boats are comfortable and the journey offers an ideal opportunity to look for wildlife along with your guides. Lunch is served on board, usually in a banana leaf. You should arrive at around dusk. There is actually no sign of the lodge from the river, just a set of wooden steps leading up from the water’s edge into the jungle.
Whilst here in the jungle you have a menu of excursions available to you throughout each day. All excursions are led by one of a dedicated team of lodge guides, many of whom are from the local communities based around the Tambopata River. Usually there is an early start as the best times of day to see wildlife are invariably sunrise, sunset and nighttime.
Another day, another early start, this time to explore the rainforest along the banks of a dark-water creek that is home to piranha, caiman, turtles and birds. As you navigate your way downstream, you will see abundant flora and fauna along the way. Tonight you might like to take a nocturnal tour of the jungle; since only 35% of the animals here are diurnal, this could be your best chance to spot wildlife.
Fly back up into the mountains to Cusco, ‘the navel of the Andes’. Throughout your stay in the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Cusco, you have your own guide to show you around. You are met at the airport for the drive into the lower altitudes of the Sacred Valley, which should help with acclimatisation.
Spend today with your guide experiencing life in the Sacred Valley as lived by the people, away from the tourist trail, where the rural culture of the high Andes is very much in evidence. Guinea pigs stuffed with black mint are roasted over open fires by the side of the road. Women weave the most beautifully complex and colourful patterns using age old techniques. Tonight you visit the house of a local family for dinner, very humble, but with a typically warm Peruvian welcome.
Today is spent with your guide as you follow old mule tracks through parts of the Sacred Valley that few visitors will ever see. You start at somewhere most do visit however - the vast Royal Inca Palace of Ollantaytambo - before the crowds arrive. Later, as you walk past humble farmsteads, you'll see local life, uncontrived. At the hillside Inca fortress of Pumamarca you might be the only visitor. Your second walk follows the Urubamba River through a steep-sided river canyon. The scenery gets increasingly dramatic; high Andes, Inca terracing and the river, far below.
Suitable for most, this morning's ride can be as quick as 45 minutes, or last as long as four hours. The course takes you clear across the Chinchero plain as you pedal your way on largely empty and flat tracks. On the way you'll pass locals going about their daily lives, whilst the open nature of the landscape affords far-reaching views. Later visit the unique Inca crop labatory of Moray and walk to the striking pre-Inca salt ponds of Maras.
Catch the train towards Machu Picchu this morning, getting off near the end of the line to walk the one-day, ‘Royal’ Inca trail. The trail takes you up along the side of a valley to the ruins of Winaywayna, where you stop for a picnic lunch, and then follow the paved Inca road through the cloud forest, with orchids, hummingbirds and butterflies. After a final push up a steep stairway to the Sun Gate, you meet your first views of Machu Picchu.
This morning is yours to relax and perhaps arrange a birdwatching tour in the grounds of the Inkaterra hotel. Your full guided tour of Machu Picchu takes place in the calm of the afternoon, when the light is often at its best. If you want to walk, you can head up the hill towards the Sun Gate, or even just from the path towards it, you get some lovely views down onto the terraces and central plaza as well as the peak of Huayna Picchu.
Set off early this morning from Machu Picchu by train back into the Sacred Valley. You are collected for the drive up to Chinchero to visit a fascinating weaver's cooperative, and see the new life breathed into this ancient skill. From here you walk across the wide-open, rural plains to Tambomachay, an Inca staging post above Cusco. From this peaceful spot you head down into the buzz of Cusco, former capital of the Incas, and a vibrant home for your next few nights.
Cusco has been known historically as, ‘the navel of the Andes’, and was the unquestionable hub of the Inca Empire. Take some time to relax this morning before you meet your guide for a walking tour to orientate you to this picturesque city, visiting three of its most important historic sites, the Cathedral, the Temple of the Sun and the Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman.
Enjoy some free time today in this charming and lively town. Remember you still have your Visitor’s Ticket, which includes entry to a number of sites you won’t have had time to visit yet. You might perhaps shop for some handicrafts in the many markets, or visit one of the excellent museums and art galleries. The dining scene is very good, and constantly developing, and as ever, the nightlife can be as action-packed as you like.
Set off early this morning towards the beautiful landscapes of the Colca Canyon, a drive of around eight hours in total on a comfortable bus. There is a guide on board to talk you through the journey and there will be stops along the way to allow you to stretch your legs and admire the beautiful views. The journey ends in the Colca Canyon, at a lovely lodge with its own hot springs, where you will spend the next three nights.
You have two full days here to explore the area at your own pace. For the time in Colca, we leave you at leisure the first day, so you can choose to do as much or as little as you like. The hotel has its own small tour operation which means that you can sign up for excursions as you wish. There are a number of hikes leading directly out from the lodge; it is also an option to hire horses or mountain bikes for excursions into the countryside. Alternatively, you may like to take a day out to relax and soak in the lodge’s hot springs.
After breakfast your private guide arrives to help you explore Colca in greater depth. You could spend the day hiking and visiting villages, or possibly mountain biking or horse riding, there are many options, and you can discuss the best options for you with your lodge. If you walk to the village of Yanque you can visit the colonial church and museum, and get an insight into the customs and lifestyle of this traditional agricultural community.
This morning you head to the condor observation point Cruz de los Condores. Here the canyon falls away 1,200m to the river below your feet. The opposite wall of the canyon is 3,000m high so the top always has a dusting of snow. In the morning, the condors start to fly up from their roosts on the canyon walls below, passing by at eye level on the morning thermals. This afternoon you will be driven to the lovely city of Arequipa.
Today is an opportunity for you to simply relax and take things easy. The Santa Catalina convent and Juanita museum are both within comfortable strolling distance of your hotel so you should try to see these today. Arequipa is home to the Alpaca industry of Peru so you will find beautiful garments for sale. The silver is also first rate. As well as possibly the best shopping of your holiday, Arequipa has plenty of restaurants and cafes where you can try excellent ‘nuevo Andino’ cuisine.
After a relaxed morning, catch your mid-afternoon flight back to Lima, connecting through to your overnight flight home. If this quick summary has whetted your appetite for a tailor-made trip to Peru, we'd love to talk to you about tailoring something that is just right for you. See below for various ways to get in touch or request a full PDF itinerary for more details of this trip.
If you want to experience the best of Peru’s landscapes, wildlife, people and culture at a slower pace, whilst still putting a fair few miles on the clocks of your walking boots then hopefully this is the one for you yes. The trip is certainly active, though not overly strenuous.
The Royal (1-day) Inca Trail is the toughest hike; it's a walk of around seven hours at an easy pace, starting at the train line at the bottom of the valley, and heading slowly up through beautiful scenery and past Inca ruins. This trail brings you to the Sun Gate and your first views of Machu Picchu in the afternoon, when the light is at its best and there are fewer people around.
What you have read here is a sample itinerary of how this trip might look. Of course, there are many ways that we can adapt it to suit you, be it tinkering with the number of days or the pace of the trip or adding in different activities or destinations. For instance, if you would prefer to hike the full four-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu then we can include this instead, or you might like to take the train all the way. This is also a holiday which combines very well with the Galapagos Islands.
To be able to make the trip personal to you we’d also like to take the time to get to know you and what you like, or dislike, doing on your travels. You can let us know a bit about you by clicking on the link below, or if you’d like more details about the trip before we get to that stage, you can also request a full PDF itinerary to be sent to you.
Departs on a date to suit you from March through December, subject to Royal Inca Trail permit availability.
The price is per person based on two people sharing and includes:
First-class accommodation with breakfast and some lunches and dinners
Private airport transfers throughout
Private guided walks and excursions as described
Entrances and permits
Peru Holiday Guide with personal recommendations
Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout
International flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best routing is into and out of Lima (LIM).
Throughout this journey, you stay in a carefully chosen selection of first-class small hotels and lodges which we feel offer the best combination of a sense of place and a high level of comfort.
In the Amazon your lodge has en-suite rooms, separate from each other and built from natural materials in a traditional indigenous style. Walls are fully screened against insects and have an open structure, so you can feel immersed in the sounds of the rainforest at night. Beds have very good mosquito nets which are tucked in each night. There is electricity in the rooms during the mornings and at night; elsewhere, the lodge is lit at night by paraffin lamps, which feels very atmospheric.
The Cusco hotel is tucked away down a side alley. From the restaurant and living room on the first floor you gaze out of huge windows at panoramas across the rooftops of the historic quarter to a backdrop of the Andes. In the Colca Canyon you’ll sleep in a lovely lodge with its own hot springs, from where you look out across the valley stacked with ancient Inca terraces stretching into the distance.
For more details, please get in touch to request a full itinerary.
Setting aside the stunning landscapes and fascinating historical sites, what visitors usually remember about Peru are its people. Too often, however, the locals are treated as picturesque relics of the past somehow transported into the present for us to photograph on the street corners of Cusco.
On a Pura holiday, you’ll see that colourful woven fabrics really are worn by shepherds in the high mountains. It’s just that the colours are faded through age and hard work. You will meet landowners who lost all their land in the 1960s and had to start again. You will meet villagers who never had anything to lose.
As with all our favourite lodges in the Amazon, you stay in a private reserve dedicated to thoughtful eco-tourism and the conservation of precious wildlife habitats. The lodge included here has several sustainability policies which aim to reduce single-use plastics and energy consumption.
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