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From dinner in a local Sacred Valley home to exploring Machu Picchu after the crowds are gone, and from heading deep into the Amazon Basin to making a private visit to Colca's condors, 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.
Having had a couple of days to acclimatise, today is your chance to get out walking as you discover Huchuy Qosqo, an Inca Fortress high on the side of the Sacred Valley. Start your day in a tiny traditional community from where you follow a very pretty track which follows the hillside. After a steady uphill section to the pass at 4,100m, your surroundings change completely as you enter a dramatic, short, canyon and find yourself walking along an Inca pathway. From here you walk steadily down until you see the terraces and defensive walls of Huchuy Qosqo. As one of the most inaccessible Incan sites in the valley, you are unlikely to see many other people here at all.
The Urubamba Mountains sit to the north of the Sacred Valley. They are home to a cluster of five peaks of over 6,000m as well as hundreds of glaciers, lagoons and remote communities. There are several options for multi-day hikes in Urubamba but just the one great day walk. Accessing the trail involves a fairly long drive, but it is well worth it to enjoy such amazing views, without having to trek for days. Throughout today’s walk you can see the 5,800m glaciated peak of Sahuasiray, known by the locals as Colque Cruz. Along the way you pass rich blue glacial lakes and no doubt herds of llama, in fact you have a couple of them with you to carry lunch.
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 in the quiet of the afternoon, when the light is at its best.
This morning if you are feeling energetic, you can catch one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu, heading uphill to catch sunrise over the mountains. However, the mid-morning to early afternoon is extremely busy, so your full guided tour of the site takes place this afternoon. Return to the bottom of the valley this evening to relax after your time in one of the world's great historical sites.
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 two of its most important historic sites, the Cathedral and the Temple of the Sun.
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. Flight times will vary according to the transatlantic carrier you choose. Again, we quote international flights separately
Guides great, everything like clockwork, right amount of time in each place, really fantastic.
Just a great trip all around. Carlos, our guide, was great, as were the porters, tents, and sleeping bags. Maureen K
From dinner in a local Sacred Valley home to exploring Machu Picchu after the crowds are gone and making a private visit to Colca's condors, this tailor made holiday lets you experience Peru more deeply, at a better pace.
While this is not an overtly strenuous trip, it is not a sedentary one by any means, and it takes place in conditions that do add to the level of exertion. While in the Amazon, activities are largely limited to gentle / short walks in the forest, though the heat and humidity can make even these challenging.
Our selected walks in and around the Sacred Valley are not terribly long, though here you are contending with not inconsiderable altitude, as well as the Incas' love of large, steep steps in some cases! Given that you travel with your own private guide here however, it's much easier for us to adapt things to suit your energy levels, be that increasing or decreasing walking times.
The Royal (1-day) Inca Trail is probably 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.
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. Full details of the accommodation we use are in our detailed itinerary. Call us for a copy.
This journey is exceptionally rich in a cultural sense. 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.
After spending time in the Amazon, we take you deep into the Sacred Valley, because that is where you will see that Peru’s fascinating history didn’t stop with the arrival of the Spaniards, far from it. The colonial plaza of Arequipa is arguably the prettiest in Peru, so we make sure you have time to linger there, as well as visit peaceful villages in the high Andes around Colca.
In Colca Canyon, rather than take an exhausting and rushed day trip, you have plenty of free time to explore the landscapes, hot springs, ancient farmland, and condors. Arequipa's beautiful convents, arcades and restaurants offer a wonderful place to relax at the end of your trip.
Please give us a call on 01273 676 712 or email us at email@example.com to see a detailed version of this itinerary. Every Pura holiday is unique, so we would love to have a conversation about the things that are important to you, and the things you don’t need, before we get started on a personalised proposal for you to consider.
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.
In the form set out above, the holiday price includes flights within Peru, transport and transfers, premium accommodation, guided excursions, entrances, activities and meals as set out in the detailed itinerary. Private guiding is included in the Sacred Valley, Cusco, and on the one-day Inca Trail and from Colca to Arequipa. On each and every one of our holidays, we include Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout, along with the reassurance of our financial protection and safety auditing.
International flights are quoted separately for this holiday. The best flight routing is to fly in and out of Lima (airport code: LIM).
Departs on a date to suit you from March through December, subject to Royal Inca Trail permit availability.
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The described itinerary is just a taster of what this trip could involve. We would work with you to tailor your personal trip.
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