Discover the archaeological wonders of southern Peru and attend a festival in Cuzco
A spectacular journey through Peru's varied landscape encompassing coastal desert, snow-capped Andean peaks, the high altiplano and lush cloud forest. The most famous sites are all visited including the mysterious Nazca Lines, awe-inspiring Machu Picchu in its incredible mountaintop setting, Lake Titicaca, where the night is spent in an island homestay, and the remarkable 3000m deep Colca Canyon. On the way we encounter traditional culture, condors, llamas, and a warm welcome from the Peruvian people.
All breakfasts, 1 lunch and 1 dinner are included in the price of the tour. The tap water in Peru is not safe to drink. Drinking water will be provided in large containers free of charge; please bring a refillable bottle with you. Hotel breakfasts are normally simple buffet-style affairs, usually including bread/toast and jam, cereal, sometimes eggs or a cooked dish, sometimes fruit, tea/coffee and fruit juice. Regrettably, we can not guarantee that wheat/gluten-free products will be available for breakfast in all locations - if you have an intolerance you may wish to bring your own breakfast food from home. Where lunch and dinner are not included we'll visit a variety of local cafes and restaurants. Peruvian cuisine has developed a reputation for its flavours and originality and it’s well worth trying out a few of the local delicacies. Amongst these are ceviche (a spicy dish of seafood or fish marinated in lime juice), lomo saltado (a Peruvian take on a beef stir-fry) and various hearty soups such as the delicious quinoa soup. Other dishes include roasted cuy (guinea pig), Alpaca steak, and to drink, the national beverage: Pisco Sour.
The travelling on the group flights and those who have booked a transfer through Exodus will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel in the Miraflores district of Lima. Your leader may give a short welcome briefing upon arrival to the hotel, or they may decide to wait until the following day when everyone is feeling rested after a good night’s sleep. *Hotel El Tambo 1 (or similar)*
We set off very early this morning (around 5.30am) and drive south from Lima until we reach the port of Paracas (4-5 hours' drive). The Ballestas Islands lie a short distance off the coast here and are home to one of the highest concentrations of seabirds in the world - we visit them by boat. On the outward journey we pass the curious pre-Inca Candelabra geoglyph, a huge (over 150m high) three-pronged trident shape etched into the sandy hillside, the origin and purpose of which remains unknown (although there are many theories). Upon reaching the islands we explore the caves and rock archways by boat, and observe the Sealion and Fur seal colonies as well as Humboldt penguins and an array of birds such as cormorants, pelicans, tendrils, and Peruvian Blue-footed booby birds. The boats are open-top motorised boats and are shared with other non-Exodus clients (occasionally the sea is too rough and the boats can't operate). Take heed of seabirds above - it is advisable to wear a hat! The boat trip lasts around two hours. Once back on dry land we drive for an hour or so to Ica, in the heart of Peru's wine-growing region. At the Huacachina oasis just outside Ica there are high sand dunes where we may have time to try 'sand-surfing' and ride in dune buggies (optional). *Hotel Vila Jazmin *(or similar)
We drive towards Nazca, stopping to visit the viewing platforms overlooking the Nazca Lines. These are one of the world's great archaeological mysteries, consisting of enormous drawings and patterns etched in the desert sand. In the afternoon, for those who wish there is usually time to take a scenic flight over the Nazca Lines (additional cost), weather permitting. Due to the small planes used, this is not suitable for those with a fear of flying or who suffer from travel sickness. Alternatively, your leader can help arrange optional visits to the nearby burial grounds, Antonini Museum, or the Planetarium. *Casa Andina Hotel / Alegria *(or similar)
We turn inland from the coastal desert today, climbing high into the Andes on today's long (9-10 hrs) but spectacular drive. Vicuñas (a smaller wild relative of the llama) can be seen along this road, as this area is Peru's largest vicuña reserve. This region has only recently become easily accessible to tourists due to an upgrade of the Abancay/Chalhuanca road. The altitude here can make physical exertion difficult (the highest point we reach today is Negro Mayu, a high pass at approx. 4600m). It is recommended to rest in the evening. We overnight a couple of hours before Abancay on the road to Cuzco. *Tampumayu Hotel *(or similar)
We set off towards Cuzco this morning, stopping to visit the unique Inca Saywiti stone and Tarawasi ruins. The glaciated summits of the Vilcabamba Mountain range and the descent into the Apurimac River valley demonstrate the dramatic contrasts of the Andes Mountains, and we should expect stunning scenery throughout today's 7-8 hour drive. It is recommended to take it easy upon arrival into Cuzco and to drink plenty of water to allow your body time to acclimatise to the altitude (3400m). *Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)*
To help acclimatise, we have a relaxed walking tour this morning to discover its historic buildings and winding streets of Cuzco, one of South America's most beautiful cities. The rest of the day has been left free for exploring on your own. The Plaza de Armas is a fantastic spot for people watching, and the Koricancha Sun Temple located in the Santo Domingo Church and monastery is worth a visit. The Mercado San Pedro is the place to try some local produce and there are many handicraft markets to shop for souvenirs such as alpaca jumpers and scarves. Outside the town are more Inca ruins, notably the fortress of Sacsayhuaman where the Inca armies made their last stand against the Conquistadores. A combined entrance fee (Tourist Ticket) for these sites and many others is recommended - please see the Optional Excursions section below for prices. Sightseeing excursions to places outside Cuzco, including the Sacred Valley of the Incas, are also available. Please ask your tour leader. *Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha* (or similar)
The 'Festival of the Sun' is held in Cuzco on 24th June each year. During this time Cuzco is filled with colourful processions and other festivities include traditional dances and even animal sacrifice. In the morning we will walk to Qoricancha Temple (The Sun Temple) to see the beginning of the most important Andean religious festival in the country. Afterwards, we continue on to the Plaza de Armas (main square) to witness the first offerings to the sun while people from the four traditional Inca regions (Suyos) perform ceremonial dances. Around mid-morning we make the short journey by bus to Sacsayhuaman archaeological site, located on a hillside above Cuzco. The atmosphere is particularly evocative here, amidst the Inca ruins, as we see the most traditional Andean worship rituals in honour of Mother Earth. The ceremony finishes in the mid-afternoon, after which we will return to our hotel. There can be quite a bit of waiting around for the festivities to kick off today and you may want to buy a packed lunch to take with you - your leader can help arrange this if you request it the night before. *Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha* (or similar)
For most people, the highlight of the trip is the visit by train to the greatest ruin in the world, the lost city of Machu Picchu. This is one of the architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world, in a mountain setting of staggering immensity. The Spaniards never found it; the Incas left no records of it, so Machu Picchu remains a great enigma, a city lost for centuries in the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. We transfer to Ollantaytambo train station and catch a train to Aguas Calientes (the town below Machu Picchu). The railway line follows a beautiful route through the Urubamba River Valley. In the afternoon we take a short bus ride up the winding road to Machu Picchu for a guided tour of the ruins. Having been trialled in 2017, new regulations for visiting Machu Picchu will be fully enforced for 2018; you will be limited to a maximum of four hours within the site and must be accompanied by a guide. There will also be three set routes to follow around Machu Picchu; Exodus selects the most comprehensive route. Please note that exploring the ruins involves a reasonable amount of walking, including up and down steep and uneven stone steps. Visiting in the afternoon tends to be quieter than the mornings and the mist which shrouds the ruins at dawn has usually dispersed. *Inti Punku El Tambo *(or similar)
A free morning to enjoy the buzz of this little town in the jungle below the ruins. There are some hot springs nearby, however, they tend to suffer from overcrowding and therefore poor water quality, so are not recommended. Should you wish to visit Machu Picchu again this morning, your leader will help you to purchase a second entrance ticket (subject to availability) which will allow you a further four hours to explore the 'Lost City' - for the second visit it is not mandatory to have a guide. At the time of writing a morning ticket costs PEN152 (approx. US$47). In the afternoon we board the train back to Ollantaytambo and then continue by minibus to Cuzco, arriving in the late evening. *Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha *(or similar)
A final chance to enjoy the sights and shopping of this beautiful city. If you fancy something more active then there is an array of optional activities available from Cuzco that your leader can organise. These include paddle-boarding on a lake, mountain biking, or a combination of via ferrata and zip-lining in the Sacred Valley. *Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha* (or similar)
Today we travel for 8-10 hours along the Vilcanota River and onto the altiplano, the high plains separating the Andes from the jungle. Although it is quite a long drive, it is interesting and often spectacular. There are scheduled stops at interesting sites to help break up the day and we will get to appreciate the immensity of the Andean landscapes. This afternoon we arrive at the shores of Lake Titicaca (3800m) and board a boat for our trip to Amantani Island. Hiking around the island offers great views across the lake, whilst the night spent with a local family offers fantastic cultural insight into lives very different to our own. (A packed lunch is included today). *Amantani Island homestay *(Basic)
We explore the island in the morning before boarding our boat for the three-hour journey to Puno on the lakeshore. On the way, we visit the Titinos Indians, who live on islands of floating reeds and, save for a few modest concessions to the modern world, still live as their ancestors would have done centuries ago. Most tours visit the Uros islands closer to the shore but we visit the more isolated Titinos Islands for a more authentic experience. *Casona Plaza Hotel *(or similar)
Today we head off across the altiplano again. This time we cross to the south-west, heading back towards the coast to the high Colca Canyon (5-6 hours' drive). En route we have opportunities to see vicuñas and possibly flamingos before descending into what is considered to be the second deepest canyon in the Americas (the deepest, the Cotahuasi Canyon, is also in Peru). There is time in the evening for a visit to the hot springs near the main town of Chivay (3635m) - a warming pleasure after the chill of Lake Titicaca. *Hotel Pozo del Cielo *(or similar)
An early start to view condors soaring on the morning drafts rising out of the canyon. Extensive terraces, stunning colonial churches, and burial tombs are viewed before we ascend out of the canyon and cross Patapampa Pass (4910m) on our way to Arequipa, known as the 'White City' due to the pale volcanic stone used to construct many of its colonial buildings. The picturesque city enjoys a year-round pleasant climate and is surrounded by 6000m volcanoes, including the near-perfect cone of El Misti. *Ensueño Hotel or *Su Majestad Hotel* *(or similar)
In the morning we visit the huge and serene convent of Santa Catalina. Built in 1580 and only opened to the outside world in the 1970s, it offers a rare insight into the lives led by the nuns and has changed little through the centuries. There are still around 20 nuns living in the northern corner of the complex. In the afternoon or evening we fly to Lima where will transfer to our hotel in Miraflores. *Hotel El Tambo 1 *(or similar)
There is time today for optional tours of Lima including visits to the Gold Museum and tours of the historic downtown before we are transferred to the airport in the afternoon for the overnight flight to London.
The group flights arrive back into London this afternoon. **
* All breakfasts, 1 lunch and 1 dinner * All accommodation * All transport and listed activities * Tour leader throughout * Flights from London (if booking incl. flights) * Arrival and departure transfers * Inti Raymi Festival ticket
It took me a while to love Peru. It didn't help that our flight from Gatwick was delayed nearly 24 hours, resulting in us missing the first part of the adventure, and then enduring two very long travel days. However, once we arrived in Cusco and dealt with the initial impact of the altitude, the magic started to work. Ignore the sprawling, traffic-filled suburbs: the historic centre of Cusco is a magnificent place to spend a couple of days. We enjoyed visiting the market, the Bohemian quarter of San Blas, people watching in the Plaza de Armas and even waiting to cheer a bride into her wedding. Our days in Cusco bracketed our visit to Machu Picchu, which is every bit as magnificent as the guidebooks lead you to believe. Our allocated afternoon time slot allowed us to walk to the Sun Gate before visiting the main site - a rewarding experience affording magnificent views. The downside of MP - the shuttle buses to and from Aguas Callientes. You will have to face lengthy queues in each direction. On our second morning in Aguas Callientes we resisted the urge to visit MP again and instead were taken on a walk along the railway line to Los Jardines de Mandor, a beautiful botanic garden in the cloud forest leading to a waterfall. I would urge all Exodus clients to make this three-hour excursion - it was a highlight for us. After Cusco, there was another sprinkling of magic on Amantani Island, an oasis of beauty on Lake Titicaca. Our visit coincided with an island fiesta, so we enjoyed the riot of flags, dancing and colour displayed by the locals. Our journey across Titicaca also involved a visit to one of the floating island communities. That too was wonderful in a weird way. Next was the trip through the altiplano to the charming town of Chivay, stopping to watch an erupting volcano and a couple of whirlwinds en route. I can also now tell my llamas from my alpacas, as well as vicunas - there are plenty of all three species to be seen en route. Chivay offered a trip to the thermal springs and a rare hour of leisurely self-indulgence. The next day it was an early start to see the Andean condors rising on the thermals in Colca Canyon - another memorable experience. Then it was Arequipa, our visit coinciding with another festival of music and dance, and finally Miraflores, and a belated meeting with Paddington Bear, before our flight home.
A very well planned and varied itinerary that takes you up to the high altitude gradually. A lot of travelling but the spectacular scenery takes your mind off the long journeys. Good attention to health and safety throughout. The Inti Raymi festival events are a modern interpretation of the traditional Inca rituals but nonetheless wonderful to witness. The costumes and the infectious energy of the local people enjoying the festival in Cusco the day before was a great experience. It was a wonderful 'trip of a lifetime' experience and I am pleased to recommend it to other travellers.
From start to finish this trip ticked all the boxes. Yes it's full on, Peru is a huge country and this holiday maximises your time to visit all the most interesting places and areas. The scenery whilst travelling around is amazing. Didn't even open the book I'd taken to read on the coach!
Did i enjoy this trip,you bet.From the start to the end this trip was a revelation,everyday was an highlight.Back home after 3 days,and iam still buzzing.
A comprehensive cultural tour that also incorporated the different landcapes of Peru. The Inti Raymi Festival was spectacular and whilst the trip notes don't specify, we were seated in premium seats with great views at Sacsayhuaman. Its worth the extra cost to experience Inti Raymi!
The trip is excellent, coach journeys over the Andes, moonscapes and volcanoes with snow on the peaks. Machu Picchu is stunning. The condors were happy to come out and play. The hotels were good. The homestay on the island was charming and the people genuinely hospitable without being pushy. The food served to us on the homestay was the best meal I ate in Peru, simple and tasty.
This was an excellent tour. Lima, Cuzco and Arequipa were very interesting and lively cities to explore, each containing many palaces, cathedrals, convents, crypts and so much more. The Inka Museum and Sacsayhuaman site in Cuzco should not be missed nor the Planetarium and ancient burial grounds at Nazca. The flora and fauna were also amazing and plentiful.
This has to be the trip of a lifetime. Of course you visit Machu Picchu, but so much more. To start with the seabird colony at Ballestros island including penguinsand peleicans. Then the impressive Nasca Lines before heading to the hills and across the plateau to Cusco visiting other Inca sites on the way. Machu Picchu is amazing - everything I expected and more. We visited at 1200 noon and it wasn't too crowded, even better we had a free morning the second day so went again and saw more of it - went a further 950 feet up to the Sun gate ( the entrance to the site from the Inca trail) also the Inca bridge. Then back to Cusco and long drive to Lake Titticata and delightful home-stay with local people...an amazing insight into how the island communities live day to day. Then across the lake to see the floating islands, meet the people and have a trip on a reed boat. Next to Colka Canyon to see condors - I would not have missed this as one of the highlights of the trip - we saw 12 and got some great pics. Finally to Arequipa before return to Lima. It really feels like I have been on 3 holidays all rolled into one - I struggle to think how I can better this.
Loved Peru. Land of contrasts and dramatic scenery, from the soaring peaks of the Andes to the world's second deepest canyon and the highest navigable lake, from the simple lifestyle of the Titicaca islands to the sophistication of Miraflores in Lima. The surprise of a desert oasis with towering sandunes. Basking seals among rows of pelicans and boobies on the offshore islands, majestic condors in the canyon, and cute alpacas and even cuter vicunas. Impressive Incan structures - from Machu Pichu to terraced mountainsides, and the elegant colonial architecture of the Spanish. The trip notes mention the early starts and long hours on the bus - this is true, but the spectacular scenery provides an excellent distraction. The bus itself was large, and although it lacked a little of the camaraderie I've experienced on smaller mini-buses with Exodus in the past, the space to spread out and the on-board loo were appreciated. My attitude is that the hours of travel are the price you pay for seeing so much, and those are the memories that remain. I loved the variety of scenery and activities on this trip. I thought it was very well put together, including allowing for a gradual adjustment to altitude.
We chose to arrive in Lima a few days early which were glad about because there is a very early start on day after the scheduled arrival day. Also some people had connecting flight problems which meant they were late joining the group. I honestly it is misleading of Exodus to indicate that this holiday is leisurely. It may not be physically demanding, but long travelling days, early starts and a packed itinerary make this a full on tour. Don't be put off because great rewards await but do be aware of what is entailed. The same holiday over 3 weeks would be leisurely but 2 weeks is pretty crammed. We were a little concerned about the altitude before we went but only one person on the trip had any (minor) problems. So rest assured most people cope well and those that don't are usually put right with a little oxygen, which is carried on the tour bus and available in most hotels. Peru has a lot to offer and this trip gets to much of it.
You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.
With over 45 years’ experience of taking people on amazing adventure holidays, Exodus can help you reach some of the most incredible destinations on 500 itineraries across more than 90 countries around the world. All staff at Exodus have a passion for travel and adventure, and some team members have been professional archaeologists, wildlife guides, overland drivers, mountain leaders, diving and ski specialists and mountain bike gurus. But that’s not all. This reputable company is a Which? recommended escorted tour provider and has won many prestigious awards, including Best Activity and Sports Holiday Company at the 2018 British Travel Awards.
Exodus is all about adventure and helping others to achieve their travel dreams by offering a fantastic range of guided group holidays, self-guided trips, tailor-made getaways and escorted tours. So, if you’re looking to discover different countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts or even jungles, the expert team at Exodus can help you plan an unforgettable solo, group or family adventure.
Each tour and adventure has been created to give you maximum value for money, often including authentic activities, as well as flights, accommodation and a tour guide. And as the team has developed one of the very best and most exciting collections of guided-group tours and self-guided holidays, you’re guaranteed the adventure holiday of a lifetime, no matter which one you pick. Trips include everything from family adventure holidays and walking and cycling tours to mixed-activity tours and seasonal getaways. You can also ask Exodus to plan a tailored itinerary from scratch or tweak an existing one, which means you can book a bespoke holiday that is designed just for you.
Need some inspiration? You can enjoy varied walks in the stunning Spanish mountains, experience the magic of Italy in Tuscany or explore the rich Sri Lankan history and culture by bike. Try a host of different activities in glorious Turkish surroundings, ski through the magnificent Norwegian wilderness or embark on a journey through India’s tropical south. Visit Iceland and East Greenland, see the spectacular marine wildlife in the Maldives or cruise along the mighty Amazon River in Peru – the options are endless!
When it comes to travelling together as a family with Exodus, all family holidays are specifically designed to offer a mix of education and exploration, with plenty of downtime. Each adventure and tour has been created with one of three age ranges in mind, but children outside of the 5-8, 9-12 and 13-16 age bracket are welcome to travel too. Plus, the price for children up to the age of 16 is 25% lower than the adult cost for Exodus guided holidays to help make your trip more affordable. From canoeing and cycling in the Dordogne to safari tours in Africa and dolphin watching in Costa Rica, Exodus offer family adventures all over the world.
Something that makes this adventure holiday and escorted tour operator unique is the loyalty scheme, the Exodus Collective. When you book your second trip, you’ll join the Collective and be given access to exclusive discounts, sales previews and special travel benefits. The more you travel with Exodus the more you’ll be entitled to, and your membership also grants you special access to exclusive travel content.
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