Essential Peru - Inti Raymi Festival

Floating reed islands, Lake Titicaca, Peru
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  • Itinerary
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  • Exodus

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. 

Highlights
* Attend 'The Festival of the sun' (Inti Raymi), when Cuzco is awash with dancing and processions * Iconic Machu Picchu by train with guided tour * Homestay on traditional Amantani Island, Lake Titicaca * Colca Canyon and its soaring condors * Beautiful colonial city of Arequipa and the Santa Catalina Convent * Drive deep into the Andean highlands and the Apurimac Valley
Food

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.

Profile
* 15 nights hotels, all en suite, 1 night homestay with basic shared facilities * Travel by train, boat, private minibus/coach and one internal flight * Time spent at altitude * Several long drives and early starts
Destinations
  • South America
  • Peru
  • Machu Picchu
  • Cuzco
  • Colca Canyon
  • Nazca Lines
  • Lake Titicaca
  • Adventure Holidays to Peru
  • Plaza de Armas
  • Lima
  • Puno
  • Paracas
  • Sacsayhuaman
  • Altiplano
  • Ollantaytambo
  • Andes
  • Adventure Holidays in South America
Tour Types
  • Active
  • Adventure
  • Natural Wonders
  • Scenic
  • Mountains
  • Winter
  • Small Group
  • Cultural
  • Festival Holidays
  • Festivals
  • Singles
Day 1

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)*



Day 2

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)



Day 3

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) 



Day 4

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)



Day 5

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)*



Day 6

Today has been left free for exploring Cuzco, one of South America's most beautiful cities. 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)



Day 7

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)



Day 8

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)



Day 9

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)



Day 10

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)



Day 11

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)



Day 12

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)



Day 13

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)



Day 14

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) 



Day 15

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)



Day 16

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.



Day 17

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


Wonderfully varied trip

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.

Rating: 5




Not Leisurely

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.

Rating: 4




superb introduction to everything Peru

a whirlwind ride across some of the most spectacular and diverse scenery on the planet coupled with breathtaking archeological sites. The experience of this trip will last a lifetime

Rating: 5




Fabulous trip in every way!

What an absolutely amazing trip! The itinerary was full on, early starts and some long days, as the trip notes indicated, but this is necessary as there is so much to enjoy in this huge country. Peru is a wonderfully varied country and has so much to offer, interest and intrigue it's visitors. Exodus has excelled again with this itinerary, the group leader, hotels and transport and even got the timing spot on to see the condors! Small things, such as having a coach with a loo on-board, plus charging ports on the day we were heading to the homestay, make the trip more pleasurable and Exodus the excellent trip organizer it is.

Rating: 5




Excellent

I really recommend this trip. Peru was an amazing experience. There was so much to see and the scenery and the wildlife were amazing. Yes there are some early starts and long drives but I found I didn't mind with the help of a few downloads on my tablet and the amazing scenery. There was plenty of (free) water provided and ample toilet/food stops and we were mostly on a large comfortable coach. I highly recommend the Nasca lines plane trip (don't eat beforehand) and Machu Piccu lived up to the hype. I worried about altitude sickness but for most people it's not a big issue. Walking is more tiring and you may well get a headache but paracetamol should fix that. In terms of things I wish I'd known beforehand -you will use a lot of cash. Credit cards are not accepted everywhere -even the expensive plane trip had to be paid in cash (although it seemed like Exodus used the only operator that didn't take cards). ATMs are plentiful and will issue US$ and local currency but you will need soles for restaurants and entrance fees. I also hadn't appreciated that you need an overnight bag for the island trip. We would have liked Exodus to provide more information about optional trips beforehand. Our guide didn't sell them which although a blessing in some ways meant that we would have missed out on the Rainbow mountain trip if our fellow travellers hadn't recommended it. For my sons this was a real highlight. (Bring gloves and a hat in winter it gets cold). You do need to be fairly fit for this trip but the horse option helps. I would skip the sacred valley tour which is largely a lengthy shopping trip. The hot springs however were really enjoyable and we had time for swim in one hotel so bring swimwear but towels were provided. We went in August (winter) which seemed like an excellent time to go. It was mostly pretty warm although cold at night in Cuzco and on the island and I was glad it wasn't any warmer in Machu Piccu with all the steps. In terms of ages our group ranged from 19-70. Exodus suggested the average age wiuld be around 40 which seemed about right. This was the first time i had been on a group tour and I was worried about whether my sons (19-24) would enjoy. They did -there is so much to see I think you would struggle to fit so much in if you self organised - you don't need to be super fit but as well as a lot of sitting down there is a fair amount of walking and a lot of steps. The hotels were fine (3 star clean comfortable with mostly decent wifi) and food was generally good or excellent. We ate in groups (sometimes there was really only one place to eat but otherwise optional) but everyone paid individually (I imagine that's usual but I hadn't done a group tour before). Our guide Armando was really nice and helpful and Exodus seemed pretty organised. If you think you would enjoy this trip you probably will.

Rating: 5




PERU

It started with my late flight into Lima,I had to find my taxi ride to the hotel amongst a lot of other signs.The car driving in Lima was crazy.Up early that same morning,onboard a coach to southern coastal Peru.It was very much like this the whole trip,but you get used to it.The tour guide Fernando was exceptional,filling in the dots of questions we had of Peruvian culture.The photos I have of Peru just does not do justice of the kind people and scenery of Peru.

Rating: 5




Our Peruvian Adventure

A wonderful adventure from start to finish. Tough travelling but well, well worth it. Amazing scenery from Lima up into The Andes. An excellent trip leader and a great group of fellow travellers. Got the opportunity to meet and talk with local people and experience their culture. All in all, a very informative and exhilarating discovery of Peru. Love it.

Rating: 5




Essential Peru

What an amazing trip! Our tour leader, Fernando, went above and beyond all through the trip! I am in awe of how much we were able to see and experience in only 2 weeks. I would recommend Exodus and Fernando to anyone looking to come to Peru! Thank for the trip of a lifetime! The Bjerky’s

Rating: 5




Amazing Trip!

I had always wanted to see Machu Picchu and the Nazca Lines after seeing pictures of them in an old encyclopedia when I was 16 - now, 45 years later I realized my dream - and they did not disappoint! But Peru is just so much more than these two sites - incredible though they both are, the country is an absolute masterpiece of one gem after another. The scenery is spectacular, and you get to see wildlife [llamas, alpacas, vicunas, condors and flamingos] close up in the wild. We marveled at the beauty and ingenuity of many ancient Inca sites, and the colonial cities of Cuzco and Arequipa are an absolute delight. The Peruvian people are warm and friendly, and we felt safe throughout the entire trip. If you are an adventurous eater you will love the alpaca steaks! We were also given adequate water daily - really important as you must keep well hydrated for this trip. We looked at many travel tour operators trips to Peru, but settled on Exodus because not many of them included the Nazca Lines, and those that did charged practically double - we are so pleased we went with Exodus, as we really don't know how anyone could have delivered it better!

Rating: 5




Review

The excellent mix of landscapes, history, flora and fauna made the early starts and miles on the road worthwhile.

Rating: 5



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You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.

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Touring with Exodus

Exodus is an award-winning company built on adventures. It started life on 4 February 1974 when two friends got together to provide an overland truck to travel to the Minaret of Jam, deep in the heart of the Hindu Kush, the most inaccessible of the world’s great monuments. They continue to discover countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts and jungles - exploring this amazing planet we all live on.

At Exodus, they know what makes you tick when it comes to holidays. It’s a desire shared by so many others. A yearning to visit new places and come home with a real sense of what they’re all about. This means delving into local traditions, cultures, cuisine, lifestyles – anything that contributes to its unique identity. At the same time, they always remember that they are only guests. So they ensure they travel courteously and respectfully, in smaller groups to minimise their impact, to ensure that every Exodus holiday is a beneficial experience for everyone involved. This is a philosophy they take around the world, helping you reach some incredible destinations on 500 itineraries across 90 countries – choose from walking, cycling, culture, wildlife and even polar adventures in guided groups or self-guided, tailor-made for you or a ready-made itinerary in Peru or India, Costa Rica or Italy – the choices are endless. They also strive to provide as much flexibility and choice as possible, making it simple for you to experience a very different holiday.

All staff at Exodus have a passion for travel and adventure with their combined experiences spanning 171 different countries and in their former lives, some team members have been professional archaeologists, wildlife guides, overland drivers, mountain leaders, diving and ski specialists and mountain bike gurus – all guaranteed to give you the very best adventure possible. Extensive planning, research, fact-finding and training are just some of the ways this expertise comes through in your adventure.

Exodus recognises their obligation to operate their tours in a responsible and sustainable fashion to address the environmental, economic and social impact tourism can have. They are committed to the well-being of the communities that host you and the natural environment that you are there to experience. Key points in their philosophy include small groups which have less impact on local communities and environments, putting money directly into the communities visited by using locally owned and run accommodation and eating locally produced food, ensuring local staff and operators receive a fair rate for their services, encouraging their own staff to take an active interest in responsible and sustainable tourism and train them accordingly, endeavour to ensure that their practices help in the environmental conservation of the areas visited and provide their clients with advice and guidelines on how to respect the social, cultural and religious beliefs of local communities.

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tour details

This tour is operated by Exodus

15 nights from pp exc.flights; per Night
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Group Size:5 - 18
Difficulty:Leisurely / Moderate
Meals:15 breakfasts, 1 lunches, 1 dinners.
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