Day 1: Join tour in La Paz (Bolivia)
Tour only clients will arrive and check in at the first nights' accommodation in La Paz. Clients who have booked flights through Explore, will spend the first night of the tour on an overnight flight.
Day 2: In La Paz; time to acclimitise
Today is a free day to acclimitise. Clients who have booked flights through Explore will arrive in La Paz this morning.
Day 3: Walking tour of La Paz; optional trip to Tiahuanaco archaeological site
Standing at 3636m above sea level, La Paz is cupped in the palm of two magnificent mountains. We enjoy a walking tour of the colourful street markets, and afterwards there is an optional excursion to Tiahuanaco, Bolivia's largest archaeological site. It is thought that this ceremonial complex stood at the heart of an empire extending over northern Bolivia, southern Peru, northern Chile and north-western Argentina, but we can only conjecture on how it came to an end. On one of our evenings here we have the opportunity to go and see the spectable of Cholitas wrestling - a popular local spectacular sport (optional).
Day 4: In La Paz; optional trip up Mount Chacaltaya
On our second day in La Paz we have free time to explore further, or alternatively you may wish to go up Mount Chacaltaya, which has the highest ski-lift in the world (5300m) and take the opportunity, if you feel fit enough, to walk to the peak at 5420m for stunning views over the saw-toothed Cordillera peaks, Lake Titicaca and La Paz.
Day 5: Drive to Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca
A morning drive brings us to the small town of Copacabana, standing on a peninsula jutting into Lake Titicaca. We gain our first sight of one of the great highlights of our trip, Lake Titicaca (3810m). The lake itself is immense, the second largest in South America. It was from this lake that the Sun God sent forth the man and woman who founded the Inca Empire, the legendary Children of the Sun. Local people here have larger lungs, hearts and spleens, and blood that is particularly rich in red corpuscles. This has enabled them to adapt to high altitude living. We will re-pack this evening, as tomorrow we take just what is needed for the next two nights.
Day 6: Walk the Inca Pilgrim Way; overnight on Isla del Sol
This morning we begin our two-day trek centering on the Isla del Sol. Leaving our main baggage behind, we use our daysacs for personal gear needed during the day and our overnight bags are transported for us. Leaving Copacabana, we walk to Kusijata village then we begin to climb the old Inca road, before descending to Sicuani. Next we take a short journey by motor launch to Pilkokaina, on the Isla del Sol to explore the ruins of the Palace of the Inca ruler Tupac Yupanqui, sited to overlook the Island of the Moon, the domain of his sister-queen (about 6 hours walking). This afternoon there may be a chance to take a boat trip to the Island of the Moon. The main occupation of the local people is fishing, cropping of reeds and farming. Much smaller than the Island of the Sun, it nevertheless has some interesting Inca ruins, and we may have time to explore the Inak Uyu (Sanctuary of the Virgins of the Sun) We continue by boat to Pilkokaina, where, if time permits, we will visit the ruins before walking to our accommodation near the village of Yuman. A highlight of our trip is our stay on the Island of the Sun where we stay in a locally run lodge. Although quite simple, all the rooms are ensuite and the views have to be seen to be believed.
Day 7: Trek via Challa-Pampa to Jardin Incaico
We begin today by walking up and along a high ridge path, from where we can enjoy tremendous views, and passing through three stone gateways (through which pilgrims to the sacred stones would have travelled) before reaching the ruins of Chinkana, the Temple of the Sun, situated on the crag of Titi Kala. We then take the boat to the Jardin Incaico. A series of terraces, some still in use today, hug the short, narrow valley which drops to the lakeside and a small harbour where colourful boats are sometimes moored. Later, there is a climb to arrive to our hotel (about 6hrs).
Currently, due to strikes on Sun Island we are unable to visit the northern part of the Island where the Communities of Challa, Challapampa and the ruins of La Chincana are.
Your Explore leader will take you on a short hike on Moon Island instead. As soon as this is resolved we will revert to the visits above.
Day 8: Return to Copacabana and travel to Puno (Peru)
This morning we return across the lake to Copacabana before heading over the border to Peru and on to Puno. There may be an opportunity to visit Uros Islands (optional) - made entirely from reeds grown in the lake, these unusual man-made islands are home to small village communities.
Day 9: Public bus to Cusco
Today we follow the legendary route taken by the first Inca ruler - Manco Capac - on his way to find Cusco. En route to Cusco we stop at the beautifully scenic site of Sillustani - a fitting home for the chulpas (funeral towers), which probably date from the 14th century. Driving up to the northern limit of the Altiplano we cross La Raya pass (4335m) and descend to Cuzco visiting the Inca temple ruins at Raqchi en route. Depending on time, those who wish may visit the colonial church at Andahuaylillas. The scenery is desolate but magnificent and we may spot flocks of llamas and alpacas grazing on the windswept pastures. We arrive at the fascinating mountain city of Cusco and check into our hotel.
Day 10: Walking tour of Cusco, visit Pisac Market and Sacsayhuaman Fortress
The old capital of the Inca Empire survives only in its ruins, imbued with an atmosphere of mystery and grandeur. The Spanish-style city of today, with its attractive pink slate roofs, arcaded plazas and steep winding alleyways, stands upon tremendous Inca foundation stones - enormous blocks of grey granite fitted together with the precision of a jeweller. We take a walking tour of this fascinating city to see Inca and colonial monuments, and also visit the colourful market at Pisac in the Sacred Valley and Cusco's temple-citadel, Sacsayhuaman.
Day 11: Free day in Cusco; optional whitewater rafting
For river-lovers there is a the opportunity of a raft-trip (optional) down the Urubamba in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This is an exciting way to see the valley and no previous experience of rafting is necessary - full instruction and safety equipment are provided (grade 2-3).
Day 12: Train to Machu Picchu - Optional Inca Trail day trek
We take an early morning train along the side of the Urubamba river, flanked by high cliffs and peaks up to Aguas Calientes. Those who wish to walk part of the famous Inca Trail will disembark at KM104 just short of Machu Picchu (on the Cuzco/Machu Picchu railroad) (optional) - this section of the trail will take you up from the valley floor to the abandoned ruins of Winay Wayna and on to the Gate of the Sun for dramatic views down on Machu Picchu (about 5hrs walking). This option is dependent on Inca pass availability and needs to be paid at the time of booking. For those not wishing to walk we will continue on the train to Aguas Calientes from where we will take a short bus trip to Machu Picchu, where the rest of the group will meet after their walk. The famous Lost City (at 2280m) is set in a grandiose landscape that amazes all spectators - temples, stairways, palaces and gabled stone dwellings are scattered everywhere, testifying to the energy and ingenuity of the builders, in the most dramatic setting of all of ancient America. We return to Aguas Calientes on the valley floor, to stay in a simple guesthouse with the chance to soak in the nearby natural hot baths (optional).
Day 13: Explore Machu Picchu, return by train to Cusco
After more time exploring and soaking up the magic of the site. It is also possible to climb the steep and difficult peaks of either Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu Mountain to experience alternative viewpoints of the citadel. These must be pre-paid at time of booking. 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. This afternoon we return to Cusco.
Day 14: Trip ends in Cusco
Your trip ends this morning in Cusco after breakfast
Touring with Explore
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