This 17 day holiday combines the culture and nightlife of Lima; the wonderful mountain scenery, ancient ruins and traditions of Cusco; the beautiful colonial city of Arequipa and the spectacular Colca Canyon, home to giant condors; and the beauty and purity of Lake Titicaca.
Incas & Conquistadors of Peru + Lake Titicaca + Condors & Convents
Day 1 (Sunday) - Fly from the UK to Lima Meal on the transatlantic flight.
Fly from the UK to Lima, the social and economic heart of Peru. Lima was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, who christened it ‘City of Kings’. On arrival you are met at the airport and escorted to your hotel in the fashionable Miraflores district. Day 2 (Monday) - Take the optional Colonial Lima excursion, or enjoy a free day in Lima Breakfast at the hotel.
Spend the day getting to know this fascinating city, explore on your own or take our half-day Colonial Lima excursion. The city tour includes a visit to the catacombs of the monastery of San Francisco and the cathedral of Lima where the conquistador Francisco Pizarro is buried. Afterwards, return to the modern district of Miraflores and visit the pre-Inca site of Huaca Pucllana. Day 3 (Tuesday) - Fly to Cusco Breakfast at the hotel.
Take a morning flight to Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire nestled in the Andes at 3,400 metres above sea level. Cusco is the continent’s oldest continuously-inhabited city and is known for its many wonderful churches and courtyards and of course the magnificent Inca ruins. Day 4 (Wednesday) - Take the optional Inca Cusco excursion, or enjoy a free day in Cusco Breakfast at the hotel.
Spend the day getting to know Cusco and acclimatising to the altitude. Discover the city’s fascinating Inca heritage on our half-day Inca Cusco excursion, which takes you to several Inca sites in and around Cusco, including the fortress of Sacsayhuaman and Qoricancha, one of the most important temples in the Inca Empire. Day 5 (Thursday) - Take our optional Sacred Valley excursion, or enjoy a free day in Cusco Breakfast at the hotel, lunch is included if you take the Sacred Valley excursion.
Spend a further day exploring Cusco, or leave the city behind on our optional full-day Sacred Valley excursion, which takes you about 15km north of Cusco, as the condor flies, to the traditional village and archaeological site at Chincheros, above the beautiful Sacred Valley of the Incas. Then descend into the Sacred Valley and enjoy a good lunch in a country restaurant before continuing to the fascinating ‘living Inca town’ of Ollantaytambo, where you explore some of the most important Inca ruins of the empire. Return to Cusco in the late afternoon, or if you would rather spend more time in the beautiful countryside take the optional Two Nights in the Sacred Valley excursion, where you retire to your beautiful country hotel in the heart of the idyllic Sacred Valley, a perfect place to relax and soak up the tranquil atmosphere. Day 6 (Friday) - Continue the Two Nights in the Sacred Valley excursion, or enjoy a free day in Cusco Breakfast at the hotel, lunch is included if you take the Two Nights in the Sacred Valley excursion.
The second day of the Two Nights in the Sacred Valley excursion begins with a visit to the 3,000 salt evaporation ponds of Maras for some of the most unusual views in the region, and the vast circular terraces of Moray, used by the Incas for agricultural experiments. After, visit the friendly, traditional Andean community of Misminay, where life in the village goes on much as it would have during the time of the Incas. Enjoy a locally prepared lunch and watch as villagers demonstrate farming techniques, both ancient and new. Return to your Sacred Valley hotel in the late afternoon for another evening of relaxation in the lovely gardens.
Alternatively, if you have not taken the excursion, you are free to enjoy a further day in Cusco. Day 7 (Saturday) - Optional excursion to Machu Picchu; take either the Machu Picchu or Short Inca Trail excursion Breakfast at the hotel. Lunch is included on both the Machu Picchu and Short Inca Trail excursions. Some hotels in Machu Picchu also include dinner.
A visit to the Machu Picchu is the highlight of many peoples’ trip to Peru. We offer various ways of experiencing the iconic lost city of the Incas.
You can take our optional Machu Picchu excursion, which starts with a magical train ride, followed by a buffet lunch next to the ruins, then a guided visit to the ruins and some free time to further explore the ruins independently. Board the late-afternoon train to Cusco, arriving in the late evening. If you would like to arrive at Machu Picchu in style, it is possible to upgrade to the Sacred Valley train, a more luxurious train option including a 3-course lunch and 3-course dinner, on board. You will return to Cusco later in the evening. If you would like more time at Machu Picchu, you can also take an optional Night at Machu Picchu, where you check into your hotel, with the option of returning to the ruins on the following day.
Alternatively, if you like the idea of arriving at Machu Picchu on foot but do not want to trek for days to get there, then our optional Short Inca Trail excursion is for you. This one-day, nine-mile hike climbs to the beautiful Wiñay Wayna ruins arriving at the Sun Gate in the late afternoon. You check into your hotel in the valley below and return to Machu Picchu for a guided tour the next day, before returning to Cusco. Day 8 (Sunday) - Day at Machu Picchu, or a free day in Cusco Breakfast at the hotel.
If you walk the Short Inca Trail, today you return to the ruins and take a guided tour of Machu Picchu. You also have some free time to explore by yourself before returning to Cusco in the evening.
If you spent a Night at Machu Picchu after the Machu Picchu excursion, you can either spend a relaxing day in the valley or buy an entrance ticket to enter Machu Picchu again. Perhaps walk up to the Sun Gate above the ruins, with fantastic views of the surrounding area and the ruins themselves, climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain (tickets must be purchased in advance, please ask us for details) or visit the Inca drawbridge. Return to Cusco in the evening.
Alternatively, spend a free day in Cusco and get to know the city better; explore some of the Inca sites or try one of the many adventure sports on offer. Day 9 (Monday) - Free day in Cusco Breakfast at the hotel.
Spend a free day in Cusco. The colonial centre of Cusco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has a mix of colonial and Inca architecture, making it a truly fascinating place to visit. Perhaps explore some of the 500 Inca sites around the city, visit one of the many museums or wander the streets of the picturesque San Blas neighbourhood. The city is also an excellent place for shopping, with a huge range of local goods on sale from fine alpaca jumpers to traditional Andean paintings; it is very easy to spend hours wandering around the various market stalls. Alternatively, try one of the many adventure sports on offer. Day 10 (Tuesday) - Take a full day coach journey or overnight luxury sleeper train to Lake Titicaca. Breakfast at the hotel, lunch included at Sicuani if you travel by coach, lunch and dinner is included on the Belmond Andean Explorer. .
Set off early for a fascinating full-day coach journey across the altiplano, including guided visits to the Inca site of Raqchi and the beautiful colonial church in Andahuaylillas. After lunch in Sicuani (included), visit the pre-Inca site of Pucara, before arriving in Puno, on the edge of Lake Titicaca. Believed to be the birthplace of the Incas, Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable body of water in the world, at 3,800 metres above sea level.
Alternatively, if you would like to make the journey from Cusco to Puno in a luxury sleeper train, you can opt for the overnight journey to Lake Titicaca on the Belmond Andean Explorer Sleeper Train. The luxury train sets off from Cusco in the morning, taking in beautiful highland scenery, and stopping in the afternoon for an excursion to an Inca site. The night is spent on board the train, next to the lake. In the morning take part in Lake Titicaca excursions before being taken to your hotel in Puno. The Belmond Explorer Sleeper Train is full board. If taking this option you will only spend one night in Puno. Day 11 (Wednesday) - Day on Lake Titicaca, visit the floating Uros Islands and Taquile Island Breakfast at the hotel, a packed lunch is included at Taquile Island.
Take to Lake Titicaca, renowned for the cobalt blue hue of the waters and the clarity of the sky, for a full day exploring the islands by fast, comfortable boat. Begin by visiting the floating Uros Islands, made from reeds grown on the lake. The islanders also use the reeds for food and to make boats, which you can ride in. You then continue to Taquile Island, where the islanders have established their own distinct culture. Taquile Island produces some of the finest handicrafts in Peru, and crafts are still one of the most important activities for the islanders. After an energetic walk up the hill to the main village, have a lunch of fresh fish caught in the lake. Return to your hotel in the afternoon. Day 12 (Thursday) - Travel from Puno to the Colca Canyon Breakfast at the hotel, a packed lunch is provided on the road journey.
Before leaving Puno and Lake Titicaca behind, pay a visit to the fascinating funerary towers of Sillustani on the shore of Lake Umayo near Puno. They were constructed by the Colla people before they were conquered by the Incas and they offer an interesting insight into pre-Inca culture. There are over 60 towers at Sillustani, and the style of the Chullpa varies according to the person who was being buried. Then begin the beautiful five-hour road journey through the Andes to the Colca Canyon. One of the world's deepest canyons, the Colca Canyon is a place of great natural beauty, with craggy mountains, roaming herds of llamas and impressive crisscrossing pre-Inca terraces. The drive is mostly on a good, paved road, although the last 20 minutes of the road to the lodge is unpaved. You arrive at your lodge in the late afternoon in time for a welcome swim in the hot volcanic springs as night falls. A packed lunch is included on this day. Day 13 (Friday) - Explore the Colca Canyon, returning to Arequipa in the evening Breakfast at the hotel.
An early start to the edge of the canyon, one mile above the river, where it is possible to see huge Andean condors soaring in the early morning thermals, gliding past only metres away. This lookout is one of few places in the world that offers the chance to see these birds at such close quarters. Visit some typical highland villages before returning to Arequipa in the evening. Day 14 (Saturday) - Day in Arequipa, including a city tour Breakfast at the hotel.
Peru’s second largest city is arguably its most beautiful; full of imposing churches and baroque buildings, many of which are constructed from sillar, a white volcanic stone. Three dramatic volcanoes surround the city, creating an striking skyline. In the morning, set off for your tour of the city, which includes visits to the main square and its colonial buildings, and the Santa Catalina convent. One of the most fascinating religious complexes in Peru, the convent encompasses a whole city block, with an area of 20,426 square metres. It is often described as a city within a city, and it is a delight to wander through its brightly coloured courtyards and corridors. Day 15 (Sunday) - Fly from Arequipa to Lima Breakfast at the hotel.
Spend a final morning in Arequipa. Stroll around the beautiful historic centre or perhaps visit the Museo Santuarios Andinos and see Juanita, the inca ice mummy, before catching your afternoon flight to Lima. Day 16 (Monday) - Take the optional Peru on a Plate excursion, then fly overnight to the UK Breakfast at the hotel, meal on the transatlantic flight.
Enjoy your final day in magical Peru. End your trip with the optional Peru on a Plate excursion, where you'll learn about the vast array of produce grown in the country, from exotic Amazonian fruits to the staggering array of potatoes on offer. Then try your hand at cooking up a 3 course meal of traditional Peruvian dishes, under expert guidance. Alternatively, squeeze in some shopping in the fashionable district of Miraflores, perhaps visiting Larcomar on the cliff tops above the Pacific Ocean, or dine in one of the many excellent seafood restaurants. Later, transfer to the airport for your flight. Day 17 (Tuesday) - Arrival in the UK