Andean Explorer

From Lima to Cusco
  • Peru
  • Cultural Experiences
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Tour Description

Explore the cultural heartland of the Incas, and the myths and mysteries surrounding this ancient civilization.

This 12 day adventure will see you exploring from Lima, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca, Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. After some time to explore Lima, the colonial capital of Peru, a short flight takes you to Arequipa, the beautiful White City.  Head behind the walls of the Santa Catalina Monastery and get up close with a 500 year old Ice Maiden mummy. Explore the agricultural terraces as you hope to catch a glimpse of a Condor in the Colca Canyon. Dip your toe in the waters of Lake Titicaca before arriving into Cusco, the archaeological capital of the Americas. Explore the mysterious Sacred Valley of the Incas and the incredible ruins of Machu Picchu.  

While gaining an insight into the fascinating and colourful culture of Peru, you will enjoy the comfort of our handpicked accommodation and our local team will be there to help you get the best out of this amazing country.

Viva's Best Bits...

Visit the second deepest canyon in the world with a depth of over 3,500 meters, Colca Canyon is also one of the best viewing sites in all of the Andes to see the largest flying bird in the world, the Andean Condor

Gain insight into the fascinating and colourful culture of Peru as you travel through the beautiful Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, deep into the heart of the Incan empire...including a private tour of Machu Picchu, plus plenty of time to explore

Explore the lake, the floating reed islands, and Taquille Island on Lake Titicaca - considered to be a birthplace of the Incas. Meet local inhabitants and witness ancient ceremonies

Tour Itinerary

Customisable ? This tour can be customised to suit your tastes and timing. Enquire here for more information.
Day 1
Arrival into Lima

Lima, the capital of Peru, sits on the country's arid Pacific coast. Founded in 1535, its colonial centre is well preserved, but today Lima is a bustling metropolis and one of South America’s largest cities. The city is home to the various museums including the Museo Larco that houses a collection of pre-Columbian art and the Museo de la Nación, tracing the history of Peru’s ancient civilizations. Lima is known as the “gastronomical capital of the Americas”, encompassing specialties from ceviche and traditional coastal cooking to refined global fare. It even boasts several of the top restaurants in the world.

On arrival, please make your way through to the Arrivals Hall where our representative will be waiting for you to transfer you to your hotel. This service includes a driver and local English speaking guide, who will provide you with any useful information needed for your stay.

Overnight in Lima

Day 2
Lima City Highlights & Tastebud Tantaliser

Embark on a 4 hour walking food tour in Lima's Historic Centre. The tour starts with pick up from your hotel and the first stop is the city's most famous 'Plaza San Martin'. After taking in one of Peru's most famous plazas and a photo opportunity of the Gran Hotel Bolivar, we will head to Lima's very own Chinatown and to the biggest market of the city!

During this food tour, you will have the chance to taste popular on-the-go delicacies that locals devour. While trying some tasteful local treats, you’ll be learning more about Peru's history and interesting facts around the local – informal – economy and daily life in Peru.

In the historic center of Lima, you will get to observe Lima's most emblematic architectural masterpieces, of Spanish and Moorish heritage. It will also be a great opportunity for you to people watch and immerse yourself into a truly joyful local experience – we designed this food tour so that you could feel like a real Liman!

*Private tours can be scheduled to start between 10:00 and 15:00

*NB that this tour requires a minimum of 2 passengers to operate
Overnight in Lima

Day 3
Lima Arequipa

Transfer to the airport for your morning flight to Arequipa.

Arrive in Arequipa and transfer to your hotel.

Arequipa lies on the edge of the Altiplano, 2380m above sea level and framed by the volcanoes Misti, Pikchu Pikchu and Chachani. It is known as “La Ciudad Blanca” (White City), as many of its buildings are made of sillar, a white volcanic stone. The historic centre of Arequipa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its historic heritage, natural scenery and cultural sites, make the city a popular destination.

Overnight in Arequipa

Day 4
Arequipa: Private city tour with Monastery

Today we explore the beautiful city of Arequipa, known locally as ‘The White City’ due to its glistening white buildings built from volcanic rock. During this tour, we will visit a number of sites throughout the city including the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Santa Catalina Monastery, the Main Square, the Complex of San Franscico and the Arequipa Cathedral, one of the biggest in South America.

The tour starts with a visit to the Carmen Alto viewpoint, located on the right side of the Chili River which once divided Arequipa into two parts. On both sides of the river it is possible to see the agricultural terraces from the Pre-Inca period which are still in good condition, as well as a beautiful landscape dominated by the majesty of the Misti, Chachani and Pichupichu volcanoes. We will continue on to the Spanish Colonial district of Yanahuara, a traditional neighbourhood characterised by beautiful narrow, cobblestone streets of Andalusian influence. The main square, located in the highest part of the district, houses the famous Saint John the Baptist Church (1750) distinguished by a baroque style façade. On the right stands the viewpoint, built in the XIX century, comprising bas-relief arches engraved with phrases and thoughts of renowned Arequipeños. From this viewpoint we will also have an uninterrupted view of downtown Arequipa and the Misti volcano.

From here we will return downtown and walk to the Plaza De Armas (Main Square), one of the most beautiful and stunning squares in Peru. After, we will continue to the Compañia De Jesus religious complex, complete with church and cloister. The church’s façade is one of the most archetypical representations of the baroque style in Southern Peru and inside we will spend time admiring the colonial paintings and golden altars of this impressive church. Next, we will visit the Saint Ignatius Chapel which is well-known for its sacristy and very famous polychrome cupola. And finally, we will view the cloister, built in 1738, the cloister is characterized by archways of heavy pillars fully decorated on four sides and it’s three patios.

Lastly, we will head to the Andean Sanctuaries Museum, home to the Juanita mummy. Discovered atop Ampato Mountain in 1995, in the Andes of Southern Peru, Juanita is in fact not a mummy but a frozen 12-year-old Inca girl who was sacrificed to the gods in the 1450’s. We will finish the tour with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Saint Catalina Monastery – a small citadel comprising of narrow streets, squares and gardens, a rustic laundry, and cells; as well as stunning and airtight cloisters in the middle of huge walls made from ashlars.

Note: The Andean Sanctuary Museum where the Juanita mummy exhibit is located, is open for visits from Tuesday to Saturday from 09:00 to 18:00. On Sundays it is open from 09:00 to 14:00 and it is closed on Mondays. Santa Catalina Monastery is open for visits from Monday to Sunday, from 09:00 to 18:00 (last visitors enter at 17:00).

Overnight in Arequipa

Day 5
Arequipa Colca Canyon

Early this morning you will be picked up from your hotel to commence your road journey to the Colca Canyon.

Colca Canyon is a river canyon situated amongst the mountains of the Western Andes in Southern Peru. It is famed as one of the world's deepest canyon and is a renowned habitat for the giant Andean Condor, best viewed from locations such as Cruz del Condor. The canyon landscape comprises a green valley and remote traditional villages with terraced agriculture that predates the Incas.

Enroute there will be several stops to appreciate flora, fauna and high Andean Landscapes, one of them is Pampa Canahuas, located at 3,800 metres above sea level, inside the National Reserve Salinas y Aguada Blanca, a place where we can see vicunas in their natural habitat and the Misti and Chachani Volcanoes. During the next part of the journey, you will visit the community of Patahuasi (4,000 metres above sea level), the Toccra Zone (4,300 metres above sea level) homes to llamas, alpacas, migratory birds and offering incredible views of the landscape and Patapampa (4,900 metres above seal) offering majestic views of the cordillera and volcanoes in the Arequipa region. Begin to descend to Chivay Town located in the Colca Valley.
Free time for lunch (not included) before transferring to your hotel for your overnight stay.

There is an optional visit to the 40ºC thermal-medicinal baths in La Calera. (Entrance fee to the pools is not included and is US$ 7.00 per person approximately – subject to change.)

Note: The optional visit to La Calera Hot Springs is for clients staying in Chivay town only. For those guests staying at Colca Lodge, the hotel has its own hot spring pools (four) which are located on the banks of the river for you to enjoy.

Overnight in Colca

Day 6
Colca Canyon Puno

Following breakfast, we travel to the ‘Cruz del Condor’, a spot considered to be the best viewpoint to watch the majestic Andean condors ascending from the valley.

The Colca Canyon is a canyon of the Colca River and one of the deepest canyons in the world. It is home to the Andean condors that can be seen at close range as they fly past the canyon walls, rising on the thermals. At the 'Cruz del Condor' viewpoint, the canyon floor is 3,960 feet (1,200 m) below the rim of the canyon.

After this amazing spectacle, we continue our journey back to the town of Chivay, taking in the beautiful Andean scenery and fascinating pre-Inca, Inca and Colonial history of the area. The road passes through several small villages founded in Spanish colonial times and still inhabited by people of the Collagua and the Cabana cultures. The local people maintain their traditional way of life and continue to cultivate the pre-Inca stepped terraces. Many of the women wear traditional dress with colourful embroidered blouses and flower-patterned hats.

In the afternoon, travel by bus to Puno, situated on the shores of the famous Lake Titicaca. You will board a touristic bus that includes a hostess who speaks limited English, snacks and beverages. The duration of this bus journey is approximately six hours.

Overnight in Puno

Day 7
Lake Titicaca Explorer

Early this morning you will be collected from your hotel and transferred to the port to board a fully equipped speedboat to visit various islands on Lake Titicaca. First stop is Taquile Island where you will explore a scenic and less touristy area. Enjoy time on a pristine sandy beach to relax and feel the serenity of Lake Titicaca. We then hike along a pre-Inca trail with spectacular landscapes of the island, visiting families of weavers to learn about their textile art and symbolism. In 2005, "Taquile and its Textile Art" were proclaimed "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO. Afterwards, board the speedboat for a short journey to the community of Santa Maria-Llachon, on the tip of the Capachica Peninsula. This is a picturesque off the beaten track destination. We are welcomed by the small Quechua speaking community and introduced to an intensive cultural experience, observing the traditions of the community and participating in an ancient ceremony to learn about their magical world. Experience the preparation of "Pachamanca", a traditional way of cooking meat, fish and potatoes using underground ovens, and one of the main dishes of Peruvian cuisine. Enjoy these delicacies in a small, but scenic restaurant (included in tour price). For the more adventurous there is an optional kayak along the coast of Llachon. After lunch we leave Santa Maria and arrive at a remote area of the National Reserve of Lake Titicaca to explore Uros Titino. These are considered to be the last authentic floating islands, less commercial and little visited. The Uros are descendants of one of the oldest cultures in South America. There are optional tours in reed boats before we depart back to Puno. On arrival at the port, you will be transferred to your hotel. Please note this is small group tour.

Please note there is a minimum number of passengers required to operate this tour, if the required number of passengers is not reached we will offer you a similar alternative. Order of excursions may also change. Please also note that between the months of January and March the ceremony of "Pachamama" will be subject to weather conditions

Overnight in Puno

Day 8
Puno Cusco

This morning you will be transferred to the bus station for your bus journey to Cusco

The spectacular journey from Puno to Cusco takes you across the Altiplano and you will travel accompanied by an English-speaking guide. The drive takes you through sleepy Andean villages and past spectacular snow-capped mountains, sheer cliffs and rampaging rivers. Stops along the way include the atmospheric towns of Pucara and Andahuaylillas and the pre-Inca ruin of Raqchi. Lunch is included and you will arrive in the famous city of Cusco in the early evening.
Approximate duration of drive: 10 hours. Lunch is included.

Cusco, set at an altitude of 3,400 metres in the Peruvian Andes, was once the capital of the Inca Empire. It is known for its Spanish colonial architecture and Incan remains.
Overnight in Cusco

Day 9
Cusco Walking Tour and Sacsayhuaman

Today, explore the city’s fascinating history, from the Inca times to colonial rule to the present day. Wind through narrow cobble-stoned streets and visit the market of Cusco. Along the way, get the chance to see the colonial buildings. Visit the fascinating Koricancha Temple of the Sun and the Cathedral, built on the ruins of an Inca Palace. From here, head to Sacsayhuaman, a former Inca fortress perched atop the hill above Cusco, it presents a work of impeccable engineering (gigantic carved rocks that fit with absolute precision).

Overnight in Cusco

Day 10
Cusco Sacred Valley

You will be collected from your hotel for a day of exploring the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This fertile river valley was home to many important sites for the Incas, both strategic and religious. The first stop is the village of Pisac, with its famous market and Inca Ruins. There is free time to wander the colourful market stalls before heading uphill to the Pisac, Intihuatana, Q’allaqasa and Kinchiracay ruins. Enjoy a fine buffet lunch in gardens overlooking the Valley.

Continue your journey along the River Urubamba, to Ollantaytambo. The town, which is dominated by a giant Inca fortress, is perhaps the best surviving example of Inca town planning and was the scene of a rare Inca victory over the invading Spanish. Transfer to your hotel for the night.

Full Tourist Ticket included in your programme
Full BTG: Valid for 10 days. It grants you entry into the following sites in and around Cusco & the Sacred Valley:
Cusco cathedral, Religious Art Museum, Church of San Blas, Regional History Museum, Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puca Pucara, Tambomachay, Pisac ruins, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero,Pachacutec Monument, Performance of Andean dance and live music.

Overnight in Sacred Valley

Day 11
Sacred Valley Machu Picchu

Today will be transferred from your hotel to Ollantaytambo train station.

You will travel by train from Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes.

*Due to limited space for luggage storage on trains, luggage restrictions apply: one bag or backpack (carry-on luggage) with a maximum weight of 5.0 kg/11 lb, measuring no more than 62 linear inches/157 linear cm (height + length + width)

Private Machu Picchu Guided Tour:
You will be astonished by your first view of Machu Picchu, a stunning display of ancient architecture with incredible surroundings. Machu Picchu is a 15th century Inca site, located 2,430 metres above sea level on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley. It is the most famous of all Inca sites, but it was not until 1911 that it was brought to the world’s attention by the American historian Hiram Bingham. The Incas abandoned the city just prior to Spanish colonisation, the city was never pillaged and as a result the ruins are still in fantastic condition. With its location on a dramatic ridgeline surrounded by sheer cliffs and the Urubamba River on three sides, the city of Machu Picchu is a remarkable place to visit. Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and in 2007 it was voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.

Enjoy a tour of the ruins and monuments, such as the Main Square, the Circular Tower, the Sacred Solar Clock, the Royal Quarters, the Temple of the Three Windows and the Cemeteries.

The tour includes guided tour with local English speaking guide and return bus from Aguas Calientes village. Please be aware that your tour of Machu Picchu does not include an entry permit to Huayna Picchu (the iconic hill behind the Machu Picchu ruins). If you want to climb Huayna Picchu then you need to pre-book your permit at least 3 months in advance and an extra day in your itinerary due to new site visit regulations. Please contact your Destination Specialist if you would like to do this.

Overnight in Aguas Calientes

Day 12
Aguas Calientes - Maras and Moray Cusco

Travel from Machu Picchu to Ollantaytambo in this comfortable train, and let your feet have a rest. Enjoy an authentic Andean experience, while relaxing in modern and comfortable interior design illuminated by Latin American music. Comfortable seats with tables in front to share the journey with friends.

Private Maras and Moray Tour
Today we will pick you up from Ollantaytambo train station for your Maras and Moray tour. Upon collection we will make a brief stop at your Sacred Valley hotel to collect your main luggage. The first stop will be Maras Salt ponds, believed to pre-date the Inca period, these shallow pools were dug into the mountainside which are filled with salt water from an underground spring from an adjacent mountain. Once the water evaporates, the salt is carefully collected and packaged up for sale. Witness locals harvest salt in the traditional way that has been practiced for well over 500 years. Situated roughly 7 km to the southwest of Maras, continue to Moray, which boasts an impressive Inca ruin of giant circular terraces that are believed to have been used for agricultural experimentation due to their exceptional irrigation system. On completion of this tour, you will be taken to your hotel in Cusco.

Overnight in Cusco

Day 13
Cusco Free Day

Day at leisure to enjoy Cusco. Stroll through the walled alleys, enjoy coffee in the busy plazas and market places or seek your thrill in adventure activities such a biking, rafting, paragliding and more.
Overnight in Cusco

Day 14
Cusco Depart

Depart Any time. Transfer to the Airport is Included
*Extend your stay & include a trip to the Peru Amazon, or Fly to Ecuador & join a Galapagos Cruise

What’s Included

Accommodation
  • Included Copy 20 Standard accommodation with breakfast daily
  • Included Copy 31 Upgrade to superior or deluxe accommodation
Food
  • Included Copy 20 Breakfast daily, and other meals as outlined in the included sightseeing tours
Fees & Services
  • Included Copy 20 Sightseeing on a shared basis as outlined in the tour itinerary with English speaking guides
  • Included Copy 20 All transfers on either a shared or private basis
  • Included Copy 20 Machu Picchu by train, with entrance fees, tickets and private tour
  • Included Copy 20 Internal flight from Lima to Arequipa
  • Included Copy 7 International Flights, Visa and reciprocity fees (if applicable), tips, travel insurance
Transportation
Land, Air, Ship, Train ...

Activities

  • Included Sample the local food in Lima, 'gastronomical capital of the Americas'.
  • Included Learn about the local culture in Peru's Sacred Valley.
  • Included See the floating reed islands and learn how they are constructed
  • Included Flight of the Condors at Colca Canyon
  • Included Wander the narrow cobble-stoned streets of Cusco.
  • Included Witness the incredible Maras Salt ponds and impressive circular terraces at Moray.
  • Included Explore the village of Pisac, with its famous market and Inca Ruins.
  • Included Enjoy a private guided tour of iconic Machu Picchu.
Click here for dates & prices
Duration

14 days

Price from

$3,959 USD

Per person, sharing

Daily departures