But first you’ll take in some of Peru’s unmissable highlights. The beautiful colonial architecture of Lima and Arequipa. The epic Colca Canyon and the floating islands of Lake Titicaca. Not forgetting Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire where you’ll find the Temple of the Sun and the mighty Sacsayhuaman Fortress.
You’ll then embark on the Mountain Lodges of Peru Trek, starting in the Sacred Valley – a treasure trove of archeological sites and Inca relics. You’ll hike to remote mountainside communities where you’ll meet friendly locals and explore traditional markets, and hike through stunning landscapes featuring lush green mountains and snowy volcanoes. The journey culminates with the mountain-top wonder of Machu Picchu.
London – Lima
Arrive in Lima in the evening where you’ll be met and transferred to your hotel. Lima, founded in 1535, is full of splendid baroque churches, impressive colonial architecture and world-renowned museums. It’s also a foodie hotspot, boasting two of the world’s top ten restaurants. A private city tour will immerse you in the city’s 2,000 year old history and rich heritage, with stops at the Cathedral and the Church of San Francisco, plus Casa de Aliaga – an amazingly preserved colonial mansion. The tour finishes with visits to the districts of San Isidro and Miraflores.
Stay: Two nights in an Aposento room at the B Arts Boutique – bed & breakfast
Today you say goodbye to Lima and catch a flight to Arequipa. You will be met upon arrival and taken to your colonial style hotel which sits close to the main square. The city itself is nestled in a picturesque valley in the foothills of the snow-topped El Misti volcano, in a region once occupied by Aymara Indians and Incas. It became a colonial city in 1540 and still boasts many fine Spanish buildings and churches, most of which are built from white sillar giving rise to the name ‘the White City’.
Enjoy a private city tour, starting at the Museum of Andean Sanctuaries, before exploring the main square with its intricately carved arches. You’ll take in the 17th century cathedral, the intricate paintings of the Church of the Society of Jesus, and the 16th century Monastery of Saint Catherine. You’ll also get a wonderful view over the city at the Carmen Alto viewpoint.
Stay: Two nights in a superior room at the Casa Andina Premium Arequipa – bed & breakfast
Now comes one of Peru’s greatest natural marvels, the Colca Canyon. Twice as deep as the USA’s Grand Canyon, it is believed to be the world’s deepest river gorge. You’ll take a three-day excursion to this natural wonder, starting with a four hour drive across the high Altiplano. Along the way you’ll be able to spot indigenous wildlife, including herds of Alpaca and Vicuna, and enjoy spectacular scenery featuring the snowy peaks of the Hualca Calca, Sabancaya and Ampato volcanoes.
Early on the second day you’ll set off to see condors soaring above the canyon at “Condor Cross”, followed by a visit to the Hanging Tombs of Choquetico and the charming villages of Maco, Achola and Yanque.
Stay: Two nights in an Adobe suite at the Colca Lodge – breakfast & dinner
Today you will be driven about five hours to your hotel in Puno, the principal town on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Straddling Peru’s southern border with Bolivia, Lake Titicaca holds the title for the world’s highest navigable lake. The lands surrounding the lake are home to the Aymara and Quechua Indians who predate the Incas by 1,000 years. During your stay you will take an excursion to the floating reed islands of Uros and Taquile, where local life has hardly changed over the centuries.
Stay: Two nights in a superior lake view room at the Casa Andina Premium Puno – bed & breakfast
Today you board the train to Cusco which will take you through quintessential Andean landscapes and the enchanting scenery of the Peruvian highlands. Before arriving in Cusco you’ll stop at the town of La Raya, the highest point of the journey, where you will be surrounded by the breath-taking scenery of the Atliplano.
Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire and a UNESCO World Heritage site, is rich in Inca relics and colonial masterpieces like the Cathedral and Church of the Company of Christ. A tour will reveal the impressive Inca sites of Tambomachay and Puca Pucara, plus the Temple of the Sun and massive walls of the Sacsayhuaman Fortress. On the final night you’ll meet the guides for a briefing about the trek.
Stay: Three nights in a junior suite at El Mercado – bed & breakfast
Mountain Lodges of Peru Lares Adventure
Day 12 – 13: The day has arrived to begin your trekking adventure! You start by journeying into the Sacred Valley of the Incas, where you’ll explore the magnificent archaeological site of Chinchero. Hikes along ancient Inca trails will bring you to the natural salt mines of Maras and the astonishing terraces of Moray. The following day you will get to see traditional farming at work in the remote community at Viacha, and enjoy an exploration of the remarkable complex of Pisaq.
Stay: Two nights at Lamay Lodge
Days 14 – 15: Today you journey deeper into the Lares region with visits to archaeological sites hidden in the mountains. You will stay in a lodge above the remote village of Huacahuasi where locals will give you an insight into the rich Andean culture. Those looking to venture further afield can take a challenging but rewarding hike over steep mountain passes to Quiswarani, where you will be met by stunning vistas of blue lakes and majestic mountains.
Stay: Two nights at Huacahuasi Lodge
Day 16: After spending the morning learning more about the day-to-day life of the Huacahuasi community, you can hike along an authentic Inca Trail from Lares Pass which will take you through a beautiful canyon down to the community of Totora. Learn more about the history of Peru’s civilisation at the ethnographic museum, or choose to explore the valley further by mountain bike. You’ll stop for lunch in the Urubamba Valley before arriving in Ollantaytambo – the oldest living city in Latin America.
Stay: Overnight in Ollantaytambo
Day 17: The last day of your trek sees you taking in the magnificent storage structures and fortress of Ollantaytambo – one of the finest examples of Inca architecture. Later you will take a scenic train ride along the Urubamba River to the bustling town of Aguas Calientes, located just below the Machu Picchu Sanctuary, where your trek ends.
Stay: One night at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu
Today you discover the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ and one of the world’s most spectacular archaeological sites. You’ll wake early to catch a bus up to Machu Picchu, where you’ll find the sun rising over the magnificent terraces of the famous Sun Gate. This ancient mountain-top citadel, with its tiered terraces, temples, staircases, palaces and fountains is truly a sight of behold. Explore the ruins at your own pace, and take the time to soak in its history and splendour. In the afternoon you’ll take a train back to Ollantaytambo where you’ll be met and taken to your hotel situated at the heart of the valley.
Stay: Three nights in a premium suite at the Sol y Luna – bed & breakfast
Cusco – Lima – London
Today you will be driven to Cusco airport for your flight to Lima, where you’ll meet your connecting flight home.