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Using some simple hotels, public transport and with ample free time to choose your own adventure, this is a great way to see Peru on a shoestring. Not only discovering the highlights, including Machu Picchu and the majestic Colca Canyon, this trip gets you to the heart of Peru, with a homestay on Lake Titicaca and a trip to one of Cusco's best food markets.
Explore Tour Leader
1 nights simple bus
1 nights simple guesthouse
9 nights comfortable hotel
1 nights simple hotel
1 nights simple village house
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Lima, Peru's capital, which was founded in 1535AD by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro. Today it is a modern, cosmopolitan city, but in the old centre there are obvious reminders both of its colonial and pre-hispanic past. Its location on the shores of the Pacific Ocean mean that you can easily escape the busy traffic of the city for a little calm on nearby coastal walking paths.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7.30pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Lima at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport (airport code LIM) which is approximately a one-hour drive from our hotel. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to take an independent stroll along the coastal path to Miraflores and through the bohemian district of Barranco, or alternatively visit the excellent Larco Museum for an introduction to Peru's ancient history. The city is also gaining a reputation as a culinary centre; try some ceviche (fish marinated in citrus juices) or sip on a Pisco sour.
Arawi Express Miraflores Hotel (or similar)
Departing Lima early this morning we board a modern public coach south, following the Pacific coastline, before turning towards the fertile mountain valleys that lie around town of Nazca. Our journey around seven hours and brings us through some of the driest desert regions on earth. Here we find the winegrowing landscapes of the Ica Valley, a region that produces some excellent vintage, as well as Peru's distinctive local tipple, Pisco, a particularly potent mix made from the white grape. Our final destination for today is the oasis town of Nazca, lying in the shadow of Cerro Blanco, which, at over 2000m, is the highest sand dune on earth. We arrive in the early afternoon and the rest of the day is free to relax or explore Nazca.
Oro Viejo Hotel (or similar)
Some specialists have speculated that the Nazca Lines represent the world's largest astrological calendar. Huge birds, spiders, whales, other creatures and geometrical figures are represented in outline. Here we have several options to spend the day. You have chance to climb nearby viewing platforms for views out over the lines etched into the desert. Or maybe visit the nearby Antonini Archaeological Museum, the Chauchilla pre-Inca cemetery or the Nazca aqueduct. Alternatively, you could do a full day tour of the area with a local guide, including all of the above, along with the historical Acueductus de Cantalloc, the Inca ruin of Los Paradones and a local pottery workshop.
After dinner today we board the coach for our overnight journey, continuing south through the night towards the city of Arequipa and the volcanic landscapes of the Andean Mountains. Our coach is very modern, with good sized reclining seats and TVs on board, as well as a well-maintained toilet. Blankets are also provided - it's a comfortable way to travel long distance in Peru.
Overnight Bus from Nazca to Arequipa
We arrive in Arequipa this morning at around 9am. This beautiful city is spectacularly located at the foot of the volcanic slopes of El Misti, a perfect conical peak that rises to some 5822m above this grand colonial city, The city itself was founded by the Spanish in 1540, on the site of an old Inca settlement, and today is famed for its colonial architecture, including what is arguably one of the finest arcaded city squares anywhere in the Americas. Arriving this morning we will transfer to the hotel, after which the rest of the day is free to explore at your leisure, perhaps taking in the elegance of the Plaza de Armas and its immense twin-towered cathedral. You might also like to visit the striking 17th century churches of La Compania and San Agustin and the colonial grandeur of Casa de Moras, or perhaps pay a visit to the extraordinary Santa Catalina Convent, a miniature walled town in the heart of the city, which once housed 450 nuns and serving ladies in total seclusion for nearly 4 centuries. Riddled with a network of cobbled streets and lavishly restored with period furnishings and beautifully ornate touches, the convent is without doubt one of the highlights of any visit to the city. Other recommended sights are the old university and the archaeological museum, which has a fine collection of ceramics and mummies. Otherwise you may choose to take a seat at one of the cafes overlooking the main square and watch the comings and goings.
Casona Plaza Colonial (or similar)
After breakfast today we travel to Chivay by private bus. Our journey takes around six hours and brings us into the world of the Altiplano, passing behind the volcanoes that ring Arequipa and on to Chivay. There are herds of llama and alpaca en route, and if lucky we may spot the elusive vicuña. We cross the Patapampa pass with a brief stop at the trip's highest point (4910 m) before beginning our descent to the town of Chivay. On arrival we have a late lunch and the afternoon is free to perhaps bathe in the hot springs (optional).
Casa Andina Standard Colca - Chivay (or similar)
This morning we visit the Colca Canyon. A spectacular river gorge, the Colca Canyon measures twice the depth of the more famous Grand Canyon and at one time it was believed to be the deepest gorge on earth (until it was eclipsed by the deeper Cotahuasi Canyon). Largely unknown to the outside world until the latter years of the 20th century, today it affords us an opportunity to discover a world of Andean villages and Inca terraces that make up one of the most outstanding natural settings in the Americas. This is the world of the Altiplano, where the Rio Colca meanders through a landscape of towering volcanic peaks that offer a stunning backdrop to a land inhabited by Cabana and Collagua Indians. Home to the massive and majestic Andean Condor, these awe-inspiring vistas derive their name from the old Incan practise of storing harvested grain in natural vaults carved into the canyon walls, vaults that the Indians called colcas.
Please note that the next three days are subject to change, following some protests in the Puno and Lake Titicaca region in early 2023. It may be necessary to reroute the itinerary to avoid Lake Titicaca, which will give you more time to spend in the beautiful Sacred Valley. We are taking this each departure at a time, please speak to our sales team for the latest update. If everything runs as normal, the itinerary will be as follows:
This afternoon we drive east, heading towards the beautiful landscapes that surround the unique waters of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the word (3856m). Our destination is the town of Puno, a centre of Incan folklore nestling in a bay at the northwestern tip of the lake and the perfect base from which to explore something of the cultural and historical significance of the lake itself.
Qelqatani Hotel (or similar)
From Puno we take a boat trip on Lake Titicaca to explore the floating reed islands, home to the Uros people who live on the lake itself. Their islands are made from totura, a reed-like papyrus that grows in the shallows and is used in most aspects of their life, including the construction of their boats and homes. We then continue to the less visited island of Taquile which has preserved much of its Inca and pre-Inca heritage and the islanders still speak the language of the Inca - Runa Simi or Quechua. We take our time walking across the island and we will have the chance to buy locally produced embroidery - the men's handiwork for once. This evening we stay in a local village house on the island.
Taquile Village House (or similar)
Simple Village House
This morning is free on Taquile Island to make the most of a setting where the local people still preserve a rich tradition of music and dance. You might like to take a walk up to the Inca ruins , or visit the market, presenting an ideal opportunity to buy some of the locally made embroidery that is produced by the men of the island. Later this afternoon we then return to Puno by boat, where we can take a stroll through the markets in search of excellent llama and alpaca wool items.
Today we follow the legendary route taken by the first Inca ruler - Manco Capac - on his way to find Cusco.
Rising early, we head to the public bus terminal where our coach awaits us. During the ten hour bus trip, we make several stops including at the small market town of La Raya, and the Inca ruin of the Temple of Wiracocha in Raqchi. The landscape is both desolate and magnificent, and we may pass flocks of llamas and alpacas grazing among the windswept meadows. Traversing the northern extremes of the Altiplano, we cross the La Raya pass (4321m) and the continental divide, before beginning the descent towards Cusco along the Rio Vilcanota. We arrive into the fascinating city in the late afternoon and check into our hotel.
There is also the possibility today to take the classic rail journey from Puno to Cusco (optional). One of the great railway journeys of the world, this full day trip covers some spectacular scenery over the high altiplano. It includes a meal aboard the train, with the chance to try some local delicacies and make use of the outside viewing platform before arriving into Cusco.
Please note that rail strikes are common in Peru and so there is the possibility that the train may not always be running. In the event that you have chosen the optional train ride and it is not operating, then we will make the journey from Puno to Cusco by bus, with the rest of the group. Refunds due to trains cancelled due to strike action is at the rail companies discretion.
Hacienda Cusco Hotel (or similar)
This morning we make a short walking tour of the city with the tour leader, kicking things off in Mercado de Wanchaq, a truly local affair jammed with rows of colourful stalls and filled with the aromas of seasonal fruit. Slurping freshly pressed juice we witness the sellers hawking their wares before we continue walking, gazing upon the Qoricancha complex, once the Inca's most sacred site dedicated to the Sun God. Entering the main Plaza de Armas of Cusco, the focal point of the city, we are welcomed by the baristas of Three Monkeys Coffee who serve us up the finest Peruvian beans. Revived, we stroll to arty San Blas, where coffee shops converge with traditional artisan's workshops, we explore the cobbled calles, venturing inside the studios to marvel at the local craftsmanship.
The rest of the day is free to explore at your own pace - there are plenty of monuments and museums to enjoy here, as well as pisco-sampling opportunities! You also have the option to visit colossal archeological site of Sacsayhuaman, a stone fortress still at the core of Cusco's traditions.
This morning we transfer to the railway station to catch the train to Aguas Calientes, our gateway to one of the greatest of all archaeological sites. The train slowly meanders down the valley, following the tumultuous waters of the Urubamba River through a series of rock cut tunnels before emerging at the small town of Aguas Calientes, serenely nestling amidst a lush landscape of cloud forests. From here we take a public bus up to the mountain complex of Machu Picchu, the fabled lost city of the Incas and probably
the most spectacular feat of engineering in ancient America. We have a tour of this magnificent city with our Tour Leader. Temples, stairways, palaces and gabled stone dwellings are scattered everywhere, testifying to the energy and ingenuity of the builders. Not without reason is this site probably the most revered tourist attraction in the Americas; its location alone is dramatic in the extreme, teetering on the saddle of a high mountain peak that towers above the valley below. Built in the mid 15th century by Pachacuti, the city was thought to have been a major agricultural centre for the Incan Empire and its inaccessibility seems to have preserved it from the looters of the intervening years, resulting in the remarkably well-preserved ruins that we see today. Returning by bus to our simple accommodation in Aguas Calientes, situated on the valley floor below, this evening then affords a chance to relax in the local thermal baths (optional).
Adventure House (or similar)
We have another chance this morning to explore the site. It is also possible to climb the steep peaks of either Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu Mountain to look down on the citadel. Machu Picchu Mountain is a 700m climb from the top of the citadel. There are cobbled stairs all the way up with a few eye-opening drops in some parts, and the round-trip takes about 2.5-3 hours. Huayna Picchu Mountain is only 350m, half the size of Machu Picchu Mountain, but much steeper. There are many more sheer drops, and it is definitely not suitable for someone with a fear of heights. For those who fancy doing the 1 hour climb, you'll be rewarded with world-beating views of Machu Picchu, and the feeling that you're standing on a precipice at the top of the world.
This 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.
Later we take the afternoon train to Cusco.
With a full free day in Cusco there's the chance to go white water rafting on the Urubamba River; grade 2-3 (optional and seasonal), or perhaps visit the market town of Pisac, strategically located at the head of the Urubamba Valley (optional). Pisac once controlled the road connecting the Inca Empire with Paucartambo on its eastern borders and the magnificent Inca ruins that once so dominated this valley still occupy the mountainside above the town, providing a worthy match for any of the temples of Machu Picchu. Other alternatives include a full day visit to the outlying Inca sites at Qenqo, Puka Pukara and Tambo Machay, or maybe a visit to the fortress-citadel of Saqsaywaman. Built to defend the Inca capital, Saqsaywaman broods high above the town, its huge, zigzagging stone walls broken into 66 sharply projecting angles to catch attackers in a withering crossfire. Meant to represent the head of a puma, 20,000 conscripted workers toiled for 90 years to finish it and it was the site of one of the most fiercely fought battles of the Spanish conquest, when the Incas made one last ditch attempt to drive out the Spanish, an attempt that ended in defeat and death for thousands of them. Otherwise you may want to chill out in Cusco and enjoy the atmosphere of this lively town.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Cusco.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Cusco at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ), which is around 15 minutes' drive from our hotel.
Depending on the schedule of your flights, you may have some additional time to visit a museum or do some souvenir shopping in the winding streets and alleys of the city.
If you are travelling on to the Amazon, you will be transferred to Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport this morning for your flight to Puerto Maldonado.
There is a rainy season from Dec - Mar however on the coast it rarely rains. Jun-Oct is damp and misty, but temperatures never drop below 10°C. At high altitudes although there are sunny days temperatures can drop dramatically, and conditions can change suddenly.
2 Pin Flat
Lima - City tour - US$50 (this is available to those who arrive early or have pre tour accommodation. On arrival you will receive a message in reception.) Nazca - Antonini archaeological museum entrance fee US$ 8 (US$ 38 for guided tour - includes entrance fee); Chachilla pre-Inca cemetry US$ 40 (includes guide, transport and entrance fee); Nazca aqueduct US$ 37 (includes guide, transport and entrance fee) Arequipa - Visit to Santa Catalina Convent US$ 15 Puno - Titicaca Train £220, subject to availability and cost may fluctuate depending on demand. This must be pre-paid at time of booking and is non-refundable. 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. Taquile Island - Evening folklore show US$44 Aguas Calientes - Thermal Springs US$ 6. Machu Picchu - Second visit £81; Huayna Picchu Mountain £95; Machu Picchu Mountain £95 (all including transport) - All Subject to availability - these must be pre-paid at time of booking and is non-refundable. 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. Cusco - Half day Maras and Moray - US$54 (min 3 pers); Kayak and Paddle Board - 3-5 pers US$107, 5-7 pers US$90, 8 pers US$87.50 (min 3 pers) Craft beer tasting - US$58 (min 3 pers) mainly cash is accepted
The highlands enjoy dry sunny days but extremely cold nights so thermal underwear, a well insulated fleece/jacket and a thick jumper are essential. Bring something warm to sleep in. A light raincoat is recommended. A sun hat and sunglasses are advisable as is high factor sunscreen, due to the thinness of the atmosphere. Bring a swimming costume for the thermal baths at Aguas Calientes.
Comfortable walking shoes, trainers and sandals.
One main piece and a daypack plus one small overnight bag for your nights in Aguas Calientes and on Taquile Island. On Taquile, your main bag will be left in Puno while you stay on the island for one night. In Aguas Calientes, your main bags will be left in storage in your hotel in Cusco, and will meet you on your return to the city. Remember, you are expected to carry your own luggage (i.e. on and off transport etc.) so don't overload yourself. It is recommended you bring lockable bags.
A good insect repellent is essential. Also bring a water bottle, small torch, sun hat, sunscreen and a swimsuit and a small towel (for rafting and thermal baths). Please note drones are prohibited in most tourist areas in Peru.
Bus, Boat, Public Bus, Train
During this trip we use a range of comfortable and simple accommodation in order to make the most of Peru's natural and archeological highlights. We spend one night in a homestay on the island of Taquile, on Lake Titicaca and we are able to experience life on the island. Rooms are simple but comfortable, and there are several toilets for communal use. It's a very serene, quiet place and for many it is one of the highlights of their stay. Should any changes be made to your trip due to the changing situation at Lake Titicaca (following some protests in early 2023), we will be bypassing the Lake and spending some additional time instead with the Misminay community in the Sacred Valley. Again, the rooms here are simple but comfortable, with shared bathroom facilities. The overnight coach journey from Nazca to Arequipa is surprisingly modern, with good-sized reclining seats and TVs on board, making it a comfortable and economic way to cover long distances and see as much as possible. There is a well-maintained toilet, and blankets are available during the night. Elsewhere in Nazca and Chivay, we use simple hotels that have basic amenities and erratic hot water, but that are clean, comfortable and well-located.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Peru: Visas are not required for UK, New Zealand, Australian, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate. USA: If your flights pass through the USA, even if only in transit, you will require either a visa or an ESTA (an e-visa). Please read on for more information. Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and passport holders from several EU countries can apply for an ESTA under certain conditions. This applies if you enter the country by sea or by air, and this must be done online via https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov, no later than 72 hours prior to travel. Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely be refused boarding. You must have a biometric passport to apply for an ESTA. UK passports which are biometric feature a small gold symbol (camera) at the bottom of the front cover. If you have visited Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen since 2011 or are dual nationals of these countries, you cannot travel with an ESTA and instead you will need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. If you are unable to provide a valid visa before boarding flights to the US, or entering via another method, you may not be permitted to travel. You should also be aware that if you have travelled to or have been in Cuba since the 12th of January 2021, you will not be eligible for an ESTA visa waiver and will need to apply for a US visa. You should consult the US State Department website to determine which you will need. Your ESTA application will ask for Point of Contact information. Please note that if you're only transiting through the USA then this is not required. If you're visiting or staying in the USA on an Explore trip, then our USA contact information will be listed on your final documentation which you will receive approximately 3-4 weeks before departure. Entry requirements for the USA can change regularly, therefore, please ensure you have the most up to date information before you travel by checking the US embassy website. Visa applications - http://london.usembassy.gov/niv/apply.html Canada: An electronic travel authorisation (ETA) is required by British citizens transiting via Canada. For more information see the official Canadian government website: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
We have specifically designed this itinerary to allow you to acclimatise gradually against the symptoms of altitude sickness, a common and usually harmless condition caused by reduced air pressure and a lower concentration of oxygen. At altitudes of over 3000m, minor symptoms such as headaches and shortness of breath are commonly experienced for a day or two, and there is no preparation that you can do for this. Symptoms aren't related to general fitness. The best remedy is to rest, not ascend any further and ensure that you're well hydrated. If the symptoms persevere or get worse, then the main course of action is immediate descent. If any symptoms do occur - whether minor or more severe - then you should let your Explore Leader know immediately. As this tour reaches altitudes of over 4000 metres, we strongly recommend that travellers with heart or lung conditions, anaemia, asthma, high blood pressure or on the pill should seek the advice of their GP. Please also ensure that your insurance policy covers you to the maximum altitude of 4910m.
A good insect repellent is essential. Also bring a water bottle, small torch, sun hat, sunscreen and a swimsuit and a small towel (for rafting and thermal baths). Please note drones are prohibited in most tourist areas in Peru.
Nothing compulsory, we recommend protection against typhoid, tetanus, polio and hepatitis A. Please consult your travel clinic for the latest advice on Malaria, Dengue and Zika Virus. Please take preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites - these include mosquito repellent as well as long trousers and long sleeve shirts to cover up when necessary. Please note many countries in Central America, South America and the Caribbean require a yellow fever vaccination certificates if travelling from infected areas. A detailed list of these countries can be found on the NaTHNaC website - http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries. Also on the NaTHNaC site there is a list of Countries (and specific areas within a country) which are at risk of infection and a vaccination is therefore recommended. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.