You will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel where you are free to rest in the hotel or just wander around Miraflores, the area of Lima where our hotel is located. Some of Lima's best galleries and shops and restaurants are located in this area. Founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535, Lima is the oldest capital in South America, with a superb combination of Spanish Colonial and 19th century European architecture. If you have time to visit a museum we would recommend the brilliant Larco Herrera Museum which also has an excellent onsite restaurant or the Museo de La Nacion or the Larco Herrera Museum. Overnight: Casa Andina Standard Miraflores Centro or similar.
We drive down the coast of Peru to the small coastal resort of Paracas. On the way we visit the huge desert site of Pachacamac. Many believe this was one of the most important sites in the pre Hispanic world of the Andean peoples. It was home to the great oracle. Much of the site has been superbly reconstructed. From here we continue down the coast to the fishing port of Pisco and on towards the Paracas Peninsula where we spend a night in a small hotel.
Overnight Hacienda Paracas or similar.
We take small sturdy launches for a 3 hour cruise out to the Ballestas Islands described as Peru s mini-Galapagos a haven for marine wildlife. On the way we get a chance to see the huge 'candelabra' - a massive figure of what looks like a giant cactus etched in the huge sand dune. This can only be seen from the sea. We then drive onto the Paracas peninsula for a short walk to try and spot one of the colonies of sea lions that are found in this reserve. We'll have lunch in a small bay called Lagunillas and if the conditions are right perhaps have a swim before lunch. We then drive on to Nazca for overnight.
The Nazca Lines are located in the coastal desert of Peru and are best described as remarkable and enigmatic. The huge designs etched into the desert by the people of the Paracas and Nazca cultures between perhaps 500BC and 900AD. There are several ways to see the lines and our leader will take us to a fantastic vantage point, a watch tower set high above the desert. Another option is to take an optional overflight. Previously, there were limited civil aviation controls at Nazca and no effective safety authority inspecting aircraft or pilots. The Peruvian airport authority has taken over the running of the small Nazca airport from where all aircraft take off for the overflights of the Nazca Lines which has resulted in much better control of the flight schedules and general flight safety at Nazca. World Expeditions cannot arrange these flights on your behalf and they are not included in the trip cost. We can assist you locally to arrange them however it is important you are aware that you take full personal responsibility for contracting and paying for your own over-flight. These flights take place in small single-engine high- winged aircraft, generally with 10 or 12 seats with their own window. The cost varies between US$50 and US$120 per person for a 30 minute flight (cost depends on demand on the day). The flight is subject to weather conditions and availability. Please discuss this with your leader locally on day 1 of the trip should you like to arrange it. After lunch we will go to a viewing point to see the Nazca Lines from the land. We drive back to Lima where we will spend the evening.
After an early breakfast we transfer to the airport for our flight across the snow covered Andes mountain chain to Puerto Maldonado. This provides an opportunity to experience a real jungle frontier town. A brief drive through the town takes us to the offices of the lodges we use where we leave our main bags to be stored for our return. We continue to the river wharf where we board a 30-40 foot open launch for a short river journey to one of our lodges. During this journey which can take between 45 minutes and 2 hours we can relax watching the river bank and jungle canopy for the particularly abundant bird life in this region. Among the birds we may expect to see (dependent on weather and river height) are horned screamers, raptors, plovers, terns, macaws, parrots, kingfishers and toucans. The lodges we use are jungle lodges that, apart from being our jungle home, also serve as a base for naturalists to work from. The rainforest (both pristine primary and secondary growth forest) surrounding the lodges are a naturalist's paradise. (The two lodges we use are Posadas Amazonas and Sandoval Lake Lodge. It is important to be aware that the lodges are comfortable but basic - only one of the lodges - Sandoval - has electricity or hot water for instance). During the remainder of the day we go for walks with our naturalist guide along forest trails. After dinner we get a chance to relax and discuss with resident naturalists the research projects taking place in the area. Serenaded by a chorus of jungle noises we drift off to sleep.
Note: While staying at the Amazon jungle lodge you may be with other people from other operators worldwide in a group.
The day is spent going on long jungle walks to find monkeys and capybaras and also to take cans out on to some of the jungle lagoons in the area. On the shores of these lagoons there are often lots of hoatzin to be seen - a really remarkable bird. Before the evening meal we head out for a short river trip using torches to look for Cayman - this always proves to be exciting. PLEASE NOTE: it is important to be aware that the programs may vary according to flight schedules, weather, river height, group sizes, etc and participants should be aware there is no guarantee of seeing specific animals or birds and in general you may not see much wildlife since the rainforest provides such good camouflage for its inhabitants - but you will have a good chance to experience true rainforest first hand.
Early morning departure after breakfast for the downriver trip to Puerto Maldonado and the short flight back to Cusco 11,200' (3,400m), arriving there around midday. From Cusco we drive down into the Sacred Valley of the Incas to Ollantaytambo. This village is famous for its monolithic granite blocks that had been hauled centuries before from the quarries more than 8 kilometres away to become part of an unfinished temple high above the village. The monumental ruins site you'll visit here is definitely the most impressive in the valley. We'll have plenty of time to explore this lovely village and have the opportunity to do some 'tourist shopping', selecting from a variety of expertly made craft work, including alpaca sweaters and hats, ceramics, weavings and traditional Andean instruments. The evening is spent at our hotel in the heart of the valley. Afternoon is at leisure.
Today we spend the day exploring the wonderful Inca village of Ollantaytambo much of it remains as it was more than 500 years ago before the Spanish conquistadors arrived. We also get to walk up the hundreds of steps to the great fortress built on a hill overlooking the village. From here we get terrific views along the valley to wards Machu Picchu and the great snow peaks of the Urubamba Range. Overnight is at Ollantaytambo.
After an early breakfast we drive up the gorgeous Pumamarca Valley to the tiny medieval hamlet of Marca Cocha. Here we'll have a chance to explore Inca ruins, then walk 1 hour to Huilloc to watch a traditional weaving demonstration by the local women of this valley (and those who would like to try their hand at using the Andean backstrap loom are welcome!). After a lunch with the local people, we trek (approximately 3 hours) back down to Ollantaytambo. Those who do not want to trek can take our private vehicle back down the valley.
Overnight is at Ollantaytambo.
The following morning we take a short drive up the Sacred Valley. After a briefing from our professional river rafting guides we board our rafts and set off downriver. The rafting is relatively gentle and would best be described as Class 2 rafting. After a stop for a picnic lunch we leave our rafts and head down the valley for a wonderful five hour afternoon walk to Veronica Vista, where we camp below the great snow ridges that run off the impressive flanks of Veronica - a huge snow and ice peak that dominates the campsite. Here we spend a night under the stars in comfortable tents and eat our meals below the stars of the clear Andean skies! Camp.
After breakfast we say goodbye to our camp staff and walk across the Urubamba River on a superb suspension bridge to the tiny railway station at Km82 where we take an early morning train to Machu Picchu. Our early start ensures we can thoroughly explore these remarkable and truly enigmatic ruins. We will enjoy a guided tour of the sanctuary which lasts 2 hours and at the end, you will have another 2 hours in the company of the guide to explore this fascinating site. We then take a late afternoon bus down to Aguas Calientes, where we spend the night. Overnight: El Mapi Hotel or similar.
*Important: Peruvian authorities have implemented entry restrictions to protect Machu Picchu from the impact of its immense popularity. As of January 2018 there are two time slots (morning and afternoon) in which patrons can enter Machu Picchu for a limited number of hours and must follow one of three predetermined routes. Additionally, all visitors must be accompanied by a guide at all times. These changes have been made to improve the visitor experience and in an effort to deal with overcrowding. World Expeditions endeavour to ensure you get the most of your Machu Picchu experience regardless of these restrictions.
This morning we get up early to savour the views and atmosphere of the mystical morning light over Machu Picchu. We are treated to a unique second visit to Machu Picchu including another guided tour visiting the sites that you may have missed yesterday in this colossal sanctuary. After the official tour ends, you will have more time in the company of the guide to continue exploring this incredible site. In the afternoon or early evening we depart from Machu Picchu for the train ride back to Ollantaytambo where we transfer to our vehicle for the drive back to Cusco. Overnight: Casa Andina Cathedral Hotel or similar.
NB - depending on train schedules, we may arrive into Cusco very late at night.
OPTIONAL HUAYNA PICCHU CLIMB OR MACHU PICCHU MOUNTAIN CLIMB - For the more adventurous, you can purchase an additional Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain permit (ask us for costs), and forego the guided tour of Machu Picchu which is non-refundable and non-transferable. Please be aware that this is NOT a guided climb, and it takes a minimum of 3 hours return. Both climbs are very steep (including many small and narrow steps) and can be slippery and are very exposed with vertiginous drops. Before purchasing the permit on your behalf (non-refundable and non-transferable), we require any passengers to sign a waiver form. Note - there are limited Huayna Picchu permits and they sell out fast, if you are interested in this option, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible.
Today we have a guided tour of Cusco and its nearby ruins. The city, once capital of the extensive Inca Empire, has seen many changes since Francisco Pizarro's men took the city with such apparent ease in November 1533. We explore the city by foot to appreciate its superbly constructed Inca walls and architecturally extravagant colonial churches and palaces. This also includes a visit of Koricancha, the Golden Temple of the Sun, in ancient times. After this we take a short drive to visit the monolithic walls of Sacsayhuaman along with Tambomachay, better known as 'the bath of the Inca'. Both sites are spectacularly set above the city. In the afternoon you may have time to explore some of the central parts of the city and a chance to look at some of the great varieties of local craft work on sale in open-air artisan markets and shops. Overnight: Casa Andina Standard Cathedral or similar.
Today we board our bus and head up to a high pass above the city where we mount our bikes for an exciting 3 hour ride back down to the city partly on open fields and dirt tracks (nothing extreme at all!) and then on a quiet road. We'll have plenty of time to stop and rest and look at some of the wonderful rock carvings we find above the city. We also have a lovely buffet lunch prepared by our cooks.
One could spend weeks exploring this beautiful city and walking its ancient streets. Today will give you a chance to do some 'tourist shopping', selecting from a great variety of expertly made craft work - including alpaca sweaters and hats, ceramics, weavings and traditional Andean instruments.
In the evening we go out for a farewell meal at one of the many restaurants in the centre of the city with a superb view of the main square.
We transfer to the airport for our flight across the Andes to Lima airport where we are met and taken on a tour of the city. Founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535, it features a superb combination of Spanish colonial and 19th-century European architecture. We then return to the airport for our flight home.