If you are arriving on day one of the trip, you will be met at the airport and transferred to the group hotel in the centre of the city. Otherwise please make your way to the hotel listed on your final itinerary our pre-departure information provides details on travelling to the city from the airport.
Today we undertake a 3-hour sightseeing tour in Buenos Aires. Dependent on the flight schedule of all group members the sightseeing tour starts in the morning or early afternoon (latest at 1pm). The exact time will be advised in your travel voucher. We will be visiting the main points of interest in the city, such as the 9 de Julio Avenue, the widest on Earth, driving down this avenue past the famous opera house, the Colon Theatre and the Obelisk, a symbol of Buenos Aires, the Plaza de Mayo (May Square), in the historic heart of Buenos Aires which is surrounded by some of the oldest and most important buildings: The Casa Rosada (Pink House), where the government's executive branch is housed, the historical Cabildo and the Metropolitan Cathedral, where inside lies the remains of the General Jos de San Mart n. If time allows, we will also visit La Boca, a typically Italian neighbourhood, with its colourful houses and the famous Caminito walkway, a museum of Arts in the open air.
Overnight Hotel Buenos Aires
Today we leave early for the domestic airport to take a flight north to Iguazu Falls, set in lush rainforest on the border of Argentina and Brazil. Though not the highest or largest falls in the world, they are very spectacular. The area contains more than twenty-five different cataracts some small, some absolutely massive. The largest of all is the Boca or Garganta del Diablo. In the afternoon we will enjoy a guided tour of the falls on the Argentine side. Overnight at Iguazu.
*All passengers with accommodation in the city of Puerto Iguazu must pay a Municipal Tax. This tax is collected in pesos by your hotel at check-in (approx USD$1.50 per person per night). The hotel will provide a receipt and this should be carried with you to avoid being charged again if visiting the Brazil side of Iguazu Falls.
During the morning we will take a tour of the Brazilian side of the falls before transferring to the airport on the Brazilian side of the falls for our onward flight to Lima. You will be met at Lima airport and transferred to the hotel which is well located in the suburb of Miraflores.
This morning we will be taken on a guided tour of the city, founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535. It has a superb combination of Spanish Colonial and 19th century European architecture. We'll also visit the famous Museo de la Nacion or the Larco Herrera Museum - which give us an excellent overview of the Andean cultures. The rest of the day will be at leisure giving you time 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 found in this area. *This evening, please be sure to re-pack your luggage for the jungle - see Clothing & Equipment list in your Pre-Departure Notes or ask your guide).
We transfer to the airport for the flight (via Cusco) due east to the jungle town of Puerto Maldonado. Transfer by boat and on foot to your simple but comfortable jungle lodge. We spend the night in a lodge that was originally built as a base for naturalists. The rainforest surrounding the lodge is a nature lover's paradise and many of the rooms actually overlook the glorious jungle. The lodge has comfortable twin share rooms - some with private facilities - others with shared bathrooms. Some (but not all lodges) have electricity for a few hours a day and whilst in the hot and humid jungle please do not expect hot showers. The lodges we use are definitely the most comfortable and well appointed lodges in this jungle area. Please note that due to demand it is sometimes necessary to use an alternative lodge in this area.
Note: While staying at the Amazon jungle lodge you may be with other people from other operators worldwide in a group.
Day walks in jungle and can journeys on lake - there is a particularly abundant bird life - including anhinga, hoatzin, horned screamers, raptors, plovers, terns, macaws, parrots, kingfishers and toucans. We can almost guarantee we will see lots of monkey including troops of capuchin, dusky titi, spider & howler, plus possibility of seeing large cayman and giant river otter. Overnight in the lodge. 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. You'll be met at the airport and transferred from Cusco airport to our hotel located in the historic centre where you will have some time to explore the city and also enjoy a few hours of rest, essential to initiate successful acclimatisation to the altitude. In the evening you will meet with your guide at 6pm at your hotel for an initial trip briefing and receive your kitbags and jackets for your trek.
Overnight: Casa Andina Standard Cathedral or similar.
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.
We leave Cusco and head to the Chinchero Plateau to explore Chinchero, an important town in Inca times. The most striking remnant of this period is the massive stone wall in the main plaza which has ten trapezoidal niches. There are beautiful views overlooking the Sacred Valley of the Incas, with the Cordillera Vilcabamba and the snow-capped peak of Salcantay dominating the western horizon. Chinchero is believed to be the mythical birthplace of the rainbow. Next we visit the mysterious concentric circular terraces of Moray which, according to some scholars, could have been an agricultural research centre. From here we head to the salt mines of Maras. This village is a salt-producing centre that dates back all the way to pre-Inca times. There are thousands of salt pools all carved into the mountain side. We walk down through the salt pans to the Sacred valley for a lunch break before heading to our hotel in Ollantaytambo. The rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy beauty of this famous valley. Overnight: Tika Wasi Hotel or similar.
Today we enjoy another day in the beautiful Sacred Valley with a tour of Ollantaytambo. During our time in Ollantaytambo we visit its remarkable temple/fortress set high on a ridge above the village. We also explore the quaint village itself with a fascinating mixture of Inca and Colonial architecture. This evening we have a pre-trek briefing with our trekking guide at our hotel and prepare for the trek.
Overnight: Tika Wasi Hotel or similar.
Early morning departure for a beautiful 90 minute drive to the trailhead at Patacancha (3750m) from where we start our trek. We follow the course of the small Patacancha River to Huilloq (3520m) where we visit some of the classrooms at the local high school built by the World Expeditions Foundation almost 10 years ago. We then continue our hike down through steep fields offering us the chance to see how traditional methods of farming still continue to this day. We reach the wonderful hamlet of Marcacocha (3350m) where we meet our cooks and camp staff and enjoy a picnic buffet lunch and a traditional weaving demonstration. We spend our first night on the trail here. Camp. Walking approx 3 hours.
*Note - This trail is beautiful and should not be mixed up with the Classic Inca Trail. This ancient and classic Inca pathway is less arduous and at a lower altitude than the traditional Inca Trail, and for those not wishing to trek, we can accommodate you in a comfortable location in Ollantaytambo.
We spend the morning in this fascinating city visiting its many local and tourist markets and one of its museums. The afternoon is free for you to explore the city. On the last evening after a farewell meal we can visit one of the superb 'pe as', live music clubs to watch a variety of excellent bands and soloists playing the magical traditional Andean instruments. La Paz has a reputation as the centre of Andean traditional music.
After breakfast we take a 4 to 5 hours drive via the straits of Tiquina - the narrowest and also by coincidence the deepest part of Lake Titicaca - and on across the immense Bolivian altiplano to its biggest city, La Paz - at 12,800' (3,900m) the highest 'capital' city in the world.
Drive around the lake and across the border into Bolivia to the town of Copacabana - beautifully situated on the shores of the lake. We have an opportunity to savour the delicious Lake Titicaca trout. We have the rest of the day at leisure to explore this small interesting lakeside town or to walk to the top of the great hill above the city that is the destination of many pilgrims from all over Bolivia. We spend the night in an hotel that has great views across the lake.
Puno is a typical high Andean town, set on the shores of the lake and located on the great altiplano that stretches all the way to La Paz. There will be an opportunity to cruise Lake Titicaca the highest navigable lake in the world and visit some of the unique floating 'tortora' reed islands of the Uros Indians. The afternoon is free to relax in Puno and explore its streets and markets.
We depart early in the morning for the 6 to 8 hour journey by private vehicle* to Puno set on the shores of Lake Titicaca at 12,630' (3,820m). The road takes us south along the great valley below Cusco and then as we head further south we start to climb towards the great continental divide at La Raya. To the east we see some of the strange peaks of the Carabaya Range. From the pass we descend quickly onto the vast dry altiplano with its isolated villages and herds of Andean camelid including the alpaca and vicu a. Our first glimpses of lake Titicaca remind us that this is hardly a lake - its more like a vast inland sea that also happens to be the highest navigable lake in the world! We spend our night at our hotel in Puno.
*Note: For smaller groups of 2 - 5 passengers we use the first class public bus to Puno.
After breakfast we continue hiking down the Patacancha River to the small settlement of Pallata (3200m) from where we start to hike up to the major archaeological site at Pumamarca (3300m). After exploring this impressive Inca site made of many well built stone and adobe-brick walls and extensive terracing we continue our descent via the small terraced Inca site at Media Luna and on to Ollantaytambo, where we cross a bridge over the Urubamba River which still shows evidence of the huge foundations of what was once a very important Inca bridge. After another couple of hours of fairly gentle hiking along the river bank, with terrific views across to the great Inca fortress/citadel of Ollantaytambo, we end up at Cachicata (2700m) where we spend the night. Camp. Walking approx 7 hours.
Today we start early to explore these remarkable and truly enigmatic ruins. 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. Here we transfer to our hotel for two nights. NB - depending on train schedules, we may arrive into Cusco very late at night.
On our final day of hiking, after an early breakfast, we cross the raging Urubamba River to the tiny train station at Km82, from where we take an impressive short one hour train journey to Km104 (2150m). Here we will join the very popular last section of the legendary Inca Trail - an opportunity to exchange tales with lots of other trekkers! Below us are laid out the great forest-covered peaks and deep dark valleys - the setting of our goal, Machu Picchu (2430m). On the way we'll take time out to explore the recently cleared extensive ruins of Wi ay Wayna (2600m), before covering the last few miles to finally reach Inti Punku (The Gateway to the Sun) awe-inspiringly set above the 'lost city' of Machu Picchu. Your first view of the ruins really ds take your breath away! After a brief 'first look' at the ruins, we take a 30 minute bus journey down to our hotel in Aguas Calientes (2350m) for a well deserved soak in the nearby hot springs (optional). Walking approx 6 hours.
*Important: Please be aware that, because of the Peruvian authorities' new rules on the Inca Trail, there may be changes in the actual trek itinerary and the campsites we use.
Today we take a spectacular walk following the left bank of the great Urubamba River as we descend towards our goal at Machu Picchu. During the day we get some of the best views of snow peaks in this part of southern Peru, including views of the classic peak of Veronica at 5990 metres. We spend our last night camping at Apu Veronica (2600m) where we still enjoy great views of the mountains and glaciers. Camp. Walking approx 5 hours.
There is a chance to join an optional tour to the ruins of Tiahuanacu or the highest 'ski-resort' in the world at Chacaltaya. Please discuss the options with your trip guide.
A good day to relax, do your washing and re pack after the trek and perhaps 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 prepare for the next stage of our journey through the Andes.
After checking out of your hotel you will be transferred to La Paz airport where your services end.