ATV 19: LIMA – PARACAS – NAZCA – AREQUIPA – CUSCO (15D-14N)

Departure       :  Any day

Duration        :  15 days and 14 nights

Location        :  Southern part of Peru

Season          :  All year round.

DESCRIPTION:

This is an interesting trip along the Panamerican Road, from Lima to Arequipa, visiting Paracas, the Ballestas Islands and Nazca Lines. Once in Arequipa, we’ll take an overnight excursion to the Colca Canyon to admire the condors´ flight. Afterwards, we’ll visit Lake Titicaca and Cusco, as well as the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machu Picchu.

1st DAY: LIMA – AIRPORT – HOTEL

Reception at the airport, transfer and overnight stay at a hotel in Miraflores, Lima.

2nd DAY: LIMA – CITY TOUR AND GOLD MUSEUM

In the morning, city tour of Lima (half day). We’ll pick you up at your hotel at 10:00 a.m., to start the city tour, with the “Plaza de Armas” (Main Square), which has been declared as “World Heritage” by the UNESCO. Along two sides of it, there are arcades with shops: “Portal de Escribanos” (Writers’ Arcades) and “Portal de Botoneros” (Button Makers’ Arcade). In the center of the Plaza, there is a bronze fountain dating back to 1560. The Cathedral is also located on the Plaza. Note the splendidly carved stalls, the silver covered altars surrounded by fine woodwork, as well as mosaic covered walls representing the Coat of Arms of Lima and that of Pizarro. Next to the Cathedral, there is the Archbishop’s Palace.

Then, we’ll visit the Monastery of San Francisco, famous for its typical tilework and paneled ceilings in the cloisters. The catacombs under the church and part of the monastery are also well worth seeing. Afterwards, we’ll visit the old colonial streets, in the center of the city, along with the modern Lima, with the districts of San Isidro and Miraflores. Later on, we’ll visit the Peruvian Gold Museum. This excellent private collection includes pre-Columbian gold, silver and bronze, ceramics, weavings, mummies, etc. The second floor of this museum shelters a remarkable collection of weapons, with an impressive exhibition from Spanish colonial times. Overnight stay at the hotel. (Breakfast & Lunch).

3rd DAY: PARACAS

Early morning transfer to the bus station. At 7:30 a.m., we’ll take the Royal Class bus (the best available) to go to Pisco (3 hours). Upon arrival, transfer to the Paradise Hostal or similar. Then, excursion to Paracas (about 2 h.30). Paracas is one of the best marine reserves in Peru, with a very high concentration of marine birds. In the afternoon, we’ll return to the hotel to spend the night (Breakfast).

4th DAY: BALLESTAS ISLANDS – NAZCA LINES

At 7:15 a.m., transfer to the dock in Paracas, to go on a boat excursion to the spectacular Ballestas Islands, where erosion left numerous natural arches and caves providing shelter for sea lions, as well as thousands of seabirds, some of which, very rare. These islands are also known as the “Peruvian Galapagos”. At the end of that excursion, transfer to Nazca, where we’ll admire the famous Nazca Lines, drawn like furrows in the stony desert. There are many lines and not only parallel or geometrical figures, but also designs such as a dog, an enormous monkey, a bird with a wing span of over 100 meters, a spider and a tree, among many others. These lines represent some sort of vast astronomical pre-Incan calendar and are best seen from the sky. Therefore, we’ll take a half hour flight above the lines and then, visit the Chauchilla Cemetery, where skulls, mummies and pieces of pottery litter the desert. At 9:30 p.m., we’ll take the Royal Class bus to go to Arequipa, where we’ll arrive at about 6:00 a.m. Transfer to the hostal (Breakfast).

5th Day: AREQUIPA

Around 3:00 p.m., we’ll go on Arequipa’s city tour (half day) which includes the Santa Catalina Convent. The city has fine Spanish buildings and many old and interesting churches built with “sillar” stone; a pearly white volcanic material almost exclusevely used in the initial construction of Arequipa. The Santa Catalina Convent is by far the most remarkable site, as it was first opened to the public in 1970, after 4 centuries of mystery. Overnight stay at a hostel (Breakfast).

6th DAY: COLCA CANYON

At 8:00 a.m., transfer from your hotel to leave Arequipa and head North-West, behind the snow-covered volcano Chachani, to get to Yura; a small valley with thermal springs. There, we’ll see wild vicuñas in Pampa Cañahuas National Reserve, alpacas and lamas in Tocra, some birds like flamingoes, ibis, Andean geese, ducks and the Andean eagle “kara kara”, from a vantage point with view on the volcanoes and snow-covered mountains, in Patapampa (4,800 m. – 15,000 ft.). We’ll also see the mountains of Ampato, Sabancaya, Walca Walca, etc., as well as Chivay; the valley’s capital city. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the thermal springs and pools in La Calera (Admission to the pools not included – about $2.00 per person). Overnight stay at the Colca Lodge or similar (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner).

7th DAY: COLCA CANYON

Early in the morning, after breakfast, we’ll leave for a full day excursion on the left shore (¿DO RÍO, DE UM LAGO?), to visit beautiful typical towns, like Yanque and Maca, colonial churches, gentle people with traditional needlework clothes, hundreds of pre-Incan benched terraces still in use, with andean crops like corn, quinua, kiwicha (amaranto), etc. Stop at The Cross of the Condor, to appreciate the depth of the canyon and contemplate the flight of the condors, as well as stone scale models (¿DE QUE COSA?) and some pre-Incan graves. Time for lunch and return to Arequipa, with arrival there at about 6:00 p.m. Overnight stay at the Centenario Hostal or similar. (Breakfast & Lunch). * Note that part of the way to the Colca Canyon, is not asphalted.

8th DAY: PUNO

Transfer to the airport, where we’ll take the flight to Puno (airfare included). Reception at the airport and transfer to the Qelqatani Hotel or similar. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the “chullpas” in Sillustani (pre-Colombian funeral towers). The scenery is that of a desert, but the place is impressive. These “towers” rise in a beautiful setting, on a peninsula of Lake Ayumara, about 32 km. from Puno and most of them date back to the period of the Incan occupation, in the 15th century. The engineering involved in their construction, is more complex than anything the Incas ever built. Overnight stay (Breakfast).

9th DAY: UROS AND TAQUILE ISLANDS

We’ll pick you up at your hotel at 7:30 a.m. After a 2 hour motorboat ride on Lake Titicaca, we’ll arrive at the Uros Islands. Fishermen and hunters inhabit these floating islands and use the cattail (totora), a type of aquatic reed, which grows in the lake, to maintain the conditions that allow the islands to stay afloat, due to the fact that the dense roots developed by these plants, support the island. The roofs are waterproof, but the houses are extremely humid because of the surrounding water, altitude and cold climate. Up to present days, the people there still speak Quechua and Aymara.

Then, we’ll visit Taquile Island, where we’ll have lunch. There is a shop on the plaza that sells exceptional wool products of very fine quality, but somewhat expensive. Taquile Island is famous for its handicraft production and particularly, for its beautiful textiles. The island is long and narrow: About 1 km. wide and 6 to 7 km. long and we must warn you that the visit could be exhausting due to the 533 steps of stone stairway to climb, to get to the village and because of the altitude (13,000 ft or 4,300 m. above sea level). On Taquile, there are numerous pre-Incan and Incan archaeological remains, as well as Incan terracing work. In the afternoon, we’ll return to Puno and stay overnight at the Bolivar Hotel or similar (Breakfast & Lunch).

10th DAY: PUNO – CUSCO

After breakfast, transfer to the train or bus station and to go on a ten hour train or bus ride to Cusco *, across the scenic high Andes’ landscapes, only dotted by small villages and herds of lamas and vicuñas. Upon arrival, transfer to the Orquídea Real Hotel or similar (Breakfast & Lunch). *Additional fare of US$ 80.00 if travelling by train. Ask for seat availability.

11th DAY: CUSCO – CITY TOUR

Morning at leisure. At 1:45 p.m., Cusco’s City Tour. This tour includes the major sites of historical interest in Cusco, such as the famous Incan ceremonial and astronomical center of Sacsayhuaman and the Temple of the Sun. Also included in this tour, is a tourist pass, giving you access to all the major attractions in the Cusco area as a whole (i.e., including places outside the city itself). This tour ends at 6:00 p.m. Overnight stay at the Alfredo´s Hostel or similar (Breakfast).

12th DAY: SACRED VALLEY TOUR (Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday)

At 8:45 a.m., we’ll depart for the Sacred Valley Tour, which includes: The bus service to the market of Pisaq, visits to Calca, Urubamba, the Archaeological Complex of Ollantaytambo and the market in Chinchero. There is an English and Spanish speaking guide and lunch in a typical restaurant, in Urubamba. Of course, throughout this trip, we’ll enjoy magnificent views of the high Peruvian Andes. At 6:00 p.m., we’ll be back at Alfredo`s Hostel or similar (Breakfast & Lunch).

13th DAY: MACHU PICCHU

At 5:45 a.m., we’ll pick you up at your hotel, to go to the train station and board the “Vistadome” class train (former “Autowagón”), which leaves at 06:00 a.m. At 09:40 a.m., we’ll arrive at the Aguas Calientes Station. From there, we’ll take a 15 minute bus ride to the Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu. Once there, you will go on a guided visit of the archaeological complex with an English and Spanish speaking guide. Overnight stay at the Presidente Hostel or similar, in Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Village). (Breakfast and Box lunch). *Optional: For lunch at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, instead of box-lunch, add $30.00 to the price of the tour.

14th DAY: MACHU PICCHU

Morning at leisure in Aguas Calientes, to continue visiting the area and Machu Picchu (bus ticket and entrance fees not included). At 3:35 p.m., we’ll take the train back to Cusco, arriving at 7:05 p.m., to stay overnight at Alfredo`s Hostel or similar (Breakfast).

15th DAY: TRANSFER TO THE AIRPORT AND FLIGHT TO LIMA

Transfer to the airport, where you’ll take the flight back to Lima (airfare included). (Breakfast).

END OF OUR SERVICES.

INCLUDES: All hotel and lodge accommodations based on double occupancy rooms. All scheduled transportation. All transfers. All scheduled excursions with English and Spanish speaking guide service. All entrance fees, meals and domestic airfares as specified in the itinerary.

PS:  We might replace above mentioned hotels with other similar ones, in the case this would be necessary for operative or other reasonable causes.

NOT INCLUDED IN OUR PRICE: International airfares, airport departure taxes or visa fees, excess luggage charges, additional nights during the trip due to flight cancellations, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages or bottled water, snacks, insurance of any kind, laundry service, phone and radio calls or messages, flight reconfirmations and personal items.

This comprehensive 15 day circuit gives you an unforgettable introduction to places like the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Cusco, Lake Titicaca; the highest navigable lake in the world, along with the World Heritage Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu. In this package, we have combined representative elements of pre-Columbian, Incan and Colonial Peru with the Amazonian jungle´s nature and in each place we´ll visit there is a different culture and unique people. Therefore, you can program it as a regular tour, with a daily departure. But, in order to live the best experience, we highly recommend the private Sun God Tours´option, departing on fixed dates, with no more than 15 participants and probably less, in a group. Note that you select your prefered hotel category and join your group mainly during day trips. So, this really is a semi-private tour.