Incas Pathways

20 Nights / 21 Days

Day 1 Fri Lima

Arrive Lima, Capital of Peru, City of Kings.  Transfer to your hotel in the Miraflores district.

Day 2 Sat Lima (B) 

Lima, City of Kings and capital of Peru.  This was the principal city of Spanish South America from its founding in 1535 until the independence of the South American republics in early 19th century.  It never rains in Lima and only for 2 months of the year are the skies blue – January and February.  You have the whole day to explore Lima A city tour of the Greater Colonial Lima allows you to appreciate the wonderful colonial buildings in downtown Lima, such as the Santo Domingo Convent and the Casa Aliaga;  one of South America’s oldest Spanish homes.  Drive by the elegant tree-lined avenues of San Isidro and Miraflores.  This afternoon an optional visit to the world famous Gold Museum, where you can browse through the unique ceramics gold and weavings. There is also one of the world’s largest collections of armoury and a very extensive display of pre-Columbian textiles.

Day 3 Sun Lima – Paracas (B)

Continue south by bus along the Panamericano Highway through desert countryside alongside the Pacific Ocean to Paracas. This afternoon we have included an excursion into the Paracas Nature Reserve, a marine sanctuary located at the shore of the Pacific Ocean.

Day 4 Mon Paracas- Nasca (B)

This morning visit Ballestas Islands, known as Peru’s mini Galapagos. An opportunity to watch resident and migratory birds, including flamingos, red-legged cormorants, inca terns, bobbies, as well as playful sea lions, amusing Humboldt penguins and if we are lucky, we might see marine otters. This afternoon travel by bus to Nasca.  This small oasis town is famous for the mysterious lines etched in the desert pampas.  Are they messages to travellers from outer space that landed here thousands of years ago or the works of an ancient culture depicting a planting calendar?  Cut into the stony desert, like a giant sketching pad, these many lines include geometrical figures, giant animals and birds.  Enjoy a flight over these amazing lines – the only way to appreciate this archaeological mystery. Come away with your own theories and questions.

Day 5 Tues  Flight over Nasca Lines – then to Arequipa (B)

This morning it is your turn to become airborne and theorise on these mysterious lines etched in the desert.  Wow - up you go to witness this gigantic sketching pad in the desert pampa.  Who drew them?  Why?   Draw your own conclusions or come away with as many questions as answers!   This afternoon visit the Chauchilla cemetery where the hot dry weather has preserved the mummies and clothing they were wrapped in hundreds of years ago.  Rest of the afternoon free to relax and explore before the super comfy late night bus departs for Arequipa.

Day 6 Wed  Explore Arequipa (B)

Arrive early morning to the beautiful city of Arequipa sitting at 2300 metres above sea level and gateway to the Colca Canyon.  Lying at 2880 metres above sea level at the foot of El Misti Volcano (5882m) is the ‘Ciudad Blanca’ – the white city, boasting a delightful climate, plenty of fascinating colonial buildings and gateway to the famous Colca Canyon, home of the condors, one of the world’s deepest canyons.  Must sees here are a visit to the peaceful Santa Catalina Convent, one of the most fascinating religious colonial buildings in Peru. The convent, opened to visitors in 1970, is surrounded by imposing walls and the 450 nuns who lived here led a completely secluded life.  Also here is “Juanita” the mummy of a young girl found in 1995 by an American mountain climber on Mt Ambato.  She is encased in a freezing chamber inside the Museum and open for viewing.

Day 7 Thurs 2 Day Colca Canyon Adventure (B,D)

Drive through the awesome Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest canyons it is only accessible by a dirt road over the Altiplano before dropping to the village of Chivay at 3600 metres above sea level.  The landscape is remarkable for its Inca and pre-Inca terracing which goes on for many kilometres and is the most extensive in Peru.  Life here has changed very little through the centuries where the campesinos still farm the remarkable Inca terracing as their ancestors did before them.  Stay overnight in the small village of Chivay where you can relax in the hot thermal springs and delight in the haunting melodies of the panpipes.

Day 8 Fri Colca Canyon- Cusco (B,L)  

You will get an early morning wakeup call today.  After breakfast we continue deep into the Canyon to the Cruz de las Condors.  This is a remarkable highlight – you can watch the impressive condors rising with the thermals – your chance to get great photos of these wonderful birds.  We then continue our journey of discovery and exploration in the hinterland of the Andes travelling overland to Cusco arriving early evening.

Day 9 Sat Cusco (B) 

Cusco's heart of the Inca Empire, known by the local Quechua Indians as 'Navel of the Universe'. Cusco is an amazing experience.  Lying in an exceptionally beautiful countryside 3300 metres above sea level, here you will encounter a fine blend of Spanish and Inca cultures, colourful Quechua Indian markets, Inca temples and massive stone walls which form the foundations of Colonial Cusco, originally part of the impressive monument of Sacsayhuaman, situated above the town. Morning at leisure.  This afternoon enjoy a comprehensive walking tour of this delightful city, including the Cathedral, Plaza de Armas and Temple of the Sun. 

Day 10 Sun Cusco - Sacred Valley (B)

Visit Sacsayhuaman - this magnificent Inca fortress, which overlooks the city of Cusco. Sacsayhuaman can be variously translated as 'speckled falcon' or 'speckled head'.  The last interpretation refers to the belief that the city of Cusco was set out in the form of a puma whose head was the hill of Sacsayhuaman.  The origins are uncertain but the fortress is generally attributed to the period of Inca Pachacuti, the man who essentially founded the Inca empire.  We also visit the ruins of Qenko, an area of well preserved archaeological ruins and the Red Fortress of Puca Pucara.  Drive through stunning scenery to Chinchero, the most colourful and authentic market in Peru.  Continue on to Maras Salt Pans.   Another fabulous walk today.  Discover these amazing salt pans still mined as they were hundreds of years ago.  Also visit Moray – these unusual Inca ruins consist of several enormous terraced circular depressions, the largest of which is about 30metres deep.  Continue  through the Sacred Valley to our hotel; an old monastery (completely restored of course!)

Day 11 Mon  Cusco-Sacred Valley Trekkers in group depart for Inca Trail Day 1 (B) 

Continue through the beautiful Sacred valley of the Incas.  A visit will be made to Latin Link’s aid project run by Peru Challenge.  Next is Pisaq where you will enjoy a panoramic walk along the original Inca pathways and terracing to the ancient town below.  Visit the markets then continue through this lush valley where the towering fortress of Ollantaytambo dominates the surrounding area. 

For the June departure,this is the day of the Inti Raymi – The Quechua name for the Festival of the Sun.  It was a time of offerings, sacrifices, dancing and celebration.  In the old capital city of the Incas, this festival continues with all its ancient royal pomp and energy.  Dances and ceremonies are played out at the worship center of Sacsayhuaman above Cusco.

 
Day 12 Tues Train to Aguas Calientes or Day 2 Inca Trail (B) 

After breakfast you have an early morning transfer to Ollantaytambo to catch the train to Aguas Calientes; a small railroad town with tons of character – enjoy a soak in the hot pools under the Andean sky or explore the town.

Day 13 Wed Bus to Machu Picchu- Cusco or  Day 3 – Inca Trail (B) 

It's an early start today.  This is the best time to enjoy the peace and tranquillity, not to mention the magic of Machu Picchu, before the trainload’s of visitors arrive.  Machu Picchu, known also as ‘Lost City of the Incas’.  It is undoubtedly the best known and most spectacular archaeological site on the continent and is considered a must for all visitors to Peru.  You will travel by bus up the zig-zag, the Hiram Bingham highway, to the ruins where your first views will take your breath away.  Enjoy a fully guided tour of the ruins, some time to explore on your own, before returning down the mountainside. Time for a snack and then board the train to Ollantaytambo and transfer to our hotel in Cusco.

Day 14 Thurs Cusco or Day 4 Inca Trail (B)  

Free day to explore this delightful city – everyone’s favourite.T  he day is yours to enjoy, all the convents, churches, museums, alpaca and jewellery bargains.

Day 15 Fri Cusco - Puno (B,L) 

Bus ride to Puno through the dramatic landscapes of the highland plateau, with occasional views of tiny Andean  villages and  herds of llamas and vicunas.  We will stop at Andahuaylillas, where there is a beautiful baroque church built at the beginning of the XVIIth century.  It is very well known thanks to its beautiful mural paintings.  We will make a second stop at Raqchi, where there is an Inca temple  built  to worship Wiracocha, one of the most important Inca  gods.  Finally, we will stop at the archaeological museum of Pukara (200BC-AD300) then we will lunch at a restaurant en route.  Arrive in Puno late afternoon.

Day 16 Sat Uros & Taquile Islands  (B,L)

Enjoy a complete day of sailing in Titicaca Lake, the highest navigable lake in the world.  Depart early in the morning for the floating islands of Uros, where the inhabitants still live as they did centuries ago on floating islands they make with the totora reeds that grow on the lake.  Continue sailing towards Taquile Island for a 30 minute hike towards its small town inhabited by Quechua  speaking natives, who have over the generations, developed both an efficient and original social system, as well as a refined handweaving technique.  Lunch will be served in a local house that serves as a restaurant. After lunch we will explore the island and you can appreciate the magnificent views of Lake Titicaca.  After this trek you will embark and return to Puno.

Day 17 Sun Puno – Copacabana (B)

This morning travel through lovely scenery, which follows this mighty lake to the Bolivian border.  After border formalities continue to the sleepy town of Copacabana.  This afternoon is free to relax at this lovely hotel or explore the town.

Day 18 Mon I Isla del sol - La Paz (B)

Up early for a boat trip out on the lake to tranquil Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) where legend has it that the first Inca King rose out of the lake.   On this legendary island, visit the Pilkokaina Inca Palace and enjoy a short walk to the Gardens, Sacred Stairs and Fountain of the Inca.  As we ascend to Yumani village, we have a magnificent view of the lake set to the backdrop of Mount Illampu. Return to Copacabana and continue through even more stunning scenery, with snow-capped peaks and the blue lake, to La Paz, capital of Bolivia and highest capital in the world.  Known as City of Contrasts, here ancient traditions meet the new millennium of chaotic traffic and towering buildings.

Day 19 Tues City tour and shopping (B) 

A morning tour takes you down to where the air is thicker and the elite live.  Visit the witches markets, Calle Jaen with its museums, San Francisco Church, Plaza Murillo, National Congress, Cathedral, Presidential Palace, continuing to the very unusual eroded formations of the Moon Valley.  The afternoon is free to enjoy the uniqueness of this colourful bustling city and shop for bargains and gifts.

Day 20 Wed Explore La Paz (B)

Optional tour to Tiwanaku (pre-Columbian) ruins outside the city or a mountain bike down the world’s most spectacular road or spend the day with a little more shopping and people watching.  A great city to do that!

Day 21 Thurs La Paz (B)

Time to say adios to the Andes.  Transfer to the airport for your flight.

Dates & Prices:

Departures:  2014     09 May, 20 Jun, 01 Aug, 05 Sep 

                    2015     08 May, 12 Jun, 07 Aug, 04 Sep

 

 Prices USD$ Per Person

                                                                      Double / Twin

2014

09 May, 20 Jun, 01 Aug, 05 Sep                           $4095

2015 Prices Subject to change

 

Inca Trail Option: additional USD$405

Galapagos Islands Pre Extension :

Depart to Quito on Thurs,1 week earlier for 3 nights in Quito,Otavalo Tour, 4 night Galapagos Islands Cruise & 1 night in Guayaquil Additional Cost: USD$3030 (twin/double share, includes additional airfares)

 

Amazon Pre Extension: Arrive Lima on Sunday for 2nights, then 4nights in Tambopata Reserve Additional cost :USD$1515 (twin/double share, includes airfares & taxes from Lima) 

(Itineraries for Galapagos & Amazon Extensions  available on request)

 

Bolivia’s Colonial Past, Salt Flats & North West Argentina Post Tour Extension: USD$2455

 

Pantanal Wildlife & Iguassu  Post Tour Extension:  USD$2755 per person