LIMA – AREQUIPA – COLCA CANYON – PUNO – CUSCO – SACRED VALLEY – MACHU PICCHU
DAY 1: Arrival in Lima Welcome to Peru!
Once you touch down in Lima, your Photo Tours Peru host will escort you to your comfortable and stylish hotel in the oceanfront Miraflores district. Most international flights arrive late in the evening, so we’ll bring you straight to your hotel so you’ll be rested and refreshed for the next day.
DAY 2: Lima to Arequipa
Your Lima host will escort you to the airport in the morning and you’ll fly direct to Arequipa. Often called “the White City,” Arequipa is famous for its bleached bright colonial-era buildings, which are made from a pearly volcanic rock known as sillar.First we will visit the church and lookout of the Colonial District of Yanahuara where we get great views of the city. Then we move on to the Carmen Alto neighborhood lookout of the countryside and the bottom the Chilina valley. There are beautiful views here of the Misti, Chachani and Pichu-Pichu Volcanoes, typical Pre Inca terraces that are still cultivated, and of the Chilina valley next to the Chili river. We return to the city to visit the Cathedral, main square, the colonial area, church and Jesuits Cloisters of La Compañía and its polychromatic dome. Finally we will explore the famous Santa Catalina Monastery citadel, built in the 16th century and opened to public in 1970 after 400 years. (Ticket for the Cathedral & its Museum is not included)
DAY 3: Arequipa and Colca Canyon
Early in the morning, after breakfast, we will leave Arequipa to journey to the center of the Earth, for us the Colca Canyon. We will travel north-west behind the snow-covered Volcano Chachani. In Yura, a small valley with thermal springs, we will see wild vicuñas in the Pampa Cañahuas National Reserve, as well as alpacas & llamas in Tocra, and some birds like flamingos, ibis, andean goose, ducks, and the Andean eagle “Kara Kara”. Next we will head up to the view point at Patapampa (4800m / 15,000ft) which is surrounded by volcanoes and snow covered mountains such as Ampato, Sabancaya, Walca Walca, etc. Our next stop is Chivay, capital of the valley where we will have an afternoon visit to the thermal springs & pools in La Calera (admission to the pools not included). Overnight at selected accommodation. (L / D)
DAY 4: Colca Canyon to Puno
Following breakfast at the hotel, head for Condor’s Cross to peer down into the seemingly endless depths of Colca Canyon, which is almost three times as tall as Dubai’s Burj Khalifa skyscraper. While here, be on watch for the majestic Andean condor, which is frequently spotted soaring above the canyon’s abyss. Next, we’ll visit some of the settlements in and around Colca Valley to learn about local customs. In the afternoon, enjoy views of the picturesque countryside during the five-hour journey to Puno. Because you’ll be in a private car, you can sit back, stretch out and relax. In Puno.
DAY 5: Puno and Sillustani Chullpas
The tour begins in the afternoon at around 2:00pm. The Sillustani Chullpas (pre-Incan funeral towers) are situated on an Aymara peninsula of Lake Titicaca about 32 km from Puno. The setting is dramatic and beautiful. Most of the towers date from the period of Inca occupation in the 15th century, but the engineering involved in their construction is more complex than anything the Incas built. The towers were Aymara tombs where they kept the human remains of the nobles, called “the Mallkus”. Once we have finished the tour you will be transfered back to your hotel.
DAY 6: Puno and Lake Titicaca Cultural Tour / Uros Island / the Island of Taquile
Today, you’ll enjoy a guided private tour – which can be customized to suit those on family tours to Peru – around Lake Titicaca. Travel by boat to the floating islands of Uros, home to an ancient community whose ancestral lineage stretched back to pre-Inca times. Thanks to their self-made reed islands, which require continual renovation, the Uros people have managed to preserve their unique way of life and survive not just the Incas and the Spanish, but also the threat of encroaching modernity.
Next, sail out to Taquile Island, whose residents are honored by UNESCO for their weaving skills. Eat a lunch prepared by the hospitable islanders, before returning to Puno for transfer to your hotel of choice.
DAY 7: Altiplano to Cusco A Sightseeing Tour by Bus from Puno to Cusco
After breakfast, settle in for a seat on a guided bus tour that will take you from Puno to Cusco, stopping at several key points of interest along the scenic route. The first stop-off comes at the Pre-Inca Pukara archaeological site. Next up: La Raya, which at around 14,220 feet, will be the literal high point of your travels. Vistas of glorious glacier-capped peaks loom in the background. In the foreground, artisans hawk their goods on the roadside stalls.
After an enjoyable lunch en route, we’ll break to stretch our legs once more at Raqchi. The Inca ruins here are quite unlike any others. Rather than just temples or ceremonial centers, this town – once the Inca frontier – possesses unusual stone-and-mud-brick walls, designed to ward off invaders from the south.
The penultimate destination on your guided bus tour will be the church of Andahuaylillas. Whitewashed on the outside, this church’s seemingly humble exterior belies the extravagance that lies inside. The interior’s lavish frescoes, dazzling gold leaf and eye-popping wood sculpture has earned it the handle, “Sistine Chapel of the Americas.”
As you step off the bus in Cusco.
DAY 8: Cusco Private Walking Tour of Cusco
Today you’ll familiarize yourself with the delights of travelers’ favorite, Cusco, during a private city tour. Listen as your guide recounts its fascinating history explaining how it went from the Incas’ resplendent “navel of the world” to a forgotten colonial backwater to a thriving city, much-loved by tourists and locals alike. See vestiges of the Inca inhabitants, indigenous art and elegant colonial buildings and well as the artsy San Blas district and the perma-thronged San Pedro market.
Once you’re acquainted with the city, feel free to spend the afternoon exploring at your leisure.
DAY 9: Cusco city tour, Sacsayhuaman, and nearby archeological sites
You arrive in the city of Cusco and are taken to your hotel, where the rest of the morning is free time to rest and to acclimate yourself to the elevation. The afternoon is set aside for a tour of the incredible colonial city, whose buildings the Spanish constructed on top of the foundations of Incan palaces. You begin at the Korikancha, the Temple of the Sun, to witness the exquisite stone work achieved by the Incas. Next stop is the Main Square for a tour of the Cathedral to see its fabulous wood carvings and impressive altars and the lovely Church of La Compañia de Jesus (Society of Christ). Following that, you head upwards to Sacsayhuaman, a fortress located in a strategic spot high above the city with a view that is absolutely stunning. You will also visit some other archaeological complexes such as Kenko and Tambomachay*, and you will have a panoramic view of Puca Pucara. Accomodations for the night in Cusco. .(B)
Day 10: Sacred Valley of the Incas – Inca´s Balcony and Ollantaytambo Aguas calientes .
After pickup from your hotel, your first stop is in the Andean village of Chinchero. Here, you’ll take in mountain views, visit the main square and see an ancient church with unique floral and religious interior designs. Next, off the beaten path to the small town of Maras. This village is known as a former salt-producing center that dates back all the way to colonial time From there, you’ll head to the fascinating display of terraces in Moray, located only about 2 miles (4 km) from Maras. Moray boasts three amphitheater-like terraces made by the Incas. These terraces, which are carved deep into the earth in a bowl shape, were thought to be used to determine the optimal conditions for growing crops. After visiting Moray, we take a lunch break at Tunupa restaurant. Once full of delicious food, you’ll be ready for the next part of the day trip; we continue on the tour to Ollantaytambo, home to a magnificent Inca fortress that you can explore. This historic fortress was where Spanish conquistadors lost a major battle against the Inca Empire. After you visit the fortress, you’ll have time to walk around the cobblestone streets of Ollantaytambo before heading to Aguas Clientes. Overnight at aguas calientes.(B,L,D)
Day 11: Aguas calientes Sacred City of Machu Picchu Cusco
We will drive up to Machupicchu for the sunrise .You are going to visit one of the most important energy centers of the world and the highpoint of your Peru vacation: Machu Picchu. You will travel to Machu Picchu by train to the town of Aguas Calientes, an experience in which you will see the striking scenery of the Sacred Valley. Upon your arrival, you will be driven to the archeological site, and your Machu Picchu tour will be an unforgettable experience, with a professional guide to impart to you all the history that surrounds this mysterious and enchanting place. Once the guided tour is over, you will have some free time to explore the site on your own, to relax, or to meditate. At the agreed upon hour, you will descend to Aguas Calientes for lunch and board the train later that afternoon for the return trip. Once you have arrived at either the Ollantaytambo or Poroy Station, you will be driven to your hotel. .(B,L
DAY 12: Aguas Calientes Hiking Huayna Picchu Cusco
Hike one of the Coveted, Limited-Entry Hikes at Machu Picchu
At the appropriate time this morning, board the bus with your guide and return to the front gates of Machu Picchu.We have secured hiking permits for you to scale the iconic sugarloaf peak in the background of the classic Machu Picchu postcard photo – Huayna Picchu! Delight in an alternate perspective of Machu Picchu from the top of what is certainly a true feat of engineering.Descend to Aguas Calientes for lunch and your return train to Ollantaytambo. We will be waiting in the station for you and will bring you to your hotel for an evening at leisure.
DAY 13: Cusco to Lima and Home
Today is going home day, but you’ll still manage to squeeze in a little more exploring. After traveling from Cusco to Lima by air, your host will take you to Miraflores, Lima’s attractive commercial borough, where you can shop and explore the leafy oceanfront parks. A car will be available should you wish to see more of Peru’s capital.
Later, you will be transferred to Jorge Chavez Airport for your international flight home.