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Inca treasures and Andean majesty
BOOK BY 30TH NOVEMBER*
Enjoy the company of a small group of like-minded travellers as you uncover the secrets of one of South America's most vibrant and fascinating countries. Discover Peru's cultural, culinary and colourfully modern capital, Lima. Explore the 'white city' of Arequipa and its surrounding landscape of volcanoes and canyons, and stay on the shore of Lake Titicaca. Turning north, across the Peruvian altiplano, you'll head to Cuzco, the capital of the Inca civilisation, and crown an unforgettable trip with a visit to the breathtaking 'lost city' of Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu Tour Itinerary
Fly to Lima, via Amsterdam. Upon arrival, meet your Tour Manager and fellow travellers, and transfer to the hotel for your first, relaxed evening in the capital of Peru.
Day One: Fly to Peru
Today's guided sightseeing tour of Lima, the 'City of Kings', will reveal the modern developments of San Isidro and Miraflores, and the Colonial District's splendid squares. See the Plaza Mayor and the Plaza de Armas with its grand Presidential Palace, the cathedral and the churches of Santo Domingo and San Francisco.
Day Two: Lima guided city tour
This evening, choose from a vast selection of dining opportunities: Lima is renowned as one of South America's liveliest culinary centres.
This morning we'll fly to the beautiful city of Arequipa. Set beside the Chile River and three snow-capped volcanoes, Arequipa is known as the 'White City' because of its buildings of pearly volcanic rock. After a guided tour of the city, with its elegant Plaza de Armas and great cathedral, we'll visit the nearby Monasterio Santa Catalina to discover the convent's fascinating hidden and timeless world of religious art and architecture.
Day Three: Fly to Arequipa
Early this morning we'll journey through the startling, scenic landscape of the Aguada Blanca National Reserve, past herds of vicunas and alpaca, and the Inca farming terraces that are still worked today, to the giant chasm of the Colca Canyon, where you will stay overnight.
Day Four: Included Aguada Blanca National Reserve tour
We'll have an early start today, as we drive to the viewpoint at Cruz del Condor. Here, with luck, you'll catch sight of the enormous, majestic condors that make the Colca Canyon's spectacular landscape their home gliding on the swirling winds and thermals that rebound from the Canyon walls.
Day Five: Included Colca Canyon tour
Leaving the Colca Canyon behind, we'll head through the altiplano landscape Andean highlands to the Peruvian border town of Puno, on the shore of Lake Titicaca, where you'll stay for the next two nights.
Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, and the birthplace, in myth, of the Inca civilisation. Now a National Reserve, it's a refuge for many species of migratory and resident birds. It's also home to the Uros and Taquile tribes, whose traditional villages and man-made floating islands of tightly bound reeds you'll visit as you take a boat trip out onto the lake.
Day Six: Included Lake Titicaca cruise
We'll leave the boat on Taquile Island, where a fairly strenuous walk will be rewarded with time to explore some local craft shops, enjoy a traditional Taquile lunch and learn about the local cultures.
Re-board your coach, today, and relax as you take a scenic journey through the Andean highlands and across the altiplano plateau to Cuzco, for a two-night stay in the archaeological capital of South America.
Day Seven: Coach travel to Cuzco
This morning, we'll discover how the varied and fascinating activities of Guinea-pig breeding, beekeeping, ceramics, coffee-growing and handmade chocolate production have developed to support the local communities. Try your hand at the different activities with the guidance of local workers, before we return to Cuzco.
Day Eight: Included Cuzco guided tour
The Incas called Cuzco the 'Navel of the World', and its citadel (reputedly shaped like a puma) was an intricate maze of palaces and gilded temples. The conquering Spanish built their colonial city upon its solid foundations - the skilled stonework of the Inca Temple of the Sun, for example, now underpins a Baroque church. An included guided tour will reveal Cuzco's fascinating history and landmarks - from the elegant Plaza de Armas to San Blas, the bohemian arts district, and colourful San Pedro market's stalls selling local produce, clothing and crafts.
No visit to Cuzco is complete without travelling, through the terraces and rocky gorges of the Sacred Valley, to Ollantaytambo. We'll visit the Awanacancha textile centre, which preserves Incan art and fabric dyeing techniques, and the village and Inca ruins at Pisac, before arriving at the incredible fortress at Ollantaytambo. Once a key Inca stronghold, Ollantaytambo's layout and remaining Inca walls give the best glimpse possible of what an Inca town looked like five centuries ago.
Day Nine: Included Ollantaytambo day trip
You'll stay overnight in the valley, in preparation for tomorrow's extraordinary day.
Whatever has gone before, today is sure to be the pinnacle of your holiday as you travel by narrow-gauge railway to the spa town of Aguas Calientes, then on by bus to Machu Picchu.
Day 10: Included Machu Picchu guided tour
This extraordinary mountaintop citadel is an absolutely unforgettable place. During your visit, our guide will explain the citadel's layout and the supposed significance of buildings such as the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Three Windows and the Sunken Plaza.
Afterwards we'll head to Aguas Calientes, just a short distance from the ancient site, where we'll stay overnight.
Experience a sight unseen by the majority of the modern world - sunrise over Machu Picchu. Afterwards, you'll have the chance to visit Machu Picchu a second time and explore the site before the bulk of visitors arrive, or to relax at the hotel before we return to Cuzco by train. This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner with your travelling companions at the end of your unforgettable tour of Peru.
Day 11: Included Machu Picchu morning visit
After a morning left free for relaxation, shopping and sightseeing in Cuzco, we'll fly back to Lima where you'll check in for your flight home via Amsterdam.
Day 12: Fly back to the UK
After an overnight flight you'll arrive back in the UK at the end of your extraordinary South American holiday.
Day 13: Arrive back in the UK