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Essence of Peru (EOP)
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Essence of Peru (EOP)

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 9 - 15 day(s)
Group Size: 2 - 29 people
Destination(s): Peru  
Specialty Categories: Cultural Journey   Archeology/History  
Season: January - December
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 3775 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 5420 US Dollar (USD)

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Lima. Transfer from airport to your hotel in Lima. Upon arrival in Lima, meet your local guide or representative at the airport and transfer to the hotel, located in the fashionable southern district of Miraflores. This neighborhood is easy to negotiate - housing many shops and restaurants and with easy access to commercial areas of the city. It enjoys a stunning location beside the Pacific Ocean.

Day 2: Lima to Paracas. After breakfast depart southward on a deluxe coach to the city of Paracas where you will stay in hotel la Hacienda Bahia Paracas.

Day 3: Paracas. Ballestas Islands and Nazca via Ica. Ballestas Islands boat excursions. After a hearty breakfast, transfer to the port in Paracas where you will take a boat to Ballestas Islands. These spectacular islands, eroded into many caves and arches, provide shelter for thousands of seabirds and hundreds of sea-lions. Although the islands fall just outside the Paracas National Reserve they are protected by separate legislation.

The islands are home to over 150 species of marine bird including the Humboldt penguin, cormorants, boobies and pelicans. Even condors have been known to visit. On the shores can be seen large numbers of sea-lions and in the sea it is possible to encounter dolphins and even whales. Take warm clothing for this boat trip! Upon return to Paracas, transfer back to Ica. Sunny Ica is an oasis of palm trees and moonscapes sand dunes. Ica is known for is its vineyards, planted by the Spaniards in the 16th century.

On the banks of the Pacific Ocean on the south coast of the Peru, there is a place of incomparable beauty. A bay where the winds sculpted the stone to his caprice, where the captivating vestiges of thousand-year-old cultures guard still undecipherable secrets, as the Candelabro, and the wild life wraps our senses, while the Sun paints intensely the skies to the late afternoon. Paracas: immensity, sand and sea the wind is born from the lungs of the former gods, those who adored the first inhabitants of the peninsula and today, are lost in the labyrinth of the history. Yes this way it is Paracas, a hotel nailed in the middle of a natural sanctuary waiting for you. Transfer Paracas - Nazca via Ica Lagoon and Winery.

Ica is surrounded by more than 80 bodegas (wineries) which produce the world's best Pisco, or white grape brandy, and a variety of ports and wines, whose traditional way of production has changed very little over 5 centuries. Visit the Plaza de Armas, lined with ancient trees and the San Francisco Church. The city of Ica changed dramatically in the 1990's after a wave of highland settlers came here. Visit the Oasis Huacachina, a magical sight - a lake of green waters fringed with palm trees and reed swamps surrounded on all sides by huge sand dunes.

The Regional Museum exhibits treasures of the pre-Columbian cultures such as Paracas and Nazca. Transfer from Ica to Nazca where you will stay in the Hotel Nazca Lines, probably the best hotel in town with 32 rooms and 2 suites which are spacious and comfortable. Amongst the facilities is a good restaurant, a bar, a large clean swimming pool and tennis courts.

Day 4: Nazca to Arequipa. After your buffet breakfast, embark on a very special adventure. Overflight Nazca Lines. The Nazca lines are a series of geoglyphs located in the Nazca desert, a high arid plateau that stretches 53 miles or more than 80 kilometers between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana in Peru. They are believed to have been created by the Nazca culture between 200 BC and AD 700. There are hundreds of individual figures, ranging in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks, llamas and lizards.

To fly over the Nazca lines is something truly awe-inspiring. The experience takes you on a 20 minute flight over the lines, whose origin nobody knows though speculations are numerous. During the flight, the pilot shows the entire 12 line Nazca complex, with some detailed explanations of the monkey, eagle, astronaut and other giant symbols. Return to the hotel and board your intercity coach from Nazca to Arequipa.

Tonight stay at the Hotel Posada del Inca Arequipa directly on the Plaza de Armas! Arequipa is known as "The White City" because many of its historical buildings were constructed using the local pearly-white volcanic sillar stone. It is Peru's second city and sits triumphantly within a valley at the base of the snow capped "Misti" Volcano. The city has a long history full of cultural, architectural and natural wealth. It offers amazing landscapes and is a UNESCO Heritage site. Visit the Cathedral, Compañía de Jesús Church, Santa Catalina Convent and the Yanahuara viewpoint. For purchasing handicrafts, there are many markets near the Main Square such as the busy El Patio del Ekeko.

Day 5: Arequipa. After breakfast, depart on a City Tour of Arequipa and Sta Catalina Monastery (4h). The White City, has a wide history, cultural and natural wealthiness, this city offers amazing landscapes, we invite you to take a look and meet all its attractions such as: city tour, you will visit the Cathedral, Compañía de Jesús Church, Santa Catalina Convent, Dama de Ampato (Juanita Mummy) museum and the Yanahuara viewpoint.

Also you can visit the surroundings like: Goyeneche house, la Mansión del Fundador, Sabandía mill, the well known restaurants of Tiabaya the thermal waters of Yura. For purchasing hand crafts, there are many markets near Main Square like El Patio del Ekeko. The cathedral San Francisco of Arequipa. Entirely built (and rebuilt after the seismic) in sillar (volcanic white stone), it exhibit its 70 columns, its three doors and its two arches on a whole side of Plaza de Armas.

Day 6: Arequipa to Colca Valley. Early morning departure to the Colca Valley. The journey takes 5 hours as we ascend to the highlands passing through Pampa Cañahuas, where small herds of vicuñas, llamas and alpacas can be observed, and the viewpoint of Mirador de los Andes, from where you can see many volcanoes and enjoy the breathtaking landscape. After arrival in Chivay, the main town in the Colca Valley, you will be taken to your lodge. In the afternoon you can relax in the thermal springs of La Calera. Overnight at Mama Yacchi Lodge.

The lodge is located in the town of Coporaque, in one of the most picturesque and beautiful areas in the Colca Valley and with an altitude of 3640 meters over sea level. La Casa de Mama Yacchi is built basically with materials of the area, in addition having the services that you require to make your visit to the Colca a memorable experience. The guestrooms have private bathroom with hot water (24 hours) and the comfort you expect.

Dining room has an incomparable view of the Colca Valley, in a peculiar atmosphere ideal to assist feeding services, where you will be able to enjoy international food and the exquisite typical cuisine. Because of its location, it allows to offer multiple possibilities in both ecological and adventure tourism in an experience that you will remember as fascinating. This is the perfect spot from where you will be able to carry out all the activities you want: hiking, rafting, mountain bicycle, horseback riding and more.

Day 7: Colca Valley. Breakfast at the lodge. We leave early in the morning and drive to Cruz del Condor, natural observation point from where the magnitude of the Colca Canyon and the spectacular flight of the majestic condor can be seen. During a short hike you will enjoy the beautiful landscape and see the depth of this canyon, one of the deepest in the world. We will continue to the village of Cabanaconde, from where the view of the canyon is even more amazing.

Here you will have the chance to participate in either another hike, horseback riding or simply relax. On the way back to the lodge we can stop at some places to have a wonderful view of the Colca Valley with its ancient terraces. You will visit the some Andean villages such as of Lari and Yanque, with their beautiful colonial churches and where people are known for their intricately decorated traditional clothing.

Day 8: Colca Valley to Puno. After breakfast, departure to Puno. You will enjoy this ride that takes around 6 hours, while crossing the Andean mountains with their beautiful landscapes. Check into your lakeside hotel for the next 2 nights in Puno. You’ll enjoy the tranquil atmosphere and spectacular landscapes that surround this hotel, which is located on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Experience the magnificent scenery of Lake Titicaca. Visit the Aymara people and admire their handmade crafts, or, take a tour of the Yaravi, the oldest motorized iron ship of the world.

Day 9: Lake Titicaca. Today you will visit the Uros Floating Islands. The boat trip will depart from the dock in Puno to the Lake Titicaca. You will visit the "floating islands" of the Uros Indians. These islands are made of piles of reeds, an ancient tradition of the Uros. They live in huts built on platforms of reeds, no more than 30 – 40 cm thick. The locals are descendants of the oldest people of the Altiplano, though the present Uros people have mixed with the Aymara and no pure Uros exist anymore. Transportation to and from the hotel is included.

Afternoon - excursion to the Chullpas de Sillustani funerary towers date back from 13th century, with the highest at 12 meters/39 feet. These ancient ruins are located 35 km from Puno, on the way from Juliaca. The wonderful view and Lago Umayo (Umayo Lake), which is nearby make this tour a very special experience.

Day 10: Puno to Cuzco. Travel in luxury on the orient express. After breakfast, transfer to train station where you will get on the orient express train to travel in luxury from Puno to Cuzco including lunch (10 hours). This spectacular rail journey begins in beautiful city of Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca and travels north to historic Cuzco. On the journey, the train makes a gentle climb to higher, and cooler, altitudes. It begins in the gentler, rolling Andean Plains, where vicuña and alpaca can be seen.

The 2nd half of the journey is dominated by the magnificent Andean mountains which towers over the deep valleys of the meandering Huatanay River. If traveling aboard the Andean explorer, the glass-walled observation car provides the perfect opportunity to view the beautiful scenery. The journey is broken by a scenic stop at La Raya, which is also the highest point on the route. Upon arrival in Cuzco a transfer will take you to the Novotel Cuzco, your accommodation for the next 2 nights. Located in the heart of Cusco, gateway to Machu Picchu ruins.

Day 11: Cuzco. American buffet breakfast. The old capital of the Inca Empire. Cuzco or Q'osqo means in the native Quechua language "Navel of the World", it was indeed the capital of the great Inca civilization from the 13th to the 15th century, when most of its amazing stone structures were built. After the Spanish conquest, most of the Inca palaces and temples were destroyed and their fundamentals were used for the construction of the colonial buildings and churches.

This has made Cuzco a rich mixture of Inca and Colonial architecture and nowadays a Unesco World Cultural Heritage site. Visit to the Korikancha, the ancient temple of the sun, where the Spaniard built the Convent of Santo Domingo. Then visit to the Cathedral, on the Main Square of Cuzco. The tour continues with the visit to the nearby Inca ruins: the fortress of Sacsayhuaman - a series of imposing stone structures, Q'enqo, Puca Pucara and Tambomachay, the Bath of the Inca. Tonight enjoy a dinner and folklore show!

Day 12: Machu Picchu by 1st class train and guided visit. 1st class train ride from Cuzco to Machu Picchu, a highlight of any trip to the Andes. The scenery is simply spectacular, and the recently refurbished Vistadomes with their panoramic windows allow you to enjoy it in comfort. Very early in the morning you will be picked up from your hotel to the train station.

The 1/4 hour journey takes you through a changing landscape. First there is a steep climb out of Cuzco into the surrounding hillside, by means of a series of switchback turns known locally as "the zig zag". Soon the train stops at the beautiful village of Poroy, and then descends into the Sacred Valley, passing by lush, green fields and colorful villages in the foothills of the Andes. From here on, there are wonderful vistas of the mountains and, deep in its dramatic canyon, the beautiful Urubamba River running through the Sacred Valley. For optimum views of the Andes, windows have been installed into the carriage ceilings.

And what a destination awaits you! Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas, is one of the wonders of the Americas. The stunning ruins of the ancient citadel, perched on a mountain peak high in the Andes, are perhaps the greatest surviving testament to Inca civilization. Built in the 15th and 16th centuries, Machu Picchu was the secret city of the Incas, never discovered by the Spanish. It was only rediscovered in 1911, by an American, Professor Bingham, and it remains South America´s most spectacular archaeological site. Upon arrival in Aguas Calientes, make the brief walk through the town markets and over the railway bridge to board any one of several coaches which will take you up to the entrance of Machu Picchu. You guide will await you there for a visit to the Lost City of the Incas.

Make the brief walk through the town markets and over the railway bridge to board any one of several coaches which will take you up to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Your guide will await you there for a visit to the Lost City of the Incas. After the tour, return to Aguas Calientes. Free time for lunch. Tonight stay in Aguas Calientes, at the Hatuchay Towers.

Day 13: Machu Picchu and Aguas Calientes. Free day in Aguas Calientes. You may choose to return up the mountain for a morning walk through Machu Picchu, bathe in the hot springs of Aguas Caliente, or visit the Orchid Gardens in Aguas Calientes. Around 3:30 p.m. - return travel by train from Machu Picchu to Cuzco. Your transfer awaits you in Cuzco back to your hotel Novotel.

Day 14: Cuzco. Breakfast is followed by a full day excursion to the plentiful and beautiful Urubamba Valley, the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Visit to the colonial town of Pisac. Pisac is famous because of the Indian market that takes place in the town on Tuesdays, Thursdays and principally Sundays. A smaller version of this market with some handicraft sellers on the main square can be visited on the other days of the week.

A buffet lunch will be served on a local restaurant in the valley. The tour ends in Ollantaytambo, which is also a beautiful little town and at the same time one of the most important Inca sites of Peru. Not only is it home to historical buildings and temples, but it also has spectacular terraced landscapes and open views to the Urubamba valley.

Day 15: Cuzco to Lima. Guided transfer to the Cuzco airport from where you will get on yout flight back to Lima. This afternoon, enjoy a tour of Peru's bustling capital is one of the most interesting cities in South America - a potent mix of colonial architecture, superb museums, Inca gold and glamorous shops. It is built on both sides of the River Rimac and was founded by Pizarro in 1535. Having experienced changing fortunes over its history, it is now claiming its place amongst South America's emerging hotspots.

Visit to San Francisco, the greatest monumental complex of colonial art in America. We will see its basilica with 21 altars, convent with a cloister and Clementina and Capitular rooms, choir and monk's library, and the Museo de Profundis that has 111 canvases from the Rubens School. We will also see the Sacristy, with works by Zurbaran and Rivera, the Gran Patio ornamented with XVI century tiles from Sevilla, Moorish arcs and finally the underground catacombs. Afterwards, transfer to Lima airport for your onward journey.

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

2011 Prices special edition (September 15-29):
- 15 days package: 3490 USD p/p in double/twin
- Single supplement: 910 USD
- Single independent: on request.

2011 Prices:
- 9 days package: 2855 USD p/p in double/twin
- Single supplement: 765 USD
- Single independent: 3895 USD .

2011 Prices:
- 15 days package: 3775 USD p/p in double/twin
- Single supplement: 1120 USD
- Single independent: 5420 USD.

Price Includes:
- Up to 14 nights in 4-star hotels
- All breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners
- All sightseeing and Transfers
- All entrance fees
- All flights
- 1st class train or bus transportation.

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South America   Peru   Local Culture   Cultural Journey   Archeology/History