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Peru Bolivia Chile - Eastern Highlights

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 13 day(s)
Group Size: 2 - 16 people
Destination(s): Peru   Bolivia   Chile  
Specialty Categories: Cultural Journey  
Season: March - December
Airfare Included: Yes
Tour Customizable: Yes
Minimum Per Person Price: 2799 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 2799 US Dollar (USD)

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: The local guide is waiting for the passengers as you arrive in the Cuzco airport. Upon exiting the plane, the change in altitude is immediately felt with a light pressure on your chest and perhaps a needed small gasp for breath. To help alleviate the effects of the high altitude in Cuzco (10827ft) we immediately descend, by private transfer, toward our hotel located in the Sacred Valley. After acclimating we begin our city tour of the most notable sights in and around Cuzco. First stop, the ancient ruins of Saqsayhuaman, home to the largest stone ever moved by the Incas and panoramic views of Cuzco. With stones 30 ft high and weighing more than 125 tons the construction of these Inca sites have perplexed archeologist for decades. What's your theory?

Close by is Qengo, a worship site of the Incas where we explore the area’s labyrinthine underground galleries and the intricate mythical representations carved into the limestone walls. We’ll then continue our tour with a trip to the Incan spa baths of Tambomachay, which boasts a photogenic combination of lush golden fields, free-flowing waterfalls and artistically-carved stone terraces. Our next stop is Puka Pukara (Red fortress) which overlooks the Cuzco valley, we make sure to arrive around dusk, as the red tones of the rocks are most vibrant at this hour. Upon returning to Cuzco we visit the Sun Temple of Coricancha, whose walls were once lined with pure gold and gardens filled with golden statues. Today the walls of this temple serve as the foundation for the Cathedral of Santo Domingo. Our final stop of the day is the famous rock of 12 angles located in the Plaza de Armas. Tonight you are free to enjoy the lively Cuzco nightlife.

Day 2: After being picked up from the Cuzco hotel, our tour continues as we travel by bus for 2 hours to the native village of Pisac. Pisac is a Peruvian village in the Sacred Valley just on the edge of the Urubamba River. The village is well-known for its craft market every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday where one can purchase beautiful jewelery, authentic handicrafts, and handwoven Peruvian clothing.

Continuing our tour we take a short break to have lunch (not included) in the center of town. Although the Pisac Market is a popular destination, the area is perhaps best known for its Incan ruins. Following lunch we take a tour of the fortress of Ollantaytambo, which was used during the Inca civil war to protect all those inside. We find ourselves winding through ancient baths, altars, water fountains, and ceremonial platforms to the main attraction of the Temple of the Sun. Built with huge red stones,the fortress itself towers over us standing over 12 feet tall.

After visiting two memorable locations we take the afternoon train out of Cuzco to a place called Aguas Calientes. Relax in your hotel for the night as tomorrow starts another day of adventure.

Day 3: Today’s the big one: Machu Picchu. After a hearty breakfast we’ll jump on the first train out of Cuzco to a place called Aguas Calientes. Taking in the diverse Andean landscape, from rocky outcrops to lush green jungles, the incredibly scenic train journey takes 2 hours, followed by a 20-minute bus ride up the 2,000-foot-high serpentine road. After enjoying the birds-eye view of Machu Picchu from this superb vantage point, you will meet your expert guide, who’ll take you down into the ruined city on a two-hour walking tour. You will be introduced to the city’s long and varied history, including the conflicting theories about its origins, and will also have a chance to walk around and discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site for yourself. From the ruins, you can take a short hike up to Inti Punku (the door of the sun) and be rewarded with view of Machu Picchu from above. If you've had enough hiking for the day, take advantage of the spiritual setting with some self-thought and meditation before saying goodbye and hopping on the train back to Cuzco.

Day 4: We leave the hotel at 7.30am and board a public bus to the city of Puno making a number of stops to visit the historical landmarks on the way. Our first stop is the Sistine Chapel of South America in the Andahuaylillas district: a small yet intricately-decorated Baroque church. Next is Raqchi, which includes the ruined Temple of Wiracocha, before stopping off for a flavorful Andean buffet lunch.

In the afternoon we visit La Raya on the border between Cuzco and Puno. With an elevation of more than 14,000 ft we see the expansive Andes mountains in their full magnitude, a great place for a photo opportunity. Our third stop is Pucara, where we visit the ruins of the Pucara culture and the museum. We arrive to Puno in the evening. Did you know it’s the capital of folklore? In the evening we will take a leisurely stroll along Jr Lima Street to find the best restaurants, bars and discos.

Day 5: A day full of adventure awaits us. Following breakfast we head to famous Lake Titicaca, arriving early, the winds are still quiet and the surface glassy. We board our private boat and set sail on our journey of the highest navigable lake in the world.

Our first stop is Capachica, where we’ll visit one of the many social projects supported by viventura. Did you know that the money you paid for this tour is helping support this project? Approaching the peninsula, the festively dressed inhabitants with brightly colored garments and traditional top hats are waiting to greet us. Here, you’ll have the chance to meet the locals, discover the work that’s being done and enjoy a traditional lunch with the locals. You can even take a weaving class!

After lunch, we’ll sail onwards to visit the floating islands of the Uros. Stepping onto the island, don't be alarmed as your feet sink down slightly on the surface of this sponge like structure of totora (dried plant reeds). The Uros people have to add brand new layers to the islands on a daily basis to combat natural decomposition.

We will be sleeping here overnight, so once we’ve settled into our lodging out hosts will give us a tour of their village and share their unique history. As evening approaches, we are invited to partake in a few of their daily activities, through hands on instruction we learn to cook and fish as they have been doing for thousands of years. Tonight we sleep in homes whose frames, walls, ceiling, floors, and even bed frames are all constructed of the invaluable totora plant. Enjoy a peaceful night miles away from civilization as you literally float to sleep warm and relaxed.

Depending on your departure date itinerary may vary. Please contact a viventura representative for more details.

Day 6: Today we wake up early to check the nets we cast the night before. With any luck, we can enjoy fresh fish for a healthy breakfast. Following breakfast we meet the local children and have the opportunity to interact with them during their recess. After lunch we must say goodbye and set sail for Puno. From here, we pick up a local bus to the city of Desaguadero at the border of Bolivia, and then another bus the 86 kilometers to La Paz, where we’ll spend the night. On the way, we can enjoy the Cordillera Real mountain range, with its soaring 20,000-foot peaks - including the famous Huayna Potosí.

Day 7: Free day with a number of optional activities available. Explore La Paz on your own, stroll the city streets where you are sure to find a unique keepsake among the plethora of locally produced items available. For the adventurous, mountain bike the 40 mile descent of Coroico, better known as the world's most dangerous road. Another option includes a hike to Pico Austria which sits 5404m and offers picturesque views of the sprawling Andes.

If you prefer a less adventurous option take an Urban Trek through some of the less touristic areas of the city. As you board one of the colorfully decorated public buses to go downtown, be sure to grab a hand rail, the conductor won't wait for you to find a seat. Stepping down from the bus you find yourself in the heart of La Paz, where everything from pirated DVD's to llama fetuses are sold. Follow your local guide as he leads you through the chaotic city streets and into the witches market. Often meandering about are the dark hatted yatiri or (witch doctors) with their distinctive coca pouches, offering to read your fortune. Next you will visit the Coca museum where you can learn about the cultivation and medicinal uses of this notorious plant. Tonight go out on the town, La Paz boasts an upbeat nightlife with numerous bars and discos to explore, or simply dine and relax in one of the many open air restaurants.

You can choose one of today's optional activities based on your personal fitness level. Excursions are available at an additional charge.

Day 8: After breakfast in the hotel we have some free time to wander the city before heading to the La Paz bus terminal, this is not your your typical Greyhound bus station. Once inside the terminal we are met by a chaotic mess of busing companies with their salesmen yelling out the destinations: "Oruro, Oruro, Oruro!!! Cochabamba, Cochabamba!!!" Thankfully we are not alone, the guide has done his homework and you don't have to guess which company to go with. We board a local tour bus for our 3 hr journey to Oruro where our Andean train awaits us. Our next destination is Uyuni, home of the world's largest salt flat. We board the train that will take us on a 7 hr night ride through the vast Altiplano (high plains) of Bolivia. We arrive early morning and are met by our private van that takes us to our hotel.

Day 9: Today we begin our 3 day venture by 4x4 into El Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world! This dried up lake bed is incredibly flat with only 3 ft of elevation difference across it's expanse. Boarding our fully equipped jeeps, we set off into the white, seemingly endless, ocean of salt. The sharp contrast of cloudless blue skies on the blinding white lake bottom make sunglasses a must have. Our first stop is Colchani where we learn the step by step process of salt production. Did you know there's a good chance the batteries you depend on everyday contain lithium from the Uyuni? Over 70% of the worlds lithium is mined here and 25,000 tons of salt is extracted annually. Moving on we head to the train cemetery where the crumbling hulks of some of Bolivians most famous trains lie in their final resting place. Here we find the first Bolivian locomotive as well as the last train robbed by the famous Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Our next destination is La Isla de Los Pescadores (the island of fishermen) an odd name for an island over 300 miles from the coast. The first thing you'll notice about this bizarre desert island are the hundreds of 1000 year old cacti soaring some 25 feet high. Following lunch we have free time to explore this extraordinary island and find a good spot to watch as the sun sinks slowly over the horizon, casting it's final rays of light on the eternal ivory surface of the Salar. Tonight we sleep in a hotel made entirely of salt!(Don't worry, not the mattresses).

Day 10: Prepare for day of spectacular scenery. We are headed straight to the highland lakes of cañapa and charcota. Boarding our 4x4's we head down from the highlands to Laguna Colorada (4275m) Did you know that there are three different types of flamingos that live here? The Salar is the breeding ground for these long legged beauties which congregate in November. Our next stop is at Rock Tree, a group of rocks forming the shape of a tree, characterized by their bizarre shapes that have been sculptured by the sandy desert winds over centuries. Tonight our rural location requires that we stay in a rustic hostel with dormitory style lodging. Nights can get quite cold, blankets are provided but be sure to bring something warm to wear as well.

Between the months of June to September nights can get down to - 4 F.

Day 11: We depart our hostel at 5 am to visit the geysers of the morning sun, arriving early the billowing water vapor condenses rapidly in the frigid air making for a truly incredible experience. Walk among the gurgling mud pools, and hear them hissing as you pass as if warning you of their presence. Warm up in the aguas termales (natural hot springs) and rejuvenate before we continue. After a relaxing soak, get ready for a real treat, Laguna Verde (the green lagoon) the breeding grounds for three different types of flamingos and a great photography spot. Our final stop of the day is Laguna Blanca named so for the milky white water. Tonight you can leisurely walk around the small town of only 5,000 residents and view the surrounding town as it overlooks the Licancabur volcano.

Day 12: Today we visit one of the most inhospitable places in the world, the Atacama desert. Did you realize? The Atacama is 50x drier than the famous death valley of California! Sandboarding anyone? Today you have the opportunity to board the giant sand dunes of the Atacama. This relatively new sport has become hugely popular, with many agencies to choose from ask your guide for a recommendation. Explore the desert in a unique fashion as you shred your way through the Moon Valley on this 4 hour tour. Passengers who prefer the more conventional tour board their jeeps and head to Moon Valley, famous for it's moon shaped rock formations and giant sand dunes. A view atop one of the surrounding dunes offers the best perspective of the varying shapes and colors of the rocky terrain that is shockingly similar to that of the moon. Our next stop is Death Valley, it is said that this surreal land of reddish colored dunes, and apocalyptic volcanoes, is actually completely sterile, due to the extreme weather and total lack of humidity. Boarding our private bus we head to Calama to catch our 3 hr flight to Santiago, the capital of Chile. We arrive after the sun has gone down and are met by a local guide who takes us to the hotel to rest.

Sandboarding tour is optional, prices vary between $8 - $12. If participants choose to go sandboarding they will miss the tour of the Moon Valley.

Day 13: Our local guide takes us by private bus into downtown Santiago, where we take an in-depth city tour. First stop is the Plaza de Armas, the Palacio de la Mondeda (Money Palace), the Santiago Market, Cerro San Cristobal and much more. We end the day with a traditional Chilean lunch at a viewpoint overlooking the city, before heading to a local Chilean wine bar or vinoteca, where a wine expert explains the production process, from harvesting the grapes to bottling. Here we are given a few samples of the local flavors and have the opportunity to purchase bottles to take home as well.

Depending on your departure date itinerary may vary. Please contact a viventura representative for more details.

Airfare is included in the tour price.

Includes internal and domestic flights as indicated in the itinerary, but excludes international flights.