The lost city of Machu Picchu and the treasures of Peru are unveiled in this high-altitude adventure, combining scenic rail journeys with ﬁrst class hotels. An unforgettable experience awaits you in this South American paradise on a tour that includes Lima, Arequipa, Lake Titicaca and Cusco.
We depart London Heathrow and fly to Lima, the capital city of Peru that was founded over 480 years ago. On Day 2 we enjoy a guided tour of Peru's thriving capital which takes us to the historic centre of colonial Lima, home to the church of Saint Francis and the impressive cathedral. Construction of this grand Cathedral began in 1535, and over the years parts of it have been built and rebuilt, leading to a mixture of architectural styles, including Gothic and Neoclassical.
We also visit the Miraflores district, an upscale shopping area that mixes sleek and modern architecture with more traditional stalls. Here, we visit the Plaza de Armas, which is surrounded by yellow fronted buildings and filled with palm trees, and the Convento de San Francisco, a stunning example of baroque architecture that was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991. Later, we enjoy lunch back at the hotel after which, the rest of the day is spent at leisure to continue exploring Lima at your own pace.
Heading to the airport this morning, we board our flight to the 'White City' of Arequipa, named so thanks to its myriad of white buildings that seem to glow beguilingly in the sunlight.
We explore Arequipa on Day 4's guided tour. This includes the enormous complex of monastic buildings of the Santa Catalina Convent. This complex was founded in 1580 but has since has been beautifully refurbished with period furniture and paintings. Behind the closed doors the nuns - daughters of aristocrats - paid little heed to the vows of poverty and silence. Each had her own servant and porcelain plates, fine tablecloths and silver cutlery.
The convent is a complete miniature walled colonial town in the middle of the city and there are flower-filled gardens, spacious patios, granite fountains as well as arches and narrow streets. The tile-roofed buildings are painted in traditional white, brown and blue, housing about 20 who nuns still live in a section of the convent, much more piously, which was once home to as many as 500.
In the Iglesia de La Compañía, we see the San Ignacio de Loyola Chapel, which is a marvel of colour and beauty, with stunning murals showcasing the incredible jungle flora and fauna of South America.
We travel to Colca Canyon this morning, stopping along the way at the National Reserve of Pampa Canahuas and the quaint village of Chivay, which continues to embrace its delightfully traditional stone buildings, and even has an 'Inca' bridge nearby. Colca Canyon is home to the legendary condor, and on Day 6 we visit 'Mirador Cruz del Condor', the perfect viewpoint from which to spot these magnificent creatures soaring on the thermal air currents. After time here we depart by coach to Puno, enjoying scenic stops along the way.
During the journey we will reach heights of up to 4,500 metres (14,700 feet) above sea level where the air is much thinner than at lower altitudes. This elevation however allows to enjoy fabulous views out across the Andes.
From Puno, today we enjoy an excursion to Lake Titicaca, cruising across to Uros floating islands, where incredible flotillas made entirely out of totora reeds and populated by the enterprising Uros people. From here, we continue to Taquile, home to the Aymara, a Spanish-speaking people who live in an almost economically-autonomous community. We are treated to lunch at a local restaurant as well as a traditional dance demonstration. We board the luxury PeruRail Titicaca Train to Cusco on Day 8, taking in the beautiful Andean landscapes as we journey in restored 1920s carriages through the Peruvian highlands.
Cusco is a city of true beauty, which is regarded as the 'Archaeological Capital of the Americas', with a delightful blend of indigenous and colonial Spanish architecture. One of the most impressive architectural attractions are the incredible Inca walls, created from enormous granite blocks that were carved to fit together perfectly without the aid of mortar beds. Many of the walls were simply built upon during the construction of a new Spanish city. It's a lasting tribute to the ingenuity of the Incas that their anti-seismic design has survived the test of time, especially when compared to the Spanish colonial architecture that has been rebuilt several times following a wave of earthquakes that have hit the city.
Day 9 includes a sightseeing tour of this ancient capital which takes in Plaza de Armas, in the historic centre, and San Pedro market. Another place we visit on this tour is the Temple of Koricancha, meaning 'Temple of the Sun', which dates back to Incan times. Indeed, the temple was one of the most important temples to the Incans, however it was destroyed and brought to ruin after war with the conquistadors from Spain in the 16th century. The temple was filled with incredible golden artefacts with the walls also being covered in gold. This incredible display led the Spanish to describe the very aptly named Temple of the Sun as 'fabulous beyond belief'.
Our journey today takes us to the highlight of the tour as we travel on the scenic rail route to Aguas Calientes to visit the 'Lost City of the Incas': Machu Picchu.
A winding bus ride takes us all the way up to the city itself, where we are greeted by one of the most incredible sights in the world. Our local guide explains the fascinating history of this awe inspiring site that was forgotten for 400 years and remained undiscovered until 1911. Machu Picchu is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as being one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Next we take the train to Ollantaytambo, transferring by coach to our hotel. We admire the city's impressive fortress, which, even in ruins, is an incredible sight to behold on Day 11 before making our way to Chinchero by coach to experience the impressive Sunday market as well as visit its church and see some traditional weaving techniques.
Driving to Pisac today, take a walk around the ancient Inty Huatana fortress, where it is possible to find the ancient Intihuatana ritual stone which was used as an astrological clock - literally translated 'Intihuatana' means 'the Hitching Post of the Sun'.
After time here, we return to Cusco visiting Awanachancha en route. In this small centre, you can find a surprising number of llamas, vicunas, guanacos, and alpacas, as well as a myriad of colourful cloths which are weaved in Awanachancha from their fur. Tonight there's an authentic Peruvian Folklore dinner at a local restaurant, the perfect way to end our South American adventure.
Following an internal flight to Lima, we fly via Amsterdam to London, arriving on Day 14. Upon arrival, our tour comes to an end.
Our 3rd May 2018 departure features a slightly different itinerary. Running at 14 days in length, it includes two nights aboard the Andean Explorer train as well as some alternative excursions and hotels. Please call for more details.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Enhancing your tour
British Citizens do not require a visa for Peru for this tour
Visit the incredible 'lost city of the Incas' by rail