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Machu Picchu and the Andes

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4.7 stars(6 reviews)
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Discover the incredible 'lost city of the Incas' by rail

You are viewing the 2023 itinerary. Select your departure year
20232024
15 days From £3,595 per person

2023 Tour code: PUJ23

About the tour

The lost city of Machu Picchu and the treasures of Peru are unveiled on this unique adventure, where unforgettable excursions reveal a South American paradise as we enjoy a blend of scenic rail journeys and enthralling historic sights.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - To Lima

We fly to Lima via Amsterdam, the vibrant capital city of Peru. On arrival, we check into our hotel for the next two nights.

Day 2 - Discovering Lima

We're introduced to the city on a guided tour, discovering the city's more modern districts as well as its fascinating historic heart. A thriving city, Lima was first founded by Spanish conquistadors in the late 16th century and still has a remarkably well-preserved colonial centre. Our tour begins at the Basilica and Convent of San Francisco, where we explore the beautiful courtyards and catacombs. Later, we see Huaca Pucllana, a structure that pre-dates the Incas, before continuing to the upmarket district of Miraflores, where traditional stall holders rub shoulders with modern boutiques. One of the highlights of our explorations is Casa de Aliaga, the best-preserved colonial mansion in the Americas. Dating back to 1535, the house is still lived in today and boasts grand architecture and beautiful furnishings.

Day 3 - Arequipa

Heading to the airport this morning, we board our flight to the 'White City' of Arequipa, so nicknamed due to the striking white volcanic stone known as sillar that was used to construct much of the city. We take a guided tour in the afternoon, beginning at the Carmen Alto viewpoint where we take in impressive views across the city, the volcanic mountains and the surrounding rural countryside. In the heart of Arequipa, we visit the cathedral as well as the enormous complex of monastic buildings that make up the Santa Catalina Convent. Founded in 1580, the complex has a fascinating history. Behind closed doors, the nuns - daughters of aristocrats - paid little heed to the vows of poverty and silence. Each had their own servant as well as porcelain plates, fine tablecloths and silver cutlery. Today, the convent has been beautifully refurbished with period furniture and paintings, and is home to about 20 nuns who live much more piously than their predecessors.

Day 4 - Free time in Arequipa

You're free to explore Arequipa at your own pace today, and there are plenty of historical sights and colourful monasteries to seek out. The traditional neighbourhood of Yanahuara is a tranquil district known for its pearly white buildings and Spanish-colonial churches. Alternatively, you could take it easy and relax in one of the city's many laid-back cafés or restaurants, admiring the backdrop of the three snow-capped volcanos which encircle the city.

Day 5 - The Colca Valley

We travel to the Colca Valley this morning, stopping en-route at the National Reserve of Pampa Cañahuas, where alpacas and llamas roam the volcanic grasslands, and the quaint village of Chivay, which continues to embrace its past with delightfully traditional stone buildings and nearby 'Inca' bridge. We also pay a visit to the town of Yanque, visiting a museum dedicated to this unique region and its people.

Day 6 - Condors of Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon is home to the legendary condor, and today we make a visit to Mirador Cruz del Condor, the perfect viewpoint from which to spot these magnificent creatures soaring on thermal air currents. An important animal in Incan heritage, legend has it that these magnificent birds, who have a wingspan of over nine feet, are immortal. In reality, however, Andean condors are sadly endangered and live solitary yet monogamous lives.

Day 7 - Puno

We take a coach this morning for Puno, enjoying scenic stops along the way. During the journey, we reach heights of up to 14,700 feet above sea level, allowing us to enjoy fabulous views across the Andes. We check into our hotel in Puno on arrival.

Day 8 - Lake Titicaca

Taking an excursion by speedboat to Lake Titicaca, we cruise to the Uros floating islands where incredible flotillas made entirely out of totora reeds are used by the enterprising Uros people. From here, we continue to Taquile, a beautiful island home to the Aymara, a Spanish-speaking people who live in an almost economically-autonomous community. We enjoy lunch here, learning more about their way of life, before returning to the hotel for a relaxed afternoon.

Day 9 - To Cusco

We board the PeruRail Titicaca Train to Cusco, taking in the beautiful Andean landscapes as we journey in restored 1920s carriages through the Peruvian Highlands. Cusco is a city of true beauty and is regarded as the 'Archaeological Capital of the Americas' thanks its delightful blend of indigenous and colonial Spanish architecture. One of the most impressive attractions here is the incredible Inca walls, created from enormous granite blocks that were carved to fit together without the aid of mortar beds. It's a lasting tribute to the ingenuity of the Incas that their design has survived the test of time.

Day 10 - Cusco

Our day includes a sightseeing tour of this ancient capital. We take in the Plaza de Armas, in the historic centre, and San Pedro market before visiting the Temple of Koricancha, or 'Temple of the Sun'. This temple was one of the most important in the Inca Empire, and is truly a unique place to visit. Originally built around 12000 AD, it was brought to ruin during a war with Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century. Today, a Spanish cathedral sits on top of the original stone foundations where an underground archaeological museum displays relics from the site.

Day 11 - Machu Picchu

We enjoy a highlight of our holiday today as we take the scenic rail route to Aguas Calientes to visit the 'Lost City of the Incas' - Machu Picchu. A winding bus ride takes us up to Machu Picchu itself, where we are greeted by one of the most incredible sights in the world - an ancient Incan citadel built amid the clouds, mountains and forested peaks of Peru. Our local guide explains the fascinating history of this awe-inspiring landmark, forgotten for 400 years before being uncovered in 1911. Machu Picchu is now a UNESCO World Heritage site as well as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. After time to soak up the ancient atmosphere, we join the train to Ollantaytambo, transferring by coach to our hotel.

Day 12 - Ollantaytambo

Touring Ollantaytambo with a local guide, we admire the city's ancient fortress, which, even in ruins, has retained important features such as the Sun Temple and Princess Baths fountain. We also discover the village's Old Town, an Inca-era grid of cobblestoned streets and adobe buildings. Next, we make our way to Chinchero by coach to experience the impressive Sunday market as well as visit its church and see some traditional weaving techniques.

Day 13 - Pisac

We drive to Pisac today, where we enjoy a walk around the Inty Huatana fortress. If we look hard enough, it's possible to find the ancient Intihuatana ritual stone which was used as an astrological clock by the Incas. Literally translated, 'Intihuatana' means 'the Hitching Post of the Sun'. We return to Cusco in the afternoon, stopping off at the Awanachancha Textile Centre en route. Here, we meet the llamas, vicunas, guanacos and alpacas whose coats are used to be transformed into a myriad of colourful cloths.

Day 14 - Lima

After a free morning, we join our internal flight to Lima, continuing via Amsterdam to the UK.

Day 15 - London

Landing in the UK, our South American adventure draws to a close.

Additional information

Departure times

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.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Colca Lodge Spa & Hot Springs, Colca Valley

Colca Lodge Spa & Hot Springs, Colca Valley

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Costa del Sol Ramada Hotel, Cusco

Costa del Sol Ramada Hotel, Cusco

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Casa Andina Private Collection hotels, Peru

Casa Andina Private Collection hotels, Peru

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Casa Andina Premium Puno, Puno

Casa Andina Premium Puno, Puno

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Train

PeruRail Titicaca Train

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Galapagos

Reviews

4.7 stars4.7 / 5 · 6 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (4)
  2. 4 stars
    (2)
  3. 3 stars
    (0)
  4. 2 stars
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  5. 1 star
    (0)

IVAN

4 stars

Submitted 20/Jun

The tour itself was excellent but the reason for only four stars is that the pre tour information was very slow in being made available.

Collected by Trustpilot

C Foxwell

5 stars

Submitted 18/Jun

Wonderful experience travelling with a like minded group. One of the best experiences we have had when travelling with GRJ. Bill our tour manger was excellent and local tour guides provided more than excellent information and local knowledge of history and how current day living interacted with its past and where it was heading into the future. Despite Covid requirements the tour was outstanding and we felt safe in all locations.

Collected by Trustpilot

A Attard

5 stars

Submitted 16/Jun

A once in a lifetime fantastic experience. Very well managed.

Collected by Trustpilot

Edward Wallis

5 stars

Submitted 15/Jun

Star of the show was the country of Peru. Excellent local tour guides with vast knowledge added to the overall comprehensive coverage on this wonderful tour. There could have been slightly better communication about some of the Civic rules before leaving England but that aside, great trip!

Collected by Trustpilot

customer

5 stars

Submitted 15/Jun

Best trip ever!

Collected by Trustpilot

Mr M Brown

4 stars

Submitted 05 Jun 2017

Saw some wonderful sites and amazing views. All highlights were real highlights.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

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Machu Picchu and the Andes

Discover the incredible 'lost city of the Incas' by rail

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