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This was a trip of firsts for me. First eating of alpaca, ostrich and guinea pig (sorry Twinkle!). First time on a horse, kayaking and rafting. Peru was a dream come true! — Crista S, OH
|Peru, South America||May 8-17, 2015||$3,895 (includes one internal flight)|
Peru is almost as large as Alaska and is divided into three distinct geographical zones: the desert to the west, the altiplano (high planes) of the Andes, and the jungle, accounting for 2/3 of Peru. You rely on us to choose the gems when designing a trip and that is why we’ve chosen the Andean region. The Quechuan (pronounce ketchewan) people, the land and the culture here have remained intricately entwined despite 500 years of plundering by the Spanish. Our adventure guides are deeply proud of their Inca heritage and their knowledge makes the tour really come alive. Our trip is especially designed to help us acclimate gradually to the high elevations, and our guides are experienced and know how to help if anyone suffers from the effects of altitude. We raft the Urubamba, sea kayak on Lake Titicaca and explore ruins in the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, of course! We soak in hot springs, shop for brightly colored handicrafts, and photograph volcanoes, llamas, trapezoid doorways and ancient terraces. You’ll be fascinated by the people of Uros living on islands, in houses and on boats all made of reeds. We visit a local school and deliver supplies and toys for the children..and perhaps exchange a song. Andean Peru is the quintessential travel experience – exotic and unusual yet safe and responsive to traveler’s needs. A Latin American success story, Peru’s economy is vibrant and their democracy stable. If you have extra time, you may want to consider (unescorted) post-tour travel to the Amazon and/or to the Nasca Lines in the desert.
Flights arrive at Lima Airport between 8:00pm and midnight, we will be met by our local guide and transferred by taxi to our hotel. Overnight Lima.
Lima is a huge, culturally diverse city of 8 million people so we pick out the gems to visit on our morning tour of the city. First stop is the 16th century Cathedral forming one side of the main square. It houses Francisco Pizarro’s remains – he was the Spanish conqueror who founded Lima. A short walk brings us to the San Francisco Convent with frescos of Assisi, a Moorish dome, a Last Supper painting with guinea pig on the menu and underground catacombs. Transfer to the airport for an afternoon flight to Arequipa with lunch at the airport. We stay at a delightful hacienda with gardens and courtyards, and only six blocks from Plaza de Armas. Enjoy a delicious dinner at a nearby restaurant and overnight Arequipa.
Words cannot adequately describe the rush of feelings as I walked through the Sun Gate and saw the ruins of Machu Picchu for the first time. The fact that nine women traveling together can bond so easily is really a ‘wonder of the world! — Debra H, NY
Locals consider themselves Arequipans first and Peruvians second and their Spanish heritage is especially evident on Sunday mornings. After breakfast in our garden we’ll visit the neoclassical Cathedral adjacent to palm trees on the prettiest square in Peru. A walking tour includes a local market to sample the delicious Peruvian fruits and vegetables along with many great photo opportunities! Then we’re off on a guided tour of the Santa Catalina Convent, a 425-year old city within a city, exposing us to archways, chapels and huge paintings, and an understanding of their simple lives, this is still home to thirty semi-cloistered nuns. Ringed by snow-sprinkled volcanoes, Arequipa, with its white sillar buildings, gleams in the desert sun. We’ll lunch at a local restaurant and then depart for the journey to Colca Canyon. This route takes us over a 16,000’ pass. We cross the Aguada Blanca and the views along this route are stunning. You’ll see llamas, alpacas and the rare vicuna grazing in the Salinas National Reserve and pass Mismi, Chucura and Huaracante volvanoes. Closer to Chivay, ancient stone terraces are built on all sides of the canyon and the brightly-clothed locals work the fields still dressed as they have for centuries. Dine at our beautiful hotel and enjoy an evening soak in La Calera natural hot springs.
This morning we drive to La Cruz del Condor – the best place in the world to see the sacred Andean Condor. These magnificent birds, the largest in the world with wingspans of 11’, soar for hours in the thermals without flapping their wings. We’ll also see pre Inca hanging tombs and tiny local villages. Enjoy a box lunch at a marvelous viewpoint. We visit a local school consisting of only 1 teacher and about 12 children to share gifts, school supplies and exchange songs from our native lands. This afternoon we cross the high desert to the village of Llachon on the shores of Lake Titicaca. We eat and sleep with a local family at a home-stay and are cozy in our beds beneath piles of blankets. This local experience is very memorable.
I had a grand time in Peru – horse riding was a rip! When you gave the crippled man your walking sticks it is a moment I will never forget. – Diane C, NY
Our host family prepares breakfast for us and we may share a small gift in appreciation and to remember us by. We launch early this morning on our sea-kayaking adventure across to Taquile Island in the middle of Lake Titicaca. The journey across calm blue water takes about 2.5 hours supported by a motorized vessel the whole way. Leaving our kayaks at the beach on Tequile, we hike up to the main square past terraced fields and small villages. We enjoy a tasty lunch watching men knitting, dressed in Bolivian-like dress, with opportunities to purchase handicrafts. Descend back down to our motorboat and travel to an amazing cultural experience on the reed islands of Uros. Descendants of the locals fled persecution on shore and built homes on floating islands of reeds. Their homes and boats are all built of reeds also! They share their lives with us, how they cook, harvest fish and where they educate their children. We are invited to try on their hand woven wares and jewelry, and to purchase goods in support of their unique civilization. We transfer to our hotel in Puno and dine at an excellent restaurant nearby.
After a lazy breakfast we’ll meet our local guide for a wonderfully scenic journey across the high-country from Puno to the beautiful orange tile-roofed city of Cusco. Stops along the way include ancient Inca sites like Raqchy Temple, a buffet lunch and also a stop at the colonial church at Andahuaylillas whose huge gold altar collapsed in a recent earthquake, but is now restored. Transfer to our hotel in Cusco near the square, with dinner at a lovely and unusual restaurant!
What a fun adventure! Loved the volcano and white water rafting in particular. Thanks for such a relaxing and rejuvenating trip. – Jen O’S, PA
After breakfast at the hotel we’re picked up for a white water rafting trip on the upper Urubamba River. It’s a two-hour ride to and from the river and very scenic and interesting as we drive through Peruvian villages. We’ll enjoy two hours of great fun in grade 3 and 4 rapids. A wonderful picnic lunch is served to us at the river take out. Back in Cusco we meet up with our guide and drive down into the Sacred Valley and check into our hotel with surely the most beautiful gardens in Peru. There is one more treat before dinner – our guide will lead us on an exploration of the Inca fortress at Ollantaytambo. Second only to Machpicchu in beauty and importance, it offers amazing views and a taste of what is in store for tomorrow. Dinner at our hotel and yes, that is guinea pig on the menu!
After breakfast we’ll walk to the train station to catch the train to Aguas Calientes, the city below Machu Picchu. We’ll leave our bags at our hotel and catch the bus up to the ruins of Machu Picchu. The backdrop of soaring jungle-covered peaks is mimicked by stone formations. The spiritual vibrancy is impossible to miss. Our guide will lead us through the ruins. Windows track the sun during the summer and winter solstices. We can plainly see how the Incas worked so successfully with nature but the essential element of Machu Picchu is that much of its reason for existence remains a mystery. We’ll hike up to the Sun Gate of Intipunku. The view of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate is one of those indelible travel memories to be treasured. Descend to the bus and it will take us down to our hotel at Aguas Calientes and a well-earned shower. Dinner will be at a restaurant near our hotel.
After breakfast, we take the bus back up to Machu Picchu. This morning you have the option to stroll among the ruins on your own, or to take the challenge and hike Huayna Picchu, the steep peak behind Machu Picchu. It is an amazing climb with incredible views down to the ruins and the valley floor even further below. Then we will return to Aguas Calientes for lunch before catching an afternoon train back to Olllantaytambo and then transfer back to Cucso to check in to our hotel, and our farewell dinner.
After breakfast we’ll have a short walking tour to visit the splendid baroque Cathedral built in 1550, then time for lunch and some final shopping. Transfer to Cusco airport where the tour ends. Some in the group may travel on a late afternoon flight arriving Lima airport to connect with late evening US bound flights.
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