Cuzco, Machu Picchu, Lima...
from GALAPAGOS TRAVEL
Peru is an enchanting, beautiful, and culturally diverse country. In fact, after the wonders of the Galápagos, Machu Picchu is the highlight of South America for many people, although for very different reasons. The Inca ruins and Spanish Colonial architecture are truly spectacular. And the locales visited may be savored for their cultural and historical significance.
One week Lima, Cuzco, and Machu Picchu Extension
Based on our own travels, working with several Peruvian tour operators, and talking to numerous visitors, we have settled on this custom extension package. This package is a private tour, rather than a group tour, comprised of several separate elements. All local guides and airport transfer agents will speak English and be there to assist you.
Day 1 • Transfer to your hotel upon arrival. If arriving from Ecuador, the flight will likely be mid-morning - remainder of morning at leisure. Afternoon private tour of Lima. Visit the magnificent 17th century San Francisco Monastery and its unique cloisters, stroll to Plaza de Armas to see the Government Palace and Cathedral, and continue on to visit the Casa Aliaga colonial mansion. Drive south through the residential districts of San Ysidro and Miraflores and enjoy a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. Evening at leisure. Lima is home to excellent restaurants featuring local cuisine drawn from the best of the coast, highlands, and the tropical rain forest.
Flights from the U.S. are more likely to arrive very late in the evening.
Day 2 • Lima to Cuzco flight: Mid-morning (typically 9am) one hour flight takes you up the arid western slopes and over spectacular snow-capped Andean peaks. We suggest a quiet remainder of the morning in order to let your body acclimate to the altitude (just over 11,000 feet.) You’ll have an afternoon tour of Cuzco and the surrounding ruins, including the fortress of Sacsayhuaman (site of Inca religious celebrations), the Inca Baths, Kenko Amphitheater & Qorikancha (Sun Temple). Cuzco’s colonial heritage is also rich, including the Cathedral, Plaza de Armas, and the artisanal neighborhood of San Blas. Overnight in Cuzco. [B]
Day 3 • Early morning train ride down the breathtaking gorge of the Urubamba River to Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas (elevation 7,810 feet). The ruins consist of an enormous city hidden atop a spectacular green mountain plateau, high above the Urubamba River, surrounded by three towering peaks. Lunch and group tour upon arrival, followed by an afternoon free to explore on your own. The Machu Picchu preserve is also a birdwatchers paradise, due in part to the wide range of climate zones within a relatively small area. Everything from Andean Condors, to hummingbirds, to the Cock of the Rock (the national bird of Peru) is possible. Orchids and bromeliads also proliferate along many of the trails. Overnight Machu Picchu. [B,L]
Day 4 • Morning & afternoon free for further exploration. You will have plenty of time for further exploration, possibly including a memorable climb to the neighboring peak - Huayna Picchu. The slightly less adventurous can enjoy an easier hike to the upper levels of Machu Picchu, where llamas roam the ruins (the views at sunrise are spectacular!), or to the recently discovered Cave of the Moon. A longer hike along the Inca Trail, over the Gate of the Sun, takes you to Winya Wanya ruins. You might also prefer to simply return to a favorite spot within the main city to contemplate the beauty and mysteries of this extraordinary site. Rendezvous with our guide in the afternoon for assistance with your return to Cuzco by train (departing at approximately 3pm). Overnight Cuzco. [B]
Day 5 • Full day tour to the Sacred Valley of the Incas to see the fortress of Ollantaytambo and the colorful Indian market in Pisac (market days are Sunday & Thursday – on other days we will visit the Pisac Ruins). This day may also be positioned prior to the 2 days at Machu Picchu trip to take advantage of the market days. Overnight in Cuzco. [B,L]
Day 6 • Cuzco to Lima flight: mid-morning departure. Afternoon at leisure in Lima (the incredible Gold Museum is well worth a visit). Based on flight schedules, if you missed the Lima City Tour on Day 1, it can be scheduled for this afternoon. Overnight Lima. [B]
Day 7 • Morning transfer to the airport for either your return flight home, or onward flight to Ecuador. [B]
Peru package includes: meet and assist in Lima, private airport transfers (Quito, Lima & Cuzco), porterage of 2 pieces of luggage per person, 6 nights hotel accommodations, private _ day tour with an English speaking guide in Machu Picchu, private tours in Lima, Cuzco & the Sacred Valley, meals as noted, and reconfirmation on onward airline reservations.
Package excludes: lunches & dinners except as noted, tips to guides and tour staff, shuttle bus tickets and site entrance on second Machu Picchu day, airfare, and airport departure taxes.
Sample pricing 7-day/6-night Peru extension: (double occupancy, based on 2010 costs)
Superior Plus class - low season - per person, based on a group of 2 • $2,175.00
Accommodations are also available in Deluxe Class, using the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge (located atop the mountain, next to the Machu Picchu entrance gates), and the Il Monesterio converted monastery in the heart of Cuzco. The price increase is however close to $800 per person and we frankly don't feel it is worth it. There is also an option for simpler hotels in Superior Class, although the price reduction isn't great, whereas the hotel downgrade is.
A $400 deposit per person is adequate to secure your reservations, with the balance due 75 days prior to arrival. Typically hotels in Peru are very slow in confirming reservations, with final confirmations occasionally not received until a month prior to arrival
Note: If airline or train schedules change, unusual weather conditions, or other circumstances beyond our control prevent us from operating the services according to the schedule described above, we will attempt to substitute services of equivalent value. If we are unable to do so, passengers may be responsible for additional costs due to circumstances beyond our control. Peru field personnel are authorized to modify field services at any time during the course of your trip, always bearing in mind your safety and best interests.
After years on the traveler’s advisory list from the U.S. State Department, Peru has been deemed safe again since the mid 90’s. Problems are few and far between, and with reasonable caution, you should be perfectly safe. As with all travel, one should remain aware of their surroundings, and keep an eye on their possessions.
Lake Titicaca add-on (from Cuzco)
Day 1 • You’re picked up at your Cuzco hotel and transferred to the Inca Express office for the coach tour via La Raya Pass to Puno. En route you’ll visit the pre-Inca site of Piqillacta, the colonial chapel at Andahuaylillas, and the enormous Inca-period Viracocha Temple complex at Raqchi. Lunch and site entrances are included. Reaching Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, we transfer you to your hotel for two nights accommodation with breakfast. [B,L]
Day 2 • Hotel pickup at 7.15AM for full-day group excursion on Lake Titicaca - the highest navigable lake in the world. We cruise out of Puno Bay into the main body of the lake to Taquile Island. You have time for a scenic hike on Taquile’s trails before returning to the port. During the trip, we stop to visit a floating reed island community of the Uros Indians in Puno Bay. [B]
Day 3 • Private tour of the impressive pre-Inca burial tower site at Sillustani. We then continue to Juliaca airport to check in for your flight to Lima. [B]
Includes: station and port transfers, transportation and group tours, two nights accommodations with daily breakfast, one lunch, site entrance to Piqillaqta, Andahuaylillas chapel, Raqchi, and Sillustani.
Excludes: return flight to Lima (current Juliaca/Lima rate is $110 per person), airport departure tax, meals other than as noted, & tips.
Nazca Lines add-on (from Lima)
Day 1 •Early morning transfer to the Ormeño bus station for the deluxe express bus departing Lima at 7:00am for Ica. Upon arrival at Hotel Las Dunas, you will have the afternoon free for independent exploration. You might opt to visit the excellent local archeology museum, ride horses on the dunes or just relax by the pool.
Day 2 •This morning you will be transferred to the local airport where you will board a 6 passenger aircraft for a 90 minute fly over of the Nazca Lines. The Nazca Lines are among the most intriguing of the many remnants of civilizations that prospered along the Pacific coast for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. In the afternoon, you will return by the express bus to Lima and be transferred to your hotel. [B]
Includes: station and airport transfers, transportation, flight, and one night accommodation with breakfast.
Excludes: meals other than as noted, tips.
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Photography by Mark Grantham