DAY 1: Welcome to Lima!
Arrival in Lima
We’ll meet you at the airport in Lima, take you to your hotel and help you get settled. After a long flight, you’re bound to be a little tired so we’ll let you catch up on sleep ahead of tomorrow’s activities.
DAY 2: Exploring Peru’s City of Kings
Fly to Lima / Tour of colonial Lima
After breakfast, we will embark on a private tour of Lima that will take you to the beautiful colonial center of the city. Visit the Lima Cathedral and the Convent of San Francisco, whose eerie catacombs house tens of thousands of skeletal remains. You’ll also get to see Casa Aliaga. One of the oldest mansions in the New World, this history-steeped house has been occupied by the same family since its construction in 1535.
The afternoon will be yours to spend as you please. You might want to hit the shops, further explore the historic center or making the most of your hotel’s luxurious facilities. You have access to the Miraflores Park Club Lounge, where you can enjoy a complimentary light lunch and evening snack buffet.
DAY 3: Over the Andes to the Sacred Valley
Flight from Lima to Cusco – Private Car to the Sacred Valley
We’ll escort you to the airport following breakfast for your morning flight to Cusco. Glance out the plane window for a bird’s-eye view of the topography as the flatter desert coast transitions to the Andes. We’ll meet you in Cusco and take you for lunch, before bringing you out to the more manageable altitudes of the Sacred Valley.
Though it’s just 45 minutes from Cusco, the Sacred Valley is at a lower altitude and therefore, better for acclimatizing. This steep-sided valley is populated by hard-working locals who tend sheep and cattle in the fields beneath the looming Andean peaks. We’ll take to Awana Kancha Living Museum, where you can observe traditional weavers spinning their yarn and meet the llamas, alpacas and other furry camelids who supply them with their wool.
DAY 4: Delving into past and present in the Sacred Valley
Today, you’ll enjoy a private tour around the ruins and market towns of Cusco’s Sacred Valley. Wander the slender streets of the valley town of Ollantaytambo and look out for original Inca features, among them the babbling street canals and trapezoidal doors. Climb the agricultural terraces to reach the ancient fortress, where the Incas gained a rare victory over the Spanish conquistadors.
From there, you’ll continue on to the market town of Pisac with your private guide. Inspect the colorful crafts and textiles and look out for the produce stands, which can be found sandwiches between the alpaca-sweater stalls. End the day with a private guide of Pisac’s Inca ruins, which sit high up on a mountain ridge above the town.
At the end of the day, your guide and driver will bring you back to your hotel for a quiet evening.
DAY 5: The Lost City of the Incas: Machu Picchu
An exhilarating train ride in the morning will bring us up to Aguas Calientes – the last stop before Machu Picchu. After a bus ride to the entrance, you’ll enter the awe-inspiring site. Discover the mysteries of this ancient citadel during a private tour of Machu Picchu then break for lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge, adjacent to the legendary site. You’ll have the afternoon to further explore the sacred Inca city, which lay overgrown and forgotten about by all but the locals until Hiram Bingham’s discovery in 1911.
Return to Agua Calientes for the evening and finalize your plans for the following free day – your guide can answer any questions you may have or give suggestions for things to do.
DAY 6: Machu Picchu on your terms
A free day to explore the ancient city at your own pace
Relax and enjoy the magnificent Machu Picchu at your own pace. Hike the steep peaks around the ruins, such as Huayna Picchu, for a postcard view of the city or – should you want a less-strenuous option – find a quiet corner in the far reaches of the citadel where you can sit and ponder its mysteries. Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu entrance fees, as well as one-way bus tickets are included today.
Head back to Aguas Calientes to catch the train back to Cusco. We will be waiting in Cusco for you to bring you to your hotel.
DAY 7: Exploring the Imperial City of Cusco
Private tour of Cusco and its Inca Ruins
Meet your guide after breakfast and set off together to explore the colonial streets and plazas of Cusco. Hear about how this Inca city was once full of Inca treasures and gold, which were later looted during the Spanish conquest. See the Santo Domingo monastery, which sits atop the ancient Inca temple of the sun and the incredible colonial Cathedral in the Plaza de Armas – one of the most stunning displays of colonial opulence in the city.
Next up, we’ll go to the countryside to visit the fortress of Sacsayhuamán – where the Incas staged a great battle against the conquistadors – the temple and amphitheater of Q’enko, and the red fortress of Puca Pucara. Here, you’ll see Inca stonework at its finest; not even a blade of grass can fit between the impeccably cut stones.
Back in Cusco, you’ll have a free afternoon – your guide will provide suggestions for what to do and where to eat.
DAY 8: Toward Lake Titicaca
Fly to Juliaca (Puno), Transfer to Titilaka (group service)
Fly to Juliaca, the jumping-off point for Lake Titicaca, in the morning. Here, you will be met by the Titilaka team, who are based nearby, and they will accompany you and other new guests to their exclusive lakeside hotel.
On arrival, you will be treated to a traditional lunch and given time to settle in, explore and enjoy tea before the afternoon’s activities. You might want to hop in the saddle for gentle bike-ride around the remote shores of Lake Titicaca or paddle a kayak on the lake, looking out for indigenous bird species, striking landscapes and the totora reeds (a type of giant bulrush). After evening cocktails and dinner, gather in Titilaka’s luxurious living room and exchange experiences and highland tales with other like-minded travelers.
DAY 9: lake Titicaca’s magical island
A boat tour of the Uros floating island and Taquile (group service)
Learning about indigenous cultures is a valuable and rewarding experience, and an integral component of our personalized tours of Peru and Bolivia. Today, you’ll visit some of the island communities who make their home on the shores of Lake Titicaca. At 12,500 feet above sea level, Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake. Its high-altitude setting means that even when the sun shines, the wind can be chilly, so be sure to wrap up.
Drift past banks of reeds to the incredible floating islands of Uros, which are home to a self-sufficient island community. For centuries, the Uros people have lived on these man-made islands, which they build and continually maintain themselves using local totora reeds. Their houses and boats are also made of reeds.
Next, travel by motorboat to the large and all-natural island of Taquile, just beyond the Bay of Puno. From a distance, the sight of its grassy cliffs plunging into the blue waters could almost pass for Mediterranean. Up-close, however, it is unmistakably Peruvian. The Quechua-speaking, traditionally dressed residents – who are renowned for their skillful, Peruvian textiles – give it away! After marveling at their knitting patterns, you will return to your hotel for a relaxing evening.
DAY 10: On to Bolivia
Overland tranfer to La Paz and free time in the afternoon
Meet your private guide and driver for the journey over to the high-altitude city of La Paz in Bolivia. As you cruise along, enjoy views out the window of shimmering lakes and distance snow-tipped mountains.
Once you arrive in La Paz, we’ll take you up to the Laicacota mirador (viewpoint) and for a sky-high jaunt in the city’s cable car so you can familiarize yourself with the layout. The final destination for the day will be a peaceful neighborhood in the south of the city, where your hotel will be located.
DAY 11: The Salar de Uyuni
Fly to Uyuni and tour the spectacular salt flats
Take a short morning flight to Uyuni, a small town in the middle of the Altiplano desert on the edge of the biggest salt flats in the world.
During a luxury tour of the Uyuni Salt Flats, you’ll marvel at the endless white horizon that is the salt desert, one of the flattest places on earth; discover how they extract the mineral and visit the Salt Museum at the Playa Blanca Salt Hotel. Then drive out onto the flats to visit the cacti-covered coral Incahuasi Island, an isolated ecosystem in the middle of the vast white emptiness. Spy the Tunupa Volcano in the distance and stop by the haunting caves where the poisoned Mummies of Coquesa were discovered, before heading back to your Salt Hotel – yep, it’s made entirely out of salt – for the evening.
DAY 12: Exploring La Paz and curious landscapes
Return to La Paz, City tour and wonder at the Valley of the Moon
After an early breakfast in the Salt Hotel, you’ll fly back to La Paz. Embark on a guided tour of Bolivia’s cultural capital that will take you to the Witches’ market, where local healers sell dried llama fetuses and other strange ingredients for use in spiritual rituals; the elaborate San Francisco Church, which blends Spanish colonial and native-inspired elements; and the colorful handicrafts of Sagarnaga Street. See the grandiose cathedral and government palace on the main square and while away a few hours at the city’s excellent museums.
Later, there will be a change of scenery as you leave the urban center behind and travel out to the Valley of the Moon to take photos of the strange, lunar-esque rock formations.
DAY 13: Bidding farewell to South America
Transfer to airport and fly home
Early in the morning, we will take you to El Alto International Airport for your flight home. Your host will help you to check in and wish you buen viaje.
If the thought of ancient Inca citadels and the surreal salt desert landscape has you aching to travel to South America, get in contact with Kuoda today.