Discover the best of Peru as you travel for 2 weeks from Lima to Cuzco and stop at incredible sights along the way. First, learn about Lima’s history on a fascinating city tour. Travel to the coastal town of Paracas and take a boat tour to the nearby Ballestas Islands to see sea lions and penguins. Go to the Huacachina Oasis to ride to the top of giant sand dunes on a sand buggy and fly down on a sand board. Stop in Nazca where you can take an optional flight over the impressive Nazca Lines, mysterious ancient geoglyphs. Walk around the colonial town of Arequipa, known as Peru’s “White City”, and be amazed by its fascinating architecture. Hike through the deep Colca Canyon, for the opportunity to see Peruvian condors and native species, and stay the night in Chivay before continuing on to Puno. Visit the lovely Uros floating islands and sleep with a Quechua family on Amantani Island, taking in amazing views from Lake Titicaca. Travel to Cuzco to marvel at the stunning Sacred Valley and end your trip with a visit to the ancient Machu Picchu archaeological site.
We recommend changing your Sacred Valley 2D/1N Train to Machu Picchu trip to an exciting and adventurous trek! Contact us - we have a variety of different trekking options, difficulties and durations!
Day by Day Itinerary:
Day 1 - Lima Airport Pick-up
On arrival at Lima Airport, you will be picked-up and transferred to your accommdoation for check-in. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to settle-in and overnight.
Day 2 - Lima Urban Discovery Walking Tour (B)
This fun and dynamic tour of Lima is more than a history lesson; it connects you with the heart and soul of this fascinating Peruvian city, from the people who really know what it’s like to live there – the locals. Ditch the history books, as this Lima walking tour will give you everything you need to know!
You’ll start the tour by taking the local bus from Miraflores to downtown, just as the locals do, and along the way, you’ll learn a few words of Spanish – something that will come in handy for the rest of your Lima travel experience! Once we’re downtown, your walking tour will begin with a visit to the Bolivar Hotel, before we head out on your adventure through the City of Kings.
You’ll walk along Jirón de la Union, a pedestrian avenue linking Plaza San Martin to Plaza de Armas. Along the way, your local guide will be pointing out the sights along this street, from the hidden gems to the Lima’s classic tales.
Next on this Lima city tour, you’ll dive off the beaten path and make a short stop at San Pedro de Lima Church, a famous Lima landmark, before heading onwards towards the Central Market. With your local guide, you’ll navigate your way through all the various stalls, checking out the fresh produce and learning about the eating habits of the locals. From jungle, to coast, to ‘altiplano’, or high plains, Peru has a rich and diverse food culture, and you’ll find examples of dishes from all over the country here at this market, and learn about them from a local. Thought Peru didn’t have much of a food scene? You can think again!
As you move ahead on this historical Lima tour you’ll walk through Plaza Bolivar, the perfect place to hear anecdotes about the history of Peru and all of South America. Visit the breathtaking Monasterio San Francisco, home to huge underground catacombs and a building so rich in history that it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site back in 1991. As you take in the views of the building and this square, your local guide will be filling you with knowledge about all that you can see.
After all that learning, it’s time to rest your body and give yourself a break, and the only way to do that in Lima is with a Pisco Sour in hand! Your local guide will take you to the place where this iconic drink was invented, or so they claim…This Lima tour will come to an end here, where you can continue on your own exploration of the city, or your local guide will be able to point you in the direction of your accommodation.
In a city so important to Peru’s history and culture, it can be hard to know what to do in Lima to really tap into what it is to be a Limeño. With a local by your side on our Lima Discovery tour, you’ll get to know the classic stories and local tales of this fascinating Peruvian city. Overnight in Lima.
NOTE: Dress standard. Latin Americans can be very conscious of appearance so try to be casual but conservative in your dress. Outside of beach areas halter tops and very short shorts should not be worn. When visiting churches or religious sites shoulders and knees should be covered.
IMPORTANT: This Lima Urban Discovery Walking Tour only runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. During the rest of the week, clients will be booked on an alternative city tour.
Day 3 - Lima to Paracas & Ballestas Islands Boat Tour & Shuttle to Huacachina (B)
Go to the Lima bus station on your own today to catch a bus to Paracas, a coastal town on the Pacific ocean. On arrival, you will take a boat tour to the amazing Ballestas islands. As you cruise west from the tiny beach town of Paracas, you won't be able to miss the Candelabra geoglyph, a 150m high and 50m wide figure of a candlestick etched into the mountain, rumored to have been an ancient guide for sailors or a connection to the Nazca lines. A short description and time for photos is given before cruising on to the famous Ballestas Islands.
A trip to the Ballestas islands is an excellent opportunity to see large families of over 100 sea lions sleeping on the shores, basking in the sun on the rocks or some barking loudly in efforts to protect their territory. Spot cormorants, the Peruvian booby and Peruvian pelican as well as other impressive varieties of sea bird species and Humboldt penguins nesting together in small groups. Feeling lucky? Watch the waters for dolphins.
After the tour take a shuttle to the oasis town of Huacachina, where you will spend the night.
Day 4 - Sand-Buggy & Sand-Boarding in Huacachina
Enjoy the morning at leisure and in the afternoon, go on a thrilling tour in which you will get the chance to ride to the top of giant sand dunes on a dune buggy and fly down on a sand board.
Begin your fun-filled activity with an exhilarating sand buggy ride. Cruise to the top of 500 meter high sand dunes and go rocketing down the slopes in this recreational vehicle. This roller coaster ride of 360's, sharp turns and steep hills will get your adrenaline pumping before you take your first shot at sand boarding. You will have the opportunity to sandboard on 3-4 different dunes so you can try your luck. You will take thrilling rides on a basic sandboard by laying face first on the board and letting yourself fly down the dune to see how far (and fast) you can go. Cheer on your mates and don't let anyone shy away from this unforgettable experience. Lastly, you will admire the breathtaking sunset over the vast desert landscape and have the chance to take photos in the golden twilight before racing back to Huacachina.
(Experienced sand-boarders can choose to upgrade to a professional sand-board with boots and bindings for an extra cost of $5 USD paid locally. Upgrades are subject to availability. To reserve, please contact us in advance with your shoe size. On the day of the tour, you will need to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to departure for your fitting. For beginners we recommend the laying down option as it is much easier and lots of fun!)
Day 5 - Transfer to Nazca & Night bus to Arequipa
Take a bus to Nazca today where you can do the optional Nazca Lines flight to see the series of ancient and mysterious geoglyphs etched into the desert floor. Continue on with a night bus to Arequipa.
Day 6 - Free Day in Arequipa
Take advantage of a free day to walk around this quaint colonial town, also known as Peru’s “White City”, and be amazed by its fascinating architecture.
Day 7 - Colca Canyon Trek 2D/1N (B/L/D)
Visit the stunning Colca Canyon and hike through one of the world’s deepest canyons, inhabited by colorful Andean villages where you can get a taste for the unique flavors of the region. In the morning, stop by “Cruz Del Condor viewpoint” to spot majestic Peruvian condors soaring overhead before beginning your scenic trek. You will spend the night in Sangalle.
Day 8 - Colca Canyon Trek 2D/1N & Transfer to Puno (B)
Take a challenging hike among steep majestic canyon walls this morning. Make a stop in Chivay where you'll get the chance to soak your sore muscles in the relaxing hot springs. Then continue on to Puno.
Day 9 - Amantani Home Stay Experience 2D/1N (L/D)
This morning, transfer from Puno to the picturesque island of Amantani, located on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, to spend the night with an indigenous family. Along the way, visit the breathtaking Uros Floating Islands by boat and admire awe-inspiring views of Lago Titicaca and the Cordillera Real mountain range. During the homestay, you will get to know local Aymara and Quechua-speaking families and experience their unique way of living.
Day 10 - Amantani Home Stay Experience 2D/1N (B)
Say goodbye to your family and go visit the beautiful nearby Taquile island. Take in the amazing views of Lake Titicaca before returning to Puno where you will overnight.
Day 11 - Puno to Cuzco scenic tourist bus transfer (L)
Travel between Puno and Cuzco and stop along the way to have lunch in Sicuani before taking a peek into the past at the archaeological sites of Raqchi and Pukara high in the mountains with a local guide. Cross over the high altitude pass of La Raya at over 4,000 meters and see the colonial church with its quaint plaza in Andauaylillas. Stay overnight in Cuzco.
Day 12 - Sacred Valley 2D/1N Train to Machu Picchu (L/D)
This is one of the best Machu Picchu train trips from Cuzco that you cannot miss! Accommodation pick-up at 8:00 am to start off our day. We will travel out of Cuzco towards the Sacred Valley of the Incas and make our first stop at the village of Corao where we will visit a local artisan marketplace. Enjoy 30 minutes of free time to wander around buying handmade souvenirs for family and friends. Enjoy the scenic viewpoints along the panoramic highway that takes us over the mountains into the picturesque Urubamba river valley. Upon arrival to the ancient Inca town of Pisaq, our guide will explain the unique architecture of this archaeological site and its magical vibes. Take about 45 minutes to explore the site and shop around in the local marketplace.
For lunch, we will continue to Urubamba and make our lunch break here for a taste of Peru’s finest traditional cuisine. After our break, the van will take us to Ollantaytambo, another mysterious archaeological site built into the steep mountainside. You will spend 45 minutes there, which will give you plenty of time to climb the steep steps of these ancient Inca ruins and contemplate life as you look out upon the valley. Then walk over to the train station, located a short 10-minutes on foot downhill from the archaeological site, to board the train heading for Aguas Calientes (approx. 2 hours). Upon arrival you will be met by a local guide who will transfer you to your hotel and give you indications for the following day in Machu Picchu. Wander through the quaint town of Aguas Calientes on your own and have a fulfilling dinner at a touristic restaurant.
Day 13 - Sacred Valley 2D/1N Train to Machu Picchu (B)
Take an early bus to Machu Picchu to enter the site as it opens. Your English Speaking guide will meet you for a guided visit to the archaeological site (approximately 2 hours). You will then have plenty of free time to explore the hidden corners of this ancient Inca city on your own. You can choose from the optional treks to climb Huayna Picchu (additional cost - to book at least 2 weeks in advance) or walk to the Inti Punku (Sun Gate) for panoramic views of the site. Later, return to Aguas Calientes by bus at your own convenience. Then, take the return train back to Ollantaytambo and bus to Cuzco. Upon arrival at Cuzco City Center, you will need to make your own way to your accommodation.
Information about the OPTIONAL hike up the steep peak named Huayna Picchu, which is located inside the Machu Picchu archaeological site: This sometimes muddy peak takes about 45 - 60 minutes to hike up and awards you with unforgettable views of Machu Picchu from a coveted perspective. Keep in mind that if you want to take this optional hike, you must now purchase your ticket at least 2 weeks in advance in order to get one of the 400 passes (200 people are allowed up at 7:00am and 200 more at 10:00am). Please send us an email directly to request this extra ticket.
Day 14 - Cuzco Airport Drop-off
You will be transferred to the Cuzco airport today in order to catch your flight back home.
*Recommendation: You can change your Sacred Valley 2D/1N Train to Machu Picchu trip to an exciting and adventurous trek! Contact us - we have a variety of different trekking options, difficulties and durations!
*Suggestions for Ballestas Islands Boat Tour: Make sure you bring adequate clothing to keep you protected from the cool ocean air, the sun and spray from the sea. Bring a pair of binoculars to get a closer look at the birds and sea lions. If you are prone to motion sickness, you should take medication about a half-hour before you board.
*Suggestions for Sand Buggy and Sand Boarding: Make sure you wear long pants, shoes and sunglasses (or ask your driver for eye-protection). You will come back covered from head to toe in sand!
*Suggestions for Colca Canyon: The highest point of the trip is 4,910m and on average the other locations are approx. 3,800m. If you feel sick, it is a good idea to drink plenty of coca tea, chew coca candies or take altitude sickness medicine such as Sarochi or Diamox in extreme cases.
*Suggestions for Amantani Homestay Experience: Sleeping arrangements are basic, you will have a private room but with a shared bathroom. All rooms are in different family homes and may be different; some houses may not have electricity. Bring with you adequate amounts of water and snacks to avoid paying expensive rates on the islands. Bring enough cash to purchase souvenirs (between 5-20 soles) and extras on the islands. Remember to respect the ecology of the islands, any trash you bring in - bring out with you upon your departure and do not take any native plants or rocks from the islands. Keep in mind that a small gift for the host family will be appreciated (you can purchase one the day before departure).
*Suggestions for Sacred Valley 2D/1N Train to Machu Picchu: Please bring with you a sun hat, sun block, sun glasses, camera, extra batteries and memory card, charger, waterproof bags for your camera, hand sanitizer. Bring extra cash for snacks, water and meals. Don't forget the essentials: Original passport, visa (if applicable), insurance card, personal medications.