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Sun Empire

Our ultimate tour! Travel through and explore various towns and cities, cultural sites, architecture, historical centers and also modern ways of life in Peru. Each destination boasts unique diversity and no place will remind you of the last. Join us on this adventure of a lifetime and you won’t be disappointed.

Itinerary

(LIMA – PARACAS – AREQUIPA – PUNO – MACHU PICCHU – TAMBOPATA)

DAY 1: ARRIVAL TO LIMA

Upon your arrival to the city of Lima, our representative will welcome you and will transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day you will be free to explore. If you arrive early, you can take a walk around Miraflores and head from Central Park (Parque Kennedy) to the entertainment complex of LarcoMar. Alternatively, stroll along to Parque Del Amor (Love Park) for a great view of Lima’s beaches.

DAY 2: LIMA CITY TOUR

The city of Lima is also called (The City of Kings) founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535 during the viceroyalty. It was the most important city in South America for being the financial and political center, and one of the most populated cities in South America. The tour starts with the visit of Lima’s historical center, where we see colonial monuments and buildings such as: La Plaza de Armas, the town hall, and La Plaza San Martin, which was declared as world cultural heritage in 1988. We will also visit San Francisco convent which holds the biggest collection of art in South America, as well as the catacombs.

Finally, we will visit the districts of Miraflores, and San Isidro passing La Huaca Pucllana (Inca shrine), a ceremonial center made of mud. The modern structures are: Parque Kennedy, el Malecon Cisneros, El Parque del Amor and Larcomar shopping center.

DAY 3: ICA – ISLAS BALLESTAS AND RESERVA DE PARACAS

Paracas National Reserve is a natural area protected by the state and is the only marine protected area of Peru. It is located in the province of Pisco, where the desert sand maintains a unique balance between people and nature. Also within the Reserve, we will find archaeological remains of the ancient Paracas culture. Early in the morning, we ride to Paracas on a local bus. We will travel by boat to the National nature reserve of Paracas, home to sea lions, penguins, seagulls, etc. We also see the chandelier and a geoglyph located on a hill slope.

DAY 4: CITY TOUR ICA

The city of Ica is located on the southern coast of Peru, and is famous for its winery. This city has a special charm for its traditions, mysticism, and religion. In the morning we travel to the city of Ica by bus, and then afterwards towards the southern coast of Peru. In the afternoon, we will visit the main square, the ruins of the temple of Luren, Lake Huacachina where we will ride a small pedal boat, and enjoy sand boarding.

DAY 5: OVERFLYING NAZCA

The ancient Nazca people left us important geoglyphs, these are a number of lines and drawings of animals and plants covering an area of 350sq kilometers. It is astonishing to see the amazing size of these geoglyphs. It is still unknown what the function of these lines was, some hypothesis mention them as representations of the ancient Nazca peoples zodiac (500ac), another theory says that they were totems of their clans or that they could even be a space airport. We will board the local bus in the morning to go to Nazca airport and overfly such lines for instance: the whale, the trapezium, astronaut, monkey, dog, hummingbird, condor, spider, parrot, the hands, and the tree. Following lunch, we board the bus to the city of Arequipa.

DAY 6: CITY TOUR OF AREQUIPA

The city of Arequipa is known as the “White city” because most of its constructions were made of a white volcanic rock named sillar. It was found with the name of “Villa Hermoza de Arequipa”, and is the 3rd largest city of Peru. This region is one of the leading economically of southern Peru thanks to its commerce, and developed agriculture in its fertile valleys. We will visit the Santa Catalina monastery, a big number of religious structures located in the historical center with 4 centuries worth of architecture. We will visit the main square, one of the most beautiful in the country. The Jesuit church of la Campania beautiful façade was made of mixed architecture, as well as its cloister, cupola, and the Tristan house. By the end of the tour we will visit the typical districts of Carmen alto, and Yanahuara.

DAY 7: CITY OF AREQUIPA

A free day to explore the city by yourself.

DAY 8: COLCA CANYON

The Colca Canyon is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the region of Arequipa located in the province of Caylloma. In the valley, there are more than 8 thousand hectares of farming terraces mainly used for potato and maize crops. The Colca canyon is the habitat of the Condor (Vulture Gryphus). Here we enjoy the majestic diving and soaring of the second biggest flying bird in the world.

Early in the morning, we will ride to the Colca canyon on a bus, stopping to take pictures along the way, as you are likely to see llamas, alpacas and vicunas. The Colca Canyon is one of the deepest in the world and its valley boasts an impressive scenic beauty. In the afternoon you will have the chance to enjoy the local hot thermal baths at La Calera. Choose to spend your evening soaking in the baths, dining on alpaca steak or listening to live Andean music at a peña (music hall).

DAY 9: CRUZ DEL CONDOR TOUR

The natural viewpoint of the Cruz de Condor is located at 3,287 meters above sea level. In that place there is a large Cross and stone walls for viewpoint and these provide security for our visitors.

Early in the morning, you can take an optional walk into the canyon to witness the morning routine of the Andean condor. This is an amazing opportunity to see the world’s largest flying bird in predator mode. There will be a short walk around the area (approximately 45 minutes) before you return to Chivay. We will stop in the villages of Pinchollo, Maca and Yanque which have beautiful colonial churches and viewpoints in the towns of Choquetico and Antahuilque. From these viewpoints we can take in the impressive terraces of the valley, the pre-Incan tombs and scale models. After lunch, we will travel to Arequipa by bus.

DAY 10: PUNO – UROS FLOATING ISLANDS & AMANTANI ISLAND

Puno is the gateway to Lake Titicaca and its unique islands, which are the main attraction of this region. These islands are ideal for exploring the flora and fauna of this amazing place. Most economic activity takes place around the lake. Puno can be compared to the Himalayas for being unique places in the world where agriculture flourishes on the heights of the mountains.

Puno sits on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. We will take a tour of the lake by slow motorboat, stopping off to visit the Uros floating islands located 6 km from the port of Puno. The Uros people built these islands to isolate themselves from rival tribes in ancient times. They’re built completely from multiple layers of totora reeds, which grow in the shallows of the lake.

In the evening, upon your arrival, you will be welcomed by our host family who will take care of your accommodation, food and company and you will get to enjoy a homestay in a local community of Amantani on one of the lake’s non-floating islands. Your homestay is in a mud-brick house, with shared drop-toilets but no shower. It can get quite cold here. The homestay will provide plenty of blankets, but remember to pack thermals and plenty of layers. Help your host family with their daily activities or perhaps play a game of soccer in the village with the local kids.

DAY 11: TAQUILE ISLAND

After breakfast, we go on a motor boat for an hour to the Taquile island, to visit its population whose inhabitants engaged in agriculture, fishing and mainly textiles, where men are in charge of spinning and weaving. It is also recognized by UNESCO. Here you will get the chance to sample a delicious typical lunch from the area, before returning to the city of Puno.

DAY 12:CUSCO

We ride to Cusco on a bus. It is one of the most spectacular trips to witness the “Ruta del Sol”, with stops at strategic locations along the way to discover the diversity of Andean landscapes, towns and Incan archaeological sites.

DAY 13: CITY TOUR CUSCO

Cusco is the historical and archaeological capital of South America, a title awarded by UNESCO to preserve its archaeological monuments and to keep their customs that come from the time of the Incas. Their great archaeological monuments defy time with huge complex which now amaze all visitors.

This is a half day tour starting with a visit the Santo Domingo Convent, famous for being built on the Incan sun temple structures, the main religious building of the Incas dedicated to the worship of the Sun. When the first Spaniards arrived they were amazed to see that the walls of the great temple were covered with gold plates. Following that tour, we will visit the Cathedral, a colonial religious monument of extraordinary artistic value with its fabulous paintings with a carved wooden frame, and the beautiful Church of the Company.

Continuing the tour, we visit the archaeological complex of Sacsayhuaman, where you will appreciate large terraces which overlap in zigzag formation surrounded by enormous stone walls well fitted with stone blocks exceeding 6 meters high and weighing over 120 tons. Simply a magnificent work of Incan architecture most worthy of being admired. You will also visit Q’enqo, which means “Labyrinth”. This place is a stone shrine that was used for ritual purposes. Also Pukapukara, which means “red fortress” because the calcareous stones with which is built have acquired the reddish color of the ground. And finally Tambomachay which was a sacred center of worship of water, that were also known as Incan Baths.

DAY 14: SACRED VALLEY TOUR

The Sacred Valley runs along the Vilcanota River basin. You will witness amazing archeological towns built by the Incas. This valley was appreciated by the Incas due to its special geographical and climatic qualities, becoming one of the main places for agricultural production, besides its spiritual significance for the inhabitants of the area.

We start the tour visiting the archaeological complex of Pisaq, characterized by the harmony of its time-resistant and rugged terrain- resistant buildings. It is represented mainly by its amazing system of agricultural terraces, and its traditional market in Pisaq village located on the main square and surrounding streets. A very colorful place demonstrated by the diversity of the handcraft products. After this we will head straight to Urubamba to enjoy lunch.

We will rejoin the bus ride to the archaeological complex of Ollantaytambo. An Incan site that was a strategically based military center constructed to protect the city of Cusco from possible invasion. It is also regarded as a religious and agricultural center for enclosures to worship the sun and water, as well as its impressive system of agricultural terraces. Finally, we will go to Ollantaytambo station to board the train to Machu Picchu town (Aguas Calientes) where we will stay overnight.

DAY 15: MACHU PICCHU

Machu Picchu is known as “The Lost City of the Incas”, considered one of the new 7 wonders of the modern world. It is a masterpiece of Incan architecture and engineering, and has unique architectural and landscape features. Machu Picchu has become one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet, and has been recognized as cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO. Visiting this place you will certainly find the greatest historical legacy of the Incas. We start early boarding the bus up to the citadel. Upon your arrival, your guide will take you on a walking tour through impressive buildings that blend perfectly with the natural landscape of the area. The site has three main sectors of construction. The agricultural sector, characterized by the imposing terraces that rise from the base of the mountains. The religious sector, full of imposing temples and shrines that were finely crafted. Finally, the urban sector, where the ancient Peruvians lived. At the end of the guided tour, you will be able to explore the citadel on your own. Finally, you will take the bus down from Machu Picchu to board the train back to Cusco.

DAY 16: CUSCO CITY

Today has been left free to relax and enjoy the many attractions that Cusco has to offer. For those that would like, you could visit San Blas church and the religious art museum and San Pedro market (sites not visited the previous day).

DAY 17: CUSCO – TAMBOPATA

Upon your arrival, you will be transferred to the Tambopata River port, after a brief stop at Puerto Maldonado Headquarters. While enjoying your first taste of the forest in the gardens, we will ask you to pack only the necessary gear for your next few days, and leave the rest at our storage room. This helps us to keep the boats light.

Skirting Puerto Maldonado, we drive 20 kilometers to the Tambopata River Port, entering the Native Community of Infierno. The port is a communal business. Then you will be transferred by boat from Tambopata River Port to Refugio Amazonas. This two and a half hour boat ride from the Tambopata Port to Refugio Amazonas will take us past the Community of Infierno and the Tambopata National Reserve´s checkpoint and into the buffer zone of this 1.3 million hectare conservation unit. During Caiman searches you will be out at the Tambopata River’s edge at night, scanning the shores with headlamps and flashlights to catch the red gleams of reflection from caiman eyes.

DAY 18: REFUGIO AMAZONAS

Today you will be visiting Oxbow Lake. After breakfast, you will paddle around the lake on a canoe or a catamaran, looking for lakeside wildlife such as hoatzin, caiman and horned screamers, hoping to see the otters which are infrequently seen here. You will also be rewarded with overhead sightings of macaws.

A thirty minute walk from Refugio Amazonas leads to the 25 meter scaffolding Canopy Tower. A banister staircase running through the middle provides safe access to the platforms above. The tower has been built upon high ground, therefore increasing your horizon of the continuous primary forest extending out towards the Tambopata National Reserve. From here views of mixed species canopy flocks as well as toucans, macaws and raptors are likely.

Next we will experience a farm visit and Ethnobotanical Garden. Five minutes downriver from the lodge lays a farm owned and managed by charismatic Don Manuel from the neighboring community of Condenado. He grows a variety of popular and unknown Amazon crops (every plant and tree you will see serves a purpose).

Following the last tour you will go on the Ethnobotanical Tour, where you will find a variety of plants and trees that are used by the local population with at least the same variety of purposes. You will learn about the medicinal (and other) uses of Ajo-Sacha, Yuca de Venado, Uña de Gato, Charcot-Sacha, Para-Para, among several other plants.

Finally Nightly Lectures, after dinner, are lectures prepared by the staff of Refugio Amazonas that cover conservation threats, along with opportunities and projects in the Tambopata National Reserve. You will stay overnight in Refugio Amazonas Lodge.

DAY 19: REFUGIO AMAZONAS

After breakfast, a fifteen minute boat ride and sixty minute walk from Refugio Amazonas is a clay lick used both by parrots and parakeets. From a blind you will see parrots and parakeets descend on most clear days to ingest the clay on a bank. Species such as Dusky headed and Cobalt winged Parakeet descend to this clay lick. With luck you will also see some or all of the following species in the early morning rush: Mealy and Yellow-crowned Amazons, Blue-headed Pionus, Severe macaw and Orange-cheeked (Barraband`s) Parrot. You visit the clay lick at dawn, when parrots are most active or in midmorning or early afternoon, when they are also active.

A few minutes hike from the lodge is a beautiful old growth patch of Brazil Nut forest that has been harvested for decades (if not centuries) where the precarious remains of a camp used two months a year by Brazil Nut gatherers can still be experienced. Your guide will demonstrate you the whole process of the rain forest’s only sustainably harvested product from collection through transportation to drying.  You will spend the night at Refugio Amazonas Lodge.

Twenty minutes walking from Refugio Amazonas is a peccary clay lick. These wild rain forest pigs show up in herds of five to twenty individuals to eat clay in the late morning. Chances of spotting them are around 15%, but well worth the short hike. Other wildlife also shows up including deer, guan, etc.

After dinner, you will have the option of hiking out at night, when most of the mammals are active but difficult to see. Easier to find are frogs with shapes and sounds as bizarre as their natural histories.

DAY 20: DEPARTURE TO LIMA

We will leave Refugio Amazonas Lodge to take a boat back to Tambopata River Port and then to Puerto Maldonado. Finally, you will be transferred to the airport to take your flight to Lima.

Included / Not Included

INCLUDED

  • Accommodation + breakfast: 1 night in Lima, 1 night in Paracas, 1 night in Ica, 2 night in Arequipa, 1 night in Colca Canyon, 1 night in Puno, 1 night in Amantani Island, 4 nights in Cusco, 1 night in Machu Picchu town and 3 nights in Refugio Amazonas.
  • Airfares: Puerto Maldonado – Lima.
  • Entrance tickets for all tours.
  • Round trip train Tickets.
  • Bus tickets, up and down.
  • Bus ticket from Puno to Cusco.
  • Bus ticket from Colca Canyon to Puno.
  • Guided tours with official tour guide.
  • Lunch for Sacred Valley tour.

NOT INCLUDED

  • International flights.
  • Pick up from Lima airport.
  • Additional meals.
  • Drinks and tips.
  • Tickets to the mountains of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu.
  • Phone calls or messages.
  • Flight confirmations and items of personal nature.

Price

2016 prices per person

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Duration: 20 DAYS / 19 NIGHTS
Level: Easy
Destinations: Machu PIcchu