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Cultures of the North Coast & South Peru (23 days)

Cultures of the North Coast & South Peru (23 days)

per person

Why you'll love this trip

This trip was created for 2 couples (aged 60+) from Belgium (Vanstaeyen-Braeken) that were looking for a once-in-a-lifetime private trip to South and North Peru. They were interested in a combination of archeology, culture and nature experiences, as well as good food, a good private guide and comfortable hacienda- and boutique-style hotels with local charm and character. We made this private trip for them including private 4×4 transport and train rides combining the best places to visit in the North Coast and the south of Peru, in a varied and very enjoyable way.

If you have more time, you could also choose to include a visit to the Chachapoyas region in North Peru.

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Example trip itinerary

Day 1. Arrival in Lima

Welcome to Lima, the city of Kings!  A member of our staff waits for you at the airport with a name sign and takes you to your hotel (flights from Amsterdam usually arrive in the evening). You stay overnight at Second Home hotel in Barranco, the beautiful home of famous local artist, Victor Delfin.

Day 2. Lima: Barranco, Miraflores and Museo Larco

You can enjoy the private gallery of the artist and the garden overlooking the Pacific Ocean from your hotel after breakfast. Around 10am, your English-speaking private local guide picks you up to start a walking tour from the hotel in the neighborhood of Barranco and then heads to Miraflores from “El Parque del Amor” -along the beautiful cliffs and parks overlooking the ocean- to the lighthouse. For lunch, we take you to our favorite small seafood restaurant in Miraflores. In the afternoon, you get an introduction into Peru’s rich cultural heritage at the Larco museum.

We recommend you have dinner tonight at Isolina restaurant, near your hotel. (We can help you make a reservation if you like).  You stay overnight at Second Home hotel. (B)

Day 3. Lima: Huaca Pucllana, San Isidro and the historical center

Around 9am your guide and private transport take you to the Huaca Puccllana for a guided tour at the pre-Incan pyramids. On our way to the historical center of Lima, you stop for a walk in the beautiful Parque del Olivar in the residential neighborhood of San Isidro. After this, you visit downtown Lima with the San Martin square, the main square, La Casa Aliaga, the old train station, the San Francisco Convent and its catacombs and other interesting sites while your guide gives you lots of insight on the past and present life in Lima. In the evening, you attend a lightshow at the Circuit of the Water Fountains Park. You spend the night at Second Home hotel. (B)

Day 4. Trujillo: Arrival, city tour and the Rainbow Temple

In the morning, we take you to the airport for a short flight to Trujillo and then take you to your hotel.  In the afternoon, we take you on a private tour around the city of Trujillo, to visit the main square, the Cathedral and the typical colonial houses. The tour continues to the Rainbow Temple. The Chimu built this temple around 1200AD. You explore the temple’s two platforms, where you enjoy the carved adobe panels and niches that were once used to store ritual objects. Local legends describe the Temple of the Rainbow as the home of Takaynamo, the mythical man who is believed to have founded Chan Chan. You stay overnight at Costa del Sol – Trujillo Centro hotel. (B)

Day 5. Trujillo: Chan Chan, Huanchaco beach and the Temple of the Sun and the Moon

Today you have a private tour to the archeological complex of Chan Chan, a pre-Colombian city that was entirely built with adobe-mud bricks by the coastal Chimu culture. This place was home to 100,000 habitants who stubbornly resisted the expansion of the Incan Empire. It is well preserved and was listed as an endangered World Heritage site by Unesco in 1986.  Chan Chan in Chimu language means “Sun – Sun” or “Bright, Shinning Sun”. You then have lunch at a nice restaurant in front of the ocean at Huanchaco beach. Huanchaco is an ancient fishing village where local fishermen continue to fish using reed rafts known as “Caballitos de Totora”.   In the afternoon you continue with a visit to the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon, built during the Moche empire (100-700AD). The temples are huge adobe mounds that were used for various purposes. The Temple of the Moon was used as a religious complex, while the Temple of the Sun was an administrative center. The temples were built over centuries in platforms. Every century the Moche sealed the bodies of their dead rulers into the temple and then covered the existing platform with a new platform. Over some 700 years, the temple evolved into a huge stepped pyramid.

You stay overnight at Costa del Sol – Trujillo Centro hotel. (B)

Day 6. The Lady of Cao, Pacasmayo and the Nature Reserve of Chaparri

8am: After breakfast your private driver picks you up from your hotel for an interesting day of culture and nature. After an hour’s drive further north, we make a stop at “El Brujo Complex” which is a pyramid that rises high above the surrounding sugar cane fields. Deep inside this pyramid, archeologists discovered a well-preserved mummy of a young woman, who belonged to the Moche culture´s Royalty. She was named “Señora de Cao” and was wrapped in many layers of cloth and housed in a tomb with remarkable decoration. She was heavily tattooed with spiders, snakes, crabs and other supernatural symbols. Buried with her were a number of ceremonial items which included jewelry and weapons. The elaborate burial site surprised archaeologists very much because the presence of weapons suggested that the woman was a Moche ruler or a high-rank priestess. Back then, it was believed that only men held high ranks in the Moche culture, and to find the Lady of Cao buried with such care and richness contradicted the belief that the Moche was a male-dominated culture. With so much fascination around her, a beautiful museum in which she is exhibited, was built at the site (a documentary was also made about her by National Geographic).  You have a private tour at the complex.

 

After this, we drive 1,5 hours to the beach town of Pacasmayo where you can have a nice lunch. In the afternoon, you continue for approximately 2.5 hours up to the Chaparri Ecological Reserve where you spend the evening and night in a peaceful oasis of pure nature.  (B, D)

Day 7. Chaparri Ecological Reserve

You have a full day to enjoy and explore nature in the coastal dry forest of the Chaparri Ecological Reserve with a local nature guide. This reserve is a private conservation project co-owned by the local indigenous community.  Many species of endemic birds and mammals live here. You may see foxes, deer, and the spectacled bear. With your visit, you help them preserve this natural area. All meals are included, and you also have a chance to savor the local home-made cuisine of Lambayeque. (B, L, D)

Day 8. The Lord of Sipan and flight back to Lima

We recommend you get up early today to watch the beautiful morning bath of the different species of lovely hummingbirds. After breakfast we pack up and say goodbye to the people and animals of the reserve and we dedicate our last day in North Peru to visit “the Lord of Sipan”.

The Huaca Rajada del Señor de Sipán (“The Lord of Sipan”) is a fully intact tomb of a Moche king, considered one of the most important archaeological findings of the past several decades. The unearthing of this site has been compared to the excavation of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt–an almost completely intact ancient burial, which is a rare and dazzling discovery as grave robbing is a huge issue in Peru, so it is actually quite rare for archaeologists to have access to a tomb which is nearly complete like that found at Huaca Rajada. Authorities became aware of the tomb in 1987 when a disagreement between two grave robbers led to its discovery being reported to the police, who raided the site and recovered the precious items from the tomb such as a golden face mask, a pectoral, earrings, nose rings, ornate ceramics and textiles, knives, sea shells and sacrificed animals.

We visit the original burial platform of Huaca Rajada where the famous Tomb of the Lord of Sipan was discovered. After lunch we take our time to visit the Tumbas Reales of Sipan, a museum where all the treasures are exhibited, considered as one of the best museums in Peru. Later in the afternoon, we take you to Chiclayo’s airport for your flight back to the capital Lima. You stay overnight at Atemporal hotel, in Lima. (B)

Day 9. Lima, Pachacamac ruins and Hacienda San Jose

In the morning, you drive out of Lima heading south. You can stop by the artisanal fishermen’s wharf of Chorrillos and the beaches south of Lima. Your private driver and guide then take you to the ruins of Pachacamac where you enjoy a guided tour. You spend the afternoon at the historical Hacienda San Jose in Chincha where you take a guided tour around the property and then relax and enjoy the gardens and eat local creole dishes from this specific coastal area.

You spend the night at Hotel Hacienda San Jose (B).

Day 10. Chincha, Paracas Reserve, Ica

We drive from Chincha to the Paracas reserve to visit the beautiful desert landscapes, cliffs, beaches and learn from your guide about the Paracas culture in the morning (you do not visit the Ballestas islands). We continue our way south to Ica where we visit some local pisco bodegas (pisco: Peru’s national liquor made from grapes) and the Huacachina Oasis in the middle of huge sand dunes. You can take an optional adventurous tour in 4×4 sand buggies to watch the sunset in the desert and have a chance to try sandboarding (not recommended for people with back problems). (B)

You then spend the night at Hotel Hacienda Queirolo (in the middle of a vineyard).

Day 11. Ica, Lima

In the morning you have the option to take a flight from Ica over the mysterious Nazca Lines. A monkey, a whale, a spider and a hummingbird are only a few of the many lines you can watch in the desert floor. The flight takes approximately 1 hour.  After this we return to Lima (approximately a 4.5-hour drive). You spend the night at Hotel Atemporal in Miraflores. (B) (The price for the Ica-Nazca-Ica flight overlooking the Nazca Lines is US$200 per passenger).

Day 12. Arequipa

A short flight takes you from Lima to Arequipa in the morning.  Welcome to the Andes mountains! Then you are taken to your hotel to check-in. You can take the afternoon at your own leisure. We recommend to walk to the colorful Santa Catalina Convent where you can take a guided tour. (B) You stay overnight at Katari hotel.

Day 13. Arequipa

In the morning, you take a guided tour throughout the city and visit the museum of the “frozen Inca virgin Juanita”, who was found frozen as a sacrifice on top of the Ampato volcano. Your guide takes you to a typical “picanteria” restaurant for lunch.  Arequipa is known for its delicious food and typical dishes such as “Chupe de Camarones”, adobo and rocoto relleno and you can also taste guinea pig and alpaca meat here if you like. In the afternoon you take a walk with your guide throughout the rural surroundings of the city with views of the volcanoes. (B, L) You spend the night at Katari hotel.

Day 14. Colca Canyon

Today you start a private tour from Arequipa to the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world. You travel by volcanoes and through the Aguada Blanca reserve, where you have a chance to spot many llamas, alpacas and vicuñas in their natural habitat. This is your first day at a higher altitude (you sleep at 3600 m.a.s.l.) so we recommend to take it easy in the afternoon. You spend the night at the Colca Lodge where you can enjoy and relax in the private thermal baths. (B)

Day 15. Colca Canyon

You have a full day to explore the Colca Canyon with your private guide. You can visit tiny villages, learn about the local cultures, enjoy beautiful viewpoints over the thousands of agricultural pre-Incan terraces, and you can go on short hikes in this beautiful area, where you have a very good chance to spot some majestic Andean condors flying over the canyon in the morning from “Mirador Cruz del Condor”. (B)

Day 16. Luquina Chica

Today you continue your journey over the altiplano region passing by several high-altitude lakes to Puno, located at Lake Titicaca. On the way, you can make some stops, for example, to visit the Incan and pre-Incan grave sites of Sillustani and the Temple of Fertility.  If you are lucky, you might see flamingos in some of the high lakes on the way. You spend the night at a small, clean guesthouse of a local indigenous Aymara family who lives at the side of the lake. You have the chance to interact with the family and see how life goes about in the community.  (B, L, D)

Day 17. Lake Titicaca - Puno

We take you on a private boat tour to visit Lake Titicaca with a local guide. During the tour, you stop at one of the floating reed islands of the indigenous Uros people and learn about their history and particular ways of life. You can also go on a beautiful hike to the island of Taquile, which is declared Unesco’s Cultural Heritage Site and learn about the different traditions here as well. After lunch at the island, you return to Puno by boat, where you spend the night in a hotel. (B, L, D)

Day 18. Puno – Cusco scenic train ride

Today you travel on board of the beautiful luxury Andean Explorer Belmond train from Puno to Cusco, the capital of the ancient Inca Empire. On the way you can enjoy the views from the bar and panoramic wagons and lunch and entertainment on board. Upon arrival, we take you to your hotel in the historical city center – Los Niños Fierro hotel. (B, L)

Day 19. Cusco

In the morning, our local guide takes you on a private walking tour through this beautiful city to visit the places of most interest such as the Main Square, the Cathedral, the Koricancha temple, the artistic neighborhood of San Blas, the 12-angled stone, the small Incan streets and the San Pedro market. After a break for lunch, you continue the tour visiting the archeological Incan sites located in the higher part of the city, such as the fortress of Sacsayhuaman (with enormous stones), Puca Pukara (the red checkpoint for people entering the city at Incan times), Tambomachay (“the Inca baths”), and the ceremonial site of Qenko. In the evening, you can enjoy dinner in one of the many great novo-Andean restaurants the town offers. You spend the night at Los Niños Fierro hotel. (B)

Day 20. Sacred Valley of the Incas

In the morning we pick you up from the hotel to start a private full-day tour to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. You visit the ruins of Pisac with its impressive Inca terraces, and the colorful market of the town of Pisac. At Urubamba, you visit an inspiring local school project where you enjoy a nice lunch. In the afternoon, we go to the authentic Inca town of Ollantaytambo where many people still live in houses that were originally built by the Incas. You appreciate the urban water channels in the tiny Incan streets which are still intact.  You visit the Inca Fortress of Ollantaytambo and spend the night in this town.  You stay overnight at El Albergue hotel (superior rooms) where you can have a nice dinner. (B, L)

Day 21. Machu Picchu

You take a scenic Vistadome train ride from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes in the morning. After a nice lunch at the Indio Feliz restaurant, you and your private guide zigzag up the mountain (25 min) to Machu Picchu by bus. You take a private guided tour for approximately 3 hours, visiting this forgotten Inca city with its plazas, temples, sacred fountains and terraces. After the tour you take the bus down to Aguas Calientes. Later in the afternoon, you take the train back to Ollantaytambo. You spend the night at El Albergue hotel (B, L).

Day 22. Sacred Valley of the Incas and Cusco free day

You take a scenic Vistadome train ride from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes in the morning. After a nice lunch at the Indio Feliz restaurant, you and your private guide zigzag up the mountain (25 min) to Machu Picchu by bus. You take a private guided tour for approximately 3 hours, visiting this forgotten Inca city with its plazas, temples, sacred fountains and terraces. After the tour you take the bus down to Aguas Calientes. Later in the afternoon, you take the train back to Ollantaytambo. You spend the night at El Albergue hotel (B, L).

Day 23. Departure

Depending on the time of your international flights, we coordinate your transfer to the airport at the right time.

  1. Activities & Entrances:
  • Walking tour around Miraflores and Barranco (private service)
  • Tour to Larco museum (private service)
  • City tour in Lima (private service)
  • Circuit of the Water Fountains Park (private service)
  • City tour and Rainbow Temple in Trujillo (private service)
  • Full day tour to Chan Chan, Moon and Sun huacas and Huanchaco (private service)
  • Tour to El Brujo Complex (private service)
  • Tours in Chaparri (private service)
  • Tour to Huaca Rajada and Tumbas Reales museum (private service)
  • Tour to Pachacamac ruins (private service)
  • Tour to Paracas National Reserve and visit a wine and pisco cellar (private service)
  • Overflight of the Nasca lines (shared service)
  • City tour in Arequipa and surroundings (private service)
  • Tour to the Colca Canyon of 2 days and 1 night (private service)
  • Visit Sillustani tombs and Temple of Fertility (private service)
  • Visit Uros and Taquile island at the Titicaca Lake (private service)
  • City tour in Cusco (private service)
  • Tour at the Sacred Valley of the Incas (private service)
  • Tour at Machu Picchu (private service)
  • Tour to Maras, Moray and Chincheros (private service)
  • All entrances, guide and tickets for all the places you visit that are mentioned in the itinerary

 

  1. Transportation:
  • All transfers in private service to/from airports and train/bus stations to hotels
  • Flight from Lima to Trujillo
  • Private transport from Trujillo to Chiclayo
  • Private transportation from Chiclayo to Chaparri round trip
  • Flight from Chiclayo to Lima
  • Private transport from Lima to Chincha to Paracas and to Ica round trip
  • Flight from Lima to Arequipa
  • Private transport from Arequipa to Colca and from Colca to Puno
  • PeruRail Titicaca train from Puno to Cusco
  • Flight from Cusco to Lima

 

  1. Accommodation:

Based on two double rooms in boutique-style hotels with local charm (see names and links below). One night on Lake Titicaca at a local indigenous Aymara family’s guesthouse (clean accommodation with private bathroom).

Two nights at the Chaparri Nature Reserve: Here you sleep in the only accommodations there are; they are clean with a private bathroom and surrounded by nature.

In Trujillo, the hotel is the largest – maybe a bit less stylish- but it is comfortable and very well located, right in the heart of the city on the beautiful main square.

In Lima, we choose 2 different hotels as you go and come back. That way you can explore both Barranco and Miraflores and both hotels have their own boutique charms.

In Puno, we choose a hotel with a view overlooking Lake Titicaca.

In Cusco, we choose Los Niños Hotel which is smaller but it has something lovely and its own special charm; each room is a bit different, but they are all pretty spacious. The hotel also supports a social cause -assisting street children- which is nice. All profits go to the project.

The hotel in Ollantaytambo is also very charmful and has its own organic gardens and school in the back. The location near the station is also very convenient for your back and forth trip to Machu Picchu.

 

  1. Food:
  • All breakfasts (at the hotels)
  • Other meals mentioned in the itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)

 

  1. Guiding:
  • Professional local English-speaking guides
  • Support from Vamos Expeditions staff
  • Other food not mentioned above (our guides will give you good advice on where to eat well)
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses, extra activities and tips
  • International flights
  • Optional: Flight over the Nazca Lines from/to Ica airport: aprox.US$220 per person.

As prices vary a lot depending on the amount of people and the season, please, contact us for a price quote.

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