From the cobbled streets of Cusco to the sweeping landscapes of the Colca Canyon, Highlights of Southern Peru is a dynamic two-week private journey that promises diversity. The carefully crafted itinerary is designed to include core cities and sites of interest: Peru’s capital city Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Lake Titicaca, the Colca Canyon and ‘white city’ of Arequipa. From exploring impressive archaelogical sites to admiring the glassy reflections of Lake Titicaca, Highlights of Southern Peru takes in just that. Covering history, scenery, contemporary lifestyles and culture, this program delivers a comprehensive introduction to the riches of Peru. All of our itineraries can be tailored according to your travel style and interests.
- Trek through Andean Villages in the Sacred Valley
- Visit floating communities on Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake
- Discover the dramatic landscape of the Colca Canyon
Day 1 Lima Arrival in Lima. Overnight at Atemporal or Belmond Miraflores Park.
Day 2 Lima Into the Past: Lima's city highlights with a specialist guide. Overnight at Atemporal or Belmond Miraflores Park.
Day 3 Lima – Cusco – Urubamba Valley Fly Lima to Cusco. Visit Pisac archaeological site and market. Overnight at Sol y Luna or Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba.
Day 4 Urubamba Valley Trek through Andean villages in the Sacred Valley OR Visit Maras and Moray OR Paddle boarding and mountain biking. Overnight at Sol y Luna or Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba.
Day 5 Urubamba Valley – Machu Picchu Belmond Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu and guided visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Overnight at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo or Belmond Sanctuary Lodge.
Day 6 Machu Picchu – Cusco Second Day at Machu Picchu with optional hikes. Vistadome train back to Cusco. Overnight at Palacio Manco Capac or Palacio del Inka.
Day 7 Cusco Appreciate Cusco's cobbled-street charm with a tour of the city's key sites, followed by a BBQ lunch atop an Incan wall. Overnight at Palacio Manco Capac or Palacio del Inka.
Day 8 Cusco – Lake Titicaca Fly to Juliaca or take the day train to Puno. Overnight at Libertador Puno or Titilaka.
Day 9 Lake Titicaca A day exploring the historic sites and visiting local communities on Lake Titicaca. Overnight at Libertador Puno or Titilaka.
Day 10 Lake Titicaca – Colca Valley Transfer by road to the Colca Canyon. Visit the highlights of the mountainous landscapes and terraced valley. Overnight at Colca Lodge or Belmond Las Casitas.
Day 11 Colca Valley & Canyon Explore the sweeping Colca Canyon, spot giant condors above, and visit local colonial churches. Overnight at Colca Lodge or Belmond Las Casitas.
Day 12 Colca Valley – Arequipa Scenic drive from the Colca Canyon to Arequipa. Overnight at Casa Andina Premium Arequipa or Libertador Arequipa.
Day 13 Arequipa – Lima Vist the 'white city' of Arequipa, its main attractions and surroundings including a private tour with Arequipa's Minister of Culture. Overnight at Casa Andina Premium Arequipa or Libertador Arequipa.
Day 14 Lima Fly Arequipa to Lima. International departure.
Arrival in Lima
An English-speaking Aracari representative will be expecting you from your international arrival, will greet you and give you your customized welcome pack with a booklet of your trip itinerary and other useful information before whisking you off to your hotel, assisting you with all check-in procedures.
Into The Past Lima City Tour with Specialist Guide
One of the main fascinations of Lima is the concentration of ancient history in the area; not only do the origins of the city pre-date the Spanish foundation of the city by several millennia, its museums are full of the artistic treasures of magnificent pre-Columbian civilizations that flourished throughout the coastal deserts of Peru. Begin to unravel this multifaceted history and discover the complex past of this fascinating city accompanied our specialist guide. Visit an ancient adobe pyramid right in the middle of the city, Huaca Huallamarca, which dates back to around 200 BC. Journey to the Larco Herrera Museum, where thousands of years of complex ancient history will be turned into an easy-to-understand story, for kids and adults alike. Continue on to the colonial area of Lima, featuring the Cathedral, the Convent of Santo Domingo, and the Main Square with its beautiful baroque style buildings. You will also have a chance to visit Casa Aliaga, reportedly the oldest home on the Continent and still family-owned after 17 generations.
The sites visited can be tailored to your interests to include: La Casona de San Marcos; the Convent of San Francisco and its catacombs; Huaca Pucllana; and the Museo de la Inquisition. It is also possible to organize cocktails at Casa Aliaga.
Lima – Cusco – Urubamba Valley
Flight to Cusco, Awanacancha, Pisac Market & Ruins
An Aracari representative will pick you up from your hotel for your private transfer to Lima airport where he will assist you with check-in procedures for your domestic flight to Cusco. Upon arrival in Cusco, you will head straight to the Urubamba Valley - also known as the 'Sacred Valley'.
En route, stop for a short visit of Awanacancha where you will have the opportunity to see the different camelids that live in the Andes such as llamas, alpacas, vicuñas and guanacos. In Pisac experience the sights and sounds of the town’s famous market, with its variety of handcrafts and fresh produce. Continue on to the Pisac ruins. With Inca masonry of superlative quality, the stunning terracing following the contours of the mountain and superior view of the valley will leave you in awe.
Trek in the Sacred Valley, Lunch at Hacienda Huayoccari or Visit Maras & Moray, Alfresco Picnic Lunch, or Stand Up Paddle Board and Bike in the Sacred Valley, Picnic Lunch.
Today, choose from the following three options:
Explore the Sacred Valley with a trek between Chinchero and Huayllabamba. This short, downhill hike begins in Chinchero, a small Andean village with colonial buildings, original Inca streets and impressive Inca walls, and follows a stream until it eventually meets the Vilcanota River in the Sacred Valley. The trek follows an incredibly well-preserved Inca Trail to the small village of Huayllabamba and is perfect for families due to its relative ease. Along the way you will enjoy a box lunch with spectacular views of the Urubamba mountain range. The total trek is about 7-8 kilometres (4.3-5 miles), which is approximately three to four hours of hiking.
Following your visit, head to Hacienda Huayoccari for a three-course lunch in this traditional hacienda, owned and lived-in by one of the oldest land-owning families in Cusco. Take a look at their private collection of folk art and ancient artifacts. Afterwards, return to your hotel.
Today, you will visit Maras, the site of the remarkable and unusual Salinas, located in the heart of the Sacred Valley. This site consists of a huge number of watered terraces that collect salt by evaporation from the saline waters that gush from an underground stream. Built in a similar way to agricultural terraces seen throughout the Andes, the Salinas have been in use since pre-Columbian times. Visually, the shining, salt-encrusted terraces are extraordinary. Nearby Maras lie the most enigmatic Inca terraces at the site of Moray. This unique site, probably used for agricultural experimentation, consists of several enormous terraced circular depressions. Following your visit, enjoy lunch (at own cost) before transferring back to your hotel.
For lunch, enjoy an elaborate picnic with food provided by Cicciolina restaurant in Cusco, for an unforgettable, first-class dining experience in the heart of the Andean outdoors. Following lunch, you will be escorted to your hotel.
Adventure travelers may choose to spend the day stand-up paddle boarding on a calm lake surrounded by mountain scenery and biking through the landscapes. Paddle for a few hours and after a picnic lunch on the shores of the lake, start your downhill mountain biking adventure. There is no doubt that crossing the gorgeous valley on wheels will help you understand why it was so sacred to the ancient Inca people and why here they felt close to the "Pachamama" or mother earth.
Urubamba Valley – Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu visit, arriving by the Hiram Bingham Train
This morning you will board the luxurious Hiram Bingham train - a must for those seeking the utmost level of luxury - to Aguas Calientes, at the foot of Machu Picchu. Enjoy a gourmet brunch during the spectacular journey descending into the Sacred Valley and passing through lush landscapes and Andean villages.
“Magnificence” is the only word to describe the scene as you gaze upon the ruins of Machu Picchu. The main destination on many travelers’ lists, the ‘lost city of the Incas’ is a man-made marvel that has become a symbol for the ingenuity and prosperity of one of the most expansive empires in Latin American history. Only a century ago were the incredible ruins uncovered; a two year-excavation led by Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham and the National Geographic Society of Washington DC allowed Machu Picchu to gain the prominence that it deserves. Enjoy a 2-3 hour guided visit of Machu Picchu before spending the remainder of the afternoon exploring the ruins after the majority of visitors have left the site.
- For private groups up to 8 people we recommend the Inca Princess train service as an alternative to the Hiram Bingham
Machu Picchu – Cusco
Second Day at Machu Picchu, Vistadome train
This morning you’ll return to the ruins with your guide. Optionally hike to IntiPunku, the “Sun Gate”, take a more strenuous climb to Huayna Picchu or climb to the top of Machu Picchu Mountain, located south of the Citadel and offering spectacular panoramic views. Following your visit, take the bus back to the town of Aguas Calientes to catch the Vistadome train (approx. 1.5hrs) back to Ollantaytambo, where a private vehicle will be waiting to drive you to Cusco (approx. 2hrs).
In And Around Cusco
Since its narrow alleyways were originally designed by the Incas as a city for walking, start your exploration of Cusco on foot. Begin at the Plaza de Armas, the Main Square, which is marked by the exquisite Spanish Colonial architecture and ornamentation imposed by Spanish colonists to exert religious and political influence. Underneath it all, however, you can clearly see remnants of Inca Cusco in the solid stonework. Visit Koricancha, the most sumptuous “Sun Temple” in the Inca Empire, and the breathtaking Cathedral, a repository for Cusco’s colonial art, as well as many other important archaeological relics and artifacts. You will also stop by the colourful San Pedro market and pass through the charming neighborhood of San Blas. Next, visit Sacsayhuaman, an Inca citadel atop a hill, on the outskirts of the city. Not only are the imposing terraces of masterful stonework a sight to behold, but the vistas overlooking the sienna rooftops of Cusco provide a whole new perspective to the city you traversed.
Following the visit, from atop an Inca wall, enjoy panoramic views of Cusco during a private BBQ with your own dedicated cook. Sample a variety of local meats – including alpaca – accompanied by fresh, leafy salads from the on-site vegetable garden for hearty, home-cooking at its best.
Cusco – Lake Titicaca
Fly to Juliaca and transfer to hotel. Overnight at Libertador Lake Titicaca or Titilaka.
An Aracari representative will meet you at your hotel to accompany you to Cusco airport for your domestic flight to Juliaca. Upon arrival at the Juliaca airport, you will be welcomed by an Aracari representative and transferred approximately 1 hour to Libertador Lake Titicaca.
Alternatively, you can opt to take a full day train from Cusco to Puno on Lake Titicaca.
Lake Titicaca, at nearly 4000 feet above sea level between the Peruvian and Bolivian highlands, is the highest navigable lake in the world. This gentle lake is home to a myriad of communities, each with their own specific customs and traditions and with folklore often considered to be the richest in Peru. With rugged landscapes, gentle lapping water, and the crisp air of the highlands, a visit to Lake Titicaca is both a serene and educational experience, providing a unique look into the cultural variety and native wildlife that exists here.
Day on the Lake. Overnight at Libertador Lake Titicaca or Titilaka.
Whether staying at Libertador Lake Titicaca (private excursion) or the luxurious Titilaka (shared excursion), today you will explore Lake Titicaca, including the floating reed island of Uros, home to a fishing and hunting community.
If staying at Libertador Lake Titicaca next depart to Llachon island, where the indigenous populations, adorned in their traditional attire, are famous for their weaving techniques. Enjoy a traditional lunch in a local house specially prepared and hosted by the Community of Santa Maria. Located on the Capachica Peninsula and home to some of the most traditional communities in the Altiplano, this lesser-known community consists mainly of subsistence farmers and fishermen and is where you will be able to spend time getting to know the lovely village and its people.
If staying at Titilaka, next explore Taquile Island’s rich textile tradition. Declared a part of UNESCO’s Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, Taquile’s textiles are emblematic of the local living culture. As the island enjoys a privileged microclimate, you’ll likely see men weaving wonderful textile pieces outdoors. Enjoy a picnic with views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
Lake Titicaca – Colca Valley
Transfer by road to Colca Canyon
The Colca Valley and Canyon (3,650m/11,975ft) constitute one of Peru's most dramatic and spectacular natural landscapes. The Colca River, considered by a recent National Geographic survey to be the source of the Amazon, cuts a sensational scar through the mountains for more than 50 km and is surrounded by a lost paradise of Spanish Villages. Their churches still stand despite being battered by earthquakes, and their women still dress in their traditional voluminous Andean skirts and colorful hats. Spend three days exploring this beautifully picturesque environment.
You will depart from your hotel by Lake Titicaca by private car setting out for the Colca Valley, a journey of approximately six hours. Along the way, pass the towns of Juliaca, Santa Lucía, and Imata. Drive along the coast of Lake Lagunilla, hoping to catch a glimpse of its variety of wild birds and flora. Continue your journey through picturesque Andean farms, dotted with sheep, llama, and traditionally dressed workers. Stop to take a photo of the natural landscape with the surrounding Peruvian Andes acting as the perfect backdrop.
Colca Valley & Canyon
Explore the Colca Canyon
This morning you can choose from a range of activities in the Colca Canyon. Perhaps explore on foot opting for one of the many beautiful regional hikes that include a gentle walk to Uyo Uyo Ruins, a moderate hike through Canocota Canyon, or a steep trek to Madrigal Chimpa Fortress. Alternatively, get to know the locals by helping out with daily tasks such as farming with a rural community based tourism project. Horseriding is also available, if you prefer to explore on the world renowned Peruvian Paso horse.
In the afternoon, you and your guide will journey firstly to the recently renovated colonial church of Lari before driving further down the valley toward the famous Condor Cross to view the majestic condor in flight. The Andean condor has an average wingspan of 3m (10ft) and is one of the largest land flying birds in the world. Although it cannot be 100% guaranteed that they will show up, you will have a very high chance of observing the condor from this vantage point.
Colca Valley – Arequipa
Colca Valley to the 'white city' of Arequipa
This morning, your guide will collect you from your hotel to start your journey through wonderful scenery and traditional towns, leading you to a lookout point from where you can see snow-capped mountains. You will continue through a forest filled with interesting rock formations and the Pampa of Cañahuas. The mountains surrounding the area provide the quintessential scene of the Peruvian Andes, dotted with farms, sheep and llamas along the way. Following this, you will make the return journey to Arequipa, a journey of approximately four hours.
The White City
Nestled at the foot of El Misti volcano, Arequipa (2,335m/7,660ft) or ‘The White City’ is famous for being Peru’s second largest city, and for its construction using chalk-white volcanic stone known as sillar. The charming colonial architecture, interesting sites, and the five nearby volcanoes have awarded Arequipa the title of UNESCO World Heritage city, and today you will have the opportunity to explore some of the best that the area has to offer.
We recommend you start your morning on the outskirts of the city at the Ruta del Sillar. This route is composed of canteras, or quarries, where to this day workmen manually carve blocks of the iconic volcanic stone that constructs the casonas, churches, and famous buildings of the city center. Back in the center, visit impressive main square, the Plaza de Armas then head to the Jesuit church of La Compañia, a unique example of American baroque architecture. Next, take in the Santa Teresa convent, a former religious center that has been converted into a Colonial Art Museum, where you can optionally be guided by an Aracari specialist, the Minister of Culture in Arequipa. After lunch – we recommend you try local specialties such as rocoto relleno - visit the Santa Catalina monastery, the pride of Arequipa. This expansive 29,426 square meter convent was founded in 1580 and is a masterpiece of Colonial architectural design. Afterwards, you will be taken to the Santuarios Andinos Museum, where the body of Juanita, a frozen girl, is on display. Uncovered atop Ampato Mountain in 1995, Juanita was a teenage girl sacrificed to the Inca gods in the 1400s and is eerily well-preserved.
Arequipa - Lima
Departure from Lima.
An Aracari representative will meet you at your hotel for your transfer to Arequipa airport for your domestic flight to Lima. In Lima assistance between your domestic and international departure flight is provided.
Itinerary pricing as of 2018
Pricing Info - US$6,720
This is an example itinerary and can be entirely customized to suit you. Just get in touch and we’ll design your own tailor-made itinerary according to your interests, travel style and budget.
- Based on two people travelling together in double or twin occupancy
- Price is per person for the full 14-day itinerary
- Based on Hotel Selection 1: Atemporal, Sol Y Luna, Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo, Palacio Manco Capac, Libertador Lake Titicaca, Colca Lodge, Casa Andinda Premium Arequipa
Pricing Alternatives - US$9,249
The alternative pricing is based on the same itinerary with upgraded accommodations showcasing the best luxury hotels that Peru has to offer.
- Based on two people travelling together in double or twin occupancy
- Price is per person for the full 14-day itinerary
- Based on Hotel Selection 2: Belmond Miraflores Park, Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, Palacio del Inka, Titilaka, Belmond Las Casitas, Libertador Arequipa
This itinerary is based on two people travelling together in double or twin occupancy, excluding flights (international and domestic).
- Includes all specified services in the itinerary description
- All transfers and entrance fees
- A welcome pack on arrival including: a pre-loaded cell phone to contact your travel consultant at any time, a printed booklet packed with insider tips alongside your detailed itinerary and up-to-date recommendations on dining and shopping
- Hand-selected English-speaking guides
- Specialist guides (where noted)
- 24-hour support from our locally based team
- 13 nights in a hand-picked and personally tested selection of Peru’s finest hotels