Explore Peru & Bolivia

Bolivia, Peru,

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16 people
25 days
Code: GGSUC
Activity and Adventure, Discovery, Tours
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Overview of Explore Peru & Bolivia

Travel from Lima to La Paz and explore the best of Peru and Bolivia on this adventure through ancient ruins, breathtaking scenery and colourful market towns. From the mysterious Inca ruins of the highlands and the lush jungles and exotic wildlife of the Amazon to the vast expanses of Lake Titicaca and the Salar de Uyuni, discover the highlights of this fascinating part of South America.

Trip Summary for Explore Peru & Bolivia

Start Location: Lima,   End Location: La Paz

Countries Visited: Bolivia, Peru, 
Meals Included: Breakfast: 22   Lunches: 10   Dinners: 8
Highlights:

    • Venture into the Amazon Jungle
    • Discover colonial Cuzco
    • Explore the sights of the Sacred Valley
    • See the sun rise over Machu Picchu
    • Experience the bustling markets of La Paz
    • Visit the heart of Bolivia in whitewashed Sucre
    • Discover underground history in Potosi
    • 4×4 through the surreal landscapes of the Salar de Uyuni

 

Day 1 - Lima
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Peru. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. Enjoy a walking tour of downtown Lima, including the city's historical centre. Flanked by streets of ornate colonial mansions, palaces and churches, Plaza Mayor is the best place to start any exploration of Lima. Take a walk through the old streets to get a feel for colonial life. If you arrive early, we recommend you take a walk around Miraflores. Go from Central Park (Parque Kennedy) to LarcoMar via Larco Avenue. Alternatively go to Parque del Amor (Love's Park) for a nice view of Lima's beaches. Other great things to see and do include a tour to Pachacamac (around 30 km from downtown Lima), the Museo de la Nacion and the Gold Museum. Limenos (Lima's residents) are friendly and there are plenty of great restaurants and cafes to sample ceviche, a local seafood speciality.

Notes: This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information on this.

Day 2-3 - Amazon Jungle
Take a flight to Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon Jungle, where you'll be staying for two nights. Upon your arrival, the lodge staff will take you to their office in town. Here you can leave most of your luggage in safe storage and continue travelling with a small pack with just the necessary items for your next two nights in the jungle. You’ll then take a motorised canoe upriver to your jungle lodge in the Madre de Dios area. There will be time to unpack and unwind once you get there. The next two days are packed with activities. Your full day in the jungle includes a trek which lasts approximately half a day. At times the paths can get quite muddy and some people can find the trek a little exhausting. Along the way there will be regular stops, and you'll encounter magnificent fauna and flora in their natural habitat. You might spot everything from macaws and monkeys to peccaries, jabirus, otters and thousands of butterflies. The guides can also teach you about the medicinal properties and practical uses of the plants. For lunch you will return to the lodge.
For your night-time excursion, venture out on a night jungle walk!

Notes: We stay at two different lodges in the same area. The activities may vary slightly according to which lodge you are at. Depending on which lodge you are staying at, the included night excursion may be on the night of Day 1 or Day 2. As both of our lodges are in the same area of the jungle, you will see the same wildlife and your overall jungle experience will be the same in either lodge.

Day 4 - Cuzco
Fly from Puerto Maldonado to Cuzco, the true heart and soul of Peru (approximately 35 minutes). Spend a little time acclimatising to the high altitude (3,450 m) and then head out on an orientation walk with your tour leader. You’ll visit the facade of Qoricancha temple, the local San Pedro market, the main square, past the 12 Angled Stone, Regocijo Square and San Blas Square. Finally you’ll visit the Chocolate museum where there will be an opportunity to sample a hot chocolate made from local cacao beans. This might be a good opportunity to purchase some gifts or souvenirs. There’s a small store where you’ll find various handicrafts and a variety of artisanal chocolate products. Tonight is free, perhaps head out for dinner your fellow travellers. Your leader will be able to recommend some good place sot eat!

Day 5 - Sacred Valley / Ollantaytambo
Head to Ollantaytambo, visiting a local community en route. When you arrive in Ollantaytambo you'll see it's a magnificent example of Incan urban planning. It's one of the few places where the Incas defeated the Spanish. Ollantaytambo's archaeological site is located to the east of the Plaza de Armas. The upper terraces of this site offer great photo opportunities of the squared grid town below. Visit Hearts Cafe for a bite to eat – it's part of a project supported by the Intrepid Foundation and the coffee there is excellent.

Day 6 - Inca Trail, Quarry trail or Train option
During the next four days, you'll do one of the following, depending on what you've arranged:

Route 1: Hike the Classic Inca Trail;
Route 2: Hike the Inca Quarry Trail;
Route 3: Take the train to Aguas Calientes, after staying in Cuzco for two extra days.

While away from Cuzco, the bulk of your luggage will be stored at your hotel. If you’re hiking the Inca Trail or the Inca Quarry Trail, the evening before you leave Cuzco you'll receive a small duffle bag to carry your clothes in for the next four days (5 kg maximum). Your team of porters will carry these bags for you, together with the food and equipment for the trail. Please note that you won't have access to these items until the end of each day, as the porters will always be ahead of the group. If you’re travelling to Aguas Calientes by train, you'll be able to leave most of your luggage at the hotel in Cuzco and only travel with the necessary items during the excursion by train.

Route 1: Classic Inca Trail

Travel by minivan to the 82 km marker and meet your crew of local porters, cook and guide. The first day includes uphill trekking to the campsite (located 3,100 m above sea level). On the way you’ll see the Inca sites of Ollantaytambo, Huillca Raccay and Llactapata, and catch incredible views of the snow-capped Veronica Peak. In the evening, unwind at the campsite with a nourishing meal.

Notes: The Inca Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people, but please come prepared, as the trail is 45 km long and often steep. Each day's journey generally consists of 7 hours of walking (uphill and downhill) with stops for snacks and lunch. Trekking usually begins at 7 am (except on the fourth morning) and you reach the campsite around 5 pm. Accommodation on the trek is camping (three nights). Double tents (twin-share) and inflatable camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.

Route 2: Quarry Trail

Make an early start today and drive to Choquequilla, a small ceremonial place where Incas worshipped the moon. Drive to the starting point of the trek, Rafq'a, and meet the horsemen who join us on the hike. After an hour’s walk, reach the small community of Socma. Carry on to the Perolniyoc cascade lookout, an opportunity to stop for photos and a food break. Continue to the campsite (3,700 m above sea level). You should reach the campsite around lunchtime. After lunch, set off to explore the Q'orimarca archaeological site, which once served as a checkpoint to the Incas.

Notes: The Quarry Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people. The hike is 26 km long in total and its highest pass is at 4,450 meters above sea level. Throughout the trek, horses will carry your gear and camping equipment. The first two nights are spent camping, and on the third night you'll stay at a simple hotel. Double tents (twin-share) and inflatable camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.

Route 3: Train

After spending the night in Ollantaytambo, leave around 9.30 am and take a short drive to the town of Pisac, which is well known for its market. Here you’ll have the opportunity to shop for souvenirs and perhaps try some local Empanadas. Arrive back in Cuzco in the afternoon, where your leader will take you to the San Pedro Market in order to buy some things for a picnic tomorrow. In the late afternoon, you’ll have an option to visit the Choco Museum and try some exquisite artisanal chocolate that's prepared in-house from cacao beans. Be sure to sample some of the delicious hot chocolate.

Notes: The included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.

Day 7 - Inca Trail / Quarry trail / Train
Route 1: Classic Inca Trail

This is the most challenging day of the trek as you ascend a long steep path (approximately 5 hours) to reach the highest point of the trail. Colloquially known as 'Dead Woman's Pass', Warmiwanusca sits at a height of 4,200 metres above sea level, giving amazing views of the valley below. The group will then descend to the campsite in the Pacaymayo Valley at 3,650 metres.

Route 2: Quarry Trail

This is the most challenging and rewarding day of the hike. A three-hour walk takes you to the top of the first pass of Puccaqasa (approximately 4,370 m high). After enjoying picturesque views of the valley, it’s a short walk before stopping for lunch. Afterwards, make the two-hour hike to Kuychicassa, the highest pass of the trek at 4,450 meters. From here, descend to the sacred site the Incas called Intipunku (Sun Gate), with views of the Nevado Veronica mountain. Head to the campsite, only a stone’s throw away at Choquetacarpo.

Route 3: Train

Today, take a taxi to Tambomachay, an archaeological site just outside of Cuzco. From here you’ll take a short downhill walk (1–3 hours) back to Cuzco. On the way, stop to admire some of the archaeological sites including Puka Pukara, Qinqu Quenqo and Saksaywaman. Arrive back in Cuzco in the afternoon and enjoy some free time to go shopping, or perhaps visit Merida, Mendivil and Olave art galleries and workshops. Your tour leader will be able to give you some suggestions.

Notes: The included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.

Day 8 - Inca Trail / Quarry trail / Train
Route 1: Classic Inca Trail

Start the day with a climb through the Pacaymayo Valley to Runkuracay pass (3,980 m). Enjoy beautiful views of the snow-capped mountain of Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending to the ruins of Sayacmarca (approximately 2–3 hours). Continue over the trail’s third pass to the ruins of Phuyupatamarca (3,850 m), also known as the 'Town Above the Clouds'. Start the descent down the Inca steps to the final night's campsite by the Winay Wayna archaeological site (approximately 2 hours).

Route 2: Quarry Trail

Today’s hike is all downhill. The first stop is the incomplete Kachiqata quarry, where the Incas were intercepted by the Spanish. Around midday, your trek comes to an end. Explore the cobbled streets of Ollantaytambo before taking the short train journey to Aguas Calientes. This is where you’ll meet up with the travellers in your group who didn't hike. Visiting the natural hot springs in town is a recommended way to spend the late afternoon. Spend the night in a comfortable hotel before tomorrow’s visit to Machu Picchu.

Route 3: Train

After a drive to Ollantaytambo (approximately 1.5 hours), catch a train through the winding Urubamba Valley to Aguas Calientes (also approximately 1.5 hours). The city is nestled in the cloud forest at the foot of Machu Picchu. For those who want a sneak peak, there is time to visit Machu Picchu independently before a guided tour the following day (dependent on ticket availability). Otherwise, you can while away the afternoon in the natural hot springs at Aguas Calientes.

Notes: The included lunch on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.

Day 9 - Inca Trail / Quarry Trail / Train (Machu Picchu)
Route 1: Classic Inca Trail

This is the final and most spectacular leg of the trek to Machu Picchu. The day starts before dawn, with breakfast at 4.30 am. Say farewell to the porters as they descend to the train station and begin hiking by 5.30 am. Walk to Intipunku, aka the Sun Gate (approximately 2.5 hours). Weather permitting, enjoy unforgettable views over Machu Picchu, ‘Lost City of the Incas’, as the sun rises (and before it’s crawling with visitors).

Route 2: Quarry Trail

Depending on weather conditions, take a bus at 5.30 am along the winding road to Machu Picchu (approximately 30 minutes). At Machu Picchu, join up with the travellers in your group who hiked the Classic Inca Trail. If the skies are clear, enjoy a spectacular sunrise over the ancient city from the Sun Gate before going on a guided walk around the ruins.

Route 3: Train

Take an early bus up to Machu Picchu at 5.30 am. The city was built around 1440 AD as a country retreat for Incan nobility, but there’s evidence that the land had been a sacred Incan site for much longer. Take a guided tour around the ruins of temples, palaces and living quarters, and enjoy free time afterwards to wander around on your own before the group returns to Cuzco.

For all routes: After taking advantage of the seemingly endless photo opportunities, it's time to return to Cuzco for a well-deserved shower and a Pisco sour. Your evening is then free for the last night of your adventure.

Notes: Due to Intrepid's internal safety policy, our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking trips to the mountaintop ruins of Wayna Picchu.

Day 10 - Cuzco
Enjoy free time to relax, shop and explore more of Cuzco's sights. Perhaps rest you weary legs at a cafe on Plaza de Armas. For those who can't get enough active adventure, why not try mountain biking in the hills that surround Cuzco?

Day 11 - Puno
Travel by local bus through the dramatic scenery of the high altiplano to Puno, located on the shores of Lake Titicaca (approximately 6 hours). You'll be at an altitude of 3,820 metres. There will be a couple of stops along the way to pick up and drop off passengers. Take in glorious views of the seemingly endless water stretching into the horizon. This place is a melting pot of Aymara and Quechuan Indian culture and traditional Andean customs, and it wears its traditions on its sleeve. If you're lucky your trip will coincide with one of the many cultural festivals here.

Day 12 - Lake Titicaca Homestay
Embark on a tour of the lake by slow motor boat, stopping off to visit the Uros floating islands. The Uros originally built their islands to isolate themselves from rival tribes. The islands are built from many layers of totora reeds that grow in the shallows of the lake. To get a closer look at daily life in the Lake Titicaca region, you'll be welcomed into local homes for an overnight stay with the community. Make the most of your visit by helping your host family with their daily activities or trying to chat in the local language, Quechua. A game of soccer is also a great way to make local friends.

Notes: Your homestay tonight is a mud brick house. Rooms have beds and many blankets, and there are shared drop-toilets but no showers.

Day 13 - Puno
This morning after breakfast you'll board the boat again and head to Taquile Island (approximately 1 hour). Here, the tradition of knitting is strictly a male domain, and women do the spinning. It's a great place to pick up some high quality, locally knitted goods. An uphill trek (approximately 1 hour) brings you to the main area of the island. After the visit, you will descend about 500 steps back to our boat. Then travel back to Puno by boat (approximately 3 hours).

Puno is the hometown of Kusimayo, a terrific local organisation that works towards improving the living condition of children and adults affected by poverty and malnutrition in this part of the world you have now come to know so well. Take a look at this short video for more information on this wonderful project: https://vimeo.com/154422813
Kusimayo is supported by the Intrepid Foundation which means you can donate to this project and your donation will be match dollar for dollar by the Intrepid Group. Please donate through our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/kusimayo/

Day 14 - La Paz
Travel by comfortable local bus to Desaguadero and cross the border into Bolivia. After border formalities at the Peruvian migration office, you'll walk across a bridge to the Bolivian side, submit your passport at the Bolivian migration office, then board the bus again. Head for La Paz, and after 30 minutes or so there's another stop where your documents will be checked by authorities. The journey to La Paz takes about 5 hours (don't forget that Bolivia's timezone is 1–2 hours ahead of Peru!). When you arrive, you might feel like you're on top of the world at around 3,600 metres above sea level. Discover the colonial architecture and browse the markets – you'll see this town is a interesting mixture of the indigenous and modern.

Day 15 - La Paz
Today is free for you to explore the city and its surrounds. Perhaps hop on a local bus out to the extraordinary landscape of Moon Valley. This isn’t a valley, but a maze of canyons and colossal clay spires. These rugged oddities, caused by erosion, make for staggering views. La Paz is also renowned for its many markets, including the Mercado de Hechiceria or Witches’ Market. Take a cable car 13,000ft to the twin city of El Alto and browse through the weird and wonderful stalls that sell everything from potions to incantations made from herbs, seeds and unidentified bits and pieces to cure any ailment. If this is all too much for you, try the more conventional markets where you'll find ponchos, gloves, hats and many other products made of alpaca wool, leather and other traditional materials. If you want to discover more about the region’s fascinating history, maybe enjoy a half-day tour to the Tiwanaku ruins outside of La Paz. Another great optional activity is a full-day tour to the coffee and coca plantations of Coroico, situated in the rainforest below the city.

Day 16 - Uyuni Town
This morning at approximately 8am we will travel to Uyuni by private transport (approximately 9 hours), with stops along the way to stretch legs and enjoy the scenery. Arriving in Uyuni feels a bit like you've reached the end of the road, which in many ways is true. This remote small town sits on the edge of the high altiplano, a wilderness that extends for hundreds of kilometres towards the border with Argentina and Chile. So it's hardly surprising that the town has a bit of a wild west feel about it. Uyuni is best known for its proximity to the Bolivian salt flats known locally as the Salar de Uyuni. The town was once a distribution hub for trains carrying minerals on their way to Pacific Ocean ports. In the 1940s, the mining industry collapsed and many trains were abandoned. Tonight you’ll stay at a hotel in Uyuni Town. The hotel is basic, however it’s clean, comfortable and has hot water (make the most of this as you may not have a hot shower for the next couple of days).

Day 17 - Salar de Uyuni
Uyuni is the starting point of your three-day 4WD excursion into Salar de Uyuni and the Andean desert. This morning we will stop by the Train Cemetery three kilometres outside of Uyuni Town, connected to it by the old train tracks, and see where families of geriatric locomotives rust slowly in the sun. The remainder of the day is spent mostly on the salt lake itself. Spanning over 12,000 square kilometres, and heaving with around ten billion tonnes of salt, Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest saltpan. Pass salt-mines and visit Inkawasi – a rocky, cactus and coral-like structure covered island erupting from the monotonous salt crust like a hallucination. Spend time walking around admiring the unusual yet beautiful landscapes. The massive salt plains of Bolivia are an incredible sight and offer plenty of opportunities for bizarre, perspective-defying photos. Endless blue skies meet endless white salt on what was once a prehistoric lake. Make the most of your time here, taking as many photos as possible in this incredible place, as the following day you’ll leave the salt flats for the Andean Desert. At the end of the day, drive to your basic accommodation on the salt plains.
We will arrive at the Salt Flats accommodation at approximately 6:30pm. After settling in to the rooms, we will enjoy an included dinner.

Day 18 - Andean Desert
Today begins with an early wake up call in prepartion to leave at approximately 7am. It'll be spent driving through the spectacular landscape of the Andean (Atacama) Siloli Desert, which is sprinkled with volcanoes and lakes, including the active Volcanoe Ollague and Laguna's Canapa, Hedionda and Honda. Along the way keep your eyes peeled whilst passing Quinoa fields and plenty of Andean fauna including Andean Vicuñas - one of two south American camelids, Llamas, Andean fox, Vizcachas - similar to Rabbits. Continuing on we will stop at Árbol de Piedra, a rock formation known as the Stone tree.
One of the highlights of today is the visit to Laguna Colorada (red lake), a rich red lake vividly coloured by algae and rich minerals. One of the strangest sights in such arid and inhospitable land is the abundant wildlife, It's truly a photographers paradise. Look out for llamas, flamingos, vicuñas, and foxes.
During this drive you’ll reach an altitude of approximately 4,800 metres above sea level, so it’s important to revisit the notes on altitude sickness (please see the ‘Is This Trip Right For You?’ and ‘Health’ sections of the trip notes). Tonight's accommodation in the desert is located at 4230mts above sea level.

Day 19 - Uyuni Town
This morning we will be waking up nice and early in order to leave at 5am.
Apart from geysers and snow-capped volcanoes, the volcanic landscape also hosts some stunning natural hot springs. Our first stop is Sol de Mañana geysers (4926mts - our highest point in our trip).
Next we will decend to Polques and stop by the desert’s natural thermal baths for an optional soak, which we highly recommend. Continuing on we will drive through the Southern desert, making stops at Salvador Dali Valley, Laguna Verde and Volcano Licancabur.
Be prepared for a long day of driving, approximately 12 hours before arriving back at Uyuni Town)
Back in town wander around the streets of this outback settlement and just chill out before heading to Potosi tomorrow.

Day 20 - Potosi
In the morning take a local bus along a scenic road to Potosi (approximately 4 hours).
The highest city at 4060mts above sea level of its kind in the world, Potosi has had a turbulent past, centred mostly around its mining successes and failures. During the Spanish colonial days, the extensive mining of Potosi's silver rich Cerro Rico was said to have kept Spain running for 300 years. During this time, Potosi briefly celebrated life as one of the richest cities in the world. In the 1800s, the supply of silver declined, as did the market price, and the city started to suffer. Working conditions in the mines were appalling and huge numbers of indigenous people died. African slaves were brought in to replace them and it's said that as many as 8 million people died in the mines during the Spanish era. Perhaps visit the Santa Teresa Convent Museum to observe the art and treasures on display inside the convent’s original walls or the National Mint Museum.

Day 21 - Sucre
A journey by local bus along a well-maintained road takes you to Sucre (approximately 3-4 hours). Descending more than 1,000 metres to the temperate valleys of Chuquisaca, small rivers, cactus fields, fruit and vegetable plantations dominate the valley. Sucre is a pleasant city set in a valley surrounded by low mountains and has retained the flavour of its colonial heritage in its churches, museums and ancient mansions. Bolivia's official capital, Sucre was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1991. Most of the town's colonial buildings have been whitewashed, earning it the nickname the 'White City'. On arrival, you'll have plenty of free time to explore the city and get your bearings.

Day 22-23 - Sucre
The next two days are free to explore the town or partake in some of the optional activities available. Please speak to your leader for more information. You might like to visit the Museo de la Recoleta. This 400-year-old convent on top of the hill provides great views over the city and is home to a fascinating collection of sculptures and paintings. Maybe head to the Plaza 25 de Mayo to rub shoulders with Sucre's affluent residents and investigate the extravagant interior of the Senora de la Merced. For something completely different, compare shoe sizes with a dinosaur at Cal Orcko, where 68 million-year-old footprints have been discovered. This is the largest collection of dinosaur footprints in the world, over 12,000 of them! There’s also proud food culture in Sucre, so enjoy some delicious saltenas (Bolivia's version of empanadas) at a restaurant or fresh juice at the Central Market.

Day 24 - La Paz
Take a flight back to La Paz from Sucre airport today, which should only take around 30-40 minutes. Check-in time at the hotel isn't until 2pm. Depending on flight availability, we may arrive prior to check-in. In this case there is luggage storage available at the hotel. The rest of your day is free to relax or explore more of the city. Maybe head to the Mirador Killi Killi Lookout, located on top of a steep hill in the neighbourhood of Villa Pabon, and one of La Paz’s most impressive viewing points. Nearby is the National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore, which exhibits a wide collection of stunning works that takes you through Bolivian history. Perhaps visit the Coca Museum, which isn’t too far from your hotel in the Rosario district. If there’s time, you might like to take part in one of our Urban Adventure tours. When the sun sets and the temperature drops, gather together you travel buddies and join the locals in seeking warmth in a bar or restaurant, and celebrate the end of your Bolivian adventure.

Day 25 - La Paz
Your exploration of Bolivia's highlights comes to an end this morning. As there are no more activities planned, you're free to book your departure flights when you like and you can leave the accommodation at any time.

Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities

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