Peru experiences two very distinct seasons, wet and dry - terms that are more relevant than "summer" and "winter." Peru's high season for travel coincides with the driest months: May through September, with the most visitors in July and August. May and September are particularly fine months to visit much of Peru.
Peru is in the same zone as U.S. EST (GMT -5 hours).
Nuevo Sol (S/), divided in 100 cents. Coins come in 5,10,20 and 50 cents. Banknotes are in denominations of 10 20 50 100 and 200. US dollars are welcome at most shops, restaurant and services stations at the current exchange rate.
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“I am from Peru, and there are so many places that I love and want to share with my travelers. This program is for those who love treks and being out in the natural world. It features Arequipa, which is the most beautiful colonial city of Peru. Nearby is Colca Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world; where you see families of condors, and enjoy mountain biking and hiking opportunities along the rim. I have included an outstanding four-day trek to Machu Picchu along the ‘royal path’ of the Incans. Hikers will love this journey.” Gisela Polo, Destination Specialist
Day 1: Arrive Lima, Peru
Welcome to Peru! Upon arrival in Lima, you proceed through Immigration and Customs. After claiming your luggage, exit the Customs Hall where a representative from Big Five will be waiting to assist you and transfer you to the airport hotel. Costa Del Sol Ramada Hotel
Day 2: Lima / Arequipa
Return to the airport for your morning flight to Arequipa. You are welcomed on arrival and transferred to your hotel. Today you tour Arequipa including the Santa Catalina. Arequipa is, arguably, the most beautiful colonial city in all of Peru, and the second largest. Known as the “White City,” Arequipa is in southern Peru at an elevation of approximately 7,500 feet. It is surrounded by the towering peaks of El Misti, Chachani and Picchu Picchu. The city tour takes in the Plaza de Armas, surrounding villages and countryside, the La Mansion del Fundador and El Molino de Sabandia. Then continue to La Compania. You finish with a visit to the 16th-century Convent of Santa Catalina, which was closed to outside visitors for almost 400 years, only reopening in 1970. This magnificent convent has been the scene of many historic and religious events. The architecture, art and furnishings hark back to the late 1500s. Libertador Hotel Arequipa (B)
Day 3: Arequipa / Chivay, Colca Canyon
Travel through gorgeous countryside to the edge of Colca Canyon, which at depths of 11,000 feet –twice that of the Grand Canyon – is the world’s deepest canyon. En route, visit a preserve for llamas, vicunas and alpacas, and view the rich flora and fauna of the Andean paramo. Las Casitas Del Colca (B,L,D)
Day 4: Colca Canyon / Arequipa
Set out to explore the grandeur of Colca Canyon, during a two-to-three-hour trek between Cabanaconde and Cruz del Condors. Enjoy the best vantage points for viewing the Andean condor as well as the depths of the canyon. Notice the extensive, ancient terracing. Libertador Hotel Arequipa (B,L)
Day 5: Arequipa / Cuzco
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Cuzco, where you are welcomed and transferred to your hotel. Enjoy a half-day tour of this magical city as you drive through the main streets with sections of ancient Incan walls still visible. The Qorikancha, once an Incan Sun Temple, is now Santo Domingo Church, but some of the earlier Incan work is still visible, and its curved stonework is probably unequalled in the world. Imagine, in the time of the Incas, these stones were covered with gold. Explore the archaeological sites that surround Cusco: the Saqsayhuaman Fortress, with its huge stone constructions. The site is claimed to have great cosmic energy - that is why many think it was an astronomic observatory and an Inca oracle. Q’enqo was used for worship and as a ceremonial center. In the city, the San Pedro local market is a great spot for people watching. Discover San Blas, called the Artisans Neighborhood, of narrow, high streets and a beautiful little plaza, where artisans create works in wool, clay and wood. Continue to see the famous Twelve Angles stone, part of the largest Inca wall in Cusco, once part of Hatunrumiyoc Palace, a prime example of Inca skill with polygonal masonry. Aranwa Hotel Cuzco (B)
Day 6: Cusco / Soraypampa
After an early breakfast, you will set out early with your guide and vehicle to Salkantay Lodge & Adventure Resort (SLAR) in Soraypampa. Along the way, take a short break to visit the Inca ruins of Tarawasi near the town of Limatambo, about an hour and a half from Cusco. Then, pass through the mountain village of Mollepata and stop for a short coffee break before ascending a winding mountain road to a place called Marcoccasa, where your trek, about four hours, to Soraypampa (3,800 m /12,500 ft), along an old route called the “Camino Real,” royal path. (Hiking level: moderate). (Optional: guests who do not wish to trek may be transported to the lodge in the vehicle). Salkantay Lodge & Adventure Resort takes its name from the majestic peak at the head of the valley, the second most sacred peak in Inca mythology; and, at 6,270 m/20,600 ft, the highest in the region. After a warm welcome, guests enjoy time at leisure to relax before this evenings briefing around the fireplace. Salkantay Lodge & Adventure Resort (B,L,D)
Day 7: Soraypampa
This day is spent at leisure for rest or activities, depending upon guests’ level of acclimatization. The most popular activity at Soraypampa is a half-day, three-to-four-hour hike to a glacial lake, where the more adventurous might take a very short swim! (Hiking level: moderate to challenging). This activity is excellent for acclimatization and a first immersion into high-mountain trekking! In the afternoon, guests may choose to trade the glacial swim for a relaxing soak in an outdoor Jacuzzi. Salkantay Lodge & Adventure Resort (B,L,D)
Day 8: Soraypampa / Huayraccmachay (3,850 m/12,600 ft)
This is the big day – the start of the four-day trek to Machu Picchu. After an early start, you hike up the Rio Blanco Valley, circling Humantay Peak across from the Salkantay. The highest point on the trek is a pass at 4,600 m/15,000 ft. At the pass, stop to take in views of snow-capped peaks of the Vilcabamba Range in every direction, and the south face of Salkantay towering above us. You may see Andean condors, often visible here. From the pass, you continue the descent toward the Wayra Lodge, the place where the wind lives, your destination for the evening. Savor a hot lunch en route during the hike of four to six hours. (Hiking level: difficult with that 15,000-foot mountain pass). Wayra Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 9: Huayraccmachay / Collpapampa (2,800 m/9,200 ft)
Following the long first day, relax with a leisurely breakfast at the lodge. Begin with a downhill hike above the Salkantay River through increasingly verdant scenery. Arriving at the next lodge, where you enjoy a Pachamanca, traditional underground stone cooking, lunch (subject to availability). The Colpa Lodge is located in an open promontory at the confluence of three rivers. Its outdoor hot tub has gorgeous views of lush green mountains and a small, town in the distance. Today’s hiking time is three to four hours. (Hiking level: easy to moderate). Colpa Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 10: Collpapampa / Lucmabamba (2,100 m/6,900 ft)
After an early breakfast, head down the Santa Teresa River Valley through more populated rural areas with coffee plantations (said to be some of the best organic coffee in the world), bananas, granadillas and orchards. Pause along the river for a hot picnic lunch. After another hour of trekking, you are met by a private vehicle that takes you to the beginning of the Llactapata Inca Trail. There is a short hike from the head of the trail to Lucma Lodge, set in an avocado orchard. Arrive in time to explore the small village of Lucmabamba. Your hiking time today will be five to six hours. (Hiking level: moderate to challenging). Lucma Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 11: Lucmabamba / Aguas Calientes (1,900 m/6,200 ft)
After an early start and a hearty breakfast, set out on your last day of the trek. Climb uphill for two to three hours towards Llactapata pass (2,700 m/8,900 ft), where you come upon a distant but quite special view of Machu Picchu from the southwest, a view few tourists ever glimpse. Here, too, are the Llactapata Ruins, which have recently been restored. Lunch is provided at the observatory, with views of Machu Picchu. The final descent goes down to Aobamba River through lush bamboo forests, orchards and coffee plantations, which takes about two to three hours. Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu are a short, scenic train ride away. The total hiking time is between four to six hours. (Hiking level: moderate to challenging). Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 12: Machu Picchu / Cusco
After an early breakfast, then make your way to the bus station for the ride up to Machu Picchu. Your private guide takes you on a tour of the remarkable Machu Picchu (2,450 m / 8,000 ft) fortress. Then you have the opportunity to explore the site on your own before catching the bus to Aguas Calientes for lunch. This afternoon, you will savor a relaxing train ride to Ollantaytambo, where a private vehicle awaits to take you to Cusco, where you arrive mid-evening. Aranwa Cusco Hotel (B,L)
Day 13: Cusco
Enjoy a well-earned day of leisure to explore the area on your own. Cusco is a lovely colonial city of colonial architecture and many cobble stone streets, well worth discovering, including the lovely main square with all manner of shops lining its sides. Aranwa Cusco Hotel (B)
Day 14: Cusco / Lima / Depart
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to Lima. Upon arrival, you are met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure. In the evening, you are transferred to airport for your homebound flight. Casa Andina Private Collection Hotel – Dayuse (B)
Land price, per person, double occupancy: $6,890.
Note: program is not available January and February.