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.
Day 1: Lima, Peru
Welcome to Peru. After you clear Immigration and Customs and collect your luggage, exit the Customs Hall where a representative from Big Five will be waiting for you, and will transfer you to your airport hotel. the remainder of the day is free. Costa del Sol Hotel Ramada
Day 2: Lima / Chiclayo
This morning you are assisted with your flight to Chiclayo. On arrival, you are welcomed and transferred to your hotel. Later you will enjoy lunch in a seafood restaurant typical of this area. This afternoon, join your guide for a visit to the Royal Tombs of Sipan. The Lord of Sipan is the name given to the first of several Moche mummies found at Huaca Rajada, Sipan by archaeologist Walter Alva in 1987. Some archaeologists consider this one of the most important archaeological discoveries in South America because the main tomb was found intact, untouched by looters. By 2007, fourteen tombs had been located and identified. The Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum was constructed in nearby Lambayeque to house most of the artifacts. Of exceptional beauty are the three pairs of turquoise and gold ear ornaments showing ducks, deer, and the Lord of Sipan himself as well as the breastplates of delicately threaded shell beads. The necklace contains gold spheres and huge peanut shells - ten of which were in silver, ten in gold. The scepter is decorated with an inverted gold pyramid with scenes of human sacrifice. There are also objects made of copper, spondyllus shells, fish vestiges, and semiprecious stones. Continue to the Tucume Archaeological Site. Purgatorio (purgatory) is the name by which local people refer to the dozens of pre-Hispanic pyramids, enclosures and mounds found on the plain around La Raya Mountain, south of La Leche River. Tucume covers an area of more than 218 hectares/540 acres and encompasses 26 major pyramids and platforms. This site was a major regional center, maybe even the capital of the successive occupations of the area by Lambayeque/Sican (1000/1100-1350 AD), Chimú (1350-1450 AD) and Inca (1450-1532 AD). Your next stop is the Sican Museum in Ferreñafe, which displays the daily aspects of the Sican culture, including the different methods for making pottery and metal crafts. The museum also has an interesting display of the tombs of the Sican nobility. Casa Andina Select (B,L)
Day 3: Chiclayo/ Santa Rosa/ Pimentel / Trujillo
Early this morning, you travel a short distance to Santa Rosa to see the fishermen in their traditional boats, caballitos, made of totora reeds. Your guide will explain the history behind these boats, which dates back to the ancient pre-Inca era. Then, you will have the chance to board one of the traditional boats and try your hand at fishing or kayaking. After lunch at the resort in Pimentel, you will see how these rugged, little Caballito De Totora are made. Then, join your guide for the four-hour overland transfer to Trujillo. Libertador Hotel Trujillo (B,L)
Day 4: Trujillo
Today, with your guide, you will explore the world of Chan Chan, capital of the Chimu Kingdom, which reached its peak in the 15th century. Soon after, however, it fell under the Incas. The planning of this huge city made of mud reflects a strict political and social strategy, marked by its division into nine "citadels" or "palaces," which were independent units. The remarkable city is the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas and one of the largest in the world. Its importance is comparable to the ancient cities of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China and Mexico. The palaces, temples, squares, ponds, gardens, aqueducts and labyrinths occupy an area of 15-square kilometers/5.8-square miles. The walls are decorated with stylized, carved drawings of fish, pelicans, rhombuses, and foxes. Then, visit Huanchaco, the famous surfing resort in Northern Peru. In this area, the caballito de Totora boats are used for surfing. Even prior to the Incas coming here, local fishermen use these reed boats for travel and fishing. After a long day of fishing, the men developed a way of surfing just for recreation. Today, surfing is practiced all along the coast of Peru, and most especially in Huanchaco. You have the option to enjoy some surfing lessons before trying your hand at this ancient sport, whether you are new to surfing or an experienced surfers. Libertador Hotel Trujillo (B,L)
Day 5: Trujillo / Lima / Juliaca / Puno
Transfer to the airport to board your flight to Juliaca with a stop in Lima. On arrival at the Juliaca airport, you are met and transferred to the town of Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The rest of the day is at leisure to settle in. Perched at a breathtaking 3,800 meters/12,400 feet above sea level, Puno and the surrounding countryside are the cradle of the Aymara civilization and the legendary birthplace of the founders of the Inca Empire. Puno lies on the shore of Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake. It is from these waters that the Incans believed that Manco Capac, their cultural founder, emerged. Casa Andina Private Collection Puno (B)
Day 6: Puno / Lake Titicaca
Early this morning, begin your exploration of this famous lake. Your first stop is a visit to one of the remarkable floating reed islands, made from the same reeds used in construction the caballito de Totora boats. The islands are home to the Uros Indians, who still live as their ancestors did a thousand years ago. These floating islands are their home. Taquile is a remote island with a remarkable community where Quechua, the language of the Incas, is kept alive by the islanders. The Taquileños are known for their fine hand-woven textiles and clothing, which are regarded as among the highest-quality handicrafts in Peru. Knitting is exclusively performed by males, who start as early as eight years old, while the women exclusively make yarn and weave. Later, upon arrival at your hotel on Suasi Island, you will see how the boats are made in this region of Peru and enjoy a BBQ lunch. On a small private island, your hotel was also built using local materials such as stone, adobe and totora reed. This island has 43 hectares/106 acres and is home to three South American camelids and one of vizcachas as well as other highland plants and animals. After dinner, enjoy a tour of Lake Titicaca at night. You see the Southern sky with the help of a computerized Bushnell five-inch telescope, learning about the cosmogony that the Andean civilizations have developed over time. The experience culminates with a bonfire by moonlight. Casa Andina Private Collection Suasi (B,L,D)
Day 7: Lake Titicaca
This morning, go canoeing on Lake Titicaca. This hour-long tour around the island takes you through groups of totoras, where the diversity of the lake's birds can be appreciated. After lunch, visit Martha's Cultural Cabin, where you learn about the unique ecosystem of the high Andean Plateau and the Lake Titicaca region. You have time at leisure this afternoon. You can savor an optional visit to the Andean Spa with a massage or one of their other treatments that includes creams and oils made from local highland plants. Casa Andina Private Collection Suasi (B,L,D)
Day 8: Lake Titicaca / Puno / Juliaca / Lima
After a leisurely morning, transfer overland to Juliaca Airport for your flight to Lima. En route to the airport, visit the Tombs of Sillustani. Sillustani provides some of the best ruins in the region. These consist of circular stone towers called chullpas, which overlook Lake Umayo. These were probably built under Inca Rule, but archaeological evidence seems to point towards a Pan-Andean architectural trend in which these circular structures were the vogue. During the Spanish times, many were destroyed because these impressive structures were associated with idolatry. In Lima, you are greeted and transferred to your hotel. Casa Andina Private Collection Miraflores (B)
Day 9: Lima / Ica / Nazca Lines / Ica
You are driven three hours to Ica, where you will board an aircraft for a flight over the renowned and mysterious Nazca Lines. You see shapes emerge, including the Spider, the Monkey and many others. Still, not fully explained, these enormous designs made several centuries ago can only be observed from the air. The origin and significance of the Nazca markings still puzzle archaeologists. Maria Rieche, a German scientist who has devoted her life to the study of these fascinating markings, has a more prosaic theory. She believes they made up a huge calendar employed for agricultural purposes by the people who lived in the area thousands of years ago. Made famous in books, TV and movies, as well as featured in National Geographic, this remains a highlight of Peru. In the afternoon, discover the desert of Paracas, which is said to be the most arid desert in the world. Rain is quite infrequent, and the winds blow from east to west. Still it teems with history and culture, and the landscapes will take your breath away. Travel the desert in 4x4 vehicles, especially designed for this environment. The tour begins near the oasis of La Huacachina. Drive over the sand dunes with stops to try your hand at sand boarding downhill on these amazing dunes sculpted into the Peruvian coast. You are accompanied by experienced drivers who will make your desert adventure an experience of a lifetime. Las Dunas Hotel (B)
Day 10: Ica / Lima / Depart
Enjoy a motor boat excursion to the Ballestas Islands, in Paracas National Reserve, to observe sea lions, boobies, pelicans, penguins, and other marine birds. On the boat trip over to the islands, the famous "Candelabro" can be seen, an enigmatic drawing that many people believe is related to the Nazca Lines. Others think it is a representation of the Southern Cross Constellation, or a stylized drawing of a cactus that was used by high Inca and pre-Inca priests as a hallucinogen. This afternoon, you are transferred to Lima Airport where you will board your flight back home (B)
Land price, per person, double occupancy: From $450 per person per day