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Peru: Lares Trek + Machu Picchu + Lake Titicaca


PYT14C
14 NIGHTS
FROM £2,195
Per person sharing
International flights quoted separately
The Lares Trek offers a superb opportunity to walk a less travelled route through the villages & mountains of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, culminating in a visit to the cloud-covered citadel at Machu Picchu. Also visit the colonial city of Cusco and Lake Titicaca, where you see the Uros and Taquile tribes. This trek is moderate to difficult, so you need to be sufficiently fit to walk for 4 days at high altitude.
Lares Trek
• 
Lima
• 
City Tour
• 
Cusco
• 
Temple of the Sun
• 
Lares Trek
• 
Sacred Valley
• 
Ollantaytambo
• 
Expedition Train
• 
Machu Picchu
• 
Lake Titicaca
• 
Lima
• 
City Tour
• 
Cusco
• 
Temple of the Sun
• 
Lares Trek
• 
Sacred Valley
• 
Ollantaytambo
• 
Expedition Train
• 
Machu Picchu
• 
Lake Titicaca
Day 1
You will be met at Lima Airport and transferred to your hotel.
 
Check in and relax in this capital city - the largest in Peru and its gastronomical centre.
Day 2
Today enjoy a half day private tour of historic Lima, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its well preserved architecture. Founded in 1535, it was re-named the "City of Kings" when it was conquered by the Spanish and became the most important centre in the region.
 
Our tour starts in the Miraflores residential district, where we stop at Parque del Amor (Lover’s Lane) with its magnificent views over the Pacific Ocean, before driving through the modern San Isidro business district, where we see the impressive Huaca Huallamarca, an adobe pyramid that was a sacred pre-Inca site.
 
We continue to the historic centre, where we visit the 17th century Santo Domingo Convent which is a World Heritage site. The remains of the patron saint of Peru, Saint Rose of Lima, are interred here as well as the remains of Saint Martin of Porres, the patron saint of people of mixed race.
 
On the Plaza de Armas (main square) you can see many imposing colonial buildings with their intricate balconies - including the Presidential Palace, where the changing of the guards takes place. See the beautiful Cathedral, the Archbishop's Palace and the City Hall.
 
In the evening do try to taste a Pisco Sour, the nation's favourite drink.
 
Note: Lima Cathedral is not open on Sundays.
Day 3
Transfer to Lima Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Cusco Airport and transferred to your hotel.
 
Check in, settle in and relax in this ancient Inca capital city set high in the Andes Mountains, that is today a World Heritage Site.
Day 4
Today enjoy a half day private tour of the magnificent colonial city of Cusco, built on Inca foundations and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Comprising a fascinating mix of colonial churches, monasteries and extensive pre-Columbian ruins, almost every central street in this city has remnants of Inca walls.
 
We start with a visit to the impressive Temple of the Sun (Koricancha) whose walls and floors were once covered in sheets of solid gold. On the site of this ancient Inca palace and centre of worship of the Sun God, the Dominicans ordered a church to be built, which survives to this day (Note: not open on Sunday mornings & religious holidays).  
 
We walk along the cobbled streets to the Plaza de Armas, the central plaza around which you will see many magnificent colonial buildings - including the Cathedral and the Church of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Walking down well-preserved Loreto Street you can see the remains of Incan palaces, as well as old colonial buildings. If you walk down Hatun Rumiyoc, a cobbled street near the Archbishop's Palace, keep an eye out for the famous 12-sided stone that fits so perfectly you can't even insert a coin.
 
We then leave the city and visit the impressive walled fortress of Sacsayhuaman (meaning 'speckled falcon') on the northern outskirts, believed to have been both a military and ceremonial centre. This enormous Inca structure has massive walls of hewn stone and is strategically located on a hill overlooking the city. We also visit Qenko (meaning 'zigzag') where the sun, moon and stars were worshipped and Puca Pucara (the Red Fortress), which may have been a "tambo" or rest and lodgings for the Inca. Finally we visit an art workshop, where you will be able to see artists working in silver, paint and wood - the perfect place to see Andean art.
 
After your tour, if you are feeling adventurous you can try guinea pig - the local speciality.
 
Note: Cusco is situated at high altitude (11,150 ft / 3,400 m). You will need to carry your passport to gain access to the site at Sacsayhuaman.
Day 5
Rise early this morning to set out on the breathtaking Lares Trek, a much less developed alternative to the Inca Trail with far fewer tourists. This is a moderate to difficult trek and you should be sufficiently fit to walk for three days at high altitude.
 
You will be collected from your hotel and transferred through the scenic Sacred Valley of the Incas, driving past small Andean villages with their herds of lamas and alpacas to the small town of Huaran, where our trek begins. Here we meet up with our transport horses & their riders who will support us on our trek and carry our camping equipment.
 
We walk 6-hours today up a path to the valley of the Cancha Cancha (3,700 m), a farming community situated in the middle of spectacular mountain scenery. On arrival there is time to relax and meet the local community to see their way of life. Here we camp overnight in dome tents, with inflatable camping mattresses.
 
Note: You need to bring your own sleeping bag, pillow and sports bag (up to 7 kg). All meals are provided during your trek (but not at Machu Picchu) as well as filtered/boiled water, but not alcoholic beverages. Wear good hiking boots, long pants & T-shirts (1-per day). Pack a warm jacket, woollen gloves & woollen hat for the evenings; a small day pack for personal items & trekking sticks with rubber tips. You will also need a water bottle, rain gear, flashlight, hat or cap, sunglasses, binoculars, sunblock, insect repellent, 4 pairs of woollen socks (they will get wet daily), snacks, camera & batteries.
Day 6
After breakfast we leave camp and walk 3-hours towards Pachacutec Pass (4,400 m), the highest point on our trek. From here you will have an amazing view of lakes formed by glacial water and the surrounding valleys. Along the way you will also have spectacular views of several snow-peaked mountains including Colquecruz, Minas and Sirijuani.
 
After stopping for lunch, we continue for another 3-hours descending until we reach Quiswarani where you can see the rare high-altitude Queñuas (or Polylepis) tree. We then ascend towards the Queuñacocha Lagoon where we set up camp for overnight and, if we are fortunate, enjoy a night sky full of stars.
Day 7
We walk for 5-hours today as we proceed through the Willkiccasa Pass (4,100 m), which offers breathtaking views of the Pitusiray and Colquecruz Mountains, as well as plateaus with lakes and agricultural areas.
 
As we descend to warmer regions you will see the landscape changing from Andean highlands to lush tropical vegetation - with fruit trees, orchids, Andean villages and rivers to enjoy.
 
On reaching Lares, enjoy lunch and a swim in its natural hot spring before our road transfer to Ollantaytambo, where we board a late afternoon train to Aguas Calientes.
Day 8
This morning we take the first bus up to the sanctaury at Machu Picchu (2,400). This magnificent mountain top city, situated in a beautiful cloud forest, was abandoned and reclaimed by the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911. There are very few people at the citadel this early in the morning, so this will be a very special experience.
 
This legendary Lost City of the Incas is without a doubt one of the world's most impressive archaeological sites. Built on the summit of Machu Picchu (meaning "Old Peak"), on a natural saddle between steep forested mountains, it overlooks the deep canyon of the Urubamba River some 3,400 m above sea level. With its giant walls, terraces and ramps that appear to have been cut naturally out of the rock escarpments, Machu Picchu's history remains shrouded in mystery as the Incas did not leave any written records.
 
Enjoy a 2-hour guided tour of this 14th century citadel, including the Main Plaza, Circular Tower, the Sacred Sun Dial, Royal Quarters, Temple of the Three Windows and various burial grounds. Afterwards return to Aguas Calientes and take the train to Ollantaytambo, where your trek ends.  
  
You will be met at Ollantaytambo Station and dropped off at your hotel in the Sacred Valley.
 
Note: You must take your passport with you today, as this will be needed to gain entrance, which is restricted to 4-hours (based on either a morning or afternoon schedule). It is mandatory to enter with a guide and you cannot take selfie sticks, tripods, umbrellas, food or alcohol onto the site. You may not wear high heels or hard soled shoes and smoking is prohibited. If you leave the sanctuary for any reason (eg for lunch), re-entry will not be permitted. Only one bag not exceeding 11 lb (5 kg) is allowed as hand luggage on the train. From January to June parts of the rail track may be impassable at times due to mud slides, when a bus transfer will be substituted.
Day 9
Today enjoy a full day tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
 
Our first stop is at the citadel of Ollantaytambo, built to protect the northern entrance to the Sacred Valley from invasion and later the centre of Incan resistance against the Spanish. The fortress and walled terraces of this town provide some of the finest examples of Incan architecture, with the six rose-coloured monoliths of the Temple of the Sun being particularly outstanding. The village itself is the best surviving example of Inca urban planning, with stone-paved streets that have been used since the 12th Century.
 
We then drive to the archaeological site at Moray, where the Incas built enormous circular agricultural terraces on steep hills by hauling topsoil up by hand from the lower land, thereby generating much higher crop yields than would have been possible at such high altitude. This site is believed to be a former agricultural laboratory, an astronomical observatory or a place of worship - or maybe all three. We also stop at the Racchi viewpoint, for one of the best views of the Sacred Valley.
 
After an included lunch in a local restaurant, we continue to the Maras Salt Pans, a complex network of nearly 5,000 pre-Inca salt pans that have been hand-harvested by local families for thousands of years. The salt is formed when water from a spring that permeates these pools is evaporated by the intense sun, forming thick crystals in a variety of colours. The naturally pink ‘Sal de Maras’ is one of the finest salts in the world, getting its beautiful hue from trace elements in the spring water.
Day 10
Today transfer 2-hours from the Sacred Valley to the city of Cusco.
 
Along the way we stop at Chinchero, a small picturesque Andean village that was an important Inca outpost at the end of the 15th Century. The villagers here have preserved their traditional Andean spinning and weaving techniques, so you can see textile artisans at work and learn about their techniques. You can buy handcrafts at the market in the town square, visit their small traditional church and see their Inca ruins.
 
On arrival in Cusco you will be dropped off at your hotel, with balance of day at leisure.
Day 11
A full day on the road today, as you travel 6-hours by air-conditioned tourist bus from Cusco to the town of Puno on Lake Titicaca, with sightseeing stops along the way.
 
This spectacular journey drops over 4,300 m as the coach travels through rural fields and remote highland plains, at time flanked by snow-capped peaks and across Andean landscapes dotted with adobe hute, herds of llama and alpaca.
 
Our first stop is at the village of Andahuaylillas, which has finely painted interior walls and a beautiful 17th century church, with an impressive organ decorated with angels and cherubs. Our next stop is the archaeological ruins of the Temple of Wiracocha at Raqchi, followed by an included buffet lunch at a local restaurant. We continue to the archaeological site of Puka Pukara (meaning red fortress), which was a military camp that also functioned as an administrative centre. Here you can visit their small church and walk around their market stalls and a small museum. Our final stop is at La Raya Pass, the natural border between the regions of Cusco and Puno.
 
You will be met on arrival in Puno and transferred to your hotel in this lively university town situated on the shore of Lake Titicaca, with several churches dating back to the Spanish colonial period. Puno is an important centre for Peruvian folklore, with a rich tradition of music and dance and this is a great place to buy local handicrafts.
 
Note: We suggest you pack some snacks and drinks for the bus trip, as these are not provided.
Day 12
Today enjoy a full day excursion to Uros and Taquile Islands on Lake Titicaca - which at 3,800 m above sea level is the highest lake in the world navigable by large boats. There are over 40 small islands dotted around this enormous inland sea.
 
A boat will be waiting at the port to take us to the unique floating islands of Uros, made from layers of tortora reeds. Uros Indian fishermen and hunters withdrew here to escape the invading Spanish and preserve their own culture. As a source of income, the residents of these man-made reed islands offer optional rides on their distinctive totora reed boats.
 
We continue to Taquile Island situated deeper in Lake Titicaca, where the local Quechua speaking Indians have kept intact the customs and traditions of their ancestors, including their incredible knitting skills. The island is 4.5 miles (7 km) long, without any roads or vehicles, and its terraced hills are scattered with pre-Inca ruins. Walk up a steep hill to the main plaza, where you can buy local handicrafts including some of the finest hand knitted items in all of Peru. A boxed lunch and private guide are included today, with a shared boat ride.
 
Note: Lake Titicaca is situated at high altitude (12,500 ft / 3,800 m). Taquile Island is very steep, so is not recommended if you have mobility problems. Ask about alternative excursions.
Day 13
At leisure to relax or explore more of Puno and Lake Titicaca with your guide.
Day 14
Transfer to Juliaca Airport for your onward flight.

Arrive at Lima Airport and make your own way to your hotel situated in the airport complex.
 
If your hotel is not situated inside the terminal, go to desk 365 and request a free hotel shuttle, which they will order for you. You need to pre-book your return shuttle at the same time.
Day 15
Make your own way (walking or by free hotel shuttle) to Lima Airport for your flight home.

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