Combine the beautiful Lares trek with the two day Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu.

Our unique combination of two hikes gives you an authentic view of highland life in Peru.

This is followed by arrival at the famous Sun Gate that overlooks Machu Picchu.

First is Lares, a trek that brings you close to traditional weaving and farming cultures, enormous Andean mountains and lovely hot springs in which to rest those aching legs.

More on Lares trek

Passing through the rich farming land of the Sacred Valley we start walking deep into the Cordillera Urubamba.

We traverse high mountain peaks and fertile valleys, stopping along the way to enjoy panoramic views, lakes and natural hot springs.

The remoteness of the area has allowed its people to preserve traditions of llama and alpaca herding and potato cultivation.

This area is most famous for its traditional colourful weaving, much of which dates back to pre-Inca times.

You spend a night in historic Ollantaytambo before waking early and travelling to the start of the two day Inca Trail.

 

More on Inca Trail trek

This short, 2-day version of the classic 4-day Inca Trail is perfect for those looking to get to Machu Picchu on the path less known.

Hiking up out the valley you visit the impressive Winay Wayna Inca site en route to the Sun Gate for that first and famous look at Machu Picchu, the magic Lost City of the Incas.

There is a day dedicated to exploring the complex before the return to Cusco.

Inca Trail trek permits are sold on a first come, first served basis and sell out months in advance, especially in the peak period of May-Sept.

 



Trip Highlights

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  • Combine two of Peru’s iconic treks: the Lares and the Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu.

  • See authentic Peruvian highland weaving and farming cultures in Lares.

  • Mix culture with high mountains and glaciers.

  • First view of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate in the afternoon, away from the crowds.

  • Community-based treks means you leave only a positive footprint.

We LOVED the trek. It was hard, beautiful, cultural and well organized. Our whole family enjoyed the 3 other trekkers in our group and the staff was great including cook, guide, horsemen and other help. Yamil, our English-speaking Peruvian guide did a very good job and our cook made a birthday cake for a Scottish woman in our party!

Our guide showed us the school that is supported by the income from the treks. They apparently provide a yearly salary for one of the two teachers at the school. This seems fantastic. We camped in two villages and it didn't feel too intrusive since our group was small and no other groups were seen trekking.

K. Lindsay, Lares trek

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Full Itinerary

Day 1: Cusco to Cancha Cancha, camp (L,D)

We set off early from Cusco by private bus and travel to the Sacred Valley.

A drive of approximately 1.5 hours brings us to the starting point of our trek, Huaran (2,900m/9,514ft) We start our trek here following a stream up into the heart of the mountains.

Today we walk for roughly 4 ½ hours to our camp. We can see the towering glacial peaks of Cancha Cancha Casa (4,984m/16,351ft) and Chicon (5,530m/18,143ft)

Tonight’s camp is at the small hamlet of Cancha Cancha  (3,900m/12,705ft).

 

Walking time: 4 to 5 hours.

Distance: 9.8km / 6.1 miles.

Altitude gained: 1,216m/3,990ft

Highest point: 4,105m/13,460ft

 

Day 2: Cancha Cancha to Quisuarani, camp (B,L,D)

We continue up the valley this morning passing two brilliant glacial lakes, Suirococha and Yuraccocha. We should be able to see several bird species, including Andean Ibis and Andean geese.

We continue to climb, more steeply now, towards the pass of Pachacutec (4,700m, 15,420ft).

As we near the top we have fabulous views, weather permitting, of the snow-covered peaks of Pitusiray (5,750m/18,865ft.) and Chicon (5,530m/18,143ft).

We are walking now on original Inca trail, a stone path that leads along the ridge then down towards the next valley.

We descend next to a lovely series of cascading waterfalls to the village of Quisuarani, our second camp site.

 

Walking time: 5 to 7 hours.

Distance: 9.5km / 5.9 miles.

Altitude gained: 733m/2,404ft

Highest point: 4,736m/15,540ft

Day 3: Quisuarani to Lares hot springs, (B,L,D)

We set off after a good breakfast trekking upwards through the high puna to our next pass, the Huillquicasa pass (4,400m/14,435ft).

Laid out before us is the extensive Vilcanota range with a patchwork of farmland and glacial lagoons below. We descend a zigzag path to green pastures of grazing llamas, alpacas, and sheep graze, and lakes where Andean water birds feed. We should be able to spot the rabbit like Viscacha, bounding in and out amongst the boulders left by ancient glaciers.

Continuing downwards we come to the pretty village of Cuncani (3,700m/12,140ft.), where we have lunch.

In the afternoon we follow the river down through the valley for approximately 3 hours to reach Lares. As we descend the vegetation becomes greener and thicker as enter a more sub-tropical climate. We pass many small farms and adobe houses as we pass the village of Trapiche and finally the hot springs at Lares (3,100m/10,170ft)

There is a chance to relax and soak weary limbs in the thermal pools.

 

Time walking: 6 hours.

Distance: 8.1km / 5 miles

Altitude gained: 1,027m/3,369ft

Highest point: 4,466m/14,652ft

Day 4: Lares Hot Springs to Ollantaytambo, guest house (B,L)

From the village of Lares, our bus will take us to Ollantaytambo where we have time to explore this old Inca town. We stay overnight in a simple guesthouse.

 

Time walking: 2 hours

Distance: 9km / 6.1 miles

Altitude lost: 696m/2,283ft

Highest point: 3,889m/12,760ft

Day 5: Ollantaytambo to KM 104/Machu Picchu, hotel (B,L)

Luggage note:  As there are restrictions on the amount of luggage you can carry on board the train (5kg) please pack into a small backpack to carry with you and leave the rest of your luggage at the hotel. You will pick it up on the way back.

This morning we take the early morning backpacker train to KM104, where we start walking on the trail. The walk is all up hill as we gently climb the side of the valley above the train track and the river Urubamba.

We walk for approximately four hours where we reach the stunning Inca site of Winay Wayna.

We have plenty of time to explore as we stop for our picnic lunch here After lunch we follow the Inca Trail through fabulous forest as we continue 2 hours to the Sun Gate, from where we have our first amazing view over Machu Picchu.

We will visit the site tomorrow for a guided tour so today we wander slowly past the majestic ruins, then take the bus to the small town of Aguas Calientes, where we stay in a simple hotel.

 

Time walking: 4 hours

Distance: 12km / 7.5 miles

Altitude gained: 700m/2,297ft

Highest point: 2,730m/8,957ft

Day 6: Machu Picchu tour, train and bus back to Cusco (B)

We make a very early start today, taking a bus up to Machu Picchu for a guided tour.

A professional, English-speaking guide will explain some of the history, ideas and technology of the Inca culture. There is plenty of time after the tour to explore the site further before heading back to Aguas Calientes to take the train back to Ollantaytambo and then a bus on to Cusco.

The tour takes about two hours so by about mid-morning you’ll be free to continue to explore the ruins alone.

The train back to Cusco leaves from Aguas Calientes, the nearest village to the ruins of Machu Picchu, at approximately 16:30 and you get back into Cusco for about 21:00.

We suggest that after visiting Machu Picchu you take the bus down to Aguas Calientes at 15:30 at the latest (depending on your train departure time). Buses depart every 15 minutes. Check with the guide for actual times. This leaves you plenty of time at the site or to do one of the other walks nearby.

There are many restaurants in Aguas Calientes to satisfy all tastes and budgets. Of course you could also visit the hot springs that Agues Calientes is named for, which will help ease those aching muscles. Entrance to the springs costs US$3, and you should allow a couple of hours to fully enjoy them.

 

IMPORTANT – Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu entrance permits.

Regulations (August 2011) mean that the number of visitors to Machu Picchu is limited to 2,500 people per day. This means that you must pre-book your entrance to the site. The entry ticket cannot be purchased in Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu pueblo but must be bought in advance (by us) in Cusco.

On the 5 day Inca Trail if you wish to visit the site on your last day (day 5) you will need to reserve and pay for your entrance ticket at the time of booking. The cost is USD 80 per person.

If you wish to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain, places now also have to be pre/booked and come at an additional cost.

 

Machu Picchu mountain has to be climbed before 11am, and there are two departure times for Huayna Picchu:

Group 1 (G1): 0700 – 0800

Group 2 (G2): 1000 – 1100

 

The price is USD 80 including the entrance fee to Machu Picchu.

For a short description of the walks, please see below.

 

Huayna Picchu mountain 

A steep one-hour climb (360m above the main Machu Picchu ruins), much of which is up Inca stairs. The climb involves scrambling and requires a good head for heights as there are some drops and a set of steep stairs – with no railing.

The views from above are wonderful and certainly reward those who tackle it. It’s worth visiting the Temple of the Moon on the west side of Huayna Picchu mountain, 400m below the summit. There is some high quality Inca stone work inside a cave, once a sacred place. Climbing Huayna Picchu is popular and permits usually sell out, which means there will be 200 climbers for each time slot given.

Do not attempt this climb if you are concerned about suffering from vertigo.

 

Machu Picchu mountain 

Just south of the site, and overlooking it, is a 650m climb up a well made Inca pathway (approx 1.5 hrs to top, 1 hr down) to the top of Machu Picchu Mountain.

There are some Inca constructions on the top that were probably for religious ceremonies, given the prominent position of the mountain. The hike takes you through lush forest, keeping a look out for interesting birds, flowers and snakes sunbathing on the path.

The views over the site a great and you can view the iconic Huayna Picchu as the backdrop to Machu Picchu, as well as the mountains beyond. It is attracting more and more people as an alternative to Huayna Picchu but is still a lot quieter.

 

Aguas Calientes River Walk

A very simple and straight forward, yet very enjoyable walk is the walk along the river in Aguas Calientes. Keep your eyes open, as otters and capybara have been spotted here before! Your hotel receptionist can point you in the right direction and once you are the river, you just walk along from there.

And last but not least – don’t forget you can soak your aching muscles at the Aguas Calientes hot springs in town!


Prices From $1,290 / £1,094 per person

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What's Included?

Lares trek: Large dome tents, camping mat, dining and kitchen tent tent, basic toilet facilities, English-speaking guide, cook, pack horses (to carry 10kg of luggage per person), meals as listed (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner), first-aid kit, entry and guided tour of Machu Picchu, bus to and from site, train bus ticket back to Ollantaytambo/Cusco.

Inca Trail: Bus/train to the start of the trek, Inca Trail & Machu Picchu site entrance fees, English-speaking guide (guide and assistant for groups of more than 10 people), hotel in Aguas Calientes, meals as listed, first aid kit, bus from Machu Picchu ruins down to Aguas Calientes, tourist train & bus tickets from Aguas Calientes to Cusco.

What's Not Included?

International flights (we can look into these for you), meals not listed, tips, sleeping bag, items of a personal nature, tips, insurance, personal items, alcoholic or soft drinks


Accommodation

Camping with dining tent and toilet tent, plus simple guest house in Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes.

Tour Staff

All guides are certified, bilingual, English-speaking guides who have worked with us for many years.

Cooks, mule drivers and additional staff are all from the local, Lares communities and we have worked with them for a long time.


Meals

Vegetarians and many other dietary requirements are catered for without problems. Please let us know in advance of any requirements you have.

On Lares, you generally wake early, usually around 07.00. Breakfast is served in a dining tent, and consists of hot drinks, porridge, toast, jams and bread, and your guide will explain the day’s trekking plans.

Lunch is usually around 13.00 and can feature soups, meats, salads and fish, with vegetarian options and hot drinks too.

The campsites are comfortable and around 17.00 hot drinks, popcorn and other snacks are served to help you recover energy.

Dinner is served around 19.30, and will feature pasta, mashed potatoes, meat, fish or vegetarian options, followed by hot drinks and a pudding.

On the Inca Trail, you have breakfast at your hotel on the day we start, followed by a packed lunch of sandwiches, snacks and fruit etc. Dinner is your own choice from the restaurants in Aguas Calientes.

Activity Level

We have classified this as a moderate trek, and you need to be in good physical shape for it.

You hike 4-6 hours a day on 4 consecutive days, over rugged mountain trails at elevation.

There is a high altitude pass to cross at 4,700m/15,420ft before dropping into lower elevations en route to Machu Picchu.

Pre-trip preparation should include challenging cardiovascular exercise (including regular hikes on varied terrain) and a healthy, balanced diet.

Well-worn hiking boots and additional acclimatisation nights in Cusco (3-4) before the trek are both highly recommended.

All guests are encouraged to hike at their own pace, taking breaks whenever needed, to ensure a successful and enjoyable trek for all.

Most people go to bed fairly early after a long day trekking, to recover energy for the morning.

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Practical Information

Introduction to Peru

Peru is the perfect holiday destination for adventure travellers that want an amazing variety of activity, geography and cultural travel experiences.

The breadth of travel experiences in Peru is breathtaking – from trekking in the Andes to Machu Picchu to the tropical jungle of the Amazon, and plenty in between.

The people of Peru make it a special destination too, with its colourful and traditional street life and friendly locals.

Geography of Peru

Peru is made up of 3 distinct geographical areas: the coast, the mountains and the jungle.

The costa or coastal region is a narrow ribbon of desert 2,250 km long, crossed by fertile river valleys flowing from the Andes. It takes up 11% of the country and holds more than 40% of the population.

The cold Humboldt current gives rise to a blanket of mist – the garua – which hangs above coastal cities like the capital Lima from May to November.

Heading east, you’re soon climbing above the garua and into the Andes. The sierra, or mountainous region, covers some 25% of Peru’s territory and contains 50% of the population. The sierra inhabitants are mainly Indigenous or Mestizo, and many still speak Quechua or Aymara.

The sierra contains dozens of 6,000-metre snow peaks and volcanoes, including Huascaran (6,768m) the highest mountain in the tropics. The deep valley basins contain most of the towns and arable land; the terracing and canal systems of the Incas and pre-Incas are often still used today.

The eastern Andes are heavily forested up to 3,350m and sweep down into the Amazon Basin.

Peru’s selva or jungle makes up almost two thirds of the country’s area, but holds only about 6% of the population: the only towns with significant populations are Iquitos and Pucallpa.

 

Weather in Peru

You can also read about the weather of Peru in our blog.

Peru is located in the southern tropics (latitudes 0º to 18º), but climate varies significantly according to season, altitude and region.

 

Lima & the coast

From May to October, Lima is often overcast, but with minimal precipitation. There are sunny spells, and it’s a fresh to pleasant 13-20ºC.

At the same time, inland  areas and the north coast mid to high 20’s ºC.

November to April is generally warm and sunny and Lima enjoys warm temperature of 19-25ºC, with the coast averaging 22-30ºC.

 

The Andes

Climate depends largely on altitude. As a rule of thumb, below 2,000m climate is mild and above 2,000m warm clothing is required for evenings, nights and early mornings.

The Andean sun is very strong.

 

May to Oct (dry season in The Andes)

Cusco (3,300m): Average max/min temps: 22ºC /2ºC. Average 3 or 4 wet days per month.

Arequipa (2,380m): Average max/min temps: 26ºC /9ºC. Sunny more than 340 days/year with minimal precipitation.

On highland treks: Conditions are generally dry. However, at this time of year, expect a range of conditions within a single day: cold/freezing nights at camps above 4,000m, where pre-dawn temperatures can be -5ºC; warm, spring-like mornings and afternoons; and cold evenings.

Note that mountain weather can be fickle and localised, and that precipitation is not unknown in the dry season. Expect temperatures to swing between sun and shade, sheltered and exposed ground and with altitude gain and loss. A quick-setting sun means temperatures drop fast.

In the cloud forest, e.g. around Machu Picchu, daytime conditions are generally warm or hot, and evenings cool.

 

Nov to March/April (wet season in The Andes)

Cusco: Average max/min temps: 23ºC /6ºC. Average 13 wet days per month.

Arequipa: Average max/min temps: 25ºC /14ºC.

On highland treks: Wetter conditions, with cooler days and milder nights than dry season. Jan-Mar usually the wettest months.

 

The Amazon rainforest

Year-round, weather conditions are hot and humid and there is always the risk of rain

There is a ‘dry season’ in Tambopata and Manu between May and October. The average daytime high temperature is between 25°C and 34°C and the average nighttime low is between 16°C and 22°C. Heavy downpours typically occur every few days.

Around 80% of annual average rainfall – approx 2,000 mm in Manu and Tambopata and 1,400 mm in Iquitos – occurs in the wet season Nov-April.

On rare occasions, between May and September, cold fronts from Argentina – ‘friajes’ – can sweep into southwest Amazonia and push temperatures down to 9° C. (Friajes usually last between 1 and 3 days).

Kit list

Good kit is vital for every trip.

Book with Andean Trails and get 15% off Páramo’s fantastic ethical and high performance outdoor gear.

 

Overview

When planning for the varied climatic conditions encountered, layering is the most practical and versatile clothing system.  It’s worth remembering that our clothing keeps us warm by retaining and isolating the heat we ourselves create.

To best maintain body heat, several layers of lightweight, warm and quick-drying clothing are far more efficient than one or two thick layers. Layers should have the following qualities:

 

  1. Breathability (able to wick away the humidity produced by sweat):
  2. Isolation (able to keep in the warm air our body produces); and
  3. Impermeability (able to impede the passing of wind and water).

 

First (base) layer: This layer wicks the sweat away from our skin, thus helping keep the body dry and warm. To this end, synthetic fabrics such as polypropylene should be used.

Mid layers: These isolating layers should also be synthetic (e.g. the known polar linings such as polartec or windblock, which are light and insulate twice as well as wool). Very important layers for retaining body heat.

Outer layer / shell: Finally, the vital layer which protects us from climatic adversities. A breathable, wind-proof and waterproof anorak, such as Goretex.

Give plenty of thought to kit selection, and try to keep weight down.

We also carry an extensive first aid kit & oxygen on all trips, but these are generally for emergencies only.

Below is a more detailed kit list.

 

Detailed kit list

  • 2 pairs synthetic inner socks (e.g. polypropylene, thermastat, coolmax) and 2 pairs thick loop-stitch/wool socks for cold.
  • Trekking boots – should be well broken-in, waterproof and provide good ankle support.
  • Trainers/sandals for city-wear, evenings at lower camps & river crossings.
  • Base layer leggings (1 pair).
  • Thick fleece leggings (or salopettes) (1 pair).
  • Goretex-type over-trousers (or salopettes) (1 pair).
  • Trekking trousers (2 pairs).
  • Shorts – wear sparingly in early stages at altitude, as sun burns.
  • Thermal base layer shirts (2).
  • Microfleece mid-layer shirt (1).
  • Shirt/t-shirt 1 or 2 for lower altitudes. Long-sleeved, collared shirt protects against sun
  • Fleece jacket or similar (1).
  • Warm jacket (down or synthetic). For camp and upper slopes.
  • Waterproof Goretex-type jacket.
  • Broad-brimmed sunhat, essential.
  • Warm hat, fleece or wool. (N.B. Up to 30% of body heat can be lost through the head).
  • Sunglasses with UV filter.
  • Scarf for cold.
  • Bandanna – to protect neck from strong sun.
  • Light inner gloves
  • Warm gloves, e.g. fleece, and outer waterproof gloves or mittens (1 pair)
  • Mittens allow you to keep the fingers together, and better conserve heat (though they also make it difficult to perform certain tasks).
  • Daypack (at least 30 litres). Comfortable and with waterproof lining or cover.
  • Large rucksack or suitcase.
  • Pair of telescopic trekking poles (can be rented).
  • Duffel bag or large rucksack for extra clothing, carried by horse/mule/porter while you are trekking.
  • Sleeping bag (3-4 season, can be rented).
  • Water bottle (2 litres approx.) & purification tablets.
  • Personal first-aid kit to include: painkillers, plasters (band-aids), moleskin, anti-biotic cream, general antibiotics (ask your GP), after-bite (tiger balm), anti-diarrhoea tablets, throat lozenges, re-hydration salts & personal medication.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Towel & wash-kit.
  • Wet Wipes/antiseptic hand-wash cream.
  • Toilet paper (1)
  • Sunscreen (factor 30+) and lip salve.
  • Head-lamp (plus spare bulb and batteries).
  • Penknife.
  • Travel alarm clock.
  • Plastic bags – ‘Zip-loc’ & tough bin liners.
  • Camera and film / memory cards (take at least twice the amount you think you will need!). Print & slide film is available locally. Polarising filter is recommended for SLR cameras.
  • Book, e-book, mp3 player/ipod or other for free time.
  • Binoculars.
  • Spanish/English phrasebook.
  • Extra snacks i.e. cereal bars or favourite chocolate bars.

All other non-personal trekking camping gear e.g. tents, cutlery etc is provided.

 

Miscellaneous others

  • Money belt.
  • Passport.
  • U.S. dollars cash, mixed-denomination notes, undamaged and unmarked.
  • ATM cash/credit card.
  • Any inoculation certificates.
  • Personal & medical insurance certificates.
  • Presents e.g. Postcards from home.
  • Comfortable clothes for travel, smart clothes for night life.

ATOL holiday protection

Andean Trails has two decades of experience of dealing with South America holidays.

We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.

We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.

When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.

You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.

 

What is ATOL?

The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.

And  ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.

 

Who is covered?

To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).

If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.

If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.

Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.

For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.

 

I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?

If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.

We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.

If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.

You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.


Peru’s Amazon Rainforest

Peru boasts in its Amazonian region a vast swathe of world-class tropical wilderness with several rain forest and cloud forest reserves which are home to an immense diversity of wildlife.

Accessible from Lima, Iquitos or Cusco, the Amazon jungle is just a short flight away.

In Peru’s southeast lies the extraordinary region comprising the Tambopata National Reserve and the Bahuaja Sonene and Manu National Parks, with the greatest animal and plant diversity anywhere in the world.

Whether you choose to base yourself at a comfortable lodge or enjoy a more demanding camping trip, you can be sure of a unique, exhilarating and unforgettable experience.

Arequipa & Colca Canyon, Peru

The beautiful colonial city of Arequipa is replete with history and culture, and is the gateway to the condors of Colca Canyon.

Nestled at 2,325m/7,627ft, the ‘white city’ sits at the foot of three tremendous volcanoes: El Misti (5,821m/19,098ft), Chachani (6,075m/19,930ft) and Pichu Pichu (5,542m/18,182ft).

Arequipa’s attractions include the Cathedral, Compañía de Jesús Church, Santa Catalina Convent and the Dama de Ampato (Juanita Mummy) Museum.

With a year-round spring climate and sunshine guaranteed for 300 days of the year, it is the perfect place to begin acclimatising before continuing upwards.

Nearby is the famous Colca Canyon. At hundred kilometres long, this incredible gorge  is said to reach a maximum depth of 3,400m/11,155ft – twice that of the Grand Canyon.

An overnight tour to Colca gives you the chance to see the iconic, soaring condors of the canyon.

Cusco, Peru

Cusco is the archaeological and cultural capital of South America.

The one-time centre of the vast Inca Empire is a bustling highland city with bags of character.

Its whitewashed streets and plazas feature a fascinating blend of Inca and Spanish colonial stonework and offer endless possibilities for exploration.

You don’t have to venture far to find outstanding examples of high quality Inca architecture, including the monumental temple fortress of Sacsayhuaman.

There is also the fertile farming land of the Sacred Valley on the doorstep,  with many Inca terraces, temples and fortresses, plus colourful local markets and small villages.

At night, Cusco offers an excellent array or restaurants and bars plus the continent’s best Andean folk music scene.

Kuelap, Peru

In the northeast of Peru lies Kuelap – the jewel in the massive archaeological crown of the Chachapoyas Cloud People.

The mystical structure of Kuelap – dubbed the Peru’s second Machu Picchu by locals – is 1,200 years old.

It features massive limestone walls towering 60 feet, pottery, bones and hundreds of mysterious round stone structures, and away from the crowds of other sites.

This is a remote area of sub-tropical valleys, half way down the eastern slopes of the Andes. The jungle is impenetrable, dense with low trees, bromeliads, bamboos, orchids and mosses.

Lake Titicaca, Peru

Lake Titicaca, at around 4,000m/13,123ft above sea level, is a vast shimmering body of water on the Peru/Bolivia border.

It is the world’s highest navigable lake, set against a breathtaking background of towering ice-covered Andean mountain peaks.

The islands and shoreline of Lake Titicaca support many Indian communities, including the well known floating islands of Uros and the more remote islands of Taquile and Amantani. Here, traditions are strong and it appears time really does stand.

Agriculture, fishing, knitting and weaving are important to the islanders and by staying a day or two you gain just a small insights into this traditional way of life.

Islanders welcome tourists into their homes and this is a wonderful opportunity to experience island life.

Lima, Peru

Lima, the capital city of Peru, is a vibrant bustling place with a wide variety of things to do.

Stroll or bike around the historic centre, visiting the many museums or just chilling out in a café or restaurant in Miraflores.

In Parque Kennedy you can sit outside in Parisian fashion and watch the world go by in cafes and restaurants, or walk to the shore and the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

There are a number of artisan shops & market stalls, plus a big silver jewellery trade, and a burgeoning number of top end restaurants with delicious food.

The centre of Lima is home to impressive Colonial architecture – Plaza de Armas has the Palace, official residence of the president, on one side, and on another is the Cathedral.

San Francisco Church, home of the Catacombs, is well worth a visit, as is the Inquisition museum.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Nothing says Peru quite the way Machu Picchu does.

The Lost City of the Incas, perches dramatically on a ridge-top 400 metres above the Urubamba river. The extensive site, with its many terraces, temples and palaces, is set amid a beautiful landscape of deep gorges and thickly forested mountains.

When Machu Picchu was rediscovered early in the 20th century and cleared of forest, it was found to be very well preserved. It has since presented archaeologists with many unanswered questions regarding the role it played in Inca times.

The sense of grandeur, whether you arrive on the Inca Trail or not, is impressive.

Try to arrive early at the site to enjoy it at its best – and late afternoon can often see you almost alone in the ruins.

The Cordillera Blanca and Huayhuash, Peru

North east of Lima, the Cordillera Blanca offers fantastic mountain scenery and some of the best trekking and climbing in the Andes.

The Cordillera Blanca boasts dozens of peaks over 6,000 metres, including Peru’s highest Huascaran at 6,768m/22,205ft above sea level.

The Blanca range also contains the world’s largest concentration of tropical glaciers.

This is an ideal destination for treks, from just a few to 12 days or so and also an ideal starting place for learning or improving mountaineering skills.

The nearby Huayhuash mountain range contains a dazzling array of snow peaks including seven summits above 6,000 metres.

This is a trekking paradise with breathtaking majestic panoramas and stunningly remote and picturesque camping spots. There is no better place to visit to get away from it all.

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