Departing from South Africa on 18 June, the group flies via Sao Paolo to Lima, named “City of Kings” by the Spanish conquistadors. Lima is indeed a city of contrasts, a microcosm of Peruvian history from the pre-Inca civilizations through to the founding of the city in 1535 by the Spaniards right up to the present times. It is also renowned for its nearby pre-Inca archaeological sites as well as for its fabulous museums.
From Lima the tour proceeds overland to Nazca with a boat excursion en route to the Wildlife Sanctuary on the Ballestas Islands. In Nazca, a flight over the enigmatic Nazca lines, enormous line drawings of animals, birds and geometric figures that still remain etched in the desert, is included.
Two nights will be spent in colonial Arequipa, Peru’s second largest city, surrounded by the Andes muntains and lying in the shadow of the magnificent El Misti, Chachani and Pichu Pichu volcanoes.
The itinerary then proceeds to the Colca Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world. With walls towering 1000m above the valley floor, it is home to nesting condors and is one of the best locales to spot these majestic birds.
A short flight takes the group to Cuzco, the “Archaeological Capital of South America” and capital of the fabled Inca Empire. Most striking in Cusco is the intermingling of three cultures; the native Quechua Indian, the conquering colonial Spanish and the modern. It is a beautiful city with cobblestone streets steeped in history, museums, churches, sacred sites with a wonderful ambience.
En route to the Lost City of Machu Picchu we will drive through the Sacred Valley of the Incas visiting the timeless Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo and the lively and colourful Indian Pisac market where locals following ancient traditions sell or exchange their wares.
From the Sacred Valley of the Incas we will transfer by train to Aguas Calientes and then by bus through the winding roads and the jungle to the incredible site of Machu Picchu. Here we’ll explore the ruins discovered by the American explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911. The marvelous citadel, the Temple of Three Windows, the circular tower, the sacred Sundial and burial grounds will leave indelible images forever. We will spend the night in the village of Aguas Calientes and rise early the next morning to admire Machu Picchu at sunrise, a truly mystical experience. There will be time for hiking enthusiasts to take a walk up Huayna Picchu peak overlooking the site, before returning to Cusco on the train in the afternoon.
Two more nights will be spent in Cusco to enjoy this fabulous city before proceeding by coach to Puno on Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. This is a spectacular drive which passes many pyramid complexes, temples and colonial villages. This area of Peru is full of history, ancient legends, sacred sites and living history as age-old traditions are continued and developed on and around its waters.
We will then cross Lake Titicaca visiting Sun and Moon Islands en route by Hydrofoil and spend 2 nights in La Paz before flying back to Lima for our return flight to South Africa via Sao Paolo.
This is a truly special, uplifting trip and one which everybody will enjoy tremendously. History, art, culture, ancient civilizations, amazing natural scenery and spiritual wonder will be experienced.