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Machu Picchu

20 Peru Encompassed

T

ake an in depth look at the best of Peru on an exciting journey that encompasses modern cities and ancient worlds. Explore the country’s lush jungles, expansive

lakes and harsh deserts. Enjoy local homestays, hike the famed Inca Trail and be immersed in fascinating Peruvian culture while discovering its history buried deep within the walls of lost cities.

Day 1: London - Lima

Fly from London Heathrow to Lima with Continental Airlines (via Newark), arriving late in the evening. On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel.

Day 2: Lima

While Peru’s capital officially began life in 1535, when Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizarro founded the city on the Day of the Three Kings, settlements had been scattered through the valley since before the Incas. The city was built on top of an existing palace and temples that belonged to the local chief who had little choice but to move on. Lima was in its prime during the Spanish colonial days and much of the city’s attraction now lies in its well preserved historical centre.

Flanked by streets of ornate colonial mansions, palaces and churches, Plaza

Mayor is the best place to start any exploration of Lima. Away from the historic centre, mingle with the locals in Lima’s cosmopolitan coastal districts of Miraflores, Barranco and San Isidro. Limenos (Lima’s residents) are friendly and there are plenty of great restaurants and cafes to sample ceviche, a local seafood speciality. You will have the majority of the day to spend at leisure and explore this fascinating city, At approximately 4pm you will have your welcome briefing meeting and a chance to meet your tour leader.

Day 3: Pisco

An important port town, Pisco is the gateway to the Ballestas Islands and the Paracas National Reserve. Sometimes called the ‘Galapagos of Peru’ the islands are a haven for

wildlife and hundreds of pelicans, red-footed boobies, flamingoes, sea lions and even penguins. In the evening sample some of Peru’s famed national drink, Pisco Sour, or for some local food specialities head to the Plaza de Armas where the locals hang out and munch on tejas, small sweets made from nuts and dried fruits.

Days 4-5: Nazca

We continue south to Nazca, stopping en route at the oasis of Huacachina. Here, sand dunes are at their most dramatic and offer endless photography and sandboarding opportunities. The entire desert area at Nazca was once home to the ancient Nazca and Paracas cultures which preceded the Incas by over 500 years. Remains of their cultures are still visible and we head deeper into the desert to learn more. From our base in Nazca we explore one of the world’s most mysterious archaeological sites, the Nazca Lines. The enormous lines have been etched into the ground by scraping away the dark rocks to reveal paler ones underneath. Animals, insects and birds are depicted, and some of the simpler line formations are up to 10km in length. Who drew them, how and

Culture shock Physical

why, can only be guessed at, but theories range from alien invaders to complex Nazca calendars. The best way to view the lines is from the air and there is the option to take a flight across the desert before we continue to the desert cemetery of Chauchilla. The Nazca people were buried with colourful textiles and ceramics deep in the desert where the arid climate has naturally mummified the bodies for over 1,500 years.

Day 6: Arequipa

Standing at the foot of El Misti Volcano and oozing the best of Spanish colonial charm, Arequipa vies with Cuzco for the title of Peru’s most attractive city. Arequipa was built out of pale volcanic rock, called sillar, and the old buildings dazzle in the sun, giving the city its nickname the ‘White City’. The main plaza with its cafés and nearby cathedral is a lovely place to while away the day. For a glimpse into a bygone way of life, you might like to visit the Monasterio de Santa Catalina. When the convent was built in the 16th Century it was traditional for the second son or daughter of a family to enter the religious service.

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