RCGS: Essential Peru with Jill Heinerth

Exodus Travels Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
4.7 . Excellent
98%
Travel Style: N/A
Physical Level: All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included. Moderate
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value (3*)
16 days
From: $ 3,549 $ 222 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights (Bullets)

  • Discover the iconic Machu Picchu by train with a guided tour
  • Homestay on traditional Amantani Island, Lake Titicaca
  • See Colca Canyon and its soaring condors
  • Wander through the colonial city of Arequipa and the Santa Catalina Convent
  • Drive deep into the Andean highlands and the Apurimac Valley
  • Special departure accompanied by Jill Heinerth

Short Description

This special departure of our incredibly popular Essential Peru is led by writer, photographer, and filmmaker Jill Heinerth, having over thirty years of filming, photography, and exploration on projects in submerged caves around the world. Heinerth is a Fellow of the International Scuba Divers Hall of Fame, was awarded the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration from the RCGS, and the William Beebe Award from the Explorers Club.A spectacular journey through Peru's varied landscape encompassing coastal desert, snow-capped Andean peaks, the high altiplano, and lush cloud forest. The most famous sites are all visited including the mysterious Nazca Lines, awe-inspiring Machu Picchu in its incredible mountaintop setting, Lake Titicaca, where the night is spent in an island homestay, and the remarkable 3000m deep Colca Canyon. On the way, we encounter traditional culture, condors, llamas, and a warm welcome from the Peruvian people.Discover the highlights of southern Peru, from Nazca to Arequipa with the Royal Canadian Geographical Society accompanied by cave diver, and underwater explorer, Jill Heinerth.

Style Small group tour
Array
Itinerary Focus N/A
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value (3*)
Flight & Transport Inclusions N/A
Start City Lima
End City Lima

Destinations

Peru

Attractions & Cities Visited

Lima Machu Picchu Nazca

Activities & Interests

Culture Nature

Age Requirement

16

N/A
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Itinerary

Flight Inclusive

Day 1 Fly to Lima.

The group flights arrive into Lima this evening. You will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel in the Miraflores district of Lima. There will be a notice board in the hotel reception with details of where and when the group welcome briefing will be held.Hotel El Tambo 1 (or similar)

Day 2 Drive south along the coast and sail to the Ballestas Islands, home to the highest concentration of marine birds in the world; overnight in Ica.

Day 3 On to Nazca; see the Nazca lines; optional scenic flight.

We drive towards Nazca, stopping to visit the viewing platforms overlooking the Nazca Lines. These are one of the world's great archaeological mysteries, consisting of enormous drawings and patterns etched in the desert sand.In the afternoon, for those who wish there is usually time to take a scenic flight over the Nazca Lines (additional cost), weather permitting. Due to the small planes used, this is not suitable for those with a fear of flying or who suffer from travel sickness. Alternatively, your leader can help arrange optional visits to the nearby burial grounds, Antonini Museum, or the Planetarium.Casa Andina Hotel / Alegria (or similar) 

Day 4 Turn inland from coastal desert, climbing high into the Andes.

We turn inland from the coastal desert today, climbing high into the Andes on today's long (12-13 hrs) but spectacular drive. Vicuñas (a smaller wild relative of the llama) can be seen along this road, as this area is Peru's largest vicuña reserve. This region has only recently become easily accessible to tourists due to an upgrade of the Abancay/Chalhuanca road. The altitude here can make physical exertion difficult (the highest point we reach today is Negro Mayu, a high pass at approx. 4600m). It is recommended to rest in the evening. Tonight, we stay in Abancay on the road to Cuzco.Hotel de Turistas Abancay (or similar)

Day 5 Drive to Cuzco (3400m) visiting Inca sites on the way.

We set off towards Cuzco this morning, stopping to visit the unique Inca Saywite stone and Tarawasi ruins. The glaciated summits of the Vilcabamba Mountain range and the descent into the Apurimac River valley demonstrate the dramatic contrasts of the Andes Mountains, and we should expect stunning scenery throughout today's 7-8 hour drive. It is recommended to take it easy upon arrival into Cuzco and to drink plenty of water to allow your body time to acclimatise to the altitude (3,400m).Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)

Day 6 Free day to explore Cuzco.

To help acclimatise, we have a relaxed walking tour this morning to discover its historic buildings and winding streets of Cuzco, one of South America's most beautiful cities. The rest of the day has been left free for exploring on your own. The Plaza de Armas is a fantastic spot for people watching, and the Koricancha Sun Temple located in the Santo Domingo Church and monastery is worth a visit. The Mercado San Pedro is the place to try some local produce and there are many handicraft markets to shop for souvenirs such as alpaca jumpers and scarves. Outside the town are more Inca ruins, notably the fortress of Sacsayhuaman where the Inca armies made their last stand against the Conquistadores. A combined entrance fee (Tourist Ticket) for these sites and many others is recommended – please see the Optional Excursions section below for prices. Sightseeing excursions to places outside Cuzco, including the Sacred Valley of the Incas, are also available. Please ask your tour leader.Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)

Day 7 Train to Aguas Calientes; tour of Machu Picchu.

For most people, the highlight of the trip is the visit by train to the greatest ruin in the world, the lost city of Machu Picchu. This is one of the architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world, in a mountain setting of staggering immensity. The Spaniards never found it; the Incas left no records of it, so Machu Picchu remains a great enigma, a city lost for centuries in the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham.We transfer (approximately 2 hrs) to Ollantaytambo train station to catch a train to Aguas Calientes (the town below Machu Picchu). The railway line follows a beautiful route through the Urubamba River Valley. In the afternoon we take a short bus ride up the winding road to Machu Picchu for a guided tour of the ruins. New regulations for visiting Machu Picchu are now fully enforced; you will be limited to a maximum of four hours within the site and must be accompanied by a guide. There will also be three set routes to follow around Machu Picchu; Exodus selects the most comprehensive route. Please note that exploring the ruins involves a reasonable amount of walking, including up and down steep and uneven stone steps. Visiting in the afternoon tends to be quieter than the mornings and the mist which shrouds the ruins at dawn has usually dispersed. Inti Punku El Tambo (or similar)

Day 8 Free morning or optional second visit to Machu Picchu; afternoon return to Cuzco by train and by road.

Today we have a free morning to enjoy the buzz of this little town in the jungle below the ruins. There are some hot springs nearby, however they tend to suffer from overcrowding and therefore poor water quality, so are not recommended.Should you wish to visit Machu Picchu again this morning, your leader will help you to purchase a second entrance ticket (subject to availability) which will allow you a further four hours to explore the 'Lost City' – for the second visit it is not mandatory to have a guide. At the time of writing a morning ticket costs PEN152 (approx. US$37).In the afternoon we board the train back to Ollantaytambo and then continue by minibus to Cuzco, arriving in the late evening.Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)

Day 9 Free day for optional excursions.

Day 10 Drive to Lake Titicaca (3800m), with stops en route; boat to Amantani Island for homestay.

Today we travel for 8-10 hours along the Vilcanota River and onto the altiplano, the high plains separating the Andes from the jungle. Although it is quite a long drive, the views are often spectacular. There are scheduled stops at interesting sites to help break up the day and we will get to appreciate the immensity of the Andean landscapes. This afternoon we arrive at the shores of Lake Titicaca (3800m) and board a boat for our trip to Amantani Island. Hiking around the island offers great views across the lake, whilst the night spent with a local family is a fantastic cultural insight into lives very different to our own. (A packed lunch is included today).Amantani Island homestay (Basic)

Day 11 Explore the island; afternoon boat to Puno visiting the floating reed islands.

We explore the island in the morning before boarding our boat for the three-hour journey to Puno on the lakeshore. On the way, we visit Uros Island. The Uros have been living on rafts of reeds for centuries, and although many have now moved to the mainland there are still a couple of thousand who remain on the islands which are anchored close to Puno. A reasonable amount of their income is now provided by strictly regulated tourism, but they also still fish the lake and engage in barter with communities on the mainland to obtain essential daily items.Casona Plaza Hotel (or similar)

Day 12 Drive across the altiplano to Colca Canyon.

Today we head off across the altiplano again. This time we cross to the south-west, heading back towards the coast to the high Colca Canyon (5-6 hours' drive). En route we have opportunities to see vicuñas and possibly flamingos, crossing the Patapampa Pass (4810m) before descending into what is considered to be the second deepest canyon in the Americas (the deepest, the Cotahuasi Canyon, is also in Peru). There is time in the evening for an optional visit to the hot springs near the main town of Chivay (3635m) – a warming pleasure after the chill of Lake Titicaca.Hotel Pozo del Cielo (or similar)

Day 13 Morning condor viewing; afternoon drive past huge volcanoes to the 'White City' of Arequipa (2350m).

An early start to view condors soaring on the morning drafts rising out of the canyon. Extensive terraces, stunning colonial churches, and burial tombs are viewed before we ascend out of the canyon and cross Patapampa Pass (4910m) on our way to Arequipa, known as the 'White City' due to the pale volcanic stone used to construct many of its colonial buildings. The picturesque city enjoys a year-round pleasant climate and is surrounded by 6000m volcanoes, including the near-perfect cone of El Misti.Selina Hotel (or similar) 

Day 14 Morning visit Santa Catalina Convent; afternoon fly to Lima.

In the morning we visit the huge and serene convent of Santa Catalina. Built in 1580 and only opened to the outside world in the 1970s, it offers a rare insight into the lives led by the nuns and has changed little through the centuries. There are still around 20 nuns living in the northern corner of the complex. In the afternoon or evening we fly to Lima where will transfer to our hotel in Miraflores.Hotel El Tambo 1 (or similar)

Day 15 Depart Lima.

There is time today for optional tours of Lima including visits to the Gold Museum and tours of the historic downtown before we are transferred to the airport in the afternoon for the overnight flight to London.

Day 16 Arrive London.

The group flights arrive in London this afternoon.



Land Only

Day 1 Start Lima.

Those travelling on the group flights and those who have booked a transfer through Exodus will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel in the Miraflores district of Lima. There will be a notice board in the hotel reception with details of where and when the group welcome briefing will be held.Hotel El Tambo 1 (or similar)

Day 2 Drive south along the coast and sail to the Ballestas Islands, home to the highest concentration of marine birds in the world; overnight in Ica.

Day 3 On to Nazca; see the Nazca lines; optional scenic flight.

We drive towards Nazca, stopping to visit the viewing platforms overlooking the Nazca Lines. These are one of the world's great archaeological mysteries, consisting of enormous drawings and patterns etched in the desert sand.In the afternoon, for those who wish there is usually time to take a scenic flight over the Nazca Lines (additional cost), weather permitting. Due to the small planes used, this is not suitable for those with a fear of flying or who suffer from travel sickness. Alternatively, your leader can help arrange optional visits to the nearby burial grounds, Antonini Museum, or the Planetarium.Casa Andina Hotel / Alegria (or similar) 

Day 4 Turn inland from coastal desert, climbing high into the Andes.

We turn inland from the coastal desert today, climbing high into the Andes on today's long (12-13 hrs) but spectacular drive. Vicuñas (a smaller wild relative of the llama) can be seen along this road, as this area is Peru's largest vicuña reserve. This region has only recently become easily accessible to tourists due to an upgrade of the Abancay/Chalhuanca road. The altitude here can make physical exertion difficult (the highest point we reach today is Negro Mayu, a high pass at approx. 4600m). It is recommended to rest in the evening. Tonight, we stay in Abancay on the road to Cuzco.Hotel de Turistas Abancay (or similar)

Day 5 Drive to Cuzco (3400m) visiting Inca sites on the way.

We set off towards Cuzco this morning, stopping to visit the unique Inca Saywite stone and Tarawasi ruins. The glaciated summits of the Vilcabamba Mountain range and the descent into the Apurimac River valley demonstrate the dramatic contrasts of the Andes Mountains, and we should expect stunning scenery throughout today's 7-8 hour drive. It is recommended to take it easy upon arrival into Cuzco and to drink plenty of water to allow your body time to acclimatise to the altitude (3,400m).Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)

Day 6 Free day to explore Cuzco.

To help acclimatise, we have a relaxed walking tour this morning to discover its historic buildings and winding streets of Cuzco, one of South America's most beautiful cities. The rest of the day has been left free for exploring on your own. The Plaza de Armas is a fantastic spot for people watching, and the Koricancha Sun Temple located in the Santo Domingo Church and monastery is worth a visit. The Mercado San Pedro is the place to try some local produce and there are many handicraft markets to shop for souvenirs such as alpaca jumpers and scarves. Outside the town are more Inca ruins, notably the fortress of Sacsayhuaman where the Inca armies made their last stand against the Conquistadores. A combined entrance fee (Tourist Ticket) for these sites and many others is recommended – please see the Optional Excursions section below for prices. Sightseeing excursions to places outside Cuzco, including the Sacred Valley of the Incas, are also available. Please ask your tour leader.Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)

Day 7 Train to Aguas Calientes; tour of Machu Picchu.

For most people, the highlight of the trip is the visit by train to the greatest ruin in the world, the lost city of Machu Picchu. This is one of the architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world, in a mountain setting of staggering immensity. The Spaniards never found it; the Incas left no records of it, so Machu Picchu remains a great enigma, a city lost for centuries in the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham.We transfer (approximately 2 hrs) to Ollantaytambo train station to catch a train to Aguas Calientes (the town below Machu Picchu). The railway line follows a beautiful route through the Urubamba River Valley. In the afternoon we take a short bus ride up the winding road to Machu Picchu for a guided tour of the ruins. New regulations for visiting Machu Picchu are now fully enforced; you will be limited to a maximum of four hours within the site and must be accompanied by a guide. There will also be three set routes to follow around Machu Picchu; Exodus selects the most comprehensive route. Please note that exploring the ruins involves a reasonable amount of walking, including up and down steep and uneven stone steps. Visiting in the afternoon tends to be quieter than the mornings and the mist which shrouds the ruins at dawn has usually dispersed. Inti Punku El Tambo (or similar)

Day 8 Free morning or optional second visit to Machu Picchu; afternoon return to Cuzco by train and by road.

Today we have a free morning to enjoy the buzz of this little town in the jungle below the ruins. There are some hot springs nearby, however they tend to suffer from overcrowding and therefore poor water quality, so are not recommended.Should you wish to visit Machu Picchu again this morning, your leader will help you to purchase a second entrance ticket (subject to availability) which will allow you a further four hours to explore the 'Lost City' – for the second visit it is not mandatory to have a guide. At the time of writing a morning ticket costs PEN152 (approx. US$37).In the afternoon we board the train back to Ollantaytambo and then continue by minibus to Cuzco, arriving in the late evening.Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)

Day 9 Free day for optional excursions.

Day 10 Drive to Lake Titicaca (3800m), with stops en route; boat to Amantani Island for homestay.

Today we travel for 8-10 hours along the Vilcanota River and onto the altiplano, the high plains separating the Andes from the jungle. Although it is quite a long drive, the views are often spectacular. There are scheduled stops at interesting sites to help break up the day and we will get to appreciate the immensity of the Andean landscapes. This afternoon we arrive at the shores of Lake Titicaca (3800m) and board a boat for our trip to Amantani Island. Hiking around the island offers great views across the lake, whilst the night spent with a local family is a fantastic cultural insight into lives very different to our own. (A packed lunch is included today).Amantani Island homestay (Basic)

Day 11 Explore the island; afternoon boat to Puno visiting the floating reed islands.

We explore the island in the morning before boarding our boat for the three-hour journey to Puno on the lakeshore. On the way, we visit Uros Island. The Uros have been living on rafts of reeds for centuries, and although many have now moved to the mainland there are still a couple of thousand who remain on the islands which are anchored close to Puno. A reasonable amount of their income is now provided by strictly regulated tourism, but they also still fish the lake and engage in barter with communities on the mainland to obtain essential daily items.Casona Plaza Hotel (or similar)

Day 12 Drive across the altiplano to Colca Canyon.

Today we head off across the altiplano again. This time we cross to the south-west, heading back towards the coast to the high Colca Canyon (5-6 hours' drive). En route we have opportunities to see vicuñas and possibly flamingos, crossing the Patapampa Pass (4810m) before descending into what is considered to be the second deepest canyon in the Americas (the deepest, the Cotahuasi Canyon, is also in Peru). There is time in the evening for an optional visit to the hot springs near the main town of Chivay (3635m) – a warming pleasure after the chill of Lake Titicaca.Hotel Pozo del Cielo (or similar)

Day 13 Morning condor viewing; afternoon drive past huge volcanoes to the 'White City' of Arequipa (2350m).

An early start to view condors soaring on the morning drafts rising out of the canyon. Extensive terraces, stunning colonial churches, and burial tombs are viewed before we ascend out of the canyon and cross Patapampa Pass (4910m) on our way to Arequipa, known as the 'White City' due to the pale volcanic stone used to construct many of its colonial buildings. The picturesque city enjoys a year-round pleasant climate and is surrounded by 6000m volcanoes, including the near-perfect cone of El Misti.Selina Hotel (or similar) 

Day 14 Morning visit Santa Catalina Convent; afternoon fly to Lima.

In the morning we visit the huge and serene convent of Santa Catalina. Built in 1580 and only opened to the outside world in the 1970s, it offers a rare insight into the lives led by the nuns and has changed little through the centuries. There are still around 20 nuns living in the northern corner of the complex. In the afternoon or evening we fly to Lima where will transfer to our hotel in Miraflores.Hotel El Tambo 1 (or similar)

Day 15 End Lima.

There is time today for optional tours of Lima including visits to the Gold Museum and tours of the historic downtown before we are transferred to the airport in the afternoon for the overnight flight to London.

Availability

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Price Per Day: $ 222 per day
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Details

Group Size

Small Group - 24 max

Maximum Number of People in Group: 18

Age Notes :

Min. Age: 16

Additional Information

Trip ID#:

exodus-APE

Meals Included

Dinner: All breakfasts, 1 lunch and 1 dinner (at the homestay) are included.The tap water in Peru is not safe to drink. Drinking water will be provided in large containers free of charge; please bring a refillable bottle with you.Hotel breakfasts are normally simple buffet-style affairs, usually including bread/toast and jam, cereal, sometimes eggs or a cooked dish, sometimes fruit, tea/coffee and fruit juice. Regrettably, we cannot guarantee that wheat/gluten free products will be available for breakfast in all locations – if you have an intolerance you may wish to bring your own breakfast food from home.Where lunch and dinner are not included we'll visit a variety of local cafes and restaurants.Peruvian cuisine has developed a reputation for its flavours and originality and it’s well worth trying out a few of the local delicacies. Amongst these are ceviche (a spicy dish of seafood or fish marinated in lime juice), lomo saltado (a Peruvian take on a beef stir-fry) and various hearty soups such as the delicious quinoa soup. Other dishes include roasted cuy (guinea pig), Alpaca steak, and to drink, the national beverage: Pisco Sour.

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