A unique gem in the Pacific Ocean. Experience what it is like to detach from daily life and truly be at one with nature, not found anywhere else on earth....
Discover the real life of Peru with this unique self-drive vacation
“Discover how authenticity, comfort and luxury go hand in hand in one impressive journey through this magical country.”
During this trip you will get to know Peru from different perspectives. You will discover its colonial history in cities such as Arequipa and explore the Inca influences in the Sacred Valley. You spend the night with local families to get to know the real Peru and alternate this with stays in charming boutique hotels. You drive your own rent-a-car through the countryside and take a beautiful multi-day hike along coffee plantations.
Discover how authenticity, comfort and luxury can go hand in hand in one impressive journey through this magical country.
For a day to day overview, click here to see the itinerary.
Today you fly from Amsterdam to Lima, where you will arrive late in the afternoon. Upon arrival at the airport of Lima you will be welcomed by our guide and driver.
You will stay at hotel Villa Barranco, a beautiful boutique hotel. The hotel is located in a charming mansion from the 1920s. With great care and attention to details, it has been restored into the current charming hotel with nine rooms. The rooms are classically decorated with lots of white colours and wood elements. The neighbourhood where the hotel is located is called Barranco, a neighbourhood known for its many cultural and artistic influences. Here you will find traditional architecture with a bohemian atmosphere. It is one of the best residential areas in Lima with nice restaurants and bars.
Today you set off with your own guide for a culinary city tour. We first walk to the market of Surquillo, a local market with a surprisingly large selection of foods. Here you will discover the history of this market and the development of gastronomy in Lima. You have the chance to taste special Peruvian fruits such as chirimoya, lúcuma, aguaymanto and pacay.
You then take the “Metropolitano” bus to the historic centre of Lima. Via San Martin Square and Jirón de la Unión Street, where you can taste delicious hand-made ice cream and enjoy the architecture, you will arrive at Plaza Mayor or Plaza de Armas. Here you will find the most beautiful colonial buildings of the city, such as the Government Palace, the Municipal Palace and the Cathedral. You can visit the Bodega y Quadra museum: located in a colonial building. This museum houses a large collection of pre-hispanic archaeological objects from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, made of ceramics, leather and wood. Of course a visit to the famous catacombs of the San Francisco church will be included.
With your driver and guide you go back and end your day in the lively Barranco neighbourhood. Here we eat a small meal in a restaurant and have a cup of coffee at the best coffee roasting company in Lima: “Bisetti”. Finally we taste a few bites at one of the oldest Chinese restaurants in Peru. More than 100 years ago, Chinese people came to Peru in large numbers. They ended up in particular in Lima and the surrounding plantations and thus left their mark on Peruvian cuisine.
In the morning you take a very comfortable bus from Lima to Nazca, where you will go on an original walk: the hike takes you through a village in a seemingly dry desert (but thanks to irrigation channels of thousands of years old you will see a fertile valley with many fruit trees, agriculture and birds) a few sand dunes full of shards of Nazca ceramics and across a desert plain to the Chauchilla cemetery, where several mummies from the Nazca era can still be seen in their grave. A unique experience, to get a very different view of the old and modern coastal cultures.
The day ends at Wasipunko: a family owned rural lodge about 20 minutes outside the city of Nazca. The owner is an artist and in the lodge you will find many of her beautiful works of art. Surrounded by vineyards and agriculture you can enjoy the tranquility of a real “finca”.
This morning you set off with a driver and guide to visit the interesting sights of Nazca. You go to the aqua-ducts of Cantayoc: an ingenious system of spiral holes in the ground that lead to underground water channels. You will also visit the Inca site Paredones and you will be able to see two Nazca lines from a hilltop. Then you will visit the interesting Antonini museum in Nazca, with a huge collection of well-preserved artefacts and mummies. At the end of the morning you will visit a centre where the ceramics of Nazca are copied and you will learn about traditional techniques and designs.
In the afternoon you will make a unique sand buggy tour, giving a combination of history and positive adrenaline. You will visit the impressive pyramids of Cahuachi, the age-old irrigation canals of Ocongalla and you will go sand-boarding in the Usaca desert.
In the evening you take the night bus to Arequipa.
Alternatively, you could also take a flight over the famous Nazca lines today.
Upon arrival in Arequipa we will transfer you from the bus-stop to your hotel.
You will stay at the Casona Solar hotel. The hotel is housed in a beautifully restored casona from 1702, strategically located in the historic centre of Arequipa, two blocks from the main square and other important monuments of the city. The hotel offers an eighteenth-century setting with patios, a beautiful courtyard garden, high vaults and thick walls built from sillar (white volcanic rock).
Arequipa is a beautiful city. The colonial buildings, built of white sillar, stand out beautifully against the blue sky and mountain tops (El Misti and Chanchani) on the horizon. You will be able to stay here for the next two days; Arequipa has a lot to offer.
Monasterio de Santa Catalina
This monastery is not to be missed! It is one of the most fascinating religious buildings in Peru. The very large nunnery is like a citadel within the city. It was founded in 1580 by a rich widow doña María de Guzmán.
A theatrical museum entirely devoted to the discovery of the ice mummy “Juanita”. She was a 12-year-old Inca girl who was sacrificed to the gods in the 1450s.
If you want to see more of the Arequipa Cathedral, you should definitely visit this museum. You can see the imposing 1000-pipe church organ and colourful religious paintings and ornaments. The view over Arequipa and its surroundings is amazingly beautiful.
On your discovery tour through Arequipa you will naturally be drawn to the central square, Plaza de Armas. It is the lively heart of the city, where families and friends come together. This traffic-free square is surrounded by the cathedral and beautiful buildings with impressive colonnades
This morning you pick up your rental car and drive to Colca Canyon. A beautiful route through an impressive landscape. Enjoy the snow-covered volcanoes on the horizon, drive past lakes with flamingos and a reserve where many vicuñas roam freely.
Staying with a local family is a great way to get to know the real life in Peru. Various families in Coporaque have united to offer guests a homely stay. You spend the night in a private room with shower and in the evening you sit at the family table to eat a “home-cooked” meal.
It is wise to get up early today. You are driving to the Cruz del Condor viewpoint. The big advantage of your own car is that you can set off early; on the way to the vantage point you will pass several interesting places that you can visit freely. The highlight is spotting the Andean condor. With a wingspan of up to 3 meters, this majestic bird floats on the thermal waves of the canyon.
In addition to exploring the area, you can go horseback riding with the beautiful Peruvian Paso horses or visit the local thermal baths.
Today you say goodbye to your host family and drive via Juliaca to Chifrón, located on Lake Titicaca. You drive through a rugged, wide landscape, characterised by volcanoes and vicuñas, to the Capachica peninsula.
Here you will arrive at your stay for the next two nights: Inti Wasi. Walther and his family offer a very hospitable stay in this simple but good lodge. The excellent location of Inti Wasi, on a hill on Lake Titicaca, guarantees breathtaking views of the lake and a cloudless night sky.
Your day starts with a drive to the San Pedro harbour of the Llachon community on the Capachica peninsula. Here you take the motor boat to the floating Uros Titino Islands (about 30 minutes).
There you will be welcomed by a family, who will explain about their daily life and how they build their island.
You have the afternoon free to explore the area or simply relax at the cozy lodge.
After breakfast you head to the Sacred Valley. Along the way you can stop at various interesting places:
A small town famous for its earthenware – including the ceramic toritos (bulls) that you will often find on the rooftops in Peru, the placement of these bulls brings good luck. You will also find the pre-Inca site Kalasaya and the Museo Lítico Pucará here.
You should definitely visit this ancient Inca temple. These remains were once part of one of the most important shrines in the Inca Empire, and even today an important solar festival is celebrated here on June 16th. Twenty-two columns made of stone blocks supported the largest known Inca roof of this temple. The remains of many houses and buildings can be seen.
In this idyllic town you will find the Iglesia de San Pedro; a church, erected in 1580, with such beautiful wall paintings that it is also called the Sistine Chapel of South America.
You end your drive at the Melissa Wasi lodge in Pisaq. The complex is on the outskirts of Pisaq and you will spend the night here in your own bungalow.
You start the day with an early visit to the imposing Inca Písaqa, the ruins of Pisaq. This Inca ruin complex is one of the most beautiful in Peru. The exact function that this complex held is still unclear to this day. There was an agricultural centre, a city, a military base and an important sun temple. Many graves were also found in the mountain slopes that surround the complex.
After visiting the ruins, it is nice to explore the colonial centre of Pisaq. Beautiful streets and nice bars offer the opportunity to have a nice cup of coffee before you continue your journey.
On the way to Ollantaytambo you will have lunch in Urubamba at El Huacatay, a welcoming restaurant with a relaxed family atmosphere. In the restaurant you get a delicious seven-course menu, with which you can discover many aspects and ingredients of Peruvian cuisine.
You continue to Ollantaytambo and spend the night at the hotel Samanapaq, an oasis of peace in the small town. Set up in 2009, this hotel is tucked away in a peaceful garden of fruit trees and exotic plants.
Today you have a day off in Ollantaytambo. There are lots of fun things to do here and nice places to explore. It is nice to wander through the authentic streets and central square of the town with Inca canals and houses that are still in use. There is a chocolate museum where you can taste and buy delicious chocolate and where fun workshops are held. You can visit the Pumamarka ruins, the Cachiccata quarries and the sun gate located above the town, or you can go for a good dose of adrenaline to the spectacular Via Ferrata where you ‘enjoy’ flying along a zip line with incredible vistas of the Sacred Valley.
Awamaki also offers fun excursions to weaving communities, or you can learn everything about Pachamanca and organic farming at restaurant El Albergue.
Today you drive to Cusco and return your rental car. Along the way, however, you can first make two beautiful stops at Moray and Maras.
Moray was the agricultural laboratory of the Incas, here the basis was laid for growing crops on terraces. With the help of these different elevations, the various climatic zones of Peru were simulated. That way you could grow vegetables and fruits from all over the country in one place. The knowledge gained here was then applied in other regions of the empire.
Maras: On a slope of the “Qaqawiñay” mountain, around 3000 small swimming pools have been built with an average surface of 5 square meters located at the top of the complex. The water evaporates, leaving the salt behind and slowly solidifying. This process takes approximately one month after which a considerable volume of solid salt can be extracted.
Hotel Antigua Casona San Blas
Hotel Antigua Casona San Blas is a recently (2016) restored casona with beautiful rooms, a cozy patio and a good, extensive breakfast.
Today you and your guide go on a discovery tour in beautiful Cusco. By taxi you go up to Qenqo, located above Cusco. From here you walk to Sacsayhuamán: impressive ruins with a gorgeous view of the city. Via the nice neighbourhood of San Blas you can walk down to visit the famous sun temple in Cusco itself.
On your own you can see the cathedral of Cusco or explore a museum in the afternoon. A visit to the local market of San Pedro is also very nice. It is an energetic place where real life comes together. Cusco is also a good city to shop for a nice souvenir or the most beautiful alpaca sweater.
From Cusco you go with your guide and driver to the start of your hiking route. The coming days will be dominated by beautiful views, coffee plantations and the introduction to the families who manage these plantations.
On the first day you have the choice of a 2 to 2.5 hour walk with somewhat steeper sections or a shorter (and not fear of heights) route of 1 hour to the home of Alejandro and his wife Elvira. A delicious lunch is already waiting for you here.
Alejandro has built some simple guesthouses on his plantations where you can spend the night and Elvira cooks the most delicious meals and breakfast for you.
From Alejandro’s house you can walk to Santa Teresa with your guide; a walk of approximately four hours. If the water level in the river permits, follow the beautiful, adventurous path along the river and cross the river with a cable cart.
When you have arrived at the hot springs of Cocalmayo (10 minutes before Santa Teresa), you can enjoy this at your leisure before continuing on to Lucmabamba.
Arrived in the house of Enrique it is time for a delicious lunch prepared by Teófila, Enrique’s wife. In the afternoon, Enrique will show you the entire coffee process from one of Peru’s best coffee specialists. From harvesting the beans to your first home-made cup of coffee: everything is covered.
Enrique’s guesthouse has a private bathroom with hot shower. In the evening you can dine pleasantly with the whole family and enjoy Teófilla’s home-cooked meals.
You will leave early in the morning from Enrique’s coffee farm to continue your way along the well-preserved Inca Path. This is the same route as the last day of the Salkantay trek and the cloud forests along this route are a paradise for birdwatchers. From the top (after rising for 2 to 3 hours) you will descend 2.5 to 3 hours with an almost continuous view of Machu Picchu; breathtaking!
After arriving at the train station called Hidroelectrica you will have lunch and then continue your way on foot to the village at the base of Machu Picchu: Aguas Calientes.
In Aguas Calientes you will stay at RupaWasi. The rooms at RupaWasi are inspired by tree houses with lots of wood and lots of light.
From Aguas Calientes you take the shuttle bus to Machu Picchu, also known as “The Lost City of the Incas”. At an altitude of 2,430 m Machu Picchu lies spectacularly beautiful above the Urubamba River. Around 1430 AD the Incas built this settlement for the emperor Pachacuti; strategically and well hidden between the apus: the mountain gods.
In the morning you will get a tour of Machu Picchu for two to two and a half hours, after which you will have free time to further explore the site and to climb the Machu Picchu Mountain: not the frequently visited Huayna Picchu. The Machu Picchu Mountain is a little higher (one and a half hour climb) but offers a magnificent view of Machu Picchu, the Huayna Picchu and the underlying Urubamba River. Moreover, the path and nature along the way are beautiful, and because it is rarely visited, it feels like an escape from the hustle and bustle of Machu Picchu.
Tierra Viva Valle Sagrado Hotel
This afternoon you take the train back to the Sacred Valley from where you travel further by private taxi to your hotel. Here you will spend the night at the Tierra Viva Valle Sagrado Hotel. The rooms of this hotel are situated in small bungalows spread over a beautiful garden. You can relax in the hammocks in the garden. After all your efforts in recent days, it is also possible to reserve a wonderful massage.
Today you have a wonderful day off to process all the beautiful impressions of the past few weeks.
Besides just relaxing, you can use the spa of your hotel, go to the Cervercería del Valle beer brewery, go horse riding, visit a community, eat at a good restaurant in the Valley, experience an organic Pachamanca in El Albergue, go to a yoga centre, or use the spa.
Overnight: Villa Barranco
In the morning you will be taken to Cusco Airport to board the flight to Lima. Here you “come home” to the familiar Villa Barranco where you started your journey.
Today you have almost an entire day at leisure in Lima before your flight home leaves this evening. It is a great opportunity to have lunch in one of the top restaurants. Think of Central, Maido or Astrid & Gastón (of course they have to be booked far in advance). We take care of your luggage and pick you up at the restaurant for the transfer to the airport. The next day you arrive in Amsterdam.
During this tour you will experience the most beautiful facets of Peru. Colonial cities, impressive landscapes and an intriguing Inca history alternate while staying in luxury and comfort. This is the perfect itinerary to combine with an 8-day Galapagos Islands cruise expedition.
This exclusive journey through Peru will introduce you to all the highlights in this versatile and hospitable country. Peru shows you its most beautiful places. You will only stay at the most luxurious and attractive accommodations the country has to offer. Long distances are covered by plane; you will be able to travel at a relaxed pace. Spend a few nights in each location, and still allowing you to see the variety of landscapes and cultures that Peru has to offer.
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