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Peru is a land of geographical grandeur and stark contrasts that
provides plenty of gorgeous scenery to satisfy our love of natural beauty
as well as enough superlatives to fuel our national obsession with statistical
Itinerary: Flight Frankfurt-Lima. Transfer by bus to hotel. Cross-country by bus: Lima - Paracas - Ica - Nasza - Arequipa, La Paz - Puno. By plane: Arequipa - Puno, Cuzco - Puerto Maldonado - Lima. By train: Puno - Cuzco, Cuzco - Machu Picchu, Lima - Huancayo - Lima. By catamaran: Copacabana - La Paz. By boat: Puno - mangrove islands, Puerto Maldonado - jungle lodge. By jeep: La Paz - Chacaltaya. By foot: Inca trail (optional). Flight Lima-Frankfurt
Accommodations: Except for Aguas Calientes and during the Inca trail all accommodations will be at hotels in double bedrooms. One night on plane, two nights in Lima, one night in Paracas, one night in Nasza, three nights in Arequipa, two nights in Puno, three nights in La Paz, one night in Puno, six nights in Cuzco, one night in tents during Inca trail, two nights in Cuzco, four nights in tents, four nights in jungle lodge in Puerto Maldonado, one night in Lima, two nights in Hunancayo, one night in Lima, one night on plane.
Meals: Breakfast in hotel in Lima, breakfast, lunch, dinner during stay in jungle lodge. Otherwise you should expect to spend approx. $10 per day for your meals.
Also included: All entrance fees, including for Machu Picchu
Tour Escort: Tour coordinator
Extra: Excursion to Islas Balestas: $15; sight-seeing flight over Nazca: $42; excursion to Sillustani: $7; excursions from Cuzco to Pisac, Chinchero, Ollantaytambo: $15; excursion to Canon de Colca: $20, etc.
Climate: Highland: day 70 degrees, night 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit Jungle: day 100 degrees, night 80 degrees Fahrenheit
Currency: US $1 = 1921 Peruvian Intis, 2.10 Bolivian Pesos
Visa: No visa is required for Peru or Bolivia
Vaccinations: We strongly recommend vaccinations against tetanus, hepatitis, malaria, yellow fever.
To the tour dates
Peru and Bolivia by Plane, Bus, Rail, Ship, and Foot
Peru is a land of geographical grandeur and stark contrasts that provides plenty of gorgeous scenery to satisfy the American love of natural beauty as well as enough superlatives to fuel our national obsession with statistical trivia. For example, the highest railway in the world is in Peru. The highest navigable lake is there too, namely lake Titicaca. And the city with the greatest differences in elevation (10,000-13,000 feet), La Paz, lies right next door in Bolivia. The longest river on our planet with greatest volume of water is the Amazon. On our Trip to Peru, we enter a dimension of superlatives and encounter a strange and mysterious world.
Everyone associates Peru with the legendary Incas, Spanish conquistadors and stolen gold. But there are also the topographical contrasts: the long, sandy ocean beaches alternating with 23,000 foot peaks, the tropical heat of the Amazon with the perpetual ice of Andean glaciers.
On the trail of the Incas in Peru and Bolivia:
Lima - Paracas - Nazca - Arequipa - Puno on Lake Titicaca - Bolivia: La Paz - Puno - Cuzco : Inca trail, side trips (optional), Machu Picchu - Cuzco (21 days)
Once we set foot in Lima, we'll be assaulted from every side by the culture of this fascinating country. Gold museums, ruins from the time of the Incas, Pachacamac and more are just waiting to be discovered. Not far away, at the Plaza de Armas, over 70,000 skeletons from ancient times are neatly kept. After we set our bags down in the Hotel Plaza, we'll quickly find ourselves in the midst of the one-time capital of the Spanish colonies. Here we'll have two days to see the impressive sights of this city. You'll find street vendors everywhere selling everything imaginable, as well as some very interesting music clubs. You'll be able to enjoy some lively company, and possibly sip the "national drink", the Pisco sour. After listening to some folk music (and maybe even a little dancing), we'll start off on our trip.
The hot asphalt ribbon of the Pan American Highway takes us through glistening, fresh oases and yellow desert dunes; on the right, the foaming Pacific, on the left, the Andes visible in the distance. After 140 miles we reach Pisco, Peru#s wine-growing center and nine miles farther, the Paracas peninsula, our destination for the day.
We'll be staying in the Hotel Paracas, right on the Pacific Ocean. Paracas is especially well-known for its graves, where many well-preserved mummies were found. Many of these mummies are exhibited at the nearby Archeological Museum.
From this point, we can go on a very interesting side trip. We can take a boat tour to the Islas Balestas, an island group that is home to pelicans, sea lions and flamingos.
After leaving the Pacific, we'll turn toward the interior of Peru, and the city of Nazca. It will be worth a short side trip to see the small Huacachino oasis in the Ica Valley, because it contains a small lagoon with green water which is surrounded by palms, old houses, and a backdrop of desert dunes with razor-thin ridges. We reach Nazca around noon. The mysterious, thousand year-old figures carved into the earth here are still being studied to this day...were they created by man, or by extraterrestial beings? Nobody really knows, but, you'll have the chance to study them from a private airplane. For just $42 extra, you'll have an unparalleled view of these mammoth ground drawings. If you're not in the mood to take the plane trip, you can view the drawings for free from a 30-foot tower. Not far from this tower is an ancient Indian cemetery where the remains of hundreds of Indians have been preserved by the arid climate, their skin turned to leather, their nails to stone.
The following day, we'll continue on the Panamerican highway, which follows the high cliff coastline through cotton fields, desert, until the road rises up to the 20,000 ft. high volcanoes, Misti and Chachani, and the old traditional Spanish colonial city of Arequipa, built right at the foot of these volcanoes. The so-called "white city" was built using stone from the volcanoes. It was the perfect material to carve on, and its beautiful, historic architecture is still preserved. From here, we can take a trip with a smaller bus to Canon de Colca, the deepest gorge in the world. This gorge is over 40 miles long and reaches a depth of 10,000 feet. It takes a day to get to this lonesome spot and the end point of our trip, the "Cross of the Condor," offers a view of the river Colca. If we are lucky and the warm air currents are right, we will see condors soaring over the canyon here.
Next morning, we'll take the plane to Puno, about 20 minutes away. Puno is the biggest city on Lake Titicaca. From this city, we'll be able to organize several exciting trips. One of them is to the floating mangrove islands on Lake Titicaca. This lake, in the middle of the Andes, is the highest lake in South America, and over 900 feet deep. We will pay a visit to the people who live on Titicaca's floating islands. The Uros build their boats and houses using reeds. Up to ten years ago, they lived in perfect harmony with nature, completely isolated from the modern world. Now, tourism is their main source of survival. They eagerly sell their hand-made artifacts and the children are grateful for every piece of candy.
Our next trip is to the nearby country of Bolivia. It's just around the corner from us, only 50 miles down the coastline from Puno. At the border, we'll have to pay a small fee to enter. Not far from the border is the Copacabana (not to be confused with the Brazilian beach) , which lies in a rugged mountain range. In contrast to the marshland found near Puno, the landscape here is mainly rough mountainous outcroppings. In any event, it offers a wonderful panorama of the entire Titicaca Lake. We'll enjoy a lunch of freshly-caught fish there on the lake.
The tour continues on catamaran boats over the lake. For over six luxurious hours, will be able to relax, sunbathe and enjoy the indescribable atmosphere of these islands. Just don't forget to bring your suntan lotion...remember, we're at a very high altitude. On the other side, a bus will be waiting to take us to the highest, if not the most unusual capital in the world: La Paz, Bolivia. We'll be spending two days here in La Paz taking in the sights. La Paz shimmers below us in the sunset.
The highway into city spirals down from 13,ooo feet to 10,000 feet, the highest and lowest part of the city, where the air is most dense. We will have two days to explore the city, visit the Indian and witches' markets and take a short side trip to the Valley of the Moon - the city's lowest point. A high point of our visit to Bolivia will certainly be the excursion to Chacalaya, the highest ski area in the world. It certainly doesn't happen very often that you get a chance to reach an altitude of more than 17,000 feet (especially with a car). The last 300-400 feet, we'll go by foot until we reach the peak. This part of the climb will by good practice for the upcoming Inca Trail. After such a fitness test, you'll probably find it much easier to navigate the winding streets of La Paz, which have a lot of sights to see and bargains to find.
We'll take a full-day bus trip via Tiahuanacu and Desaguadero,until we reach Puno. For those who don't want to take the time to check out the wool sweater market, we'd recommend that you travel to the graveyard at Sillustani. On a high mountain in front of the Lake Umayo, Sillustani's towering gravestones create a surreal impression against the backdrop of Lake Umayo and the broad Altiplano above Lake Titicaca.
The next day, we'll encounter what is probably the climax of the tour, the city and region around Cuzco, the former capital of the Inca Empire. From Puno to Cuzco, our trustworthy train will be taking us, first class, through the tantalizing scenery. Cold beer and other refreshments will be available with our hot meals. In the evening, we'll arrive in Cuzco (at an altitude of 10,000 ft.). For at least six days, we'll stay here and experience the attractions of this region. Although we could go on about the sights and sounds of this city, you really have to experience it all yourself, because no amount of describing would really do it any kind of justice. The ever changing historical conditions of Cuzco have left quite a mixture of architecture ...Inca walls and temples contrast with colonial structures. Cuzco is also the ideal starting point for a group of several-day tours.
For the adventure seekers among us, we can offer you an excursion along the famous Inca trail. For three days, we'll follow the path that runs partly through a thick jungle at an altitude of 10,000 ft. We'll climb slowly until we see the mountain saddle on which Machu Picchu is located. It'll take one day to reach Machu Piccu where we will meet the others (who decided to take the train). They'll also have stories to tell...about the winding path of the train which travels through a picturesque valley, en route to the town of Chinchero. They'll have had a super time touring the fleamarket, strolling through the fertile Urubamba Valley and enjoying a magnificent hike that took them to the Inca fortress, Ollantaitambo.
From Cuzco, they've zig-zagged through an incredibly narrow and moist valley, until they reached Machu Picchu. Finally, the whole group will reassemble and we'll travel together from this point on.
You will be amazed by the huge citadel, which is overlooked by the mountain Huayana Picchu. From a distance, it looks like a giant sugarloaf! 3,000 jungle-covered cliffs completely surround these famous ruins. It isn't even worth it to try and imagine this striking sight ahead of time. Just let yourself be surprised.
We'll have a little time to relax and enjoy the peaceful environment of Aguas Calientes. Here , we'll be able to stay overnight and take our time. We won't even need to run to catch up to the normal tourist train, we'll simply leave for Cuzco on the afternoon train the next day! We'll also have time to catch the beautiful sunset of this incredible mountain world .... el condor pasa ...
Back in Cuzco, we'll have a whole day to explore this ancient city. The 900 year old walls upon which the Spaniards later erected their residences and cathedrals are still visible everywhere. Those who missed the opportunity to purchase sweaters made of llama or alpaca wool can do so at the colorful Indian market in Cuzcol. The next morning, we board the plane for Puerto Maldonado.
Jungle Trip: Cuzco - Puerto maldonado - Lima (5 days)
After landing our bodies are quickly surrounded by a hot, humid blast of air. Here in the region of Puerto Maldonado, we'll find a jungle landscape which is absolutely untouched by human beings. You really must travel deep into this primeval rain forest to properly appreciate what the natives refer to as the "green hell".
To start off our journey our hosts at the jungle lodge will be waiting for us with brightly colored tropical cocktails and a highly varied "jungle buffet". This buffet will consist of jungle delicacies like fresh fish from the local rivers, and tropical fruit of all kinds (some of which you've probably never seen before). If you believe that the jungle is a place of calm, quiet beauty...think again. Screeching and chatter everywhere, you'll find beautiful parrots speaking their own tropical language. Thousands of species of birds and insects join in together and make this a veritable jungle concert. This beautiful cacophony can only whet our curiosity as we contemplate our next day's activities.
Thanks to our guide, Carlos, and his trusty machete, we'll be able to cut through the lush underbrush and set foot into this incredible world. As we walk through the trees, we'll immediately notice the moisture, not only in the air, but also dripping from the trees. Carlos will brief us on the kinds of plants which are edible, which are not, and which taste the best. In short, after a small bit of "introduction", we'll be able to travel through this adventurous territory with a maximum of safety. Jaguars, crocodiles and piranhas lurk in nearby rivers. Add to this, boat tours (both motorized and paddle), and other fascinating excursions, and we've got a vacation that most others can only see on TV.
The Highest Railroad in the World
Lima - Huancayo -Lima (return flight) (5 days)
The last highlight of our journey is finally upon us. We'll have the chance to get acquainted with the world's highest railroad. As long as there aren't any unforeseen strikes, we should hope to get started at 6 am sharp. The track goes right by the shanty towns of Lima, through the "Garua", a thin veil of mist which hovers over Lima during the winter months. As we go higher, the train will finally rise above the level of the mist and reveal a stunning blue sky above gigantic mountains.
For 10-12 hours, you'll be delighted by what is no doubt the most stunningly beautiful railroad in the world. The train will negotiate the twists and turns in between the peaks and valleys, on its way to the top, an altitude of almost 15,000 feet!! Only about 100 miles from Lima, we'll pull into the highest train station in the world, at 14,500 ft. We'll continue on during the afternoon to Huancayo. The stretch between Lima and Huancayo is an incredible experience of grandiose, colorful world of the Andes which would not be accessible if not for this impressively constructed railroad.
59 bridges and 66 tunnels had to be builtfor this masterwork, which was completed over 100 years ago. For over 23 years, thousands of Chinese laborers were "imported" from China in order to complete this massive project. This trip is breathtaking in every sense of the word. There'll even be a man at the ready to administer oxygen to those who are feeling a little light-headed.
As we pull into the Huancayo train station, the sun should be setting in an extraordinary fashion. There on the platform, we'll see a well-represented cross section of the mountain population. Dozens of thickly dressed women stand, dressed in multi- colored skirts, babies in bright blankets on their backs and melons on their heads. It's more than worth it to take a day out and tour this magical old colonial city. It'll also be a good idea to enjoy this day as much as possible since this will be our last day in Peru before we head back home.
After a farewell dinner in Lima, we'll have to sadly pack our bags and get ready for our flight home on Friday. On the long flight back, we'll have plenty of time to reflect on the sights, sounds and experiences that we've had. Indeed, this is something that very few people from anywhere have had the opportunity to see ... something to think about for the rest of your life.
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