Land of the Incas Trip Notes
Trip code: FFPC
Trip length: 14 days
- Colonial Arequipa & mummies
- Floating islands of Lake Titicaca
- Train to Machu Picchu
This adventurous, two-week trip uses planes, boats, trains and buses to discover a land of bewildering contrasts: volcanoes, high plateau, snow-capped mountains, fertile valleys, rushing rivers, shimmering lakes and dense Amazon rainforest. In the colonial city of Arequipa – a great stop to help with acclimatisation – you visit the 17th century Santa Catalina convent and the famous Ice Mummies museum. Take a trip to the floating islands of the Uros Indians on Lake Titicaca before heading by bus through the highlands to the vibrant city of Cusco. From here there is the highlight of the trip - a classic train ride through dramatic mountains to the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu. As a final contrast, there is an optional extension to the Amazon rainforest, a jungle filled with wildlife including monkeys, caiman and beautiful parrots.
You will receive full details of exactly where to meet your Group Leader on the Joining Instructions which will be sent to you 2-3 weeks before your trip starts. For information on when the trip ends please refer to the itinerary as described below. Faraona Hotel (AA) - 2 nights
This morning you meet your guide. You depart the modern suburb of Miraflores located on the cliff tops overlooking the Pacific ocean to drive inland towards the old colonial city center. You will make a brief stop at the Huaca Pucllana, a giant adobe (mud brick) pyramid dating to the 3rd century with acted as a ceremonial platform for the pre-Columbian priests and lords of the fertile Lima valley. You continue to downtown Lima to see the faded glory of its grand colonial past. Finely carved balconies reminiscent of southern Spain overlook the bustling streets. In the main square we’ll see the Presidential palace, location of the murder of Francisco Pizarro, conqueror of Peru, who is now buried in the Cathedral, just a few steps away on the adjacent side of the square. Walk to the 17th Century church of San Francisco, where inside you will find an oasis of quiet gardens of patios. Descend into the eerie catacombs of the church to see the remains of one of Limas earliest cemeteries containing the bones of over 25,000 people. (B)
This morning you rise at a leisurely time to catch your flight south (1 hour flight leaving around midday) where a group of volcanic mountains heralds your arrival at Arequipa. This colonial city stands in a warm and sunny climate overlooked by the perfect cone of El Misti Volcano (5882m). Its fine buildings, constructed in distinctive local stone, are single-storied to resist the ever-present threat of earthquakes; the relatively little damage done during the massive quake of June 2001 bears testimony to this.
This afternoon you visit the Museum of High Altitude Sanctuaries. The main attraction is the mummified body of a young girl believed to have been ritually sacrificed and buried at an altitude of around 6000m on the summit of nearby Ampato Volcano. The discovery of ‘Juanita’ in 1995 was of worldwide importance. The well-preserved body tissues and richly patterned textiles of her clothes have been the focus of many studies to determine things about her life in Inca times such as what she ate, how she died and even who her living relatives might be. Hotel Casa De Melgar (AAA) - 2 nights - (B)
Today you start with a visit to the walled enclosure of the Convento de Santa Catalina, a miniature town occupying an entire city block, which remained closed until 1970. It now offers a fascinating record of over four centuries of ecclesiastical life. In its day it housed nearly 500 nuns who lived and worked in virtual seclusion, oblivious to the bustling city surrounding them. The remainder of the day is free to relax or explore Arequipa’s many other sites of interest. In the evening you have the opportunity to sample some of Peru’s culinary specialities in one of the city’s many good restaurants. (B)
Travel by road through spectacular mountain scenery (aprox. 6 hour drive) to the mysterious burial tombs at Sillustani, where you spend about an hour exploring and enjoying the scenery. These curious stone burial towers of the Colla tribe overlook the primeval landscape in a brooding, sinister fashion. Later, you continue to the town of Puno (40 minute drive), lying at 3830m above sea level, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. At this altitude the sun is very hot in the daytime but temperatures at night can drop below freezing in the winter months of June, July and August. If you’re feeling the cold, it’s possible to buy thick alpaca sweaters from the town’s market. Hotel Conde de Lemos (AAA) - 2 nights - (B)
Puno: Uros Islands
This morning you travel for 30 minutes by boat across the waters of Lake Titicaca – reputedly the world’s highest navigable lake – to the floating reed islands of the Uros Indians. The life of the Uros is based on the tortora reed which grows in the lake and is used to construct their houses and boats, thereby fostering the theory which led to Thor Heyerdahl’s Pacific journey with Ra. On reaching the islands, it’s clear that they are no longer as secluded as they once were, but they are still a unique sight. Once back in Puno you might be able to visit the old iron ship, the Yaviri, often moored by the city. Built in Scotland in the 1870s, it was shipped to Chile and then carried up into the Andes on mules and llamas, to be assembled in Puno. It was the first iron ship on Lake Titicaca and has now been restored ready to sail on the lake once more. (B)
You leave Puno ealry today for a long drive across the dusty altiplano, hopefully giving the kids the chance to see llama and alpaca in their natural environment. Once over La Raya pass (4321m) the scenery changes from the dry grassy plains of the altiplano to the green rural river valleys of Cusco, the seat of Inca rule for some 500 years. Tupac Yupanqui Palace (AA) - 2 nights - (B)
Today you have the entire day to explore the attractions of Cusco with your guide. In the morning you visit the vast fortress of Sacsayhuaman. The skilfully constructed outer walls consist of massive blocks of stone, (the largest weighing over 350 tonnes) which must have been difficult to manoeuvre, let alone to cut and dress with such precision. The city itself, the old imperial capital, was laid out in the rough shape of a puma. Today, its orderly streets bear witness to the extraordinary skill of Inca stonemasons; many are still lined with precisely interlocked stonework serving as the foundation for later colonial buildings. You’ll explore the inner city on foot with your local guide. (B)
The Sacred Valley
Today you head out through the highlands of Cusco, before descending into the fertile Sacred Valley. After about half an hour you’ll reach the village of Pisac where a market fills the main square with bustle and brightly-coloured costume. Here you can wander amongst the market stalls, haggling for locally made textiles and ceramics. Further along the valley (50 minute drive), passing the snow-capped peaks of the Andes you’ll come to Ollantaytambo, a traditional Inca village laid out on a grid plan (one of only four surviving examples). At the far end of the village, clinging to the hillside are some impressive Inca ruins. Hotel Casona de Yucay (AAA) - 2 nights - (B)
You have a full day to enjoy the rural charm of the Sacred Valley – the scenic agricultural heartland of the Inca Empire. There are a number of optional activities on offer from walking, horse riding or mountain biking in the valley to visiting local centres of interest such as the traditional salt pans. White water rafting is available on the Urubamba River; its gentle flow makes it very suitable for families and those rafting for the first time - minimum age 12 (not available from November to April). All optional activities are at an additional charge. (B)
You leave your hotel this morning at 0700 hrs and take a spectacular train ride (1½ hours) to arrive at the stunning ‘lost city’ of Machu Picchu which you’ll discover with a guide. It is the most dramatic and enchanting of Inca citadels, constructed from white granite in an extravagantly-terraced saddle between two towering peaks. No description of this mythical place can do it justice. It was rediscovered in 1911 by the American explorer, Hiram Bingham, who believed it to be the lost city of Vilcabamba. It was probably one of a series of agricultural centres that served Cusco. Machu Picchu feels like it was built in the heavens, on dizzying slopes overlooking a u-bend in the Urubamba River. More than one hundred flights of steep, stone steps connect its palaces, temples, storehouses and terraces, and command outstanding views not only of the valley below but also the snow-capped peaks around Salkantay (6271m). Wherever you stand, spectacular terraces appear to be suspended from steep cliffs, transforming the mountain into garden. La Pequena Casita (AA) - 1 night - (B)
At approx 0630 hrs you head back up to Machu Picchu to explore it further - this time you have the site much to yourselves before the day visitors arrive on the train. One of the best ways to explore the ruins is simply to wander around with a map to absorb the grandeur. There is also time to climb the nearby peak of Huayna Picchu or head to the Sun Gate before heading back to Cusco by train in the afternoon (3½ hours journey time) arriving in time for dinner. Tupac Yupanqui Palace (AA) - 2 nights - (B)
The day is free for you to explore the city, shop or relax in Cusco. Alternatively, you can visit more of the surrounding ruined Inca sites or try some outdoor activities such as mountain biking in the hills or rafting on the Urubamba River. (B)
Cusco; trip ends
Your trip ends in Cusco. (B)
About The Imaginative Traveller
Our aim has always been to provide exceptional travel experiences. We believe that adventure travel should be stimulating, and that it should give you an authentic experience of a place. We want our travellers to relish the amazing diversity of countries and cultures the world has to offer. Our focus is on innovation, not imitation.
Obsessed with quality
One of our strengths has been our obsession with quality. We've always believed that our commitment to you doesn't end as soon as you've paid for your holiday. On the contrary, it is just beginning. Whilst most operators simply get a local company to handle the day to day operation of their tours, we do it all ourselves. We have managers for each of our key destinations around the world and all our small groups are escorted by our own leaders. Our local teams include guides, drivers, administration staff and contacts in the local community who help us ensure that our adventures are active and involving.
For comparability, all prices in this dossier are quoted in one currency. We use the US Dollar since that is familiar to most. However, once on tour you will need to pay for all goods and services in the local currency. See your Country Dossier for details of exchange rates.
Trip gradesAncient Civilisations
Walking & Trekking
UNESCO Heritage Sites
There is no physical difficulty, so anyone in good health can take part - although heat, humidity, altitude and rough roads can sometimes make conditions a little uncomfortable. The trip includes two nights in Lima to overcome and prepare for the long international flight as well as two nights in Arequipa to help acclimatise to the higher altitudes found in the Lake Titicaca and Cusco regions. Minimum age: 7 years.
Transport - Minibus, boat, train, domestic flights, on foot.
Accommodation - Hotels (12nts), basic hotel (1nt).
Meals - 13 breakfasts
Single room supplementA single supplement is available for this trip priced from 221 GBP. This does not guarantee a single room for all accommodation. please contact us to discuss this.
For your comfort we recommend you travel as light as possible; many airlines impose a maximum weight limit of 20kg – we advise you to take 10kg as you will be on the move a good deal! For domestic flights using light aircraft the usual weight limit is 15 kg.
One main piece (a soft bag or rucksack, not a hard suitcase).
A daypack (25-30 litres), large enough to carry what you need for the day including camera, water, etc.
SOME INTERESTING READING:
Eight feet in the Andes: Travels with a mule in unknown Peru by Dervla Murphy
Inca Kola: A traveller's tale of Peru by Matthew Parris
Rescuing the Spectacled Bear by Stephen Fry
Lost City of the Incas by Hiram Bingham
Conquest of the Incas by John Hemming
Three Letters from the Andes by Patrick Leigh Fermor
Discovering the Inca Ice Maiden by Johan Reinhard
FOR YOUNGER READERS:
The Way of the Condor: An Adventure in Peru by Nathan Kravetz
Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark
Peru in Pictures by Robert V Masters
THE EFFECTS OF ALTITUDE:
Please note that Cusco and Puno are both above 3000m. At such altitudes some travellers may experience, headaches, breathlessness and possibly even nausea, dizziness or palpitations. In almost all cases these effects subside over a period of 24hrs as your body adjusts to the reduced oxygen levels; indeed most travellers recover almost completely after one night’s sleep at altitude. During this initial period we recommend you don’t over-exert yourself, but take things gently - even climbing stairs should be taken at a slower pace than normal to give your body the best chance of adjusting to these new conditions. Unfortunately, there is no way of predicting how altitude sickness may affect the individual and if you suffer from any special condition that may be exacerbated by the relative lack of oxygen then we recommend you consult your doctor before travelling.
Local Costs - Peru
Approximate costs are given for guidance only, and may vary widely according to location and type of establishment.
Soft drink: US$1.00
Bottle of mineral water (1 litre): US$1.50
Beer (330ml): US$2.00
Bottle of wine (750ml): US$10.00 (shop) or US$20.00 (restaurant)
Local snack lunch: US$8.00
3-course dinner*: US$18.00
*reasonable mid-range tourist class restaurant
Visas & Permits - Peru
Holders of UK & IRL passports do not require a visa to enter Peru, but if travelling via the United States must have a machine-readable passport or a visa will be required for transiting the US. Usual U.S. immigration restrictions apply. Nationals of all other countries should contact their local embassy or consulate. Passports must be valid for at least six months after the end date of the trip. Information can also be found on www.travcour.com.
If you are travelling to the USA after 1st September 2008, the US authorities have introduced a requirement for passengers travelling under the Visa Waiver Programme to register for Electronic Travel Authority NO LATER THAN 72 HOURS BEFORE TRAVEL. The on line application is available at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov
Please note with effect from 8 September 2010 the US will introduce an ESTA fee of $14. The total fee for a new or renewed ESTA will be $14.00.
Please note that a departure tax of approx. $31 per person is payable on departure from Peru. This must be paid in country at the airport. There is also a local tax of approx. $5 per person payable on domestic flights within Peru. Your tour leader will confirm the amount and let you know the procedure.
This information is given in good faith, but may be subject to change without warning. Please note that, where appropriate, obtaining a valid visa is ultimately your responsibility. Please consult a visa agency or the consular authorities 4-6 weeks before departure for the most up-to-date information.
Vaccinations - Peru
The following are recommended:
- Hepatitis A
- Yellow Fever NB: Yellow Fever vaccination is compulsory if taking the Amazon extension or if coming from an infected country, take your certificate with you.
† Malaria Prophylactics required on Amazon extension.
For detailed information and advice concerning vaccinations go to:www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk. Vaccination requirements change periodically so we advise that you check with your nearest specialist travel clinic 4-6 weeks before departure to get up-to-date information.
International rules for carrying medicines vary. Some countries do not allow certain medicines to be imported, or require official documents, such as a doctor’s letter, to prove drugs have been prescribed by a doctor and obtained legally. It is sensible to contact the relevant embassy or high commission of your destination to check what their drug transportation rules are before you travel.
The itinerary and supplementary information has been compiled with care and provided in good faith. However it may be subject to change, and does not form part of a contract between the client and The Imaginative Traveller.
Responsible Travel - Travellers' Guidelines
At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.
Responsible Travel is twofold. It’s about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.
- It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
- We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
- Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.
Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.
Before you depart try to spend some time familiarising yourself with the destination you will be travelling to – their culture and customs. The country dossiers on our website offer detailed information about all the regions we visit. They also include some useful phrases in the local language for you to use on your trip! A few words of the local language can open up many more opportunities for you to interact with the people you will meet.
Although it is tempting to give out pens, sweets and money to people begging, and particularly tempting to give to children, we feel that this encourages a begging mentality and has a long-term negative impact on communities. If someone begging earns more than someone in the same community who works this can discourage local employment. If children regularly bring home money it may discourage their parents from sending them to school. It is of course your own personal choice but you could consider giving to registered charities or contributing to our Responsible Travel fund instead. Money donated through our fund to our worldwide projects is matched pound for pound by Imaginative Traveller and used to help local grassroots projects.
Always ask permission to photograph local people and respect their decision if they would prefer not to have their picture taken.
Respect local dress codes, especially at religious sites. Our tour leaders are always on hand to give you advice about this.
In many of the countries we visit you might see examples of animal cruelty (for example dancing bears, performing monkeys and snake charmers). Please do not take photographs of this or offer money as it encourages the activity.
Respect the environment you are in. It sounds obvious but do not throw litter, take it with you or use rubbish bins! You may see locals throwing rubbish on the street but do not follow their example!
When shopping in countries where haggling is the norm – enjoy it and only pay what you feel is a fair price for the goods you are purchasing. However, remember that the shopkeeper does have to make a living so do stop once you have reached a price you are happy with. Bargaining should be fun but always remember that a small amount can mean much more to the vendor than to you.
Endeavor to take home souvenirs made locally; the money you spend can be very important to the local communities. However, do use your common sense and don’t buy anything that you think might be made out of endangered animals or plants.
To help keep as much money as possible in the host country - try to eat in locally owned restaurants and order local drinks and produce rather than international brands.
In hotels do be conscious of how much water you are using. Many of the areas we visit regularly have shortages; try not to have hour long showers! Don’t leave lights, air conditioners or fans on when you leave the room – you wouldn’t at home!
Respect the environment you are in, especially when in national parks or reserves. Pay attention to rules about keeping on paths, keeping a distance from animals and not removing any of the natural habitat.
Relax and immerse yourself in the differences of the culture you are in – you’ll be back home in the familiar soon enough (and wishing you were still on holiday!). These cultural differences are part of what makes your experience special.
If you would like to offset the carbon dioxide that will be produced on your flights you can do this on our website (on our Responsible travel page). We work with climatecare, who will reduce the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that you produce in another part of the World through their emission reduction projects. These projects are low carbon efficient technologies in developing countries and not only serve to reduce emissions but also help to spread the adoption of low carbon technologies and improve the quality of life for local communities. Details of climatecare’s projects can be found on their website.
If you would like to contribute to our Worldwide projects, helping communities all over the World, you can also do this on our website or with a sales consultant. Please refer to our responsible travel page on the website for details of our current projects. Any donation you make will be matched £ for £ by Imaginative Traveller (up to a maximum of £1000).
Have a great trip!
Please do let us know if you have any comments about responsible travel at email@example.comThe Imaginative Traveller & The Adventure Company. This trip is operated by our partner company, The Adventure Company. They have more than 10 years experience in adventure travel and they share our ethos for offering unique holiday adventures. As this is a codeshared departure you can expect there to be both Imaginative Traveller and Adventure Company travellers on your trip.