Andean Adventure Trip Notes
Trip code: GSAA
Trip valid from: 01/10/2008
Trip valid until: 05/02/2012
Trip length: 21 days
Trip starts in: Lima
Trip ends in: La Paz
Maximum group size: 16
- The White Volcanic 'sillar' Architecture And Cathedral Of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Arequipa
- The Perfect Pisco Sour?
- The Floating Reed Islands Of The Uros People On The Highest Navigable Lake In The World - Lake Titicaca
- UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ancient Inca Capital Of Cusco
- UNESCO World Heritage-listed Historic Centre Of The Peruvian Capital Lima
- Warminwanusca - 'Dead Woman’s Pass' On The Inca Trail
- UNESCO World Heritage-listed Nazca Lines - Gigantic Lines, Symbols And Animal Images Etched Into The Ground
- The Condors Of One Of The Deepest Canyons In The World - Colca Canyon
- The 'Lost City Of The Incas' - UNESCO World Heritage-listed Machu Picchu
- La Paz - The World's Highest 'unofficial' Capital City
- The Potions Of 'Witches’ Market'
- Eat Llama In La Paz
- Ballestas Islands
- Eat Cuy In Cusco
- Swig Inca Kola
- Puno - A Town Four Kilometres Above Sea-level
- Copacabana On The Shores Of Lake Titicaca
Peru and Bolivia are both steeped in history and culture. The Inca Empire lasted for over 300 years and long before that various coastal civilisations had flourished. Your Andean Adventure enables you to discover this wealthy heritage and also allows you to experience the stunning natural wonders of the region. Our trip starts in Lima and continues southward through the Sechura Desert to Nazca and Arequipa. From there it's on to Cusco - one-time capital of the Inca Empire. We trek ancient Inca mountain trails and visit the magnificent ruins at Machu Picchu, before continuing east to Lake Titicaca and ending our journey in La Paz.
LimaYour trip starts today in Lima. No activities are planned so you may arrive at any time. Upon arrival at the hotel, please check for a notice in the lobby from your Tour Guide confirming the time and place of your pre-departure briefing and any other relevant information.
Lima - ParacasWe generally arrange a tour briefing at our hotel first thing in the morning, at around 8.30am. If you are unable to make this meeting, please check at the hotel reception for a message from your tour guide. Your local tour guide will also collect the details of your travel insurance. Today is a free day to explore Peru's capital. Your tour guide is on hand to help you arrange any optional sightseeing tours required. Highly recommended is a visit to the colonial city centre, taking in some of the many excellent museums that house priceless artefacts from the ancient Inca and coastal civilisations. The desert city of Lima, once deemed ‘La Ciudad de los Reyes’ or ‘The City of Kings’, is a vast buzzing metropolis of over 8 million people. The heart of the city is full with Spanish colonial splendour, fine art and baroque architecture. In the late afternoon we take a bus and travel south, following the Pan American Highway through the desert to the seaside village of Paracas where we spend the night. (B)
Ballestas Islands - NazcaAfter breakfast we travel by small motor boat to the nearby Ballestas Islands. Commonly referred to as the ''little Galapagos'', the spectacular arches and many caves on the islands provide shelter for thousands of rare sea birds and sea lions. Environmental regulations prohibit us from landing but we'll get close enough to get some great shots of the wildlife and the natural rock formations of the islands. You should also be able to see the famous ''candelabra'' carving, marked into the desert hillside. This carving has nothing to the do with the Nazca Lines but is thought to be an old pirate warning engraved over 200 years ago. In the mid-afternoon we continue on by bus to Nazca, arriving in the early evening. (B)
Nazca - overnight busToday is a free day to explore the mysterious Nazca Lines. The lines are a series of geoglyphs, located in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau that stretches more than 80 kilometres between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana. They were created by the Nazca culture between 200 BC and AD 700. There are scores of individual figures, ranging in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fishes, sharks, llamas and lizards. The desert area surrounding Nazca are littered with many ancient cemeteries that contain hundreds of preserved mummies and tapestries. In the early evening we board the overnight bus to Arequipa. Leaving the coastal plains behind, our bus climbs into the Andes en route to Arequipa, reaching an altitude of 2325m. (B)
ArequipaAfter arriving in Arequipa in the early morning, we transfer to our hotel. Founded in 1540, Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru and arguably one of its most beautiful. It is situated at an altitude of 2380 metres and lies at the base of the spectacular El Misti volcano. Arequipa has many fine colonial-era Spanish buildings built of sillar, a pearly white volcanic rock used extensively in the city, and from which it gets its nickname La Ciudad Blanca (''the white city''). The historic centre of Arequipa was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 2000, in recognition of its architecture and historic integrity. You have free time today to wander the city and to visit the famous Santa Catalina monastery and some of the many other beautiful churches and museums in the city.
ArequipaThere are also many opportunities for optional excursions in Arequipa, including a day trip to Colca Canyon, trekking in the surrounding mountains, white-water rafting, mountain biking and horse riding. Your tour guide will be on hand to assist you with any optional excursions you wish to take. (2B)
CuscoA short flight across the mountains brings us to Cusco, where we spend the next two days exploring this amazing colonial city. Established on the foundations of the original Inca town, Cusco is a city of contrasts, both modern and ancient. Known the world over for the incredible archaeological ruins of nearby Machu Picchu, travellers flock to this trekkers haven to soak up its awesome culture and beautiful surroundings. At an altitude of over 3300 metres Cusco is also a great place to acclimatise in preparation for the hike to Machu Picchu. There is so much to see in and around Cusco. Your tour guide takes you on a walking tour of the central part of town, which includes the impressive Plaza de Armas, the cathedral and the Koricancha Museum. You also have time to make your own discoveries including travelling out to the great Inca sites of Sacsayhuaman, Quenca and Tambo Machay. You may also wish to explore further afield into the beautiful Sacred Valley and visit the market town of Pisac. Utilising these two days and your spare day at the end of your trek to Machu Picchu, there is time to take in all these great sites. (2B)
Important NoteWe trek the ‘Classic’ and the ‘Lares’ routes, both of which culminate in a visit to the incredible ruins of Machu Picchu. Although we normally trek the 'Classic' route, it is restricted by the number of trekkers permitted on the trail each day and unless you have booked early, it maybe difficult or impossible for us to secure the necessary group permits (especially during the peak season). It is also closed during the month of February for cleaning and rejuvenation. If we are unable to confirm your permit for the 'Classic' route we will use the ‘Lares’ trail. This is an exceptional alternative. Venturing further off the beaten path, this trek winds its way through remote rural villages and provides stunning views across the Andes Mountains. Along the way you can mingle with local families, llama herders and weavers, renowned for their brightly coloured hats and ponchos. The trek is of similar altitude and level of difficulty as the Classic route and also culminates in a visit to the village of Aguas Calientes and the magnificent ruins of Machu Picchu, recently voted one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’. The following description refers to the 'Classic' route. Please refer below to the 'Itinerary Variation' section of this trip note for details of the Lares route.
Inca Trail to Yuncachimpa (13km)We leave Cusco by bus and travel over the mountain range and down into the Urubamba Valley to the picturesque town of Ollantaytambo. Built on a steep mountainside this grand citadel served as both a temple and fortress and is one of the few sites where the Incas were able to defeat the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century. Their success was however short lived, with the Spaniards returning with force to claim victory. Here we have time to gaze upon the massive Inca fortifications before continuing to Kilometre 82 - the starting point of our trek. Today is a relatively easy hike past the ancient hilltop fort of Huillca Raccay and the beautiful archaeological site of Llactapata. Along the way there are stunning views of snow-capped Veronica Peak (5860m). Our first camp is just past the village of Wayllabamba at 3000 metres. (B, L, D)
Inca Trail to Pacaymayo (11km)Today is the most difficult part of the trek as we climb to Warminwanusca, or ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’ (4200m). This is the first of three Andean high passes we traverse and the highest point on the Inca trail. Stopping to catch our breath we take in the superb panorama of the Vilcanota and Vilcabama mountain ranges, the ruins of Runkuracay ahead and Rio Pacamayo (Sunrise River) in the valley below. Here the trail changes from dirt to steps and stone pathways. Although not difficult we still need to make a steep descent to the valley below and our camp at Pacamayo (3600m). Located in a basin beneath the cliff tops, the campsite faces down the valley with a view over the cloud forest. (B, L, D)
Inca Trail to Winaywayna (15km)We climb up to the unusual, round ruins of Runcuracay which is believed to have been an Inca tambo or post house. Forging on we continue to climb the Inca staircase and sighting the small mountain lake of Cochapata on the way to our second pass at 4000m, from where we are rewarded with spectacular views of Pumasillo (6245m) and the entire snow-capped Vilcabamba range From here it is a steep descent to our third pass and the ruins of Sayacmarca, where we enter the beautiful cloud forest full of orchids, ferns, flowers and hanging moss. The scenery will blow you away! Butterflies flutter across the trail and the air is pure and clean as we head to the breathtaking Winaywayna, (2450m). (B, L, D)
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (5km) - CuscoThe final leg of the trek to Machu Picchu is the most spectacular of all. We arrive at sunrise at Inti Punku, the Gateway of the Sun, where through a rectangular doorway we experience a panoramic view of Machu Picchu. After taking a short path down, it’s time for us to explore! The secrets of the Incas are slowly revealed to us on a guided tour. For those who have plenty of energy left and who aren’t afraid of heights, there is a climb to Huayna Picchu - a mountain overlooking the site. The view from here is superb! The climb to the top takes up to 90 minutes and care must be taken, especially if the steps are wet. We depart by catching a bus down to the hot springs at Aguas Calientes and returning to Cusco on a late-afternoon train. (B)
CuscoA free day in Cusco can be spent shopping for handicrafts or taking in some further sightseeing. Cusco is a maze of markets, artisan shops lining the streets and many museums filled with the rich history of Inca art. You might like to try some traditional cuisine- perhaps guinea pig, alpaca steak or ceviche, a raw seafood delicacy marinated in lime. If you haven't yet visited the Sacred Valley, this is your best chance to do so. Your tour guide can advise you on how to get there and show you where the bus to Pisac leaves from. Alternatively, you may just wish to relax and absorb the incredible experiences of the last few days whilst resting in one of the many cafes that line the streets of this quaint and fascinating town. (B)
Cusco - PunoAfter breakfast we transfer to the bus station, where we catch our bus for the magnificent drive over the mountains to Puno. We travel over the Le Raya Pass and make our way across the Altiplano (Spanish for ‘high plain’) to the shores of Lake Titicaca. Puno lies at an altitude of 3860 metres above sea level and the people of this region are descendants of the Aymara, a strong looking people who once ruled the high plateaus. According to legend, Puno was the cradle of Inca civilization. Manco Capac, the first Inca, is said to have risen from the waters of Lake Titicaca and under instructions from the Sun God, founded the Inca Empire. Lake Titicaca at 3815 metres is the world's highest navigable lake and the second largest lake in South America, covering an area of 8400 square kilometres. (B)
Lake Titicaca (Amantani Island Homestay)This morning we board our boat and travel across the waters of Lake Titicaca to the floating reed islands inhabited by Uros Indians. We make a brief stop at one of these unusual islands and then continue across the lake to our homestay on beautiful Amantani Island. This island is more remote than most and not as spoilt as the popular island of Tequile, which has unfortunately felt the heavy impact of tourism. After arriving in Amantani, our tour guide divides our party up into smaller groups and we move into various family homes for our overnight stay. Please be warned that the facilities are quite basic. Many homes have no electricity and the bathroom and toilet facilities are not the best! Despite this, the homestay experience is sure to be a highlight of our trip to the region and offers great opportunities for cross-cultural exchanges. (B, L, D)
PunoWe enjoy breakfast with our host family and then have time to explore the island. There are two mountain peaks on the island that offer excellent hiking opportunities, Pachatata (Father Earth) and Pachamama (Mother Earth). Along the way terraced hillsides with stone walls, grazing alpacas and the national flower, Cantua, which grows all over the island. The inhabitants of Amantani Island practise a very traditional lifestyle, free from the luxuries of city living and are also renowned for their handmade textiles and ceramics. In the afternoon we board our boat and leave the terracotta red soils of Amantani Island to cross the deep blue waters back to Puno on the mainland. (B)
Puno - CopacabanaOur bus trip this morning follows the shoreline of Lake Titicaca to the lakeside town of Copacabana, in Bolivia. Dominating the town is a large cathedral that was built around the 17th century and is considered one of the finest in all of Bolivia. Vendors outside the cathedral sell medallions of the 'Black' Virgin Mary and a chapel inside houses the famous statue of the Virgin of Copacabana. Nearby is the Island of the Sun, birthplace of an Inca legend involving creation. We stay overnight in this lovely little town. (B)
La PazA four-hour bus ride takes us to the capital of Bolivia. The highest capital city in the world, La Paz lies nestled in a steep canyon on the Altiplano, with the towering Mount Illimani forming an impressive backdrop. La Paz is the country’s largest city and home to over half of its indigenous Indian population. It was founded in 1548 following the discovery of gold and although that boom didn’t last long, the city’s location on the main silver route ensured its continued prosperity. We enjoy free time in La Paz to wander around the cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways that are features of this Andean city. You can also explore the colourful markets, including the famous 'Witches Market', or simply relax in one of the many cafes. (2B)
La PazYour Andean Adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning. (B)
Itinerary VariationWhile the information presented here details our planned itinerary, including routes taken, activities included, accommodation and meeting times, please accept that unforseen changes may occur. We are constantly on the lookout to improve our program and further enhance your experience. Naturally, we will keep you up to date with any last minute amendments to your tour.
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.
Think about the feeling you get after completing one of the world’s great treks: seeing Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate after gruelling days on the Inca Trail; looking down on Africa from its summit, Kilimanjaro; relaxing by Pokhara’s perfect lake after tackling Annapurna’s rugged tracks. The legs might ache but the feeling of pride in your achievements is overwhelming. More than that though, trekking gets you up close and personal with the world’s finest landscapes and many interesting cultures. Walk through remote jungle to visit the tribes of northern Thailand and Vietnam, or explore China’s iconic Tiger Leaping Gorge by foot, and you’ll find the country opens up in a whole new way, the slow pace all the better for appreciating the surroundings. It’s definitely better to travel than to arrive – particularly when the travel’s all on your own steam.
Whether you’re taking in man’s greatest works at places like Petra or Angkor Wat, experiencing grand set-pieces like the Trans-Mongolian Railway or trying your hand at regional specialities like tango in Buenos Aires, getting to grips with local cultures is what travel’s all about. A few tips from a guide and a sense of adventure are pretty much all you need. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get the lowdown on high Tibet among Lhasa’s magisterial temples; follow up Delhi’s eye-popping bustle with a fix of its fiery food; and mix manic markets and Incan masterpieces in Peru.
Altitude Warning - Inca/Lares Trail
This trip ventures over 3500 metres, so there is a potential risk of being affected by altitude sickness. Our itineraries are designed to enable travellers to acclimatise to these altitudes, but it is still possible for you to be affected. Your alibility to acclimatise has little to do with fitness or health, and most people travel without problems, as long as they take the time to acclimatise properly. We take this very seriously; have over 30 years experience and one of the best safety records in adventure travel.
Our leaders are experienced trekking guides, and will brief you fully, prior to the start of your trek. The general consensus is to drink plenty of water as soon as you reach altitude, avoid alcoholic drinks for the few days prior to your trek, walk slowly rather than hurrying and enjoy the scenery, wear sunglasses during the day, avoid sleep during the day, and wear adequate warm clothing.
When we first arrive at altitude it is common to feel a little short of breath and experience headaches, so it is best not to rush around too much on your first day. Other symptoms of altitude sickness may include general lethargy and a reduced appetite. In most cases a good night's sleep and plenty of water will help you feel better. We recommend that you seek medical advice prior to booking. In addition, if you plan to take any medications during your trek, you need to let us know before you depart and it is a good idea to discuss this with your leader before you begin the trek.
Our itineraries ensure that you have time to acclimatise in Cusco (3249m), before you commence your trek to Machu Picchu. Most days begin around 7am and you can expect to trek between 5-8 hours for the first three days, with many rest opportunities available. Day two is generally the longest and most difficult day, as the highest passes are reached on both the Classic Trail (4200m) and Lares Trail (4350m). You can expect to trek over well defined paths and Inca stone pathways, so properly worn in, waterproof boots are essential.
To prepare for the trek, full-day hikes with a weighted pack are a great idea. Whilst our porters will be carrying your kitbag, you will need to carry your day pack (camera, water, waterproof/windproof jacket and pants, sun cream etc). Although you may start the day in full sunshine, you can experience rainfall a few hours later, so it is essential to prepare for all kinds of weather.
For those travellers completing the Classic Trail, we recommend taking the stairs as often as possible, leading up to your trek, as this will assist with the challenging Inca stone pathways. It is also possible to hire trekking poles in Cusco, to assist with your treks (US$5 for 1/ US$10 for 2). We recommend adjustable, metal poles, with a rubber stop on the end to protect the stone pathways.
An experienced Peruvian leader, and there will be the services of local site guides at some sites. All transportation, accommodation, sightseeing and meals as indicated.
International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
19 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners
3 nights Full service camping,1 night Overnight bus,15 nights Budget/tourist class hotels,1 night Island homestay
Single room supplementMost of our travellers like the thought of travelling with a few like-minded souls. There are NO compulsory single supplements on most tours as we simply arrange twin shared accommodation for you and another tour member of the same sex. But don't worry if that doesn't appeal. We do understand there are times when you just want a bit of privacy and 'me' time so we are more than happy to arrange a private room upon request when you book.
*prices below are guide onlyArequipa - Colca Canyon
- - US$35
- - US$10
- - US$13
- - US$4
- - US$10
- - US$45-$60
- - US$2
- - US$25
- - US$4
- - US$3
- - US$3
- Desert Cemetery Excursion - US$9
- - US$15
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 & Gecko's Adventures This trip is operated by our partner company, Gecko's Adventures. Gecko's is an Australia based company with more than 10 years experience in adventure travel and they share our ethos for offering unique holiday adventures. As this is a code shared departure you can expect there to be both Imaginative Traveller and Gecko's travellers on your trip.
Last updated: 14/02/2012