Private Journeys

Signature Peru and Chile: Machu Picchu and Atacama

13 days from £6,130pp

Peru


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Overview & Highlights

A highlights holiday where the emphasis is on guided activities which take you deeper than most into the varied landscapes and cultures of the Andes, staying at first class, adventure-focused explora lodges.

  • Panoramic tour of Lima
  • Choice of activities in the Sacred Valley of the Incas
  • Guided tour of Machu Picchu
  • Guided walking Cusco city tour
  • Choice of activities in the Atacama desert

The innovative explora group of lodges, situated on the fringes, or even in the heart, of some of South America's most remote and captivating landscapes, make exploration-in-comfort their watchword. In addition to first class accommodation and gourmet cuisine, a stay there includes a choice of imaginative guided excursions and activities with the flexibility to allow you to choose exactly what you want to see and do. Visit two of these highly rated properties, in the Sacred Valley of the Incas outside Cusco and among the skeletal landscapes of the Atacama desert. Add time to explore the Inca capital  Cusco, Machu Picchu and punctuate your trip with two distinctive capital cities: Lima and Santiago,

This holiday is all about the experiences, the adventures, the unforgettable things you’ll see and do. The landscapes of the Andes fall from ice-jagged peaks down to soft valleys crammed with fruit and pasture and rise again to sun-baked deserts. This is the home of the condor, llama and alpaca, living alongside little-changing traditional communities. The seismic history of empire, colonisation and resistance is evident in the haunting Inca ruins, Spanish baroque architecture and gaudy local markets.

Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Lima. Transfer to hotel in Pacific-side Miraflores.

You will be met at Lima airport and escorted to your hotel by one of our local representatives. The half-hour drive through town and along the coast introduces you to the invigorating buzz of a modern-day Latin American capital.

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Day 2

Fly to Cusco; by road to hotel explora in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Return to the airport. The drive will offer you a panoramic tour of the capital, the various neighbourhoods of which are full of diversity and contrast. Depart on your one hour flight to Cusco: on arrival you continue by road to the fertile Sacred Valley of the Incas. Once the bread-basket of the Inca  Empire, it was heavily populated in imperial times and scores of archaeological sites remain, where well-preserved ruins recall the intricacies of the bygone, highly developed Inca society. The valley is run through by a stately river and rimmed by lofty snow-covered peaks; every view is captivating.

Stay in the heart of the valley for four days, based at the exploration-focussed countryside explora all-inclusive resort beneath the dome of a vast, clear Andean sky.

Lina Fuller ©

Days 3-4

Choice of excursions and activities in the area (included).

explora offers you a top quality, yet low-key, homely and informal base from which to venture out and discover this exquisite region rich in natural and cultural interest.  It’s all-inclusive, so you can leave your wallet in the safe: all your meals, most drinks and all guided excursions are included; there are welcoming public areas for you to sit on a sofa by a log fire with a pisco sour cocktail or pore over books and maps. You have three full days here, what you do and when is up to you including the day you choose to visit Machu Picchu. 

You’ll be invited to discuss with the team of highly qualified guides which of the choice of excursions and activities would suit you best: these range from local walks, cycling expeditions, visits by road to archaeological sites and more challenging high altitude treks.You may look in at remote hamlets and come across a llama driver or lady weaving intricate textiles.  Many of these are well paced, full-day trips: you’ll have a packed lunch or a meal in a carefully chosen local restaurant.

When you get home in the evening there’s time before or after dinner to relax and chat with other guests, gaze at the stars and enjoy the silence of this divine rural spot.

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Day 5

By road to Ollantaytambo, on to Machu Picchu by train, guided tour of the ruins.

Drive through this picturesque, patchwork valley to the fortress/temple of Ollantaytambo. The snow-frosted Andean cordillera forms a stunning backdrop. Ollantaytambo, sitting strategically at the gateway to the Amazon basin, was never captured by the Spanish conquistadores. The fortress, the colonial grid plan and the Inca foundations are still intact and there are wonderful views down over the sloping hillsides and into the valley.

Here you pick up the train to Machu Picchu. As the river Urubamba enters its narrow gorge between thickly-forested granite hills, there is room only for a single track, which hugs the right bank and passes through hamlets that are no more than a collection of shacks beside the railway.

 Close to the foot of the mountain on a saddle of which the citadel was built is the village of Machu Picchu, which welcomes  visitors with artisan markets, bars and restaurants.

The ruined citadel, reclaimed from tropical cloud forest, sits on a terraced ridge spur amid forested peaks and above a roaring river canyon. It is reached by a zigzag road, or on foot up a near vertical rocky path. The American explorer Hiram Bingham discovered it in 1911, by which time it was completely buried beneath vegetation. 

You will have a guided tour of the ruins and there may be time later to take one of the many trails within the site itself, such as the hike to the vertiginous Inca Bridge, carved into a cliff edge; or wander among the stone buildings and llama-dotted grassy ledges, soaking up the atmosphere. Return to explora in the evening.

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Day 6

Transfer to Cusco.

Travel by road back through the valley to Cusco. Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire until the Spanish took over and changed the face of the city. But there are still remaining many original, beautifully crafted Inca walls, while the neat squares are dotted with ornate baroque colonial churches. It’s a busy place, where cobbled streets are lined with handicraft shops and cafés. In the evening, the centre fills with people flocking to the many restaurants, bars and cafés.

Lina Fuller ©

Day 7

Guided walking tour of Cusco.

You’ll have a guided walking tour to get underneath the skin of the city while not missing out on its highlights. Stroll to the Bohemian arty quarter of San Blas. Continue walking towards the Plaza de Armas, popping in to the cathedral, other ornate churches and the famous Koricancha temple. Next stop is a traditional textiles museum before you move on to popular San Pedro market that sells meats, fruits and vegetables.

Lina Fuller ©

Day 8

Fly via Lima to Calama, Chile

Your flight from Lima to Calama takes you into the heart of the Atacama desert. The surreal landscape here is of tortured rock formations splashed with a rainbow of colour, defined by a rim of snow-dusted volcanoes. Continue to the high-altitude oasis town San Pedro de Atacama and your second explora hotel.

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Days 9-11

Choice of complimentary excursions and activities in the area.

Excursions are graded according to their length and difficulty and the multi-lingual tour leaders tailor their itineraries to the interests and fitness of their guests. There’s a wide range of excursions to choose from, from short treks through picturesque valleys to challenging high altitude walks and horseriding.  

Whatever the activity or level of endurance, there’s  diversity and richness in the natural surroundings from the bubbling geysers and natural hot springs to more salt flats with their pearly lakes framed by snow-capped volcanoes.

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Day 12

Fly to Santiago and transfer to central hotel.

Fly to Santiago from Calama airport and transfer to your hotel in Lastarria, an arty, up and coming residential and commercial district close to the historic centre of the Chilean capital.

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Day 13

Guided walking tour of the historic core of the Chilean capital.

Modern, high-rise buildings dominating Santiago’s skyline but at street level the city retains some fine historic buildings alongside eye-catching contemporary structures.

On this guided exploited on foot you’ll  get acquainted with some of Santiago's more interesting landmarks and neighbourhoods allowing you to soak up the atmosphere of the city. 

Pass by the Museo de Bellas Artes, romantic Santa Lucia hill, the Central Market and the stately former Mapocho railway station. The tour includes a stop at the former National Congress where Salvador Allende was overthrown in 1973 and ends in the Plaza Mayor, the heart of Santiago's busy historic centre.

Transfer to the airport for your international flight. UK clients arrive home the following day.

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Essentials

Tour info

Transport

3 flights (longest 2hrs); 4 scenic road transfers; 2 rail journeys (90 mins each). 

Accommodation

On this holiday, location and local character are more important factors in our choice of accommodation than a consistent type or standard.  Tne explora resorts are self -contained, all-inclusive properites with a focus on daily explorations in the surrounding countryside returning to good quality food and accommodation in the evening. In the cities, we have chosen smart, customer-focussed,  good quality hotels, colonial or modern in style with well-equipped rooms, private bathroom and heating.

Meals

Breakfast daily; dinner day 2; full board days 3,4; 9-11.

Climate

The rainy season in the Andes runs between November and March when there are showers many afternoons. The dry season is from May to September, when the sun is strong during the day, but at night the temperature drops dramatically (from freezing to 10°C). April and October are less predictable, with both rainy and sunny spells.

Journey Grade

Cusco and the Atacama desert are situated at 3,000-4,000m – you may feel woozy and headachy at first and breathless before you get accustomed to the altitude.   If your symptoms are severe please contact our local representatives (see Altitude paragraph below). If you have cardio-vascular problems you should consult your doctor before undertaking this trip.

Summary Of Nights

13 days, 12 nights: Lima 1; Sacred Valley 4; Cusco 2; San Pedro de Atacama 4; Santiago 1.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Currency

The unit of currency in Peru is the sol; in Bolivia it’s the boliviano, and in Chile the Chilean peso.

How To Take It

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds.

We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency. Dollar bills should be in good condition, ($100 bills should be the new format), soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling or euros, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.

Daily Spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$40-50 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.

Tipping

Tips are welcomed and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. 

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 – 12% in restaurants.

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page. 

Airport Taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Altitude

If you have cardio-vascular problems you should consult your doctor before undertaking this trip. Your stays in the Sacred Valley (2,800m-3,000m), Cusco (3,400m),  La Paz/Uyuni (3,700m) and the Atacama Desert (2,400m) are at high altitude. The highest point you’ll reach (during a vehicle ride from Bolivia into Chile) is 5,000m. Because the trip gains altitude slowly, most people are only mildly affected and if you drink plenty of water and allow your body to acclimatise (don’t exert yourself or drink alcohol for the first couple of days at altitude), you’ll probably be OK. Symptoms vary: most common are mild headaches, slight nausea and breathlessness. If you don’t recover in a day or two speak to our representatives; in very rare instances it is necessary to descend to lower altitudes. 

Please refer to our Briefing Dossier for further information.

Clothes And Special Equipment

For day-to-day wear you should go prepared to encounter all seasons. Both warm clothing and a sun hat are essential at altitude; a light fleece jacket and a waterproof/breathable outer shell makes a good combination along with gloves, scarf and woolly hat. Trousers, skirt or shorts made from light, quick-drying synthetic materials are appropriate. If you plan to eat in smart restaurants in the cities, although clothing is not formal (no need for jacket and tie), something quite smart would be appropriate. 

Strong, comfortable footwear is essential and you should bring insect repellant, sun block and sun glasses. 

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Health Travel website. 

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

If flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your online ESTA application.

What's included in the price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
  • All land and air transport within Latin America
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Included Excursions

  • Panoramic tour of Lima
  • Choice of activities in the Sacred Valley of the Incas
  • Guided tour of Machu Picchu
  • Guided walking Cusco city tour
  • Choice of activities in the Atacama desert

What's not included in the price

  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals other than specified
  • International flights to latin America
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Optional excursions

Real Latin America Experts

  • Mary Anne Nelson
    Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Consultant

    Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made team.

  • Carrie Gallagher
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Consultant

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Escorted Groups team.

  • Hannah Donaldson
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Consultant

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is an invaluable part of our Group Tours team.

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Consultant

    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Manager of the Tailor-made Department.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Lina Fuller
    Lina Fuller - Travel Consultant

    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

Meet the team