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Signature Peru, Bolivia, Chile: Explorations and adventures

16 days from £6,687pp

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Signature Peru, Bolivia, Chile: Explorations and adventures

 

Private Journey

 

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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lima by night

Day 2

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

Return to the airport for the one hour flight to Cusco. Upon 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 three days, based at the exploration-focussed countryside explora all-inclusive resort beneath the dome of a vast, clear Andean sky.

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Sacred valley

Days 3,4

Choice of complimentary excursions and activities in the area.
 

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 and most drinks 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’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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Explora Valle Sagrada

Day 5

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

Continue along 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’s 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 amongst the stone buildings and llama-dotted grassy ledges, soaking up the atmosphere. Overnight at Sumaq, a riverside hotel in the village.

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Machu Picchu Peru

Day 6

Return to Cusco by rail and road.
 

Getting up early and taking the first buses up to the ruins is well worth it. The site is virtually empty and the early morning mists swirl around the surrounding mountain tops. There’s an option to climb either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain (entrance to these mountains is not included and must be booked in advance) or back up the Inca Trail to the Gate of the Sun.

Alternatively enjoy the thermal baths or walks around the village.  Return to Cusco by rail and road (about 4 hrs). 

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Cusco, Peru

Day 7

Guided walking tour of 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.

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.

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Cusco

Day 8

Fly to La Paz, capital of Bolivia, transfer to hotel in the colonial centre.
 

It’s a short drive to the airport to board your flight over the altiplano to La Paz. If it is clear you will have staggering views of the landscape, and will appreciate the vastness of the altiplano.

Set in a deep canyon, dominated by the snow-capped peak of Mount Illimani, La Paz (3,632m) is the highest capital in the world. The colonial core around Plaza Murillo retains much of its quirky Spanish charm, lively with families and children with balloons at the weekend.

 Beyond, there are cavernous indigenous markets with restaurant grills open to the street and narrow alleyways lined with museums, churches and craft shops. Ambulant vendors in felt bowler hats and colourful shawls crouch below the skyscrapers in tree-lined modern avenues.

Your first sight will be of a city made up of an anarchic jumble of buildings clinging to craggy slopes and marching down a sinuous river bed.  But partly owing to this topography it's easy to get around, the streets are tightly packed and crammed with interesting features.

Your hotel is on the Prado, the historic city centre’s  main artery, a good starting point for your first steps out into this intriguing city which so invites exploration.  

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la paz

Day 9

Walking tour of colonial La Paz, ride in the cable car across the canyon.
 

A guided city tour on foot will help you make sensed of all this, taking you to the narrow lanes around the colonial heart, exploring markets such as the famous Mercado de las Brujas (Witches' Market) as well as the stately boulevards of the modern business and residential neighbourhoods.

How the city's structure knits together is best appreciated from the air, and it is now possible for you to enjoy stupendous views from a cable-car erected primarily to relieve traffic congestion on the commuter routes between La Paz city centre and the city of El Alto on the canyon rim, hundreds of metres above. Eventually this system will be the largest urban cable-car network in the world: for now, it has the added asset of being a superb new attraction for visitors.

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Day 10

Fly to Uyuni , visit Uyuni salt flats, overnight in salt hotel.
 

It’s back to the airport to fly south to Uyuni.  Here it’s a brutal, unforgiving landscape where volcanic geology is laid bare and hardy people scratch a living on poor wind-strafed soils.

Now you’ll set off on a surreal adventure by 4WD vehicle to the Salar de Uyuni. The bleak plains of the southern altiplano make for an austere, uncompromising wilderness, scoured by bitter gales, where cut-glass lakes and un-trodden, luminous salt pans reflect the vast dome of an icy sky.

At 3,650m the salar is the highest salt desert in the world and arguably the largest. When the rains fall, the desert is turned into a mirror, salt plains and sky fuse, and the world is turned upside down. In the dry season, however, the dazzling white of the salt crystals extends as far as the eye can see: an other-worldly sight. You’ll observe desolate, denuded peaks, sunlit lagoons of gem-stone clarity and a white sea of salt that bends the horizon.  

Return to Uyuni to spend the night at an atmospheric hotel constructed using locally-mined salt.

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Uyuni Salt Flat

Day 11

Further explorations of the salt flats.
 

Uyuni is an isolated, chilly highland town where you’ll visit the “train cemetery” full of abandoned, rusting engines evocative of more prosperous and dynamic times. Uyuni has been an important railway junction for over a century, where the line from Antofagasta in the west meets the north-south line that originally served La Paz and Argentina.

Continue your exploration of the salt flats along a paved highway - built to service the modern mining camp settlements and funded by international conglomerates.  Of note are the road signs warning of llamas which might stray across the road. Eventually you turn off the road to pick your way over rutted tracks and frozen mountain streams until you reach what appears to be an abandoned medieval town which is actually a naturally eroded rock formation; there seems to be a church tower, a fortified parapet, dwellings and mansions.  The day's travel finishes at Villa Mar, a remote rocky settlement.

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Uyuni

Day 12

Over the border to Hotel explora in the Atacama desert, Chile.
 

An early morning start takes you to the shores of the fiery red Laguna Colorada, a bird-filled gash of vivid colour relieving the tawny monochrome of the desert. Continue up to a giddying 5,000m and descend to reach the sulphurous Sol de Mañana geysers and the hot springs of Polques - in which you can dip if you wish - and survey perhaps the most captivatingly beautiful and other-worldly scenery of the trip.

The surreal landscape here is of tortured rock formations splashed with a rainbow of colour, defined by a rim of snow-dusted volcanoes. You will reach Laguna Verde, a stunning aquamarine lake at the foot of Licancabur Volcano before changing vehicle for the last part of the journey, into Chile, which takes you along a road descending into the oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama and on to your second explora hotel.

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Atacama desert

Days 13,14

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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Atacama desert

Day 15

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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Luciano K

Day 16

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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Santiago

About Private Journeys

Private Journeys are pre-planned holidays crafted by our experts, featuring routes and combinations that are proven to work well.


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Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today.

Our specialists have been expertly crafting award-winning tailor-made holidays to Latin America for over 37 years.
We would be delighted to create a truly personalised trip which perfectly matches your wishes and requirements.

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