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Swift: Ultimate highlights of Peru

10 days from £2228pp

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Swift: Ultimate highlights of Peru:
Trip Dossier

The welcoming Peruvian people, combined with the country's rich culture and diverse and beautiful scenery, make Peru an easy place to fall in love with: the Inca temples of Machu Picchu; Cusco and the Sacred Valley; Lake Titicaca's vast expanse of shimmering sapphire waters are its top sights. 

On this 10 day group holiday you will visit all these ultimate highlights of Peru.  Ruined temples and fortresses of the Inca Empire surround Cusco, once the heart of the Inca world and now a graceful homage to Spanish colonial architecture. Beyond the ancient terraced hillsides of the Sacred Valley of the Incas lies the archaeological site at Machu Picchu, a must-see on the world’s scale. Finally, no trip to Peru is complete without a scenic trip across the wind-buffeted plains of the altiplano to the shores of the world’s highest navigable lake, Titicaca, a sacred body of water rimmed by snow-mantled Andean mountains. 

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

UK clients depart Thursday, arriving Lima, Peru, the same day.

Day 1

Overnight in Peru’s monumental capital.

Day 2

Fly to and explore colonial Cusco, former Inca capital.

Day 3

Guided tour of the city and Inca Sacsayhuamán.

Day 4

Excursion to the Sacred Valley of the Incas; overnight.

Day 5

By train to Machu Picchu; guided tour of the ruins.

Day 6

Optional re-entry to Machu Picchu; return to Cusco.

Day 7

Private road journey to Lake Titicaca.

Day 8

Boat trip to the Uros Islands and tour of Sillustani.

Day 9

Fly to Lima.

Day 10

Depart for international flight or extension.

UK clients arrive home the following day, Sunday.

Detailed itinerary

UK clients depart Thursday, arriving Lima, Peru, the same day.

Day 1

Overnight in Peru’s monumental capital.
Those passengers arriving on an international flight will be met at the airport by a Journey Latin America tour leader or a local representative who will escort you to the hotel. The scenes from your window on the half-hour drive to the hotel through Lima encapsulate the invigorating bustle of a modern-day Latin American capital.

Lima, the City of Kings, was once the capital of Spanish America, and the vestiges of its glorious past can still be seen in the faded grandeur of the colonial churches and traditional wooden balconies in the city centre. The explosive growth of the last 50 years, so typical of capital cities in the developing world, has transformed Lima into a dynamic and chaotic low-rise city of over 6 million people. In crowded streets, throngs of traffic race out towards Miraflores, a modern middle-class suburb on the coast, where your hotel is located.


Day 2

Fly to and explore colonial Cusco, former Inca capital.

A flight of just over an hour takes you to Cusco. The name Cusco derives from the Quechua word for navel, indicating its location at the centre of the Inca Empire, which reached its zenith at the same time as England was fighting the Wars of the Roses. Today its many impressive original Inca walls display extraordinary craftsmanship, while the bustling squares are dotted with ornate baroque colonial churches. It’s a vivacious city, where shoeshine boys and postcard sellers jostle for your attention in cobbled streets lined with handicraft shops and cafés. In the evening, the town centre fills with people flocking to the many restaurants, bars and cafés.


Day 3

Guided tour of the city and Inca Sacsayhuamán.
Today an experienced guide gives you a tour of the city. You visit Q’oricancha, once the principal Inca Sun Temple, with extraordinarily intricate stonework, and then explore the colossal zigzag walls of Sacsayhuamán, brooding on a hillside above Cusco. In 1536 a desperate and defining three-day battle was fought between the Spaniards and the Incas around this fortress. The first conquistadors to see it were awestruck, and centuries later it is still an extraordinary and imposing sight.

There is also free time to explore Cusco; to wander through its cobbled streets bracketed by impressive Inca walls, to explore its colourful, bustling markets and splendid churches, and to stop at some of the many excellent cafés. The air is thin at this altitude, and the streets are steep, so take your time.

Day 4

Excursion to the Sacred Valley of the Incas; overnight.
Today, head out from Cusco over the high plains and descend to explore 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 bear witness to the highly developed society that the Incas created. The drive passes through or close to several of the villages and temple fortresses that pepper the valley. The Pisac complex, set high above and visible from the eponymous colonial village you will visit, is built on terraces carved into the steep hillsides. The engineering and preservation are unrivalled. From the flat valley floor this intricate hillside rises up like a green staircase to the heavens.

Continue along this picturesque, patchwork valley to the 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 conquistadors, but the inhabitants decided that the settlement was too vulnerable and would eventually fail, and so they abandoned it. 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 fertile valley. Spend the night in the tranquil valley.

Sacred Valley

Day 5

By train to Machu Picchu; guided tour of the ruins.
Travelling for just 2 hours by train from Ollantaytambo, you reach the ruins of 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 bustling village of Machu Picchu (formerly known as Aguas Calientes), dedicated to serving the many visitors with artisan markets, bars and restaurants.

The majestic ruined city, reclaimed from tropical cloud forest, is reached by minibus up a sinuous 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 jungle vegetation. It is perhaps the ruins’ location, on a ridge spur amid forested peaks and above a roaring river canyon, that most ignites the imagination. You will have a guided tour of the ruins.

Machu Picchu

Day 6

Optional re-entry to Machu Picchu; return to Cusco.

There is the option to return to the ruins with time to walk one of the many trails within the site itself, such as the hike to the vertiginous Inca Bridge, carved into a cliff edge. You can climb the tortuously steep Huayna Picchu mountain on the other side of the valley (please enquire with the office, as spaces are limited and it's necessary to pre-book). Your tour leader will be on hand to talk through the various walking options. In the afternoon return to Cusco, arriving in the early evening.

Day 7

Private road journey to Lake Titicaca.
Travel by private bus from Cusco to Puno, on Lake Titicaca, a spectacular 8 hour journey (including stops) that climbs to over 4,300m. Flanked by snow-capped peaks, the lonely road cuts its way through fields worked by men and oxen; an Andean landscape of adobe huts, and crops of corn and potato. After reaching the highest point of the journey, the bus crosses the altiplano, a large, windswept plain punctuated by occasional market towns, where bowler-hatted women tend their herds of llamas and alpacas. (If you would prefer to travel this route by luxury train, please enquire with one of our consultants for further information.)

The vast, indigo Lake Titicaca - almost an inland sea - sits on the Peruvian-Bolivian border, and the fish-laden waters and surrounding fertile soil are the lifeblood of the subsistence farming communities clustered in scores of adobe villages along the water’s edge. Legend has it that this mystical spot is the birthplace of Inca civilisation: the progeny of the Sun God emerged from its depths to found the empire in Cusco.

Day 8

Boat trip to the Uros Islands and tour of Sillustani.
Today you set out on the lake aboard a motor boat to visit the Uros Islands: gliding over the deep glacial waters on a sunny day is a definite highlight. You alight on the floating islands, constructed entirely from the lake’s tortora reeds – the same material the islanders use to build their canoes - and the ground moves almost imperceptibly beneath your feet. During severe storms, the islands may break up into smaller islets. Once devoted to fishing, the inhabitants now earn their living mainly through selling handicrafts to tourists and, while this is a unique experience, it has the air of a living museum.

In the afternoon, there’s a guided excursion to the Chullpas at Sillustani, towering stone tombs said to be the burial site of the ancient Hatun Colla chiefs. The towers are on the treeless shores of a lonely highland lake; the landscape, while unremittingly bleak, is spellbinding.

Lake Titicaca

Day 9

Fly to Lima.

Take the morning flight to Lima (1 hour 40 minutes) where you might take an optional tour of the historic centre of the city, including the colonial Plaza de Armas, which is surrounded by monumental buildings from the Spanish colonial and republican eras. There is also time to visit one or two of the world-class museums. In the evening you could celebrate your last night on the cliff top in Miraflores or Barranco sipping a pisco sour cocktail  and watching the sun set over the Pacific.

Day 10

Depart for international flight or extension.

UK clients arrive home the following day, Sunday.

Essential information


2 flights (longest 1 hour 40 minutes); 2 train journeys (longest 3.5 hours); 1 road journey (8 hours approx, including stops). The 8 hour road journey from Cusco to Puno can be upgraded to a luxury train: please ask one of our travel consultants for further information. Due to the cancellation of the train service later in 2017 this option is only available for the January and February departures of this tour.


On this holiday we use superior quality hotels, choosing very comfortable accommodation which is well located and with some local character. Whether colonial in style or modern they have fully-equipped rooms, private bathrooms and heating.

Examples of hotels include: 
• Lima: Casa Andina Select Miraflores
• Cusco: Novotel
• Sacred Valley: Hotel Pakaritampu
• Machu Picchu: Casa Andina Classic
• Lake Titicaca: Posada del Inca 

On very rare occasions these hotels can change, however please speak to one of our consultants who can provide full details for each departure if you have any doubts. Address and contact details will be sent out with your final documents.


Breakfast daily, lunch day 4

Included excursions

• Cusco: guided city tour and visit to Sacsayhuamán temple fortress
• Cusco: guided tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas
• Machu Picchu: guided tour of the ruins
• Lake Titicaca: Uros Islands boat trip
• Lake Titicaca: guided excursion to Sillustani

Summary of nights

10 days, 9 nights: Lima 1; Cusco 2; Sacred Valley 1; Machu Picchu 1; Cusco 1; Puno 2; Lima 1.

Included in the journey price

• Services of Journey Latin America tour leader
• All land and domestic air transport
• Accommodation as specified
• Meals as specified
• Excursions as specified

Not included in the journey price

• Tips and insurance
• Meals other than specified
• Optional excursions
• Some local airport taxes

Optional Excursions

There are a couple of optional excursions available on this holiday bookable locally through your tour leader once you are in Latin America. Not all excursions available will suit everybody, whilst others only operate within certain seasons, with minimum numbers or may not be included due to time constraints.  A budget of around $90USD should cover participation in the following options, but prices can fluctuate depending on the size of the party and so cannot be provided accurately until travel commences. The list below is only a guideline, so please enquire with your tour leader for any further areas of interest:

• Machu Picchu: re-entry to the ruins
• Machu Picchu: climb Huayna Picchu (this excursion must be pre-booked due to availability issues so please let the office know before travel)
• Lima: guided tour of the city 
• Lima: visit to museums

Travelling alone

There is no extra cost for single travellers who are willing to share a room. You will be accommodated with another same-sex member of the group who is also travelling solo. For single travellers who wish to have their own room there are a limited number of single rooms available, which carry a surcharge.


The unit of currency in Peru is the nuevo sol.


It is difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around $45USD per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the tour price, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so 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 you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency. These bills should be in good condition as soiled or torn bills may be refused. Travellers’ cheques are increasingly less favoured by visitors who find them difficult to exchange as well as offering a poor rate of exchange. If you do decide to carry some with you they should be US dollar cheques only (American Express are by far the most accepted brand).


Tips are normally welcomed and expected. Local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. We recommend approximately $3USD (or local equivalent) per person per day for each of guides and drivers, depending on the size of the group. 

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.

If you would like to show your appreciation to your Journey Latin America tour leader, who you may feel has exceeded your expectations, a discretionary gratuity would be gratefully received. As a guideline we recommend an amount of between $4 and $6USD per person, per day. You are obviously free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality.


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

Airport taxes

International departure tax from Lima is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

There are some early mornings and one long day of travel on this trip. Any countryside walks are optional, some more strenuous than others, and you can discuss with your tour leader which are suitable for you around Machu Picchu. The streets in Cusco are cobbled and steep and you must be cautious at altitude.


Lima is covered in a dull grey mist for much of the year, although the sun does break through between November and March. It almost never rains in Lima, and temperatures are moderate.

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


Your stays in Cusco, the Sacred Valley and at Lake Titicaca are at high altitude (2,800-4,000m). A small minority of visitors may suffer temporarily from altitude sickness. Symptoms vary; most common are mild headaches, slight nausea and breathlessness. If you don’t recover in a day or two speak to your tour leader; in very rare instances it is necessary to descend to lower altitudes. Most people are unaffected and if you drink plenty of water and allow your body to acclimatise (don’t exert yourself or drink alcohol) in the first couple of days after arrival, you will minimise your chances of suffering any symptoms.

Please refer to our Briefing Dossier for further information. 

Clothing 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 Gore-Tex (or similar) outer shell makes a good combination. Trousers, skirt or shorts made from light, quick-drying synthetic materials work well. If you plan to eat in smart restaurants, although clothing is not formal (no need for jacket and tie), something reasonably smart would be appropriate. Strong, comfortable footwear is essential and you should bring insect repellent, sun block and sun glasses.

Due to luggage restrictions on the train to Machu Picchu, you will leave the bulk of your baggage in the Sacred Valley, which will be waiting for you on your return to Cusco. You can take up to 5kgs per person on the train. An overnight holdall is recommended to separate your luggage for the time spent away. 


Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements, including advice on yellow fever and malaria tablets. You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website. 

Cases of Zika virus have been reported in parts of Latin America. If you’re pregnant, or planning to be, you should follow the advice of the  National Travel Health Network and Centre


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. Clients with a different nationality should enquire or check with the Peruvian Consulate.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

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

This costs $14 per person. This must be done by you personally.
Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

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