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Encompassing the dense tropical rainforest of the Amazon, the arid desert region of Nazca, the dune-filled beaches of Paracas and the snow-capped volcanic peaks of Arequipa, Peru offers a dramatically varied landscape and spectacular biodiversity.
Depart London on your scheduled overnight flight to Lima, via Bogota.
Start your day with a scenic 6-7 hour drive from Lima to Paracas, stopping for lunch along the way. Check into your beachfront hotel on the edge of the Paracas National Reserve Park, a unique protected area where tropical desert dunes run down to the sea's edge. At the centre of the park, the picturesque Ballestas Islands teem with more than 200 species of birds, while sea lions, penguins and dolphins roam the waters and lounge on rocky outcrops. Sip on Peru's beloved national drink during a late afternoon pisco sour tasting, before enjoying your first taste of Peru's fantastic culinary delights at tonight's welcome dinner.
Board a shared boat for the morning's excursion to the Ballestas Islands, and the chance to see porpoises leaping through the surf, pelicans and cormorants swooping over the water and the famous prehistoric Paracas Candelabra petroglyph etched into the waterside dunes. Back on land, trace your way to the city of Nazca, stopping to visit a local winery and explore a traditional pottery studio. Stunning Huacachina Lagoon, your next stop, is a palm-fringed oasis nestled in the barren desert region of Peru. With a handful of quaint shops and dwellings lining the water's edge, the lagoon makes for a unique and quirky pit stop before your overnight stay in Nazca.
The origin and purpose of the Nazca Lines - a multitude of intricate geometric patterns and figures etched into the rock of Peru's Nazca Desert - has been the subject of mystery and research for decades. The hundreds of figures range in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, llamas and lizards, some as long as the Empire State Building. Get a bird's eye view of this fascinating archaeological feature on a 25-minute flight over the lines (subject to weather conditions. Enjoy a packed lunch as you continue on to Chauchilla Cemetery, the burial ground of astonishingly well-preserved mummified corpses which date back to AD 800. Although heavily ransacked by grave robbers over the years, this ancient site has been painstakingly restored to its original state, and centuries-old cloth remnants, pottery shards and bone fragments still litter the grounds. Next, a long drive along the coastline takes you to the city of Arequipa for the night. (Please note: The journey from Nazca to Arequipa takes up to 11 hours, with a portion of that time spent exploring Chauchilla Cemetery).
The snow-capped peak of the Arequipa volcano creates a dramatic backdrop to the city. Enjoy today at leisure, giving you the chance to explore Arequipa at your own pace. Why not visit the city's historic downtown area and its characteristic white volcanic stone buildings? Admire the aged colonial buildings of the Main Square, the ornate fresco paintings of the San Ignacio Dome, the intricately carved stonework of the Church of the Society of Jesus or the dramatic Spanish-style citadel of the Santa Catalina Convent.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Cusco. On arrival, embark on a half-day city tour where you'll explore the remnants of the city's Incan and colonial past. Marvel at the gold and silver-leafed walls and skilful masonry of the Incas at Koricancha, enjoy the vibrancy of the colonial city square at the Plaza de Armas and explore the Cusco Cathedral with its ornately carved woodwork, crypts and paintings. Explore the masterfully-constructed Incan rock fortress of Sacsayhuaman and the underground cave and temple of Kenko, and take in the panoramic views over the rocky ruins of Puca Pucara, an ancient military fort. Wander through Tambomachay, the Baths of the Inca where aqueducts and canals flow and pool in sacred baths, before stopping at 'Inka's Expression' workshop to watch local artisans create beautiful silver pieces, paintings and wood carvings.
Journey by train to Peru's most famous Incan citadel, Machu Picchu. A full-day tour takes you around the tombs, temples and palaces of this ancient city of ruins, believed to be built for an Incan emperor. A city never uncovered by colonizing Spaniards, the structures and agricultural terraces of Machu Picchu are an untouched testament to the culture of a lost civilization. Set between two forested Andean peaks beneath swirling clouds, with llamas often roaming the mountainside, the 550-year-old site offers spectacular views in addition to its archaeological wonders. Have lunch in the nearby town of Aguas Calientes and journey home by train after the day's tour.
Fly to the city of Puerto Maldonado, the gateway to the Amazon rainforest, and travel by boat to Corto Maltes Lodge, a rustic lodge in a magnificent Amazonian setting. After lunch, trek to a brazil nut harvesting camp and learn more about this important Peruvian staple crop and its cultivation. Back at the lodge, relax by the pool or unwind in a hammock on the terrace before a night-time pre-dinner boat excursion to observe lurking caimans and the nocturnal animals of the Amazon.
A 3km morning hike through the wildlife haven of Tambopata National Reserve takes you to Lake Sandoval where a ride in a rowboat allows you to appreciate the biodiversity capital of Peru. Spot river otters, macaws, howler monkeys and one of the world's biggest freshwater fish, the price, from your lookout on the river and, conditions permitting, encounter the primates of the Amazon on Monkey Island. Ascend into the treetops after lunch and enjoy animal viewings and a spectacular sunset from the lodge's two lookout towers. A visit to a shiringuero encampment gives insight into the collection of rubber and takes you into the evening, which can be enjoyed at your leisure.
After breakfast, venture downriver by boat to a native farm for a tropical fruit tasting before visiting a native Machiguenga family, one of the ethnic groups of the Peruvian Amazon. Learn about the intriguing customs and language of this group, as they teach visitors about their ayahuasca ceremonies, hunting gear and medicinal plants before sharing one of their unique indigenous dishes. Return to the lodge for an afternoon at leisure and the chance to enjoy a refreshing swim, a cool cocktail or a relaxing massage before dinner.
Experience an early morning cacophony of sound and colour at a nearby clay lick, where parrots congregate to nibble on a type of clay native only to this region. After breakfast, a boat will carry you to the city of Puerto Maldonado where you can browse through regional products at a local market before catching your flight to the Peruvian capital of Lima.
Your morning tour of Lima, the City of Kings, takes you past the stately Government Palace, located in the Main Square, to the city cathedral, where the remains of conqueror Francisco Pizarro lie. Explore the highly embellished cloisters and entryway of San Francisco Monastery and its network of underground catacombs, used as cemeteries during the colonial period. Wander through the picturesque neighbourhood of San Isidro and the modern district of Miraflores with its beautiful parks, squares, cafes and restaurants. Enjoy your afternoon at leisure before tonight's farewell dinner.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight back to the UK, via Bogota, or continue on to your chosen extension.
British passport holders are not currently required to obtain a visa to travel to Peru. Further advice should be sought from the applicable tourist authority for other nationalities and for general queries. We strongly advise you to check your destinations' Tourist Board or Embassy for the most up to date guidelines regarding passport validity.
You must obtain suitable travel insurance prior to departure. Mercury Holidays is partnered with Holiday Extras which offer insurance at the following prices:
|Age in Years||Up to 64||65 - 74||75 - 85|
|Up to 10 days cover||£37||£72||£104|
If booking more than 10 weeks before departure a deposit of £250pp will need to be paid at the time of booking with the full amount payable at 10 weeks prior to departure. The deposit applies to adults and children. If you are within 10 weeks of travel then the full balance of the holiday will be payable.
Your flight is to Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima (via Bogota) with Avianca (AV) departing from London Heathrow Terminal 2. Each passenger is entitled to 23kg of hold luggage plus one item of hand luggage providing the exterior dimensions (height length width) do not exceed 115cm and 10kg in weight. Weight restrictions will be finalised on your e-ticket receipt. Should you wish to take additional luggage you will need to pay extra at check-in. Heathrow Airport advises that check-in should be three hours before your flight departure time. If you wish to arrange Airport car parking or accommodation at preferential rates, we recommend you book this in advance with Holiday Extras on 0871 360 2000, quoting HX313.
It is your responsibility to check any health and vaccination requirements applicable to your booked arrangements. We can only provide general information about this. Health and hygiene facilities and disease risks vary from country to country. You should take health advice about your own needs as early as possible and in good time before your departure. Sources of information include; www.fco.gov.uk, www.travelhealthpro.org.uk, www.hpa.org.uk, your General Practitioner or a specialist clinic.
Altitude sickness is a common condition that can occur when you ascend to a high altitude (generally higher than 2,500 metres above sea level) quickly. The decrease in atmospheric pressure can make breathing more difficult as the body is not able to take in as much oxygen. Most cases are mild with symptoms that can include: a headache, nausea, dizziness and exhaustion. Several of the places in Peru are located at high altitude (over 2,500 metres above sea level) including Puno, Lake Titicaca and Cusco. Therefore, you may find you experience some symptoms at this altitude. It is advised that at these high altitudes, you keep hydrated and avoid alcohol. If you do experience symptoms of altitude sickness during your tour, ensure you tell your guide immediately who will be able to advise the best thing for you to do. You can contact your GP before you travel for advice on medication for altitude sickness.
This tour is accessible to most people with a good level of fitness and able mobility. It involves climbing steep stairs and getting on and off coaches and boats. This tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties.
The minimum number of travellers in your group will be 10. In the unlikely event, there are fewer than 10 passengers booked on your tour date, you may be asked to change to a different date. A full refund will be made available to you should this alternative not be suitable.
A guide will be with you on your trip starting in Lima on Day 2, ending in Lima on Day 12. On Day 2, Day 8, Day 11 and Day 13 in Lima, transfers will be provided by a local English speaking guide.
The currency in Peru is the Nuevo Sol, the symbol is S/. We recommend that you exchange your currency before you leave the UK. US Dollars are widely accepted in Peru should you wish to keep an alternative currency on you. Cash machines are available in all the major cities to withdraw money in local currency.
You will need to take some extra money with you to cover any personal purchases, such as souvenirs, laundry and extra drinks and snacks. Approximately £400 per person will be sufficient for the duration of the tour. Tipping is common practice in South America and it is customary to tip approx. USD$2-$4 per person per day which is split between the driver and the local guide. Tips can be given at the end of each day, or at the end of the tour. Tips are accepted in US dollars and local currencies.
|Depart UK||Arrive UK||Price|
|19 Sep 2018||01 Oct 2018||£3219|
|17 Oct 2018||29 Oct 2018||£3161|
|21 Nov 2018||03 Dec 2018||£3104|
|16 Jan 2019||28 Jan 2019||£2989|
|13 Feb 2019||25 Feb 2019||£2759|
|13 Mar 2019||25 Mar 2019||£2874|
|08 May 2019||20 May 2019||£2989|
|12 Jun 2019||24 Jun 2019||£3104|
|10 Jul 2019||22 Jul 2019||£3276|
|11 Sep 2019||23 Sep 2019||£3219|
|09 Oct 2019||21 Oct 2019||£3161|
|13 Nov 2019||25 Nov 2019||£3104|
The order of events and sightseeing may vary according to local conditions or for operational purposes. Your local guide will inform you of any schedule changes as they are informed of them. Some road construction and/or weather conditions may lengthen the driving times. Our intention is to adhere to the day-to-day itinerary as printed; however, the order of events and sightseeing may vary according to local conditions.
Weather can vary quite considerably throughout the year, so please familiarise yourself with the climate charts below.
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