Peru and Bolivia

Wednesday 2nd October to Monday 21st October 2019
20 - Days


Prices from: £4995


From day one, this tour is so full of history, culture and amazing sights it’s difficult to know where to begin!


Departure Date: 02-Oct-2019
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You start with a city tour of Lima, Peru’s capital. You then travel by train on the second highest railway in the world, ascending to nearly sixteen thousand feet. Stunning gorges, epic tunnels and photo opportunities galore await. A road coach takes you to ancient Ayacucho on the world’s highest paved road, then on to Abancay, a city high up in the southern Peruvian Andes. You’ll visit the famous Sayhuite stone and Sacred Valley of the Incas, then Ollantaytambo and its unique Old Town in the ancient Incan heartlands. Your Andean adventure continues apace. After the Salt mines of Maras, you visit the world-famous Inca site at Machu Picchu, then tour Cusco, the ancient capital of the Incas and home to the famous Temple of the Sun. You’ll cruise across Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, to Bolivia for more archaeological delights. The Uyuni Salt Flats are one such highlight, with a visit to the silver mine at Pulacayo another, before a trip to the amazing archaeological site of Tiwanaku tops them all. With a ride through the Andes on one of Peru’s most luxurious trains to savour and travel on one of Bolivia’s few passenger trains, the ‘Expreso del Sur’, the railway aspect of your tour is not neglected. With narrow gauge in Lima included and the epic journey to Puno via La Raya Pass, together with visits to a Bolivian train ‘cemetery’ and rail museum, this tour is as spectacular and special for the railway enthusiast as any.

Wednesday 2nd October
Flight to Lima, capital of Peru
You have an indirect evening flight from London Gatwick to Lima.

Thursday 3rd October
Arrive Lima rest of the day free to acclimatise
Arrive in Lima in the morning. You then transfer to the Casa Andina Select Hotel in Lima for two nights. Lima is the capital and largest city of Peru, situated on the desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Dinner is not included this evening, so you can explore the local district with plenty of cafés, pubs, and restaurants to choose from for your evening meal.

Friday 4th October
Lima city tour; Gold Museum visit and historic tramway
After breakfast at your hotel, you have a morning sightseeing tour in Lima, visiting both the modern and colonial parts of the city. Lima was the seat of Spanish rule for 300 years and still boasts impressive buildings of distinctive Moorish architecture. Today Lima is a bustling metropolis, the cultural and business centre of Peru, with a busy, historic centre, popular traditions, colourful craft markets, and unique cuisine. In the afternoon, you visit the Gold Museum to see the legendary golden treasures of the Incas. You also have a scheduled visit to a park (if open) where a 500 mm narrow gauge railway operates using a 1926 built 0-4-0T steam tank locomotive. Later you visit the Barranco district of the city, where a restored electric tram operates over a remaining section of the once extensive tramway system which closed in 1965. Afterwards you return to your hotel for dinner. (B L D)

Saturday 5th October
Over the Andes by train to Huancayo
The Central Railway, Ferrocarril Central del Peru, is a remarkable standard gauge railway line and the most important in the country. It begins at the Pacific Port of Callao and climbs into the Andes Mountains. It’s the second highest railway in the world and the line reaches its summit at 4781 metres near Galera Station before descending to La Oroya (3657 metres) and Huancayo (3261 metres). Your journey today begins at Lima Desamparados Station, only a little above sea level, before making the spectacular climb into the mountains. The steepest gradients are 4.5% and the line traverses 69 tunnels, 58 bridges and 6 zig-zag bends. You’ll need warm clothing when you leave the train for photo stops as you will notice the dramatic drop in temperature! Lunch will be provided on the train. At Huancayo, you transfer to the Hotel Presidente for dinner and overnight accommodation. (B L D)

Sunday 6th October
Huancayo to Huancavelica
During the morning, you travel from Huancayo to Huancavelica by specially chartered station wagon. Pausing at Chilca Station, you visit the repair shop and assembly plant where old steam machines are set in a living museum. You pass through outstanding Andean scenery with soaring condors, stunning gorges, epic tunnels and photo opportunities galore. You’ll have a packed lunch en route. On arrival in Huancavelica you check in to the Presidente Hotel. Later, you enjoy a Scissors Dance Show, an impressive demonstration of typical Andean art, skilfully performed by dancers, with scissors! You return to your hotel for dinner and overnight accommodation. (B L D)

Monday 7th October
By road to Ayacucho
This morning you travel by private road coach to Ayacucho. This scenic journey takes you past old silver mines and an abandoned railway before ascending into the Andes. You’ll be on the highest paved road in the world (except maybe for the Himalayas). You’ll have a packed lunch en route today. Ayacucho was founded by the Spaniards in 1540, and its architecture reflects Spain’s influence over the centuries. It’s famous for its 33 churches, one for each year of Jesus’ life. On arrival, you’ll check in to the Hotel Plaza, with time to explore the colonial city centre before dinner. (B L D)

Tuesday 8th October
Through the mountains to Abancay by road coach
You travel by private road coach this morning to Abancay, a city high up in the southern Peruvian Andes, passing through outstanding mountain landscapes. You cross the Huamina Pass (4390 metres) and begin a descent to the villages of Chumbes and Ocros, in an area where many large cacti grow. After crossing the Pampas River Bridge, you continue 30 kilometres before reaching Chinchero, passing banana trees on the way. It’s 88 kilometres from Chinchero to Andahuaylas and the journey takes around 21 hours as the road winds sinuously through the mountains. There’s a continuous climb until you reach Saracocha before the road descends through the towns of Santa María de Chicmo and Talavera. This entire section is between 3500 and 4000 metres above sea level. You continue from Andahuaylas, passing through the towns of San Jerónimo and Quishuara (3450 metres). Crossing the mountain pass of Crusccassa (4000 metres) your coach descends to the city of Abancay. Tonight, you have dinner and overnight accommodation in Hotel de Turistas in Abancay. (B L D)

Wednesday 9th October
The Sayhuite stone and Sacred Valley of the Incas
This morning you leave Abancay again by private coach on a spectacular journey eastwards across the rugged south western Andes Mountains. You’ll take a short detour en route to visit the archaeological site of Sayhuite (or Saywite), said to be a religious centre related to a water cult. An important feature here is the Sayhuite stone, a roughly spherical shaped monolith carved with more than 200 geometric shapes and animal figures representing the Inca world. You cross the impressive valley of the Apurimac River as it flows northwest in narrow gorges of up to 3000 metres deep, twice the depth of the Grand Canyon, its course interrupted by falls and rapids. Travelling through the majestic Willkapampa mountain range with views of its highest peak, Nevado Salkantay, you pass north of Cusco, the capital city of the Incas. Corn, barley, quinoa, tea, and coffee are grown in the surrounding area. You soon come to the valley of the Urubamba River, the so-called Sacred Valley of the Incas. You then arrive in Yanahuara and check into the Casa Andina Premium Hotel for dinner and overnight accommodation. (B L D)

Thursday 10th October
Salt mines of Maras; Sacred Valley narrow gauge to Aguas Calientes
After breakfast in your hotel you depart to visit the incredible salt mines of Maras, a spectacular complex of nearly 3000 wells in use since the days of the Incas. Salt water bubbles to the surface from a spring called Qoripujio and is channelled towards the man-made wells. After exposure to the sun the water evaporates and the salt remains, ready to be sold at market. Later you continue to the circular terraces of Moray, an impressive but little known archaeological site widely believed to have been an agricultural research station set up by the Incas to test and experiment with crops. After lunch, you transfer to Ollantaytambo Railway Station and board a PeruRail service train for the 90 minute journey along the 914 mm narrow gauge line to Aguas Calientes. You’ll travel by the Vistadome service with at-seat refreshments included. The carriages have large panoramic windows that offer incomparable scenic views of the mountainous terrain along the Urubamba Valley. At Aguas Calientes, there’s a short walk to your hotel before dinner and overnight accommodation. (B L D)

Friday 11th October
Machu Picchu
Following breakfast in your hotel you have an early morning trip by bus to the impressive ruins of the 15th century Inca citadel Machu Picchu, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll have a three-hour guided tour through several sectors of this famous archaeological complex, discovered in 1911 by the North American historian Hiram Bingham. You walk through several plazas and stop by many historic edifices, including the famous Temple of the Sun, the Inti Huatana, or solar clock, the Temple of the Three Windows and the Condor Sector. You’ll have a buffet lunch in Sanctuary Lodge before returning by bus to Aguas Calientes Station, to board a PeruRail train for the journey to Cusco. You transfer to Casa Andina Hotel for overnight accommodation and have dinner in a local restaurant. (B L D)

Saturday 12th October
Cusco city sightseeing tour
This morning you’ll enjoy a sightseeing tour of Cusco, the ancient capital of the Incan Empire and a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. You’ll see the many historical Inca and Spanish colonial monuments in the city, including the Inca Koricancha (Temple of the Sun) which today forms part of the 17th century Santo Domingo Cathedral. You’ll also visit the Piedra de los Doce Angulos (stone of 12 angles) to see the amazing Inca walls consisting of huge carved stone blocks that fit perfectly together. The tour then takes you high into the mountains overlooking the town, so you can take panoramic photos of the landscape. The afternoon is free for you to explore further or just relax. In the evening, you have dinner at a traditional local restaurant. (B L D)

Sunday 13th October
First Class to Lake Titicaca via La Raya Pass
This morning, after breakfast, you transfer to Cusco Railway Station to join a service train bound for Puno. You travel in First Class comfort, with lunch served on board, for 386 kilometres along this standard gauge line, listed among the 25 greatest railway journeys of the world. The train makes one stop along the way at La Raya Pass, the highest point on the route at around fourteen thousand feet, with exquisite views, weather permitting, over the plains to the snow-capped mountains. Puno is located on the shore of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world at over twelve thousand feet and the largest lake in South America. You transfer to Posada Del Inca Hotel in Puno for dinner and overnight accommodation. (B L D)

Monday 14th October
Across Lake Titicaca to Bolivia
This morning you return to Lake Titicaca and board a specially chartered hydrofoil for the crossing to Bolivia. Your first port of call is Copacabana, for a visit to the Cathedral which houses the statue of La Virgen de la Candelaria (the Dark Virgin), reputed to have miraculous healing powers. You continue to the Island of the Moon and visit the Temple of the Virgins of the Sun (Inak Uyu) where the most beautiful Incan women were offered in sacrifice to their gods. Afterwards you visit the Island of the Sun to see the Inca Staircase (Steps) and the Inca Fountain, and can taste its sacred waters, reputed to bestow eternal youth and happiness. Lunch is served at the Uma Kollu archaeological restaurant followed by a visit to a picturesque handicraft market. After lunch, you continue your cruise to Huatajata and the Andean Roots Eco Village, a museum and exhibition about the culture and history of the local Aymaras and the Incas. There are replica mud houses of the Chipaya people and the tortora (reed) boats used by explorer Thor Heyerdahl for his expeditions across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. You then travel by road coach to the Ritz Apart Hotel in La Paz for dinner and overnight accommodation. (B L D)

Tuesday 15th October
Road coach to Oruro; Express train to Uyuni
After breakfast, you transfer by road coach to the city of Oruro, three hours from La Paz. This former mining city was once an important railway hub but today it is famous for its UNESCO listed Carnaval de Oruro religious festival. There are very few passenger trains in Bolivia and you join one of the twice-weekly Expreso del Sur trains to Uyuni. These are operated by La Empresa Ferroviaria Andina S.A. (FCA) who run the Expreso del Sur and the Wara Wara on this metre gauge route to the border with Argentina. The former is more luxurious and faster than the latter, using modern trains equipped for comfortable long-distance travel with adjustable seats. You arrive at Uyuni late and transfer to the Palacio de Sal Hotel in Colchani for an overnight stay. (B L D)

Wednesday 16th October
Salar de Uyuni, Isla Incahuasi and Colchani
Uyuni lies at the edge of an extensive high-level plain and serves as a gateway to the nearby Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni Salt Flat). After breakfast, your day is dedicated to the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat covering an area of 10582 square kilometres. It’s covered by a few metres of salt crust and covers a pool of brine exceptionally rich in lithium. You’ll see the water bubbling on its surface in the so-called Ojos de Agua (eyes of water) and watch the locals extracting salt for marketing. The Salar serves as the major transport route across the Bolivian Altiplano and is a major breeding ground for several species of pink flamingos. You’ll also visit Incahuasi Island, a rocky island located in the heart of the Salar and characterised by the presence of giant cacti. This hilly island provides spectacular views of the Salt Flat and is the best place to take photographs of the amazing surroundings. You continue to Tunupa, a dormant volcano which dominates the Salar, and visit Coquesa, a village at the base of the volcano. From here you can take a short hike of about ten minutes to visit the mysterious Mummies of Chullpa’s Cemetery. Back in Colchani there are gift shops selling handicrafts made of salt. At sunset, you return to your hotel in Uyuni for dinner and overnight accommodation. (B L D)

Thursday 17th October
Pulacayo historic mining centre and Uyuni train cemetry
Today you visit the world’s second largest silver mine at Pulacayo, once so important to Bolivia’s economic development. It closed in 1959 but remains to this day as a monument to the past. At this virtual ghost town, brilliantly coloured rocks rise beside the road and a mineral-rich stream reveals streaks of blue, yellow, red and green. The mining centre retains an amazing collection of mine infrastructure including the mansion of Aniceto Arcehe, the President of Bolivia who built the mine and Bolivia’s first railway line. Nearby is a collection of rusting steam locomotives, originally imported to transport the minerals. They include Bolivia’s first steam locomotive, El Chiripa, and the train that was robbed by legendary bandits Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, including a wooden railcar that bears the bullet holes from the attack. In the afternoon, you visit the Train Cemetery at the junction of railway lines to Chile and Argentina to the south of Uyuni Station. Here are two lines of derelict steam locomotives plus the remains of carriages, wagons and railway equipment left to rust in this hostile environment. You return to Uyuni by coach and to Joya Andina Airport to board a flight to La Paz. On arrival at La Paz you transfer to the Ritz Apart Hotel for dinner and overnight accommodation. (B L D)

Friday 18th October
Guaqui and Tiwanaku
Today you travel by road coach from La Paz to the port town of Guaqui, where train ferries once operated on Lake Titicaca. You visit the former railway workshops and train museum of the Guaqui Railway to see the steam locomotives stored there. After lunch in El Barco you travel by road coach to the amazing archaeological site of Tiwanaku, which flourished as the ritual and administrative capital of a major Pre-Incan state power for approximately 500 years. During its greatest times, the capital was the largest in the world and is thought to be the world’s oldest city. Some have hypothesized that Tiwanaku’s modern name is related to the Aymara term taypiqala, or ‘stone in the centre’, alluding to the belief it lay at the centre of the world. These pre-Inca ruins have started endless archaeological debates; the most recent carbon-14 tests show that the site dates to 1580 BC. After your fascinating visit, you return to your hotel in La Paz for dinner and overnight accommodation. (B L D)

Saturday 19th October
Sightseeing in La Paz
After breakfast in your hotel you have a morning sightseeing tour of La Paz, the highest capital city in the world, sitting in a bowl of land surrounded by high mountains. Overlooking the city is the towering triple-peaked Illimani, always snow covered and visible from several locations. The city is renowned for its traditional culture and unique markets such as the Black Market and Witches Market. Calle Jaen is one of the few places in the city with preserved colonial buildings, and boasts several interesting museums. Sagarnaga Street, just south of Plaza San Francisco, is the main tourist area and a market street with craft and souvenir shops, and cafes. Just outside the city is the Moon Valley, an area of surreal weathered rock where erosion has worn away most of a mountain. Composed of clay rather than rock, over the centuries the elements have created an odd landscape, like a desert filled with stalagmites. You have a free afternoon to spend in La Paz and relax. (B)

Sunday 20th October
Flight back to the UK
You depart the hotel early in the morning to check in for the early departure of our indirect flight back to London Gatwick airport.

Monday 21st October
Arrive back to the UK
You arrive at London Gatwick in the morning.


Details

Price

  • Tour price £5895
  • Single supplement £765
  • Ground only (Lima – La Paz) £4995

All prices shown are per person.

Price Includes

  • Flights from London Gatwick to Lima and return from La Paz
  • Internal flight in Bolivia
  • 17 nights hotel accommodation
  • 16 breakfasts, 15 lunches and 15 dinners
  • Transfers
  • All rail and coach travel
  • Entrance to all the attractions as detailed in the itinerary (Moon Temple at Machu Picchu not included)
  • Local guides
  • The services of a tour manager

Meals included each day are shown as:
B = Breakfast - L = Lunch - D = Dinner

 

Map feature coming soon!