Destinations Destinations
Lima, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca
Activity Activity
Nature & Wildlife, Culture & History, Luxury, Family
Physical Level Physical Level
Mild
Season Season
January - December

This popular route covers the best of Peru's southern highlands, a region of remarkable natural and historical heritage. Starting from Lima you'll head south to Arequipa, Peru's elegant second city and gateway to the Colca Canyon. From here you'll travel to Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake on earth and cradle of the Aymara pre-Colombian cultures. Finish the epic trip in the Sacred Valley, exploring Cusco and, of course, Machu Picchu.

Suggested Itinerary

Recommended route & experiences

Arrival to Lima

Depending on your flight arrival time you'll either stay at a nearby airport hotel or, time permitting, transfer to the modern Miraflores district to see some more of the city.

Colonial Arequipa

Peru's second city is an elegant, refined counterweight to Lima's unbridled freneticism. A colonial-era city constructed from white volcanic stone, Arequipa is home to some outstanding architecture, fantastic cuisine, and a fiercely independent spirit. The year-round sunshine makes it very tempting to linger.

Explore the White City

Explore the White City

Take a guided tour of Peru’s historic second city, la Ciudad Blanca (the White City). Arequipa is distinguished by its UNESCO-listed colonial era architecture, fiery cuisine and dramatic setting in the shadow of snow-capped volcanoes.

Sample cocina Arequipeña

Sample cocina Arequipeña

With numerous quality cafes and restaurants, Peru’s second city is deeply proud of its fiery culinary tradition, cocina Arequipeña. Look out for spicy rocoto relleno, pastel de papas (potato pie) and a delicious seafood stew called chupe de camarones.

Plumb the depths of Colca Canyon

Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon but a fraction of the width, the Colca Canyon cuts a dramatic scar across Peru's southern Andes. Well known as a habitat for the condor, indigenous settlements and remote trekking and whitewater rafting. Most visitors make a flying visit from Arequipa, but stay a while and get to know a different side of Peru's Andean civilisation.

The flight of the condor in Colca Canyon

The flight of the condor in Colca Canyon

Head to the second-deepest canyon in the world to see the endangered Andean condor. The Incas thought of the condors as God’s messenger and references to this majestic bird are often found within Incan architecture.

The islands of Lake Titicaca

A tranquil expanse of turquoise water seemingly at the roof of the world, Lake Titicaca was revered as the birthplace of Peru's original civilisations and the centre of the indigenous cosmos. Puno, on the lake's western shores, is a functional but pleasant enough city and makes a good springboard for the islands that dot the shimmering waters. Some of these islands are overdone tourist traps, but get further afield and explore the birthplace of an entire civilisation.

Stay in an eco-lodge on Lake Titicaca

Stay in an eco-lodge on Lake Titicaca

Isla Suasi, in a quiet corner of Lake Titicaca, is the only privately-owned island on the lake and is home to an incredible eco-lodge. Suasi promises the soothing isolation of island life, gentle strolls, and exploring the shoreline by canoe.

The lake at the top of the world

The lake at the top of the world

Lake Titicaca, on the shores of the town of Puno, is the world’s highest navigable lake. A quality tour will show you some incredible views, a storied indigenous history and beautiful remote islands, while avoiding some of the over-visited tourist traps.

Land of the Inca

Seat of the Inca Empire, Cusco is the epicentre for Peru's tourism industry, drawing millions of visitors en route to Machu Picchu and adventures in the Sacred Valley. With layers of archaeology built on top of each other (often literally), Cusco and its surroundings can keep you occupied for several days. Ignore the tourist traps and see Cusco for the living, breathing, contemporary city it is.

Explore historic Cusco

Explore historic Cusco

Cusco, once the capital of the Inca Empire, combines pre-Colombian heritage with colonial-era architecture and vibrant contemporary city life. You can (and should) spend some time exploring solo, but a good quality guided tour will visit the popular sites of Sacsayhuaman, Koricancha and Cusco Cathedral, while avoiding the tourist traps and giving you an insight into the stories behind this fascinating city.

Tour the Sacred Valley

As the Urubamba River descends from Cusco, eventually connecting with tributaries of the mighty Amazon, it has carved out a sweep of valley whose beauty defies imagination. Little wonder then that the Inca chose this stunning and fertile location as their spiritual and agricultural heartland. Scattered with ruins, towns and villages where Quechua is still commonly heard, the Sacred Valley is much more than a mere stop-off before Machu Picchu. Spend some time here and get a real understanding for Peru's origin story.

Take a private tour of the Sacred Valley

Take a private tour of the Sacred Valley

The glorious Sacred Valley connects Cusco with Machu Picchu and is dotted with ruins, agricultural terraces, and historical towns, including Ollantaytambo, Pisac, Moras, Moray, as well as many lesser-visited spots. Get under the surface with a full-day private tour and explore the ruins, villages and bustling markets, all set amidst incredible landscapes.

Meet Andean culture in the Sacred Valley

Meet Andean culture in the Sacred Valley

Despite the Spanish colonial influence, Peruvian indigenous culture thrives in the Sacred Valley. The village of Ollantaytambo has been inhabited since the 13th century, and nearby Pisac has a vibrant (if somewhat touristy) market. A good guide will help you branch off the tourist trail for a better perspective.

And finally...

If you're coming to Peru you'll almost certainly visit the ruins that have come to define the entire country. Despite now drawing millions of visitors a year, the crowds can't dent the ruins' sheer scale and undeniable magnificence.

Take a guided visit of Machu Picchu

Take a guided visit of Machu Picchu

Yes it’s famous and busy, but for a perfectly valid reason: Machu Picchu remains one of the world’s preeminent archaeological sites. In spite of the crowds, an expert guide will bring the place to life and help you make sense of the Inca’s incredible ingenuity. You’ll have the option of climbing the adjacent Huayna Picchu for spectacular views, and can return for a second day exploring if you wish.

See another side to Machu Picchu

See another side to Machu Picchu

For a different perspective of the ruins and a bird’s eye view of the surrounding mountains and valleys, try the moderate hike up adjacent Huayna Picchu. Additional permit is required, our recommended tour operators will be happy to assist.

Departure from Lima

Return to Lima to meet your flight home or, better still, stay a few days longer and get underneath the skin of Peru's fascinating capital city.

Eat like a king in Lima

Eat like a king in Lima

Lima’s chefs cook up a storm with the fruits of the sea, mountains and jungle. But it’s not all fine dining and exclusive restaurants: Peru’s is an egalitarian cuisine and you’ll find excellent food at street stalls, local markets and neighbourhood cantinas.

Explore Lima's arts scene

Explore Lima's arts scene

Frequently seen as little more than a transit hub for Machu Picchu, Lima is in fact one of Latin America's great cities. World-leading gastronomy jostles with a flourishing arts scene, easily filling several days of deep cultural immersion.

What else would you like to do?

Select any of these experiences to tailor your route

See the Amazon by luxury cruise
Iquitos

See the Amazon by luxury cruise

From Iquitos board a luxurious river cruise ship for an intimate voyage down the Amazon River to Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. Swim and kayak from the boat and keep an eye out for macaws, toucans, umbrella birds, monkeys, river otters, river dolphins and more.

Visit the gateway to the Amazon
Iquitos

Visit the gateway to the Amazon

Iquitos, in the northern Amazon is only accessible by boat or plane. Luxurious jungle lodges offer watery nature-spotting adventures by canoe and boat (look out for the pink river dolphin), and the city itself is a jumble of lively markets and bustling streets with a distinctly frontier vibe.

Visit a luxury Amazon eco-lodge
Puerto Maldonado

Visit a luxury Amazon eco-lodge

Puerto Maldonado in Peru’s southern Amazon basin is a wildlife wonderland. Spend a few nights in a full-service jungle lodge and take guided excursions birdwatching, climbing canopy walkways, hiking and canoeing.

Witness thundering Iguazu
Iguazu Falls

Witness thundering Iguazu

The falls that famously prompted Eleanor Roosevelt to exclaim “Poor Niagara!" are truly a sight to behold. Straddling the Argentina/Brazil border, few places on earth better demonstrate both the raw power and profound beauty of mother nature.

Walk with giant tortoises
Santa Cruz

Walk with giant tortoises

The endangered giant tortoise is making a comeback on the Galapagos thanks to a concerted conservation effort. Head to the highlands of Santa Cruz to see these gentle giants shuffling around the hills.

See glaciers in action
Glaciers National Park

See glaciers in action

The Southern Patagonian Ice Field straddles the border between Argentine and Chilean Patagonia, feeding most of the region’s glaciers. Visit Argentina’s Glaciers National Park to witness Perito Moreno calving building-sized blocks of ice or, better still, go for a guided hike on the ice itself.

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Where to stay

Sample accommodations & classes

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Casa San Blas, Cusco

Classic

Peru's Classic (three-star equivalent) hotels provide the optimal combination of quality and value...

Expect to pay $465 per night
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Isla Suasi, Lake Titicaca

Superior

Peru's superior (four-star equivalent) hotels offer fine rooms, exclusive service and excellent dining...

Expect to pay $531 per night
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Pueblo Hotel, Machu Picchu

Deluxe

Peru's five-star hotels are world class, offering impeccable service and unbeatable facilities...

Expect to pay $580 per night
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