Andean Trilogy 18 days


In this tour we will discover the three main geographic regions of Peru including the sublime Pacific Coast, the stunning Andes highlands, and the lush upper Amazon jungle.


Welcome to Peru! Our professional tour guide will meet you upon your arrival at the international airport in Lima, and you will be transferred to your hotel where we will welcome you with a Pisco sour, the national drink of our country, while we review our plans for your memorable journey about to unfold.

Pisco sour Peruvian

After breakfast, we will travel the Panamerican highway to Pachacamac, a stunning archeological site that dates back to Inca and pre-Inca eras. It is an earthen adobe temple that has retained its majesty and wonder through multiple centuries. After this fabulous visit we will continue on along the Panamerican to Paracas to enjoy that quaint coastal city, relax, and perhaps get in some souvenir shopping.


After breakfast we will board a fast boat and cruise out on the Pacific Ocean to Ballestas Islands National Reserve. Many consider this magical place as the “Peruvian Galapagos.” Here we will observe many unique birds and marine animals in a dramatic landscape…and also some amazing cultural antiquities.

Back ashore, we will head onward along the Panamerican to Ica where we will visit a Pisco distillery and learn about the unique varieties of Pisco…and perhaps enjoy a sample or two as well!

Afterwards, we will head to the largest dunes in Peru along the expansive coastal desert. The intrepid adventurer may choose to have an andrenaline-filled experience there with the dune buggies. All safety precautions will be taken.

Finally, we will arrive at our hotel in Nazca for a pleasant evening.


In the early morning we will fly over the Nazca lines in a small plane to observe the enigmatic landscape glyphs from high above…a giant hummingbird, a sprawling spider, and more…all of which leave much to the imagination regarding their origin and their original purpose and function.

Then we’ll continue along Panamerican with a day of appreciating the beautiful landscapes of Peru’s southern Pacific coast. By late afternoon, we will arrive at Arequipa, dubbed as the “White City” and exclaimed by many as the most beautiful city in all of Peru.


We will stroll around the historic plaza and center of Arequipa and discover the bustling San Camilo Market where one can buy just about anything. We then will tour the beautiful and peaceful Santa Catalina monastery and the impressive Museum of Juanita, the Inca Ice Maiden, whose recently discovered mummy is preserved and on display for us to wonder about…and to learn about ancient Inca ceremonial tradition.


Today, we depart Arequipa and ascend up into the Andes highlands passing through a national reserve where we hope to see vicuñas, llamas and alpacas in their native habitat of the stark Andean altiplano. Ultimately we will rise to a high pass at 4910 meters above sea level. Though the isolated landscape seems raw and empty, it is a very scenic region with stunning geologic features, sparse but unique high-elevation plants, and some occasional wildlife like the Andean rabbit and fox.

By midafternoon, we will arrive at Chivay, the gateway community to Colca Canyon, and check into our quaint hotel. In the late afternoon we’ll go to a nearby hot springs to relax.


An early morning departure will lead us through the incredibly scenic region west of Chivay. After passing through a beautiful landscape of rural communities and agricultural terraces, and snaking through a long rock tunnel in our bus, we will settle in at the high vista of Cruz del Condor, situated at the edge of the incredibly deep and precipitous Colca Canyon. Here we’ll hopefully observe the majestic Andean condor in flight. With the widest wingspan of any bird in the world at about three meters, the condor gracefully soars above the landscape in search of a morning meal. In local culture and folklore, the condor is the revered messenger between earth-bound people and heavenly gods.

We then will spend the rest of this day, traversing the incredibly scenic altiplano and making our way toward Puno, a bustling city perched above the northwestern shore of Lake Titicaca.


Lake Titicaca, situated at 12,500 feet elevation on the border between southern Peru and northern Bolivia, is the world’s highest elevation navigable lake. Wherever one goes along the shoreline or out onto the vivid blue lake, the view is always sublime and breath-taking.

After breakfast we will take ecological taxis through the morning rush-hour of central Puno and head to the harbor. We’ll board our chartered boat and head out on Lake Titicaca to the “floating reed” Uros Islands supporting several indigenous communities. There we will engage in an informative and memorable program with some villagers and have an opportunity to buy some local crafts.

Then we’ll cruise further out on the lake to Taquile Island, thought by many to be one of the most scenic and culturally significant islands in the world. We’ll disembark and walk a cobblestone path to an island community where we will enjoy a cultural program and experience a simpler way of life. There are no roads and cars here, and limited technology overall…but a rich and vibrant indigenous culture and tradition abounds.

After a delicious local lunch, we will enjoy a pleasant and relaxing afternoon cruise back to Puno where we’ll have an opportunity to shop for souvenirs along the pedestrian mall and relax at a quaint café.


We depart Puno and head to a sacred site known as Sillustani. There we will walk amongst meticulously built stone funeary towers called chullpas which were used by the Inca and earlier Colla people to entomb their noble families. The stone masonry here is simply magnificent. The site is situated on a high bluff overlooking the sublime and picturesque Lago Umayo. The scene and experience here is very ethereal.

We head north through the busy city of Juliaca and onward to Pucara, a lovely altiplano community noted for its craftsmen who artistically create the ceramic toritos which adorn the doorways and rooftops of rural people throughout the region. Ultimately we’ll traverse the majestic pass of La Raya where we will visit a nice crafts market.

In the afternoon, we will arrive at Raqchi where we will experience the remnants of the Inca Temple of Wiracocha, constructed of both stone and adobe. There also is a bustling crafts market here for some enjoyable shopping. We will homestay in Raqchi local families for a hospitable experience of local culture and cuisine.


Today we arise before the sun for a hearty local breakfast, and then head to the trailhead for a morning trek to the majestic Rainbow Mountain, so-named for its striking display of colorful rock and mineral strata sweeping along the ridge. The view is simply stunning! We will rise to 5100 meters above sea level, and you will have the option to walk or to ride a horse along the alpine trail.

In the afternoon, we will visit the renowned “Sistine Chapel of the Andes” at Andahuaylas, a remarkable Spanish colonial church with incredibly ornate paintings, tapestries, and wood carvings gracing its altars, naves, walls and ceilings. Further along we’ll enjoy some delicious local bread at the famed baking community of Oropesa.

Eventually we arrive at Cusco, the historic and ancient Inca capital, where we will settle in at our hotel and enjoy a leisurely stroll around the main square, once the central plaza of the Inca kingdom and now a vibrant square fronted by two stately cathedrals and plenty of shops and restaurants. We will rest up tonight in Cusco to be ready to head to the Amazon tomorrow…but we will return to Cusco in a few days to take in its sights and cultural antiquities.


We arise early to catch a flight to Puerto Maldonado, Peru´s Capital City of Biodiversity and the gateway to the upper Amazon region of southern Peru. We’ll drive through the busy city enroute to Puerto Capitania to board a riverboat for navigating along the Rio Madre de Dios. During our river journey, we will immerse into the fascinating rainforest environment during which we hope to see some tropical birds and animals that make their home here including caimans, turtles, herons and cormorants. Eventually we arrive at Eco Amazonia Lodge where we will enjoy an exquisite welcome drink, we´ll get settled into our bungalows and will have a sumptuous lunch.

In the afternoon, we’ll walk along an interpretive trail with a naturalist guide to Caiman Cocha, a small lake with an abundant presence of caimans…crocodiles. Here, it will be wise to stay on the trail with our guide and to enjoy the view of these incredible reptiles from a safe distance.

Back at the lodge, we’ll have time to relax, perhaps take in the ambiance of the rainforest from an observation deck with something refreshing from the bar, and enjoy an Amazon sunset at dinner.


We awaken to the symphony of Amazon birdsong. Early risers can partake in some brid-watching before breakfast. Later, a morning walk along an interpretive trail in the jungle will lead us through the flooded forest and its rich flora and wildlife. We’ll come to the majestic Lake Apu Victor with its crystal clear waters, surrounded by marshes and giant tropical trees. Here we hope to see many shorebirds, more caimans, and if we are lucky, the giant otter, one of the rainforest´s most spectacular animals. We´ll climb up the observation deck to enjoy a panoramic view of the lake and birds at canopy level, including parrots, macaws and toucans.

In the afternoon, we’ll take a boat out to Monkey Island in the heart of Rio Madre de Dios River and walk through the lush flora that is habitat to a variety of monkeys as well as the coati, the sloth, and many species of birds. As the sun begins to set, we’ll eventually boat back to the lodge.


One more incredible and memorable day in the Amazon jungle…today we will venture into virgin rainforest to Lost Cocha, a lush refuge for a diverse array of birds and animals. We will observe some familiar jungle favorites from our first two days here, and hopefully also see the tapir, some unique fish, and perhaps some tracks of the elusive and nocturnal jaguar. It is virtually impossible to see this enigma of the jungle by day, especially when in a group. There will be opportunity for some bird-watching from the observation deck, a relaxing canoe ride around the lake, and time to enjoy the ambiance of the lodge environment in the afternoon.


Today we retrace our path back to Puerto Maldonado and then fly to Cusco, the historic center of Inca culture in the Andean highlands, and now a bustling city that has retained its authentic character. After checking in at our hotel and enjoying a nice lunch, we’ll stroll around the main square and tour its grand cathedral. We’ll also visit what remains of Qorikancha, the original Inca Sun Temple. Then we will tour Sacsayhuamán, the remains of an imposing Inca citadel situated on the heights above the city. The splendid Inca stone masonry there constructed with massive hand-carved blocks of rock is simply astounding.


We begin our journey through the Sacred Valley of the Inca which flanks the Urubamba River. We will travel through some beautiful Andes scenery from Cusco in route to Pisac where we will tour majestic Inca agricultural terraces that once were a part of the royal estate of the Inca emperor, Pachacutik. The curvilinear terraces are situated on the steep slopes in the highlands above town. They truly are engineering masterpieces and architectural works of art.

In the afternoon, we’ll climb the rock stairways and terraces of Ollantaytambo, a dramatic Inca temple and fortress at one of the last strongholds of Inca resistance during the Spanish Conquest of the early 1500s. Also, we’ll stroll through a traditional Inca kancha townsite still in use today. Finally, we will board the Vistadome train for a relaxing journey down the scenic Urubamba River Valley to Aguas Calientes situated in the cloud forest at 8000 feet beneath Machu Picchu, the fabled “lost city of the Inca,” and our quest for tomorrow! We’ll lodge in a riverside hotel, have a delicious dinner and shop at the huge crafts market.


We will experience the legendary “lost city” and wander among its regal residences, temples, and plazas while we wonder about the industrious and imaginative Inca people Actually, Machu Picchu was another of the grand spiritual retreats of the Inca emperor Pachacutik. The stone masonry here is meticulous and artful, and is virtually still intact, as the Spanish never found Machu Picchu during their 1500s Conquest. We will marvel at the engineering and architectural prowess of the Inca people, and gaze at the enigmatic Intihuatana stone, the Royal Tomb, the Sacred Rock, and the Temples of the Sun, the Condor, and the Three Windows, and speculate about life in Machu Picchu during its zenith.

In the afternoon, we’ll take a relaxing train ride back to Ollantaytambo where we will lodge for the night and have an opportunity to shop for local crafts there.


Today we will complete our journey through the Sacred Valley of the Inca. We’ll experience the unique Inca site of Moray, a magnificently designed set of concentric terraces that descend several levels into grand geologic sinkholes. Here as well we will gain further insight into masterful Inca engineering prowess. In essence, construction at Moray was never fully completed, though all indications are that it was destined to serve as an elaborate and sacred spiritual center.

We then head to Chinchero, a quaint town on a high plateau built upon remnant Inca walls. We will tour the quaint townsite and examine a Spanish church built atop and alongside an elaborate Inca wall still retaining several trapezoidal niches. Here we’ll also have a memorable experience at a traditional weaving center where the charming local women demonstrate their craft and sell beautiful alpaca sweaters, scarves, blankets, and coveted Andean hats. Finally, we head back to Cusco.


We will depart this morning on a flight from Cusco to Lima, the Spanish “City of Kings” and present-day capital of Peru, for the final day of our Andean Trilogy. From here, you will make your connection to your flight back home…but as time and flight schedules permit, we will tour the historic center of the city including the ornate and bustling Plaza de Armas and Plaza de San Martín. We will do our best to enjoy one last Pisco sour as well. Salud!