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Family Peru: Machu Picchu and Amazon adventures

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The top sights of Peru will leave all the family thrilled by the scenic grandeur, ruined temples, colonial cities and exotic wildlife. You travel from the dizzy heights at the rim of the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world, and the floating reed islands of the Uros Indians on Lake Titicaca to Machu Picchu, the Inca Lost City, once buried under the tropical forest which surrounds it.

Fly from the vast capital, Lima to the colonial plazas of Arequipa, Peru’s White City, which sits in the desert in the shadow of Volcano Misti. Travel by road up through stark desert to remote Colca Canyon, where a traditional rural lifestyle has been preserved.

Drive on to the icy, sapphire waters of Lake Titicaca: spend time with the farmers and fishermen who live there. 

Continue by road to historic Cusco, showcase of Inca and Spanish colonial treasures. It’s a short drive to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, with towering ruined temples and lovely country walks. Travel by rail through a narrow gorge to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, set on a mountain saddle above the Urubamba Valley which leads down to the oh-so-close Amazon: you’ll travel by short flight and boat to a wildlife lodge for adventure and wildlife spotting.

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Lima. Overnight in a hotel at the airport.

Day 2

Fly to Arequipa.

Day 3

City tour of Arequipa and Santa Catalina Convent.

Day 4

Drive up through the Andes to Colca Canyon.

Day 5

Condor spotting excursion.

Day 6

Drive to Lake Titicaca.

Day 7

Boat trip to Taquile Island, Luquina and Uros Islands, overnight.

Day 8

Return to Puno.

Day 9

Travel by road across the altiplano to Cusco.

Day 10

Walking city tour, including nearby Inca ruins.

Day 11

Explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Overnight there.

Day 12

Walking tour around Huilloc and Pumamarca.

Day 13

By train to Machu Picchu, guided tour. Overnight nearby.

Day 14

Optional revisit to the site, return to Cusco.

Day 15

Fly to Puerto Maldonado in Amazonia, by boat to lodge.

Days 16-17

Guided jungle adventures.

Day 18

Fly to Lima.

Day 19

Colonial Lima and Larco Museum.Transfer to airport.

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What our experts say

With Peru being the family-friendly destination that it is, we had plenty of ideas when it came to putting together a holiday that would suit the whole family. This trip offers real-world learning for children, from Amazonian wildlife to Inca history, and is likely to capture the imaginations of parents too! We’ve also picked properties that are great for families – the award-winning family programme in the Amazon is particularly impressive.

Chris

Chris Rendell-Dunn

Travel Consultants

Places visited on this holiday

Family Peru: Machu Picchu and Amazon adventures

Back to list of places visited
Lima Cathedral
A city as huge and dynamic as Lima, City of Kings, is bound to offer something of interest to all visitors. Lovers of architecture and history will thrill to the monumental cathedral and Presidential Palace in the Plaza de Armas, and colonial wooden balconies overhanging atmospheric lanes in the spruced-up centre. But out on the Pacific coast are the smart, modern middle-class suburbs of Miraflores and Barranco, brimming with sophisticated restaurants, boutiques and live music. The traffic is horrendous, but the city has some of the Spanish Empire’s best museums; it’s well worth crossing town to find them.
When to go
A cold Pacific current puts the kibosh on the tropical climate you might expect and a chilly mist hovers over the city May-Nov. But as this is the best time to visit the Andes, you may have to visit Lima at this time. In the southern summer the sun breaks through, happy limeños spill out onto the pavement bars, ice cream parlours and beaches.
Language

Spanish.

Getting local currency
Peruvian Nuevo Sol. Notes in local currency or US dollars can be withdrawn from the many ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. Numerous money exchange offices exchange US dollars cash (few accept euros or sterling and the rate may be poor).
Time difference

GMT -5 hours.

Combines with

The pre-Columbian adobe ruins of a ceremonial centre at Pachacamac  in the desert just 31 km south of Lima;  Paracas National Park, 214 km (3-4 hours’ drive) down the coast, for the Ballestas Islands “mini-Galápagos” Nature Reserve;  the Moche pyramids at Chan Chan, near Trujillo, 561 km (8 hours on the Pan American Highway or 1 hour by air); Cajamarca, charming Andean colonial town, 856km, (12 hours by scenic road or 90 mins by air).

Flight time from UK

Average flight time to Lima is 12.5 hours. There is a direct flight from London Gatwick to Lima. Popular non-direct routes to Lima involve a change of plane in Amsterdam, Paris or Madrid.

Key events
Gran Serenata: Live music in the Plaza de Armas on 17 Jan to celebrate the city’s foundation.
Semana Santa, Easter. Many religious processions.
Peru Art Week:   Annually in May.  Museums, art galleries and open air exhibitions in Barranco, Miraflores and San Isidro welcome visitors. Independence Day (Fiestas Patrias): 28 Jul annually: celebrated in plazas and parks throughout the city centre, with music and fireworks in the main plaza the evening before. On the final day a Great Military Parade takes place on either Avenida Brasil or Avenida De La Peruanidad.
Corpus Christi: Jun. Statues of the Virgin Mary and saints have a day out from their churches and are paraded to the Cathedral.
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Arequipa and Colca Canyon
Arequipa & the Colca Canyon

On a fertile oasis in the desert of southern Peru, Arequipa - the White City - squats at the foot of craggy volcanoes and shimmers in the constant sunlight. The pearl coloured mansions and churches, shady arches, spires and unreconstructed grid of gabled colonial houses have a middle-eastern flavour. The small shops and cafés and flowery plazas make it a great place to relax, and to get accustomed to the altitude (2,335m) if heading into the Andes.

From here a lonely road heads 83km up through a wind-sculpted wilderness to plunge into the cavernous Colca Canyon, in the shelter of which pre-Inca communities built astounding amphitheatres of agricultural terracing which survive to this day.

When to go

Arequipa can be visited throughout the year. Its climate is perfect for visitors, the sun shines on 360 days of the year and temperatures rarely exceed 23°C.

Language

Spanish.

Getting local currency
Peruvian Nuevo Sol. Notes in local currency or US dollars can be withdrawn from ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. Numerous money exchange offices exchange US dollars cash (few accept euros or sterling and the rate may be poor).
Time difference

GMT -5 hours.

Combines with

Lake Titicaca, 224km (9-12 hours by road) from Arequipa via Colca Canyon or 40mins flight from Arequipa to Juliaca; Nazca Lines, 404 km (10 hours on the Pan American Highway); Cusco 320 km (12 hours by road, 1 hour by air from Arequipa).

Getting there
Flights to Arequipa from Lima take one hour. The drive from Arequipa to Colca takes 4-6 hours.
Key events
Semana Santa, Easter. Inspired by the celebrations in Spain’s Seville, with huge nightly processions and the reading of Judas’ Will in Yanahuara on Easter Sunday.

May is the “Month of the crosses” with hilltop ceremonies.

Arequipa’s anniversary (14-15 Aug) is celebrated with music, dancing parades, pageants and a huge fireworks display and parade of floats in the Plaza de Armas.


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Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake at 3,812m, straddles the border between Peru and Bolivia. It ranks alongside the Iguazú Falls as one of the most extraordinary natural sights in Latin America: a vast sheet of cobalt blue water, peppered with golden islands and peninsulas harbouring traditional indigenous communities, it’s a culturally rich location. It was here in the sacred waters that the Inca Sun God was born. 

A regiment of snow-capped mountains – The Cordillera Real - defines the lake’s borders on the far horizon. The lake area is surprisingly well populated: the fertile soils on the lake shores support pretty adobe villages with fields stretching down to the water’s edge.

On the Peruvian side, close to the port of Puno, are the unique man-made reed islands of the Uros indians. The rugged, terraced islands of Amantani or Taquile, once lost in time, where the local population still lives a traditional way of life, now eagerly welcome visitors in a sensible, controlled way. Over the border in Bolivia are the serene islands of the Sun and the Moon, and the religious sanctuary of Copacabana, with a modest sandy beach, which lent its name to the somewhat larger one in Rio de Janeiro.
When's the best time to go to lake Titicaca?
Lake Titicaca is visited throughout the year, not least because it is on the main route between southern Peru and Bolivia. The dry season, when sunny days can be expected, runs May-Oct but in June and July it can be below freezing at night.  Rain falls Jan-Mar and the lake becomes grey and choppy, but still atmospheric.
What's the official language at Lake Titicaca?

Spanish.

What's the official currency at Lake Titicaca?
Peru: Nuevo Sol; Bolivia: Peso Boliviano. Notes in local currency or US dollars can be withdrawn from banks in Puno using a UK credit or debit card.  Money exchange offices exchange US dollars cash (few accept euros or sterling and the rate may be poor). In Copacabana, Bolivia, there’s a bank which offers advances on a Visa card and casas de cambio which exchange US dollars and Peruvian Soles. Commission rates are generally higher than in the major towns and cities.
What's the time difference between GMT and Lake Titicaca?
GMT -5 hours (Peru); -4 (Bolivia).
What countries combine well with Lake Titicaca?

Cusco, Peru 6-9 hours by road or 10 hours by train; La Paz, Bolivia (155km).

How do I get to lake Titicaca?

Travel to Puno (Peru), by train from Cusco (10 hours) or by road (6-9 hours). Fly to Juliaca from Lima or Arequipa, 1 hour and 30 mins respectively; from here it’s a 45 minute drive to Puno. It’s a couple of hour’s drive and short ferry ride to Copacabana from La Paz (3.5 hours).

What are the festivals and cultural events at Lake Titicaca?

Fiesta de la Virgen de la Candelaria: Puno and Copacabana, early Feb. Dance competitions, re-enactments of local Aymara legends, masked processions, much drinking and generalboisterousness.

Semana Santa (Easter): Candelight processions in Puno, pilgrims walking the stations of the cross in Copacabana.

Foundation of Puno: Puno, 5 Nov. Impressive pageant, and enactment of Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo emerging from the waters of the lake.   

Independencia: Copacabana, first week of August. Animated music, parades, fireworks, boozing.

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Cusco
High in a fertile mountain valley at 3,399m and surrounded by the lofty ice peaks of the Andes, the former capital of the Inca Empire and Spanish colonial masterpiece, Cusco, was cut off from the rest of the world until about 100 years ago. Now it is recognised as one of the most enticing, unspoilt cities on the continent. The history running through its veins is exposed in the meticulous masonry of the Inca temples, the baroque intricacy of its golden churches and palaces and the lively markets, fiestas, art galleries, boutique hotels and gourmet restaurants of the present day city. Here you can immerse yourself totally in Peru’s rich cultural mix.
When to go
Cusco can be visited throughout the year. Most visitors will use climate as a criterion but others may be attracted by any one of numerous fiestas: Inti Raymi, Easter, Corpus Christi, Christmas. The dry season when sunny days can be expected runs May-Oct but in Jun-Jul it can be below freezing at night.  Rain falls Jan-Mar.
Language

Spanish.

Getting local currency
Peruvian Nuevo Sol. Notes in local currency or US dollars can be withdrawn from the many ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. Numerous money exchanges (casas de cambio) change US dollars cash (few accept euros or sterling and the rate may be poor).
Time difference

GMT -5 hours.

Combines with

The Sacred Valley of the Incas, 53 km by road; Machu Picchu, 75km by road and rail; Tambopata and the lodges of the southern Amazon, 1 hour by air; Lake Titicaca, 6-9 hours by road or 10 hours by train; Colca Canyon, 236km by road.

Getting there

Flights to Cusco from Lima take 1 hour.

Key events

Inti Raymi:  24 Jun. Inca festival of the winter solstice celebrated at the temple of Sacsayhuamán.

El Señor de los Temblores:  Variable. Vast Easter Monday religious procession.

Corpus Christi: Jun. Statues of the Virgin Mary and saints have a day out from their churches and are paraded to the Cathedral.
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Sacred Valley of the Incas
Sacred valley
The Sacred Valley of the Incas was both the Inca civilisation’s breadbasket and its spiritual home. Nowadays, its appeal is not just the fast-flowing, broom-lined River Urubamba, rushing relentlessly towards the Amazon basin. Nor the parade of spiky snow-stifled peaks alongside; nor the adobe colonial villages, nor the monumental ruined Inca cities and temples. Nor the earthy quilt of sunlit fields bursting with maize, fruit, flowers and vegetables.  It’s the combination of all these which makes the Sacred Valley such a unique and gorgeous place for visitors. Now peppered with hotels from family hostels to first class boutique hotels, it’s increasingly a place to linger for a few days; lower in altitude than Cusco, 3,399m,  and conveniently en route to Machu Picchu, 2,430m.
When to go
The Sacred Valley can be visited throughout the year. The dry season, when sunny days can be expected, runs May-Oct. Travel in Apr-Jun and you’ll find the l fields full of ripening produce.
Language

Spanish and Quechua.

Getting local currency
Peruvian Nuevo Sol. US dollars can be exchanged for local currency in a couple of small shops in Ollantaytambo and Pisac but you are better off using an ATM in Cusco or at the airport before heading into the valley.
Time difference

GMT -5 hours.

Combines with

Cusco, 53 km by road; Machu Picchu, 23km by rail; Tambopata and the lodges of the southern Amazon, 1 hour by air from Cusco; Lake Titicaca, 6-9 hours by road or 10 hours by train from Cusco; Colca Canyon, 280km by road.

Getting there

Flights to Cusco from Lima take one hour.

Key events
Semana Santa, Easter. Processions and other celebrations in towns and villages.

Carnival: Feb/Mar. Celebrations start in Pisac 7 weeks before Easter Sunday with competing dance groups and continue in local villages.

Reyes Magos: 6 Jan in Ollantaytambo. Commemorates the Three Wise Men, with statues of poncho-clad Jesus brought down from the mountains. A fair, bull-fighting and dancing.

Señor de Choquekillca:  Variable, 50 days after Easter Sunday; but spreading over 4 days. Ollantaytambo celebrates its patron saint’s day with dances, processions, masses, a cockfight and bullfight.

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Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu
So remote that it was discovered by Hiram Bingham only 100-odd years ago, Machu Picchu is now disarmingly accessible.  The journey there by road and rail through an ever-tightening river gorge is all part of an amazing experience of multiple sensations. Everyone is familiar with the dramatic shot of the citadel, astride a series of man-hewn terraces carved into a rainforest-clad mountain saddle at 2,430m in the Andean foothills. A visit never disappoints: the steep stone staircases, bridges, temples, houses and palaces are easy to explore, and beg to be photographed.
When to go

Machu Picchu can be visited throughout the year. With its humid climate, the city can be shrouded in mist at any time, but you’d be unlucky if the sun didn’t shine at some time during your visit. Most rain falls Dec-Mar.

Language

Spanish.

Getting local currency
Peruvian Nuevo Sol. There are no banks in the village and exchange rates for cash are poor. Obtain notes in advance in local currency or US dollars from the many ATMs in Cusco or at airports, using a UK credit or debit card.
Time difference

GMT -5 hours.

Combines with

The Sacred Valley of the Incas, 23 km by rail; Cusco, 75 km by road and rail; Tambopata and the lodges of the southern Amazon, 1 hour by air from Cusco; Lake Titicaca, 6-9 hours by road or 10 hours by train from Cusco.

Getting there

Flights to Cusco from Lima take one hour; from there it’s a 4 hour land journey to the site.

Key events
Cruz Velacuy: variable dates in May or Jun in Machu Picchu village. The community decorates the cross of its church and prepares it for its procession to churches in neighbouring villages. This celebration held in gratitude to pre-Columbian gods for bountiful harvests, also serves as a setting for folklore shows.
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The Peruvian Amazon (south)
Peruvian Amazon

The Amazonian rainforest occupies 60% of Peru. The northern region, accessible from Iquitos, has flood plains and wide tributaries, a great environment for Amazonian river cruises. In the more closely forested south, with its faster flowing streams and ox-bow lakes, you are more likely to be based at a friendly jungle lodge, from where you can discover the forest magic, its abundance of exotic birds, monkeys, alligators and flowering tropical plants, with the opportunity to visit indigenous communities. 

The southern region of the Peruvian Amazon has as its gateway the busy, rapidly expanding river port Puerto Maldonado, situated on the banks of the river Tambopata where it has confluence with the river Madre de Dios, tributaries of what will, downstream, become the Amazon. A century-old market town, which has seen rubber, logging and gold prospecting booms, it is where visitors arrive on a flight from Cusco of just one hour, making the Peruvian Amazon very accessible for those visiting the Inca capital and Machu Picchu in the Andes.

There, eco-friendly jungle lodges of all standards, discreetly positioned amid the exuberant jungle foliage are accessible by motor boat in 2-5 hours. A little further afield is Manu, a biosphere reserve and national park reached by air or a spectacular, sinuous road descending from Cusco, where the jungle canopy is untouched: it takes longer to get there but you are rewarded with a real wilderness experience.  

When to go
The Peruvian selva enjoys a hot (30°C), humid tropical climate all year round, though there may be cold snaps. The high water, rainy season is Dec-May, a few degrees cooler than the rest of the year. At this time all waterways are navigable including small creeks, so opportunities to spot mammals are more frequent than during the sunnier dry season. From Jun-Nov the low water reveals many jungle trails, where you can get close to the vegetation, and this is a good time to spot migratory birds in flight.
Language

Spanish.

Getting local currency
Peruvian Nuevo Sol. There are banks and ATMs in Puerto Maldonado where notes in local currency or US dollars can be withdrawn using a UK credit or debit card. Several money exchange offices exchange US dollars cash but the rate may be poor).
Time difference

GMT -5 hours.

Combines with

Cusco (1 hour by air) and Machu Picchu (1 hour by air and 4 hours by land); Lake Titicaca (1 hour by air to Cusco and 6-9 hours by road or 12 hours by train).

Getting there

The southern Amazon: flights to Puerto Maldonado from Cusco take 1 hour. From Cusco to Manú by air is about 1 hour and 6-9 hours by road and boat. Longer by bike!

Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today.

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