Private Journeys

Peru by Rail

10 days from £6,050pp

Peru

Itinerary

map marker Map

Day 1

Arrive Lima, transfer to hotel on the Pacific coast.

Lima is on the coastal desert strip between the Pacific and the Andes. Colonial Spain's City of Kings is now a modern, bustling metropolis of eight million people.

The renovated colonial centre has many historic churches and buildings decorated with intricate balconies. There are also several excellent museums. A number of world-class restaurants have opened, and the city is fast becoming the gastronomic capital of South America.

You will be escorted from the airport to your hotel by one of our local representatives. Your hotel, the Belmond (formerly Orient Express) Miraflores Park, is situated in a dramatic location on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

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Day 2

Guided tour of colonial Lima and the Larco Museum. Fly to Cusco.

Plaza San Martín, with its colonial churches, promenades and palaces marks the beginning of a tour unearthing the country's eventful past. You’ll visit several palaces including the Torre Eagle Palace, built for the treasurer of the Royal Spanish fleet, and the baroque/Moorish monastery of San Francisco with its library and catacombs.

Continue to the Larco Museum, one of the finest in Latin America, housing a vast collection of pre-Columbian pieces. The majority of artefacts are ceramics and there is also a collection of textiles, gold and silver work, and mummies.  We love this museum, so we have included a special guided tour just for you.

Afterwards, fly to Cusco high in the Andes. On arrival at the former Inca capital, take a scenic 80km road dropping down in to the fertile Sacred Valley of the Incas. The intensively cultivated valley is patch-worked by fields of cereals and vegetables, speckled with tiny adobe farmsteads and colonial villages, and fringed by broom and wildflowers.  The road follows the route of the Urubamba River, which flows towards the attractive town Urubamba near which your hotel is sited.

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Day 3

Full day guided tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Once the bread-basket of the Inca Empire, the Sacred Valley was heavily populated in imperial times and scores of archaeological sites remain, where well-preserved ruins recall the highly developed Inca society.

You visit Pisaq, a colonial village, with terraces and Inca fort high above. The engineering and preservation are unrivalled. From the flat valley floor the sculpted hillside rises up like a green staircase to the heavens.

Continue to the temple fortress of Ollantaytambo. The snow-frosted Andean cordillera forms a stunning backdrop. Ollantaytambo, sitting strategically at the gateway to the Amazon basin, was never captured by the Spanish conquistadores. The fortress, the colonial grid plan and the Inca foundations are still intact and there are wonderful views down over the sloping hillsides and into the fertile valley.

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Day 4

By luxury train to Machu Picchu and guided tour of the ruins.

Travel by Hiram Bingham luxury train from Ollantaytambo to the ruins of Machu Picchu. All the stops are pulled out to give you a wonderful first class experience, with gourmet cuisine and commentaries by expert guides.

As the Urubamba River enters its narrow gorge between thickly-forested granite hills, there is room only for a single track, which hugs the right bank and passes through hamlets that are no more than a collection of shacks beside the railway. Close to the foot of the mountain on a saddle of which the citadel was built is the modern day village of Machu Picchu.

The majestic ruined city, reclaimed from tropical cloud forest, is reached by minibus up a sinuous road. The American explorer Hiram Bingham discovered it in 1911, by which time it was completely buried beneath jungle vegetation. It is the ruins’ location, on a ridge spur amid forested peaks and above a roaring river canyon, that most ignites the imagination. You will have a guided tour of the ruins.

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Day 5

Revisit the ruins and return to Cusco by luxury Hiram Bingham train.

Since you have stayed overnight at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge (at the ruins), and so are not restricted by the small window of opportunity offered by a day trip, there’s time to revisit the ruins and take one of the many trails within the site itself.

It’s a short hike to the vertiginous Inca Bridge, carved into a cliff edge; or wander amongst the stone buildings and llama-dotted grassy ledges soaking up the atmosphere.  You can climb the torturously steep Huayna Picchu mountain the other side of the valley, but you need to book in advance.

Return to Cusco by Hiram Bingham train. The final bit into the city is by road, avoiding a laborious switchback section of track.   

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Day 6

Guided tour of Cusco and nearby Inca ruins.

The name Cusco derives from the Quechua word for navel, indicating its location at the centre of the Inca Empire. Today its many impressive original Inca walls display extraordinary craftsmanship, while the bustling squares are dotted with ornate baroque colonial churches. It’s a vivacious city, its lanes lined with handicraft shops and cafés. In the evening, the town centre fills with people flocking to the many restaurants, bars and cafés. 

Today you have a guided tour of the city. You visit Q’oricancha, once the principal Inca Sun Temple, with intricate stonework, and then explore the colossal zigzag walls of Sacsayhuamán, brooding on a hillside above Cusco. The first conquistadores to see it were awestruck, and centuries later it is still an extraordinary and imposing sight.

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Day 7

By luxury train to Lake Titicaca.

It’s back on to the track with a sumptuous rail journey across the altiplano to Lake Titicaca. 

The train heads southeast towards Lake Titicaca across the upper Vilcanota Valley to the Andean heartland. It slowly climbs out of the bowl in which Cusco is set, passing through eucalyptus groves and small farmsteads where adobe houses punctuate tiny vegetable fields.  

As it ascends the landscape becomes more of a wilderness, with gently rolling tawny plains grazed by llamas and alpacas, while jagged snow-splashed mountains rear up on the horizon. There are a few market towns such as Sicuani en route and there's a stop at the Inca ruins of Raqchi, famed for the towering stone-and-adobe walls of its temple to the Inca God Viracocha. 

After tea, at sunset, you pause at La Raya, the highest point and watershed at 4,350m notable for its hot springs. Dinner is taken on board and the train comes to a halt outside Puno. It will be dark now: but after a peaceful night in your cabin you'll awake to dawn at the lakeside.

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Day 8

Onward by luxury train to Arequipa.

Continue by rail down the western flank of the Andes through volcanic desert landscapes to Arequipa.

Situated on the scrubby steppes of the altiplano is Lagunillas, a sapphire lake fringed by rocky crags. Llamas and alpacas graze near the shores. You take an early breakfast on board with views over the chilly water, which is frequently dotted with flamingos. 

Disembark to inspect the remote Sumbay Caves, whose walls are covered with striking pre-Columbian folk art. There are over 500 images and some are estimated to be over 8,000 years old.

After lunch continue down towards the Spanish colonial White City of Arequipa; it's a savage territory of distorted rocks and volcanic peaks, interspersed with tough grassland grazed by protected vicuña, the daintiest of the llama family with incredibly soft and valuable creamy-tan wool.

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Day 9

Arrive in Arequipa, the White City.

Arequipa is Peru’s second city, a traditional rival to Lima, relatively calm and conservative in comparison to the dynamic capital. The buildings here are constructed from sillar, a white-grey volcanic stone, and appear translucent against a rich blue sky. The domes, spires and pillars add to a somewhat Middle Eastern aspect. The city lies at the foot of the slopes of the conical El Misti Volcano. The Santa Catalina Convent complex is the highlight to visit here.

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Day 10

Transfer to the airport and fly to Lima for your international flight.

UK clients arrive home the following day.

Inspired by this trip

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

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Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

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Real Latin America Experts

  • Kathryn Rhodes
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Consultant

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

  • Chris Rendell Dunn
    Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Consultant

    Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our Sales team.

  • JimAshworth
    Jim Ashworth - Travel Consultant

    Jim first caught the Latin American travel bug in 2001 when he decided at the last minute to join a friend travelling around Central America – he hasn't looked back since.

  • Lina Fuller
    Lina Fuller - Travel Consultant

    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

  • Jamie Swan
    Jamie Swan - Travel Consultant

    Jamie backpacked across Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Brazil before joining us; he has a degree in politics and is also a keen sportsman..

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Consultant

    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Manager of the Tailor-made Department.

Meet the team