Print this trip dossier

Journey Latin America asks you to accept cookies for performance and social media purposes. We use cookies on our website to personalise content, evaluate website traffic and enhance performance. You can delete or restrict cookies via your web browser. To get more information about these cookies and the processing of your personal data see our Cookie Policy. Do you accept these cookies and the processing of personal data involved? Find out more


Peru: Drive across the Andes

Send an Enquiry
*
*
*
*
*
Enquiry
*
Print-Friendly dossier

We present an adventurous and challenging way of exploring some of both Peru’s highlights and more remote areas - less visited but no less alluring.

An experienced and confident driver, you are excited by the idea of tackling sinuous, cliff-hugging, rock-and-dirt roads climbing and plunging through the tortured valleys of the ice-jacketed Andes, passing tumbling rivers and penetrating volcano-studded desert. You’ll love the freedom, the control, the ability to make ad hoc stops to investigate pocket-sized adobe villages, discover a secluded Inca ruin, gaze up at a condor or survey a flock of grazing vicuñas.

Here, on a pre-designed itinerary with pre-booked accommodation, you can drive a four wheel drive (4WD) vehicle yourself; accompanied by a support vehicle staffed by experts and carrying everything you might need to deal with an unforeseen eventuality.  

Travel to places away from the well-trodden tourist path. Your 4x4 vehicle allows access to authentic locations in remote areas. Visit top sights such as Cusco as well as emerging destinations with the colonial city Ayacucho. Maybe add a non-drive extension to wind down after your expedition, such as a visit to northern Peru, an Amazon cruise or even a trip to the Galapagos Islands.

If you wish to take a break from driving for a short while on any section of the route, support staff are available to drive for you. Safety is the number one priority. If you don’t want to do any driving you can travel as a passenger in your 4x4 vehicle with a local experienced driver. If you are travelling alone you can travel as a passenger in the support vehicle on any confirmed departure.

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive Lima and transfer to hotel in Miraflores on the Pacific coast.

Day 2

Meet your guide and expedition vehicles and depart down the Panamerican Highway to Nazca.

Day 3

Drive up into the Andes on a paved road. Overnight at Chalhuanca gorge.

Day 4

Continue the ascent to Cachora, overnight overlooking the Apurimac canyon.

Day 5

Explore the area, continue to Cusco in the afternoon (4 nights).

Day 6

City tour of Cusco and the surrounding Inca ruins.

Day 7

Optional day trip to Machu Picchu with guided tour.

Day 8

At leisure to explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Day 9

Drive to the highland town Andahuaylas, overnight.

Day 10

Drive to colonial city Ayacucho.

Day 11

Drive past the Mantaro gorge, overnight on a ranch near Huancavelica.

Day 12

Morning horse-ride, continue down to Tarma valley, flower producing region.

Day 13

Descend to the jungle, overnight in Pampa Hermosa Jungle Lodge.

Day 14

Re-ascend to Tarma for farewell dinner, overnight.

Day 15

Return to Lima, overnight.

Day 16

Transfer to airport in Lima for international flight.

VIEW FULL ITINERARY DETAILS
ReadMore
Close

Visit Us

What our experts say

This is an exciting holiday which allows you to get off the beaten track and discover places that can only be reached by 4x4. It’s a fully supported adventure which means you are afforded great flexibility so you can drive as little or as much as you like. We’re proud to have been the first UK tour operator to offer this kind of trip in Peru and are excited to see this area of the country open up.

Paul

Paul Winrow-Giffin

Travel Consultants

Places visited on this holiday

Peru: Drive across the Andes

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.
Back to list of places visited
Paracas, Ica and Nazca

The Paracas Nature Reserve on a rocky desert peninsula and the guano-rich Ballestas Islands just off the Pacific coast, a short drive from Lima, are often visited en route to the Nazca Lines and Arequipa, but for wildlife lovers they are a real treat in their own right. Sealions, Humboldt penguins, pelicans, terns, cormorants and flamingoes thrive here, and the marine life is equally prolific, with dolphins, sharks and whales.

Between Paracas and Nazca, the town of Ica is the centre of Peru's pisco industry and viticulture. It sits in a fertile valley close to towering sand dunes, 50km from the sea. There's an interesting museum but the main reason for a visit is to discover the bodegas, or wineries, one or two if which offer delightful accommodation. A few km from the town is an oasis with a palm-fringed lagoon at the summer resort Huacachina.

The Nazca Lines, huge geometric designs and figures etched into a bleak, barren plain inland from the coast (3.5-4 hrs’ drive from Paracas and 7 from Lima), were carved around 2,000 years ago, possibly as an astronomical calendar. Close to Paracas is the port Pisco, from which you can take a light aircraft flight over the Nazca Lines. 

When to go
The cold Pacific current keeps the rain away but a misty sun is out here most of the year round, and temperatures are mild. The wildlife is abundant all year round, flamingoes are present Jul-Nov.
Language

Spanish.

Getting local currency
Peruvian Nuevo Sol. Notes in local currency can be withdrawn from the ATMs in the main square at Pisco, the small fishing port close to the Nature Reserve, using a UK credit or debit card; banks also exchange cash. Nazca has a bank which has an ATM and will give cash advances on cards.
Time difference

GMT -5 hours.

Combines with
The pre-Columbian ruins of a ceremonial centre at Pachacamac  in the desert just 31 km south of Lima; Ica, an oasis resort between Paracas and Nazca, wine centre and sand dune-boarding activities (70 km from Paracas, 140 km from Nazca); Arequipa, Peru’s second city and a colonial work of art in itself, 565 km from Nazca, 10hrs’ drive).
Getting there

From Lima by road to Paracas (3 hours) and Nazca (7 hours). From Arequipa 10 hours.

Key events

Virgen de la Guadelupe: Festival held in Nazca 29 Aug 10 Sep annually.

Back to list of places visited
Ayacucho and central Andes
Ayacucho

The Inca heartland in the east, the hiking territory of Cordillera Blanca and Cajamarca/Kuelap further north, Lake Titicaca to the south: these areas of the Peruvian Andes are relatively well trodden by visitors. But to the north and west of Cusco there is an equally beautiful and culturally rich mountainous region speckled with historic colonial towns only now beginning to attract visitors, following a period of political instability happily now resolved.

Ayacucho, 2,761m, is the jewel in the crown of the region, a Spanish colonial glorious city of at least 33 baroque churches, its cobbled streets resonating with atmosphere. South of the city, Andahuaylas, 2,926m, and Abancay, 2,377m, are worth a look. Further north is the market city Huancayo, 3,259m, reached from the coast by road or rail on one of the world’s most dramatic train journeys, and the ancient indigenous town Huancavelica, 3,676m. The fertile Mantaro gorge and valley shows off the contrasts of Andean scenery at its best while Tarma, 3,053m, one of the oldest towns in Peru and famous for its many festivals, is the principal flower growing region, the terraces around it a riot of colour.     

This remote region is not short of archaeological sites, one of the most important being the Inca ruins at Huánuco Viejo, and the 4,000 year old temple of Kotosh. 

When to go

The central Andes 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

Cusco and the nearby Sacred Valley of the Incas, 270km by road;  Machu Picchu, 75km by road and rail from Cusco; Tambopata and the lodges of the southern Amazon, 1 hour by air from Cusco 

Getting there

Flights to Ayacucho from Lima take 1 hour.

Key events

Ayacucho: Semana Santa (Easter week): many elaborate religious processions. Many other religious festivals throughout the year, including Carnival in the week before Lent. 
Ayacucho: Fiesta de las Cruces: around May 23rd, variable; includes a folkdance involving men dancing with scissors. Tarma: Many festivals including Holy Week (with flower carpet competition); Carnaval Tarmeño (20-25 Feb) 
Tarma and around: Several Senor de los Milagros processions in October. 
Mantaro Valley:  This area hosts a huge number of festivals, especially at Carnival and Holy Week (Good Friday processions take place in many villages).



Back to list of places visited
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.
Back to list of places visited
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.

Tailor-made holiday

Our specialists have been expertly crafting award-winning tailor-made holidays to Latin America for over 37 years.
We would be delighted to create a truly personalised trip which perfectly matches your wishes and requirements.

97% of our clients rated their experience with us as Excellent or Good.

Articles you may like

Browse our inspiration area of the site. It's packed with insider travel tips, Top5s, competitions, events, recipes and holiday ideas for Central and South America sure to whet your travel appetite.

More inspiration

Other holidays you may be interested in

View all holidays
Lake Titicaca

Andes and Altiplano: Cusco, Lake Titicaca and La Paz

Private journey

14 days from £2,717pp

Sacsayhuaman

Explore and Relax Peru and Brazil: Machu Picchu to Rio

Private journey

16 days from £3,516pp

Pato Andino

Pato Andino: Panorama of the Andes

Group tour

20 days from £3,722pp

Tico Tico

Tico Tico: Culture of the Northern Andes

Group tour

14 days from £2,421pp

Sign up to our newsletter

Sign up to our twice monthly newsletter and be the first to know about our latest news, offer and competitions.

Sign up with...

Your email

Or...

Using a social account is fast and means you don't need to remember a password.

We never share your data either - see our terms & conditions

Facebook Connect

Remember, you can unsubscribe at any time.

To see how we take care of your data please review our Privacy Policy

Thanks for subscribing – we’ll be in touch!

You are not subscribed. Some error happened.

Share this Page

Social share page will open in new window

Send a friend

reCaptcha_try_again

Page Full Path: /sitecore/content/JLA/Home/destinations/peru/holidays/peru-drive-across-the-andes

Page ID: {F5946CB1-E503-4B6D-A832-63A7C5A07CCB}

Page Name: peru-drive-across-the-andes

Page Display Name: Peru: Drive across the Andes

Page Template Name: T013-Private-Tour-JJ

Page Template ID: {1987AD35-218E-4B05-8DCF-B80B79F469E7}

Parent ID: {F663710C-935C-4478-AEBB-AD78EFB68D4F}

Parent Name: holidays

Parent Display Name: Holidays

Parent Template Name: T007-Tours

Parent Template ID: {C007F36D-3091-4A02-8D0A-2302CE1DCA8E}