Private Journeys

Signature Peru and Chile: Machu Picchu and Atacama

13 days from £5,332pp

Peru

Itinerary

map marker Map

Day 1

Arrive in Lima. Transfer to hotel in Pacific-side Miraflores.

You will be met at Lima airport and escorted to your hotel by one of our local representatives. The half-hour drive through town and along the coast introduces you to the invigorating buzz of a modern-day Latin American capital.

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Day 2

Fly to Cusco; by road to hotel explora in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Return to the airport. The drive will offer you a panoramic tour of the capital, the various neighbourhoods of which are full of diversity and contrast. Depart on your one hour flight to Cusco: on arrival you continue by road to the fertile Sacred Valley of the Incas. Once the bread-basket of the Inca  Empire, it was heavily populated in imperial times and scores of archaeological sites remain, where well-preserved ruins recall the intricacies of the bygone, highly developed Inca society. The valley is run through by a stately river and rimmed by lofty snow-covered peaks; every view is captivating.

Stay in the heart of the valley for four days, based at the exploration-focussed countryside explora all-inclusive resort beneath the dome of a vast, clear Andean sky.

Lina Fuller ©

Days 3-4

Choice of excursions and activities in the area (included).

explora offers you a top quality, yet low-key, homely and informal base from which to venture out and discover this exquisite region rich in natural and cultural interest.  It’s all-inclusive, so you can leave your wallet in the safe: all your meals, most drinks and all guided excursions are included; there are welcoming public areas for you to sit on a sofa by a log fire with a pisco sour cocktail or pore over books and maps. You have three full days here, what you do and when is up to you including the day you choose to visit Machu Picchu. 

You’ll be invited to discuss with the team of highly qualified guides which of the choice of excursions and activities would suit you best: these range from local walks, cycling expeditions, visits by road to archaeological sites and more challenging high altitude treks.You may look in at remote hamlets and come across a llama driver or lady weaving intricate textiles.  Many of these are well paced, full-day trips: you’ll have a packed lunch or a meal in a carefully chosen local restaurant.

When you get home in the evening there’s time before or after dinner to relax and chat with other guests, gaze at the stars and enjoy the silence of this divine rural spot.

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Day 5

By road to Ollantaytambo, on to Machu Picchu by train, guided tour of the ruins.

Drive through this picturesque, patchwork valley to the fortress/temple 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 valley.

Here you pick up the train to Machu Picchu. As the river Urubamba 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 village of Machu Picchu, which welcomes  visitors with artisan markets, bars and restaurants.

The ruined citadel, reclaimed from tropical cloud forest, sits on a terraced ridge spur amid forested peaks and above a roaring river canyon. It is reached by a zigzag road, or on foot up a near vertical rocky path. The American explorer Hiram Bingham discovered it in 1911, by which time it was completely buried beneath vegetation. 

You will have a guided tour of the ruins and there may be time later to take one of the many trails within the site itself, such as the hike to the vertiginous Inca Bridge, carved into a cliff edge; or wander among the stone buildings and llama-dotted grassy ledges, soaking up the atmosphere. Return to explora in the evening.

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Day 6

Transfer to Cusco.

Travel by road back through the valley to Cusco. Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire until the Spanish took over and changed the face of the city. But there are still remaining many original, beautifully crafted Inca walls, while the neat squares are dotted with ornate baroque colonial churches. It’s a busy place, where cobbled streets are lined with handicraft shops and cafés. In the evening, the centre fills with people flocking to the many restaurants, bars and cafés.

Lina Fuller ©

Day 7

Guided walking tour of Cusco.

You’ll have a guided walking tour to get underneath the skin of the city while not missing out on its highlights. Stroll to the Bohemian arty quarter of San Blas. Continue walking towards the Plaza de Armas, popping in to the cathedral, other ornate churches and the famous Koricancha temple. Next stop is a traditional textiles museum before you move on to popular San Pedro market that sells meats, fruits and vegetables.

Lina Fuller ©

Day 8

Fly via Lima to Calama, Chile

Your flight from Lima to Calama takes you into the heart of the Atacama desert. The surreal landscape here is of tortured rock formations splashed with a rainbow of colour, defined by a rim of snow-dusted volcanoes. Continue to the high-altitude oasis town San Pedro de Atacama and your second explora hotel.

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Days 9-11

Choice of complimentary excursions and activities in the area.

Excursions are graded according to their length and difficulty and the multi-lingual tour leaders tailor their itineraries to the interests and fitness of their guests. There’s a wide range of excursions to choose from, from short treks through picturesque valleys to challenging high altitude walks and horseriding.  

Whatever the activity or level of endurance, there’s  diversity and richness in the natural surroundings from the bubbling geysers and natural hot springs to more salt flats with their pearly lakes framed by snow-capped volcanoes.

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Day 12

Fly to Santiago and transfer to central hotel.

Fly to Santiago from Calama airport and transfer to your hotel in Lastarria, an arty, up and coming residential and commercial district close to the historic centre of the Chilean capital.

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Day 13

Guided walking tour of the historic core of the Chilean capital.

Modern, high-rise buildings dominating Santiago’s skyline but at street level the city retains some fine historic buildings alongside eye-catching contemporary structures.

On this guided exploited on foot you’ll  get acquainted with some of Santiago's more interesting landmarks and neighbourhoods allowing you to soak up the atmosphere of the city. 

Pass by the Museo de Bellas Artes, romantic Santa Lucia hill, the Central Market and the stately former Mapocho railway station. The tour includes a stop at the former National Congress where Salvador Allende was overthrown in 1973 and ends in the Plaza Mayor, the heart of Santiago's busy historic centre.

Transfer to the airport for your international flight. UK clients arrive home the following day.

Mary Anne Nelson ©

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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Your edit for Latin American inspiration

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.

View Extraordinary Inspiration

Real Latin America Experts

  • Sophie Barber
    Sophie Barber - Travel Consultant

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Evie Oswald
    Evie Oswald - Travel Consultant

    It’s hard to believe that Evie has had time to cram so much in to her life so far. Having lived as a child in the Americas and Europe she found herself immediately attracted to Latin America.

Meet the team