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Signature Peru and Chile: Machu Picchu and Easter Island

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There’s not really any argument: in terms of cultural magnificence, enigmatic history, uniqueness and stunning human creativity, Machu Picchu and Easter Island are respectively Peru and Chile’s most divine highlights. The Incas and the indigenous people of Easter Island couldn’t be more diverse, reflected in their history and their world views. But now you can combine the two, along with other stunning sights, on one two-week holiday. What seem to be isolated and remote places are in fact remarkably accessible.

Start your trip in Lima, the City of Kings and certainly the most regal capital in South America. Fly up into the Andes and continue to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Peru’s bucolic paradise, peppered with the vestiges of Inca civilisation. From there it’s a train journey through a dramatic canyon to Machu Picchu, where you spend the night close to the ruins so that you can benefit from a second visit fully to appreciate this extraordinary mountain-top site. From Imperial Cusco you fly to Santiago, Chile’s cosmopolitan and dynamic modern capital, and thence fly across the Pacific Ocean to isolated, Polynesian Easter Island, famed for the remarkable stone statues of huge heads standing guard over the rugged scenery and lonely beaches.

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

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

Day 2

Guided walking tour of the capital.

Day 3

Fly to Cusco and continue to the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Day 4

Full day guided tour in the Sacred Valley: Maras, Moray, Chincheros.

Day 5

Visit Ollantaytambo temple fortress, on to Machu Picchu.

Day 6

Return to Ollantaytambo by rail and proceed back to Cusco.

Day 7

Guided city tour of Cusco and nearby Inca sites.

Day 8

Fly to Santiago de Chile and transfer to your central hotel.

Day 9

Day 10

Fly to Easter Island and your hotel in Hanga Roa town.

Day 11

Introduction to Easter Island.

Day 12

Further explorations of the island.

Day 13

Discover the hidden gems of Easter Island.

Day 14

Fly back to Santiago.

Day 15

Transfer to airport for international flight.

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Places visited on this holiday

Signature Peru and Chile: Machu Picchu and Easter Island

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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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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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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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Santiago and the vineyards
Santiago and the vineyards
With a backdrop of snow-draped Andean peaks in a sunny fertile valley, Chile’s huge capital lies at the heart of the country. A multi-layered place of contrasting neighbourhoods it is worth getting to know.

There’s a tiny colonial heart which displays an often poignant history, offset by the glittering malls, skyscrapers and shady boulevards of a modern economy. Interspersed are European-style centres for shopping and eating out such as Italianate Bellavista and newly vibrant, villagey localities among which is trendy Lastarría. The surrounding Mediterranean landscape is the perfect setting for vineyards and wineries producing Chile’s well respected wines.
When's the best time to visit Santiago and the vineyards?
Santiago has a hot dry summer and cool winters with some rain and even snow. Spring and autumn (Sep-Oct and Apr-May) are pleasant times for a city visit. The vineyards are at their prettiest in spring (Sep-Oct) but a visit may be most interesting at harvest time (Mar-Apr).
What is the official language in Santiago and the vineyards?

Spanish.

How can I get local currency in Santiago and the vineyards?
Chilean Peso. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. There are also many banks and money exchanges (casas de cambio) where you can exchange US dollars cash; rates for euros and sterling are harder to find and frequently poor.
What's the time difference between Santiago and the vineyards and UK?

GMT -4 hours. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, from Sep/Oct to early Mar. 

What places combine with Santiago and the vineyards?

Valparaiso, colourful Pacific port growing in popularity among visitors, 106km (2hours by road); a beach wind-down in Chile’s principal resort, Viña del Mar (100km, 2 hours); a few days on Polynesian Easter island (5 hours direct by air); winter skiing in the family resort of Valle Nevado (65km, 1 hour 40mins by road).

How do I get to Santiago and the vineyards?

There are no direct flights from the UK, average flight time is 16 hours; a change of plane is required in Europe, Brazil or the USA.

What are the festivals and cultural events in Santiago and the vineyards?

Feria Internacional de Artesania: Nov; Parque General Bustamente, Centro, Santiago, the city’s best craft festival.

Feria Internacional del Libro: Nov, Machopo station, Santiago. A Hay Festival is imminent for Santiago – watch this space!

Fiesta de la Vendimia: Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, An annual grape harvest festival in early Mar. 

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Valparaiso and Vina del Mar
Valparaiso and Vina del Mar
Drive from Santiago northwest through the coastal cordillera and you arrive at these two Pacific towns: one a historic and busy port, the other a beach resort. Valparaiso’s aspect and atmosphere differ totally from the capital. Shoals of crammed painted houses career down vertiginous hillsides, accessed by wooden lifts and staircases. These hilltop quarters now offer boutique hotels and chic and interesting restaurants. Down below the port area’s heavy Victorian-style architecture recalls an era when British influence was strong. A few kilometres north is the resort of Viña del Mar, historically chic but now a popular family seaside spot and commercial town.
When's the best time to visit Valparaiso?
Valparaiso and Viña have a hot dry summer and cool winters with some rain. Spring and autumn (Sep - Oct and Apr - May) are pleasant times for a city visit; summertime (Dec - Mar) the best time for the beaches which can be crowded with visitors.
What's the official language in Valparaiso?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in Valparaiso?
Chilean Peso. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. There are also many banks and money exchanges (casas de cambio) where you can exchange US dollars cash; rates for euros and sterling are harder to find and frequently poor.
What's the time difference between Valparaiso and UK?

GMT -4 hours. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, from Sep-Oct to early Mar.  

What places combine well with Valparaiso?

Santiago, vast multi-layered capital, 106 km (2 hours by road); a stay at one of the vineyards in the Colchagua, Maipo and Casablanca valleys, 177 km by road.

How do I get to Valparaiso?

It’s a 2 hour drive on a fast highway from Santiago to either destination.

What are the festivals and cultural events in Valparaiso?

New Year: Valparaiso: 3 days of festival attended by over a million visitors, with a firework display on the bay.

International Music Festival: Viña del Mar, a week in Feb. This event once attracted stars of international renown, nowadays it is more a showcase for aspiring Latin American pop stars. 
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Easter Island
Easter Island
Easter Island (Rapa Nui) really is a unique place. Chilean territory but isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, this tiny pimple of volcanic origin, first populated by Polynesians from the west, has become a mesmeric destination for visitors. Once densely forested and fertile, the rugged, hilly island supported a prosperous population which sculpted the island’s enigmatic moai, or giant stone heads. The landscape is now covered by rocky, treeless and unproductive grasslands, beautiful in its gaunt and haunting way, and the coast is defined by rocky coves and the occasional sparkling white beach.
When's the best time to visit Easter island?
Easter Island has a balmy, temperate climate. The most popular season for visits is Sep - Apr.
What's the official language of Easter island?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in Easter island?
Chilean Peso. Notes can be withdrawn from the ATM using a UK credit or debit card (NOT Visa). Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. There are also many shops where you can exchange US dollars cash at a rate a little poorer than in Santiago.
What's the time difference between Easter island and UK?

GMT -6 hours. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, from Sep - Oct to early Mar.

What places combine well with Easter island?

Santiago, vast multi-layered capital, 106 km (2 hours by road); a stay at one of the vineyards in the Colchagua, Maipo and Casablanca valleys, 177 km by road.

How do I get to Easter island?

It’s a 5 hour flight direct from Santiago.

What are the festivals and cultural events in Easter island?

New Year: Valparaiso; 3 days of festival attended by over a million visitors, with a firework display on the bay.

International Music Festival: Viña del Mar, a week in Feb. This event once attracted stars of international renown, nowadays it is more a showcase for aspiring Latin American pop stars. 

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

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