8 Highlights of Peru Tour in 12 days!

Condor view at Cruz del CondorDuring this spectacular tour through Peru you will travel almost as fast as the Andean Condor! You will travel from sea level to above 5000 meter altitude and back in less than 12 days! During this quick tour you will visit the Ballestas Islands, which are also called ‘Little Galapagos’, because of their abundance of birds and sealions. From navigating the sea, you will navigate the air above the desert of Nasca, to admire the mysterious Nasca Lines! Your next stop will be the prettiest city of Peru, the white city of Arequipa. Then you will quickly gain more altitude by crossing the Andean mountains into the Colca Canyon. The Colca Canyon is home to the mighty Andean Condor and several indigenous communities. More indigenous communities you will visit on the islands in Lake Titicaca. An overnight bus will bring you to Cusco. This city offers a fusion of architecture and culture and of course tours into the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Your last highlight of this tour is a viewpoint at more than 5000 m (16404 feet) altitude, from where you will have an incredible view over the Rainbow Mountains!
Note: This tour is designed for travellers with little free time to travel. It is a very busy schedule, so if you have more time, we recommend you to travel a little slower.

Short itinerary of 8 Highlights of Peru Tour in 12 days:

Floating Uros Reed IslandsDay 1: Arrival in Lima
Day 2: Lima – Paracas – Islas Ballestas – Ica – Nasca
Day 3: Nasca – Nasca Lines – Arequipa
Day 4: Arequipa
Day 5: Arequipa – Colca Canyon
Day 6: Colca Canyon – Puno
Day 7: Puno – Titicaca tour (Uros and Taquille) – Cusco
Day 8: Cusco
Day 9: Cusco – Sacred Valley tour – Aguas Calientes
Day 10: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco
Day 11: Cusco – Rainbow Mountains – Cusco
Day 12: Cusco – Lima ->

Extended itinerary 8 Highlights of Peru Tour in 12 days!:


Day 1: Arrival in Lima

Plaza de Armas in LimaAfter arriving in Lima, our private transfer service will bring you to your hotel in the bustling district of Miraflores. Lima is the capital of Peru and has more than 10 million inhabitants. Despite this huge amount of citizens and the busy traffic, it is still recommendable to visit the impressive colonial city centre. Touristic highlights in Lima include: Plaza de Armas, Plasa San Martin, the impressive cathedral, the iconic San Francisco monastery, with colonial style catacombs and even Parque del Amor on the coast. If you have enough time it is also recommendable to visit the interesting Larco Museum and to visit in the evening the spectacular lightshow of Parque del Agua.

Day 2: Lima – Paracas - Islas Ballestas - Ica – Nasca

pinguins Islas Ballestas tour PeruToday you have to wake up very early, but it will be worth it. The comfortable direct bus from Cruz del Sur departs around 4:00 am towards the harbour of Paracas. Starting from 8:00 am big open speedboats depart from Paracas for their two hour tour around the rocky Islas Ballestas (Arch Islands). Some people refer to these ‘arch’ islands as ‘Little Galapagos’, because of their abundant birdlife, the presence of many sea lions and even some penguins!
After the Ballestas tour you will travel with private transport from Paracas to your hotel in Nasca. But, after an hour drive, you will first visit a local grape farm. Although this is not just a farm, it is also a brewery, where they produce the famous Pisco. This 40% clear alcohol is also the national drink of Peru. Of course you will also be able to taste different types of Pisco. After visiting the Pisco brewery it takes around two hours until you arrive at your hotel in Nasca.

Day 3: Nasca – Nasca Lines – Arequipa

Nazca Lines, Humming BirdThe most famous attraction of Nasca are of course its mysterious Nasca Lines. There are still many theories about why and how these lines were drew in the dessert, but most likely the real answer will always stay a mystery. In this tour full of highlights we have already included a flight over the Nasca Lines. The departure time of the flight will depend on the weather conditions/ visibility. After th e flight you can relax and enjoy the desert climate, or decide to (optional) visit the unique cemetery of Chauchilla. From this ancient old cemetery, well preserved mummies and skeletons still look up at you from their holes in the dessert ground. A relative new attraction in Nasca is the Adventurous Cultural Sand Buggy Sunset Tour! During this tour you will travel by open buggy over narrow dirt roads through the desert around Nasca. Along the way you visit an ancient old aguaduct, the impressive archaeological site of Cahuachi and the leftovers of a cemetary. The tour ends with an impressive sunset from one of the high sand dunes outside of Nasca!
Around 22:00h your comfortable public bus will depart towards Arequipa (around 9 hours).

Day 4: Arrival in Arequipa (2350 m above sea level)

View of Chachani Volcano ArequipaAround 7:30 am – after arriving at the bus terminal our driver will be waiting for you to bring you to your hotel in the centre of Arequipa. Arequipa is also called ‘The White City’, because most of the buildings in the city centre were built with stones of volcanic white sillar. To most Peruvians their ‘Ciudad Blanca’, surrounded by impressive snow-capped volcanoes, is the most beautiful city in Peru. Discover for yourself if you agree with them. We recommend to visit at least the famous Juanita Ice Princes and the huge Santa Catalina Convent. But we also recommend to take it easy and have a good night of sleep, because tomorrow you will travel to high altitude.

Day 5: Arequipa – Colca Canyon (3600 m)

Cruz del Condor viewpoint, Colca Canyon TourAfter breakfast you will be picked up from your hotel and join a small group of international travellers. With them, an English speaking guide and a driver, you will start your tour towards the impressive Colca Canyon (Cañon del Colca). The road from Arequipa crosses through two National Parks with beautiful views and a guarantee to see many lama’s and alpaca’s. Most likely we will also see some vicuñas. These elegant members of the South American camel family are protected by Peruvian law, to preserve them from extinction. Because of this protection, the originally shy animals are now more likely to pose for your camera.
After crossing a pass at 4900 m altitude (please take it easy at this high altitude), the bus will descent towards the village of Chivay (3600 m). You will get free time here to walk around on your own and have lunch on the market or in a local restaurant. After lunch you will be brought to your hotel in Chivay, or one of the surrounding villages. Around sunset you can go to the hot springs were the spring water is so hot that it needs to be cooled down before it enters the several small swimming pools. The Colca Canyon is also a good place to admire the stars of the Northern Hemisphere.

Day 6: Colca Canyon – Puno (3840 m)

Inca terraces in Colca ValleyToday you will get up early and drive along a very scenic route with great views over the Colca Cañon to the special condor viewpoint ‘Cruz del Condor’. Depending on the season it is almost a guaranty to see condors ascending from the depth of the canon where they have their nests. This fact makes that Cruz del Condor draws many tourists, but luckily for us these giant birds don’t seem to be the least disturbed with all this attention.
After saying goodbye to the condors, you drive back to Chivay. Here you have time to lunch before traveling another scenic route towards Puno.

Day 7: Puno – Titicaca tour (Uros and Taquille) – Cusco

Taquile Island, Lake TiticacaPuno is the biggest city on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The city isn’t pretty, but Peruvians see Puno as their musical capital and there are often small music parades in the streets. In this tour we have included a full day excursion on Lake Titicaca. You will start with visiting the unique floating reed islands from the Uros civilization. The Uros people will welcome you on one of their islands and explain more about their history and culture. From Uros you will navigate around two hours over the immense Lake Titicaca, until you reach Taquile Island. On this island it is still a tradition that the men knit woollen hats. And if a man likes a woman, he will have to knit his best hat possible, because depending on the quality of his knitting work, the family of the woman will decide if he is a worthy partner for their daughter. Check out this short video of the Titicaca Uros and Taquile Tour!
Back in Puno it is time for dinner, before traveling by overnight bus to Cusco (7 h)

Day 8: Cusco (3500 m)

Plaza de Armas of Cusco at nightThe estimated arrival time in Cusco is 5:00 am, so we have arranged an early check inn with breakfast in your hotel in Cusco.
Cusco was once the Inca Capital of Peru, ruling most of South America. After the Spanish Conquistadors arrived, they build their colonial buildings on top of the Inca foundations of the Inca buildings. This combination of different building styles together with the beautiful location in the mountains, the many touristic activities, restaurants, bars, etc., have made from Cusco one of the most popular tourist cities in South America! We recommend to visit at least the impressive Cathedral and the Qoricancha Sun Temple and maybe to have a coffee at Jack’s Café or at one of the balconies overlooking Plaza de Armas. If you like to walk, I can also recommend to take a taxi to Tambo Machay and then walk back to Cusco, along the way passing the archaeological Inca sites of Pucara, Quenko and Sacsayhuaman.

Day 9: Cusco – Sacred Valley tour – Aguas Calientes

View from Pisac Ruins Peru tourTo maximize your experience in the most important valley of the Inca’s we have standard included a beautiful private tour through the Sacred Valley. Your tour will start with visiting the archaeological site of Pisac. Passing along the ruins and enjoying the great views over the valley the guide will explain you most of the impressive Inca history. After visiting the archaeological site of Pisac, you will have time to stroll around on the colourful market of the village of Pisac. From Pisac you will travel to Salineras. This is a pre-Inca salt winning place from the Maras culture. Hundreds of years ago they started to collect the water from a mountain in small shallow pools. The sun would dry the water and what was left is salt. Even now this system is still working and the white ‘salt pans’ provide a great view in the green valley. From Salineras you drive further to Urubamba (lunch) and the town of Ollantaytambo.
Ollantaytambo Inca ruinsAfter a short walk through the village, your guide will lead you around the ancient Inca fortress of this village. The fortress of Ollantaytambo is one of the very few places where the Inca’s won a big battle against the Spanish conquistadors.
After visiting this interesting site you will say goodbye to your guide and take the train to Aguas Calientes (now officially called Machu Picchu Pueblo). In Aguas Calientes a representative from your hotel Will pick you up from the train station and there will also be a short briefing about your tour to Machu Picchu tomorrow.

Day 10: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco

Machu Picchu tour PeruMachu Picchu is the most known Inca ruin worldwide. However, it is not mentioned in any of the Spanish Conquistadors writings. It is believed to have been constructed around the mid-15th century and was “rediscovered” by the American historian Hiram Bingham in 1911. Because of its impressive structures and location, Machu Picchu is now also one of the 7 New World Wonders! Due to new regulations to protect Machu Picchu the daily number of visitors to the archaeological site has been limited. Each day has now been divided in new ‘time-slots’ of around 4 hours, during which only a certain number of visitors are allowed to enter the site. Therefore the times of your tour through Machu Picchu will depend on which timeslot we can book for you. Check out our short video of visiting Machu Picchu and climbing the Machu Picchu Mountain in July 2023. Check out our following article for more information about visiting Machu Picchu.
After visiting the archaeological site of Machu Picchu, you can take the bus back down again to Aguas Calientes and have lunch before your train departs to Ollantaytambo. From here our private transport will bring you back to your hotel in Cusco.

Day 11: Cusco - Rainbow Mountains – Cusco

Rainbow Mountains tour PeruVery early, around 4:30 am, our local agent will pick you up at your hotel. After picking up other guests at other hotels, you will travel in about two hours to Cusipata, where the paved road turns into a dirt road. From here it is about an hour further to the small town of Phulawasipata at an altitude of 4,626 m (15,177.17 ft). This is where you leave the mini Van and start the slow hike at high altitude. It takes between one to two hours (depending on your physical condition at high altitude) to reach the viewpoint at (5,020 m (16,466 ft). But it is a pretty hike with a beautiful mountain scenery, dotted with herds of lamas and alpacas, supervised by the impressive snowcapped mountain peak from the Apu Ausangate. Ones you’ve reached the viewpoint you will have a great view over the a colorful mountain range, now nicknamed “The Rainbow Mountains”. These mountains are rich with different minerals, which cause the various colored stripes over the mountains. It is a magical view! After enjoying this view and taking great pictures the hike back to Phulawasipata will be a lot easier, so you will have more energy to enjoy your surroundings. The following short video will give a good impression of our tour to the Rainbow Mountains in July 2023. The ride to Cusco is again around three hours and the estimated arrival time is (21:00h).

Day 12: Cusco – Lima ->

Breakfast with fiew in CuscoYour last morning in Cusco is a good moment to taste a good Peruvian coffee in Jack’s Café, or one of the restaurants around Plaza de Armas.
At a convenient time, depending on the departure time of your flight back to Lima, our driver will pick you up at your hotel and bring you to the airport of Cusco.

End of our services

Inclusive in this 8 Highlights of Peru in 12 days!

– Private transfer from airport to hotel in Lima
– Overnight in hotel in Lima
– Early private transfer from hotel to Cruz del Sur bus terminal
– Cruz del sur bus from Lima to Paracas
– Boat tour to Islas Ballestas in shared international service
– Private transfer from Paracas to Nasca, inclusive visiting a Pisco grape farm and brewery
– Overnight with breakfast in hotel in Nasca
– A flight over the Nasca Lines, inclusive transfers and airport tax
– A comfortable seat in the Cruz del Sur overnight bus from Nasca to Arequipa
– A private transfer from bus terminal in Arequipa to hotel
– Overnight with breakfast in hotel in Arequipa
– A two day/ one night tour in shared international service, into the Colca Canyon, inclusive transport, an English speaking guide, overnight with breakfast and transport to your hotel in Puno.
– Overnight with breakfast in hotel in Puno
– A full day Titicaca tour in shared international service, inclusive transport, English speaking guide, entrance fees and lunch
– A private transfer from your hotel to the bus terminal in Puno
– Overnight bus from Puno to Cusco
– Early private transfer from bus terminal in Cusco to hotel
– Early check-in incl. breakfast in hotel in Cusco
– Overnight with breakfast in hotel in Cusco
– A private tour in the Sacred Valley of Cusco, inclusive an English speaking guide, private transport, entrance fees and lunch
– Train ticket from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes
– Overnight with breakfast in hotel in Aguas Calientes
– Tourist bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu and back
– A private tour with English speaking guide over the site of Machu Picchu
– Train back from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo
– Private transfer from Ollantaytambo to hotel in Cusco
– 2x Overnight with breakfast in hotel in Cusco
– A full day tour to the Rainbow Mountains in shared international service, inclusive transport, English speaking guide and entrance fees
– Private transfer from hotel to airport in Cusco
– All local taxes
– 24/7 English speaking emergency contact

Exclusive in this tour:

– Flights
– Food and drinks, unless mentioned different in the inclusive list
– Everything that isn’t clearly mentioned in the itinerary and/ or inclusive list
– Personal spending
– Tips (but only when the service was good)

We recommend you to bring at least with:

– Valid identification and travel documents and when needed a valid visa
– The information of your travel insurance
– Valid vaccinations, ask you countries health centre for more information
– A small day (back)pack
– Good walking shoes
– Sandals or flip flops
– A warm jacket/ fleece
– A rain jacket/ poncho
– Two warm sweaters
– Three light trousers
– Swimming clothes
– One pair of shorts
– 4 T-shirts
– A good camera and something to be able to back-up your photos
– Protection against the sun and mosquito’s (you can also buy in Peru)

Be aware that Peru is not a Third World Country anymore, so most things are available. If you do have any doubts about what to bring, please feel free to ask us.

Condor Colca Canyon tour in Peru