Travel the highlights of Peru and Bolivia
Travel in only 3 weeks past most of the highlights in Peru and Bolivia, including: Islas Ballestas, Colca Canyon, the Salar de Uyuni, Sucre, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu! At first this tour might look very busy and the same as tours that other agencies have to offer, but if you look closer you will notice that there is a difference on important details.
The busy days in this tour are followed by free days in interesting places, like Arequipa, Sucre and Cusco where you can choose to relax, or undertake your own activities.
Where possible we like to promote flexibility within our tours, but to be more clear about the total costs of this tour, we have already included several not to miss excursions like: Islas Ballestas, Colca Cañon, The Salar de Uyuni, Sacred Valley and a visiting Cuscoand Machu Picchu!
For all our tours and excursions we try to find a balance in travel service, quality and price.
Short travel itinerary:
Day 1 – Fri: Arrival in Lima
Day 2: Lima – Paracas – Ballestas Tour – Huacachina
Day 3: Huacachina – Nasca – comfortable night bus
Day 4: Arequipa
Day 5: Arequipa
Day 6: Arequipa – Colca Cañon Tour
Day 7: Colca Cañon Tour – Puno
Day 8: Puno – (optional: Lake Titicaca) -Copacabana
Day 9: Copacabana – (optional: Lake Titicaca) – La Paz
Day 10: (Sunday) La Paz – Oruro – Uyuni
Day 11: Uyuni – Salar de Uyuni Tour!
Day 12: Uynui – Potosì
Day 13: Potosì – Sucre
Day 14: Sucre
Day 15: Sucre – La Paz
Day 16: La Paz – Cusco
Day 17: Cusco
Day 18: Cusco – Sacred Valley Tour – Aguas Calientes
Day 19: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu Tour – Cusco
Day 20: Cusco
Day 21: Cusco
Day 22: Cusco – Lima – end of tour
Optional: to extend this tour with: A tour in the Amazon Jungle and/or a tour through the North of Peru.
Travel the highlights of Peru and Bolivia long itinerary
Day 1 - Friday: Lima Arrival in Lima
Arrival in Lima, the capital of Peru. This metropol on the Pacific Coast has more than 10 million inhabitants. But despite this huge amount of citizens and the busy traffic, it is still recommendable to visit the impressive colonial city center. Not to miss highlights include: the huge Plaza de Armas, the majestic cathedral, the catacombs of the San Francisco convent, Museo Larco the Water Park (at night) and Parque del Amor with sunset! Lima is also known as gastronomic capital of South America with a wide variety in dishes.
Day 2: Lima - Islas Ballestas - Huacachina
A busy, but very varied day! To be able to catch a boat tour to the Islas Ballestas (Bow Islands), you have to leave very early today by comfortable public transport. This bus brings you direct from Lima, through Pisco to the harbor of Paracas. At 8 am in the morning several open motor (speed)boats leave from here to make a tour around the islands.
Some people refer to these ‘arch’ islands as ‘Little Galapagos’, because of their abundant bird-life, the presence of many sea lions and even some penguins. This excursion is included in the tour.
After this excursion the tour continues to Ica and the oasis of Huacachina. From here you can join a spectacular ‘Sunset Buggy Tour’ over the sand dunes around Huacachina, a great ending for an interesting first day!
Day 3: Huacachina - Nasca - Arequipa
Today it is only 2 hours to Nasca, famous for the presence of the 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. Depending on the weather conditions it is optional to fly in the morning or afternoon over these lines.
Under normal circumstances there will be plenty of time left to also visit the unique cemetery of Chauchilla, where century old, but well preserved mummies and skeletons look up at you from their holes in the desert ground.
Tonight around 22:00h you take a comfortable public touring car towards Arequipa. Just upon your arrival around 7:30am, they will even serve you a small breakfast in the bus.
Day 4: Arrive in Arequipa
After arriving in Arequipa you have a free day in your busy schedule to discover Arequipa (2350m) and start acclimatizing. Arequipa is guarded by several impressive volanoes, including Chanchani (6057 m), El Misty (5822 m) and Pichu Picchu (5634 m). Previous eruptions, thousands of years ago, have left the area surrounding Arequipa with white colored sillar. This relative soft, but strong type of rock, proved to be good building material. During colonial times the citizens of Arequipa started to cut big blocks out of this volcanic sillar to build their houses, churches, etc. in the center of Arequipa. Because of this Arequipa is of now often called “la Ciudad Blanca”, or the White City. To most Peruvians their ‘Ciudad Blanca’ is the most beautiful city in Peru!
Day 5: Arequipa
On your second day in Arequipa, we can highly recommend to visit the impressive Santa Catalina Convent. Even nowadays a small part of this huge convent is still in use. Also the Santuarios Andinos Museum is very interesting. Their exposition includes more information about the discovery of the ‘ice princes’ Juanita. Another option for today might be to join a so called ‘Reality Tour’. This tour will bring you to less visited places of Arequipa and explains more about the daily life of the people in Arequipa. Note: this tour is only possible with a min. of 4 people.
Day 6: Arequipa - Colca Canyon Tour
Start of the tour to the famous Colca Cañon.This tour is in shared service, with other international tourists. On request it is possible to make this a private tour, to stay overnight in Cabanaconda, or even to go hiking in the canyon. Let us know if you are interested in one of these options.
The regular tour towards the famous Colca Cañon starts early, so there is time enough to enjoy the view and make some great pictures. The road crosses through two National Parks with beautiful scenery’s and a guaranty to see many lama’s and alpaca’s. Most likely you will even see some vicuñas. These elegant members of the South American camel family are more shy and are protected by Peruvian law, to preserve them from extinction.
After the bus cross a pass at 4900m altitude, you decent towards the village of Chivay (3600m). You will get free time 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, which is either in Chivay, or one of the surrounding villages.
In the afternoon you can go for a short hike in the beautiful surroundings and/or relax in the hot springs of Chivay.
Day 7: Colca Canyon Tour - Cruz del Condor - Puno
We get up at 5 am to leave at 6 am in the direction of the famous 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 lucky 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. Time to lunch before the bus goes to Arequipa/ Puno (3830m).
Day 8: Puno - Lake Titicaca - Copacabana
Peruvians see Puno as their musical capital and there are often small parades in the streets. From Puno it is recommendable to visit the famous floating reed islands of the Uros, or the mysterious towers of Sillustani. It is said that the Collas build these towers to bury their death and that the Inca’s adopted their techniques to build their cities.
In the afternoon you travel by comfortable direct bus in about 3.5h (incl. the border crossing) to Copacabana in Bolivia. Right on time to climb the Cerro Calvario (“the Witches Hill”) and watch a beautiful sunset.
Day 9: Copacabana - (optional: Isla del Sol) - La Paz
In the morning you have free time to explore this ‘pilgrim/ backpacker’ town. You can decide to visit the cathedral, to relax on the beach shore of Lake Titicaca orto join a half day trip to Isla del Sol. This island offers beautiful sceneries and views over the lake and according to some Inca stories it was also the birth place of their first Inca.
In the afternoon it takes 4 hours to travel from Copacabana to La Paz. On the way we even cross the smallest point of Lake Titicaca.
Just before riding down in the valley of La Paz, you will have a great view over this chaotic, but interesting city.
Day 10: La Paz - Uyuni
In the morning you can stroll through the historical centre of La Paz. ‘La Paz’ translates as ‘The Peace’, but ‘The Market’ would have been a better name for this busy never sleeping city. This is one of the best places to shop for souvenirs, or maybe even buy an amulet on the mysterious witches market. Another great option is to take a ‘ride’ in the new (2014/2015) cable car, which is called: Teleferico. This Swiss build Teleferico offers amazing views over the city and the valley of La Paz and also the snowcapped mountains of the surrounding Cordillera Real Mountain Range.
In the afternoon you go by public bus to Oruro, from where the train leaves to Uyuni.
Day 11: Salar de Uyuni Tour
Today is a relaxed day. You will participate in a tour in shared service international service to visit the Salar de Uyuni. The first visit is to the so called Train Cemetery where you can see some old English trains that were used to transport minerals. The tour continues to the village of Colchani, where they still manually process the salt from the Salar de Uyuni! Then it’s time to drive onto the seemingly endless salt flats of Uyuni. You can use this special landscape to make many funny and unrealistic pictures… You will also visit a small hotel build out of salt blocks and have lunch on a coral island with huge cactusses in the middle of the salt flat, truely a surrealistic experience!
Day 12: Uyuni - Potosi
The beautiful ride to Potosì is almost an excursion on its own. Due to its silver mine Cerro Rico, Potosì ones belonged to one of the biggest and richest cities in the world. It was over this silver that the Dutch buccaneer Piet Hein gained its biggest victory over the Spanish fleet. Together with the fact that Casa de la Moneda produced the first coins of the American continent, it describes Potosì’s important part in History. After arriving you have time to explore the colonial centre of this city above 4000m altitude.
Day 13: Potosi (optional Mine excursion) - Sucre
In the afternoon you drive in three hours with private transport to the official capital of Bolivia, Sucre. This city is named after the important General Antonio José de Sucre, who fought together with Simon Bolivar in the Independence War against Spain.
Day 14: Sucre (optional hike)
A free day in Sucre. You can decide to find out for yourself why Sucre is often called the most beautiful city of Bolivia, but you can also decide to join a spectacular hike in the surroundings of Sucre. This hike is called the Full Day Rockpaintings Hike. The hiking starts at about an hour from Sucre, passing the chapel of Chataquila at 3.665m. We follow the rim of the “Cordillera de los Frailes”.
Halfway this hike you visit the rock paintings of the Caves of the Inca Machay and of the Puma. Walking down to the rock paintings will give you splendid views of the valley of the Rio Ravelo and the Crater of Maragua. After visiting the rock paintings you will walk down to a few rivers that we’ll cross and from there you go down to the village of Tumpeka. from here we drive in 2 hours back to Sucre.
Day 15: Sucre - La Paz
Day 16: La Paz - Cusco
It takes about 12 hours inclusive the easy border crossing to drive in a comfortable public bus from La Paz to Cusco. Although it is a comfortable ride with great views, we understand that some people might prefer to fly. Because prices and availability change frequently we advise you to inform us as soon as possible if you want us to book this flight.
Day 17: Cusco
Day 18: Cusco - Sacred Valley - Pisac - Salineras - Ollantaytambo - Aguas Calientes
For today we included a beautiful private tour through the Sacred Valley with a visit to the archeological site of Pisac. Passing along the ruins and enjoying the great views over the valley the guide will explain you part of the impressive Inca history.
After visiting the archeological site of Pisac, you will have time to stroll around on the colorful market in the village of Pisac.
From Pisac you drive in about an hour to the salt pans of Salineras. For centuries already the Maras civilization catches here a small stream of salty water that comes out of the mountain. They catch the water in small shallow pools and let it dry in the sun, until they have only salt left. The view of these white pans in the green valley is mind blowing! After Salineras you drive in an hour to the friendly tourist town of Ollantaytambo.
From Ollantaytambo 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 have dinner in the village before taking the train to Aguas Calientes (now officially called Machu Picchu Pueblo).
Those who booked the famous Inca Trail, adventures Salkantay Trek, or original Jungle Inca Trail, will stay tonight in Ollantaytambo, so tomorrow they don’t have to get up as early as their companions who leave from Cusco.
Day 19: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Ollantaytambo - Cusco
Today you can choose to get up early as 5:00 am to leave with the first bus at 5:30 am towards Machu Picchu, so you will have the whole morning until 12 pm to visit the most famous Inca -, or maybe even the most famous archaeological site in the world.
Today also start the different optional hikes towards Machu Picchu from Ollantaytambo (or Cusco). These hikes include the famous Inca Trail, the impressive 4-day Salkantay Trek and the Inca Jungle Tour.
Although the site of Machu Picchu is famous, it is also still covered with mysteries about its original purpose, how the Inca’s could build this city on and between the mountain tops and even about its original name. More information about Machu Picchu
After the interesting guided tour you will still have time to explore the archaeological site by yourself and take pictures from the viewpoint at the Care Takers Hut. Your train and bus back to Ollantaytambo and Cusco will leave at the end of the afternoon/ early evening.
Important note: For everyone who wants to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Pichu Mountain, at the edges of the archeological site of Machu Picchu, make sure to let us know BEFORE your booking and we will check availability.
When you climb the Huyana Picchu Mountain there is also a ‘secret trail’, which goes to the back of the mountain to visit the originalTemple of the Moon. This beautiful trail takes an additional two hours and you have to start before noon from the top of the Huayna Picchu Mountain.
Day 20: Cusco
Day 21: Cusco
A free day in Cusco to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea on one of the balconies around Plaza del Armas.
Day 22: Cusco - Lima
Note – day 22: If you had booked an Inca Trail/ trek you will arrive today in the evening back in Cusco. Your flight to Lima will be re-scheduled for day 23 in the morning.
Aditional information about flying over the Nazca Lines:
Due to ‘new’ regulations from 2012, persons who weigh more than 90 kg might be asked to pay 40% additional! There is a balance at the airport and each passenger will be obligated to step on this balance before entering the plane…
Please let us know with your booking if you want to fly over The Nazca Lines and what your weight is and we try to give you as soon as possible the actual flight prices for that date.
Tour extention options:
For more information about extending this tour with an adventures trekking, please visit: Recommended trekking tours in Peru
Another highly recommendable extention of this tour can be to visit the Amazon Rainforest. Please check out our tour options for more information: Our Amazon Tour Selection in Peru!
For more information about the Amazon in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia, you can also visit our special Amazon Rainforst Tours website.
Included and recommendations to bring with on this tour:
– ALL transfers in Peru with private transport!
– Transfers to and from the airports in Bolivia + Potosi -> Sucre with private transport
– Overnight stays in hotels with a price range between 40-60 US$, including all breakfasts
– Day 3: night bus, we don’t have a hotel today
– Transport over long distances in public busses and:
– Train from Oruro to Uyuni
– Flight from Sucre to La Paz on day 15
– Train Ollantaytambo-Machu Picchu Pueblo-Ollantaytambo
– Bus Machu Picchu Pueblo – ruins of Machu Picchu (2 ways)
– Entrance fee to Machu Picchu, inclusive guided tour. Please be informed that due to new regulations you already have to decide with the booking of your tour if you want to climb up Huyana Picchu, or Machu Picchu mountain (15 US$ additional fee).
– Flight Cusco-Lima, including transfer and airport taxes
– The included excursions always include an English speaking guide, except in the Salar de Uyuni:
– day 2: Tour to Islas Ballestas in pool, including entrance fee
– day 6-7: Colca Canyon, in pool, including entrance fees
– day 11 – Tour over the Salar de Uyuni in shared services
– day 18: Private Sacred Valley Tour, including guide, transport and entrance fee worth US$ 26 per person
Exclusive in this tour:
– Optional excursions
– Extra transfers in taxi’s in Bolivia, usually not more that 2 US$ for a ride.
– Extensions of the tour.
– International flights
– Other entrance fees, (exit) taxes for international flights, food and other personal expenses
– Tips (in restaurants, for guides, drivers and more) during the tour
– Additional price for one person a room.
– International banking costs
– All things not mentioned in the tour above
– Obligated travel and health insurance
We recommend you to check the local visa and vaccination obligations.
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 good backpack, or big sport-bag, preferable no hard suitcase
– A small day (back)pack
– Good shoes
– A warm jacket/ fleece
– A rain jacket/ poncho
– A warm sweater
– Two light trousers
– One pair of shorts
– 3 T-shirts
– A flashlight
– 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.
Note: During high season, from half May until half of September, this tour will cost 50 US$ p.p. more.