Enjoy the best parts of Peru and Bolivia in this compact trip. The tour starts and ends in Lima, Peru, but in between we will explore all the most famous destinations in these two countries: the old Inca City of Cusco, the legendary Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, La Paz, the Uyuni Salt Flats, and the beautiful town of Sucre.
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central coastal part of the country, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima Metropolitan Area. With a population approaching 9 million, Lima is the most populous metropolitan area of Peru, and the third largest city in the Americas (as defined by "city proper"). Lima was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535, as Ciudad de los Reyes. It became the capital and most important city in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru. Following the Peruvian War of Independence, it became the capital of the Republic of Peru. Today, around one-third of the Peruvian population lives in the metropolitan area. Lima is home to one of the oldest higher learning institutions in the New World. The National University of San Marcos, founded on May 12, 1551 during Spanish colonial regime, is the oldest continuously functioning university in the Americas. In October 2013, Lima was chosen in a ceremony in Toronto to host the 2019 Pan American Games. It also hosted the 2014 United Nations Climate Change Conference in December of that year. (Source: Wikipedia)
Cusco, is located in the South - Eastern region of Peru. As the “Archaeological Capital of America”, Cusco was a sacred city and capital of the empire of the Tahuantinsuyo, and it was extended by four regions which included great parts of Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. The city of Cusco was the Andean State Capital of Inka's empire. Cusco is actually, with its impressive cultural heritage, the main attraction in Peru and the most visited. The contrast of the blue sky with the wonderful landscape makes it an unforgettable city. Nowadays, when you walk around the city and you can see the streets with colonial and spanish houses which are built with Incan stones, you will realize how important the city was in the ancient times. Machu Picchu or Machu Pikchu (Quechua machu old, old person, pikchu peak; mountain or prominence with a broad base which ends in sharp peaks, "old peak", pronunciation [ˈmɑtʃu ˈpixtʃu]) is a 15th-century Inca site located 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level. It is located in the Cusco Region, Urubamba Province, Machupicchu District in Peru. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley which is 80 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of Cusco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often mistakenly referred to as the "Lost City of the Incas", it is the most familiar icon of Inca civilization. The Incas built the estate around 1450, but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Although known locally, it was unknown to the outside world before being brought to international attention in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. Since then, Machu Picchu has become an important tourist attraction. Most of the outlying buildings have been reconstructed in order to give tourists a better idea of what the structures originally looked like. By 1976, thirty percent of Machu Picchu had been restored. The restoration work continues to this day. (Source: Wikipedia)
Puno, the folklore capital of Peru and the site of the famous Feast of the Virgen de la Candelaria, and it is a city with an altitude of about 3300 metres over sea level. Puno lies on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the world's highest lake, navigable by large boats. The lake is very beautiful with its nice blue colour and it contains numerous islands whose inhabitants continue to live as their ancestors have in custom and tradition. The Uros is an example of this; its people lives on “floating islands” that they have artificially made entirely of totora reeds, and they navigate in their traditional boats also made out of totora reeds. Taquile and Amantaní are known for their kindness of their people and lovely countryside. Visiting either of these beautiful islands, where there are no cars or electricity, gives an good picture of what life must have been like five hundred years ago.
Copacabana is the main Bolivian town on the shore of Lake Titicaca. The town has a large 16th-century shrine, the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana. Our Lady of Copacabana is the patron saint of Bolivia. The town is a destination for tourism in Bolivia. The town is also known for its famous Basilica, home of the Virgin of Copacabana, its trout, and its quaint atmosphere. Built between Mount Calvario and Mount Niño Calvario, the town has approximately 6,000 inhabitants. Copacabana's religious celebrations, cultural patrimony, and traditional festivals are well known throughout Bolivia. Boats leave for Isla del Sol, the sacred Inca island from Copacabana.
La Paz is Bolivia's third most-populous city, the seat of the country's government and the capital of La Paz Department. It is located on the western side of Bolivia at an elevation of roughly 3,650 m (11,975 ft) above sea level. It is, de facto, the world's highest administrative capital. While the official capital of Bolivia (and its seat of justice) is Sucre, La Paz has more government departments. The city sits in a bowl surrounded by the high mountains of the altiplano. As it grew, the city of La Paz climbed the hills, resulting in varying elevations from 3,200 to 4,100 m (10,500 to 13,500 ft). Overlooking the city is towering triple-peaked Illimani, which is always snow-covered and can be seen from many parts of the city, including from the neighboring city of El Alto. As of the 2008 census, the city had a population of 877,363. La Paz Metropolitan area, formed by the cities of La Paz, El Alto, and Viacha, make the most populous urban area of Bolivia, with a population of 2.3 million inhabitants and surpassing the metropolitan area of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
Salar de Uyuni is the world's largest salt flat at 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi). It is located in the Potosí and Oruro departments in southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes and is at an elevation of 3,656 meters (11,995 ft) above mean sea level. The Salar was formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes. It is covered by a few meters of salt crust, which has an extraordinary flatness with the average altitude variations within one meter over the entire area of the Salar. The crust serves as a source of salt and covers a pool of brine, which is exceptionally rich in lithium. It contains 50 to 70% of the world's lithium reserves,which is in the process of being extracted. The large area, clear skies, and the exceptional flatness of the surface make the Salar an ideal object for calibrating the altimeters of Earth observation satellites. The Salar serves as the major transport route across the Bolivian Altiplano and is a major breeding ground for several species of pink flamingos. Salar de Uyuni is also a climatological transitional zone since the towering tropical cumulus congestus and cumulus incus clouds that form in the eastern part of the salt flat during the summer cannot permeate beyond its drier western edges, near the Chilean border and the Atacama Desert.
Founded in 1545 as a mining town, it soon produced fabulous wealth, becoming one of the largest cities in the Americas and the world, with a population exceeding 200,000 people. In Spanish there is still a saying, vale un Potosí, "to be worth a Potosí" (that is, "to be of a great value"). For Europeans, Peru—Bolivia was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru and was known as Alto Perú before becoming independent as part of Bolivia. Potosi was a mythical land of riches, it is mentioned in Miguel de Cervantes famous novel, Don Quixote (second part, chap. LXXI) as a land of "extraordinary richness". One theory holds that the mint mark of Potosí (the letters "PTSI" superimposed on one another) is the origin of the dollar sign. It is from Potosí, that most of the silver shipped through the Spanish Main came. According to official records, 45,000 short tons (41,000 metric tons) of pure silver were mined from Cerro Rico from 1556 to 1783. Of this total, 9,000 short tons (8,200 metric tons) went to the Spanish monarchy. Due to such extensive mining, the mountain itself has diminished in height; before the mining started it was a few hundred meters higher than it is today. Native laborers were used to work on its mines through the traditional Incan mita system of contributed labor. Many of them died due to the harsh conditions of the mine life. According to Noble David Cook, "A key factor in understanding the impact of the Potosi mita on the Indians is that mita labor was only one form of work at the mines. A 1603 report stated that of 58,800 Indians working at Potosi, 5100 were mitayos, or less than one in ten. In addition to the mitayos there were 10,500 mingas (contractual workers) and 43,200 free wage earners. Yet mitayos were required to do the work others refused: predominantly the transport of the ore up the shafts to the mouth of the mine." To compensate for the diminishing indigenous labor force, the colonists made a request in 1608 to the Crown in Madrid to begin allowing the importation of 1,500 to 2,000 African slaves per year. An estimated total of 30,000 African slaves were taken to Potosí during the colonial era. African slaves were also forced to work in the Casa de la Moneda (mint) as acémilas humanas (human mules). Since mules would die after a couple of months pushing the mills, the colonists replaced the four mules with twenty African slaves. In 1672, a mint was established to coin silver and water reservoirs were built to fulfill the growing population's needs. At that time more than eighty-six churches were built and the city's population increased to nearly 200,000, making it one of the largest and wealthiest cities in the world. After 1800, the silver mines were depleted, making tin the main product. This eventually led to a slow economic decline. Nevertheless, the mountain continues to be mined for silver to this day. Due to poor worker conditions (lack of protective equipment from the constant inhalation of dust), the miners still have a short life expectancy with most of them contracting silicosis and dying around 40 years of age
Sucre is the constitutional capital of Bolivia, the capital of the department of Chuquisaca, and the 6th most populated city in Bolivia. Located in the south-central part of the country, Sucre lies at an elevation of 2,810 meters (9,214 feet). Sucre has a subtropical highland climate,with mild temperatures year round. Very much a Spanish city during the colonial era, the narrow streets of the city centre are organised in a grid, reflecting the Andalusian culture that is embodied in the architecture of the city's great houses and numerous convents and churches. Sucre remains the seat of the Roman Catholic Church in Bolivia, and a common sight is members of religious orders dressed in traditional costume. For much of its colonial history, Sucre's temperate climate was preferred by the Spanish royalty and wealthy families involved in silver trade coming from Potosí. The city attracts thousands of tourists every year due to its well-preserved downtown with buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Nestled at the foot of the twin hills of Churuquella and Sika Sika, Sucre is the gateway to numerous small villages that date from the colonial era, the most well-known of which is Tarabuco, home of the colorful "Pujllay" festival held each March. Most of these villagers are members of one of the indigenous ethnicities. Many dress in clothing distinctive to their respective villages.
Tiwanaku (Spanish: Tiahuanaco or Tiahuanacu) is a Pre-Columbian archaeological site in western Bolivia, South America. It is the capital of an empire that extended into present-day Peru and Chile, flourishing from AD 300 to 1000. Tiwanaku is recognized by Andean scholars as one of the most important civilizations prior to the Inca Empire; it was the ritual and administrative capital of a major state power for approximately five hundred years. The ruins of the ancient city state are near the south-eastern shore of Lake Titicaca in Tiwanaku Municipality, Ingavi Province, La Paz Department, about 72 km (45 mi) west of La Paz. The site was first recorded in written history by Spanish conquistador Pedro Cieza de León. He came upon the remains of Tiwanaku in 1549 while searching for the Inca capital Qullasuyu. The name by which Tiwanaku was known to its inhabitants may have been lost as they had no written language. The Puquina language has been pointed out as the most likely language of Tiwanaku
Arrival to the Jorge Chavez airport in Callao very close to the capital of Lima and transfer to Hotel Britania, in the district of Miraflores.
This morning we are going to walk around the historic centre of Lima: Plaza de Armas, Monastery of San Francisco with their catacombs, and the museum Museo del Banco Central de Reserva del Perú . In the afternoon we will fly out into the Inca capital of Cusco, high up in the Andes. We drive directly down to the sunny Sacred Valley of the Incas, where we visit Písac on the way.
Today time to visit interesting places in the Sacred Valley. Chinchero, also known as the most typical town in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, with its unique main plaza. Then we continue to the beautiful archaeological site of Moray, after which we will have lunch in Yucay. In the afternoon we drive towards the ruins of Ollantaytambo which we will visit before our train towards Machu Picchu departs from the same village.
Time for the legendary Machu Picchu, which was made known only in 1911 by the American Hiram Bingham. We will take one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu, this mythical place that is said to be full of energy and mystery. After the tour plenty of time to explore Machu Picchu on your own. In the afternoon train to Ollantaytambo and at arrival to Cusco we will check in at our hotel centrally located at Avenida El Sol.
After breakfast we will discover Cusco and surroundings, for example: The Temple of the Sun, Korikancha. The Cathedral at Plaza de Armas. Sacsayhuaman, a fortress from the Inca Empire, today in ruins and with panoramic views over the city of Cusco. Afternoon and evening free to discover Cusco at our own.
We will go by bus towards the small city of Puno on the shores of the lake Titicaca. Stops will be made on the way: the church of Andahuaylillas, Raqchi the Archaeological Complex, the highest point of the route or ”La Raya” at 4338 m, and a stop in a small village for a buffet lunch. We will arrive Puno late in the afternoon.
Our one day trip to visit the islands in the lake Titicaca will start today with Uros, the floating reed islands, where even the boats are made of reed. The population here is living on fishing, handicrafts and tourism. We navigate towards Taquile, located at 3950 m altitude. We eat lunch at a family restaurant and wander around the island to see how people live. We will return to Puno harbour, where our car is waiting for our trip to the Bolivian side of the Titicaca Lake and the small cosy city of Copacabana. Check-in at hotel Rosario Lago Titicaca where all rooms have beautiful views over the lake.
Today after breakfast we will continue our visits to the small islands in the Lake Titicaca. We first navigate to Isla de la Luna, and from here we continue to Isla del Sol and Challapampa, a small village with a nice beach, and from here we walk to the Chincana ruins. We also visit Yumani and the Fountain of Youth from where we walk to the ruins of Pillkoqaina. We return to Copacabana in the evening to continue to La Paz.
Today, after lunch, we will see La Paz in our guided City Tour; Valle de la Luna, Mirador Killi Killi from which we will have a 360º wiew over the city, Plaza Murillo with the Catedral and the Government building and Congress, the witch market with its andean mysticism, amongst others interesting places. In the evening time to explore La Paz on our own, or just relax at the comfortable hotel in the heart of La Paz.
Later in the evening we will enjoy a Buffet dinner with dance shows from different parts of Peru.
Check out from the hotel Rosario in the morning and transfer to La Paz airport for our direct flight to the town of Uyuni, close to the gigantic salt flats “Salar de Uyuni”. At arrival we are met by our 4x4 vehicles that will take us out on our full day adventure trip to the salt flats. We start by a visit at the train cemetery where we see lots of old trains abandoned in the desert. We then continue towards Isla Pescado, the Cactus Island, where we have lunch. We end the day by driving to our salt hotel, the first one in the world, to see the sunset.
Check out from the salt hotel after breakfast, and drive towards Potosí, where we will visit an interesting museum. After lunch we continue to the small beautiful town of Sucre, with its pleasant climate and beautiful churches.
After breakfast, time to discover Sucre in our Sucre City Tour. Sucre has plenty of interesting museums and churches. We will visit some of these during the morning, later in the afternoon we have time to see Sucre on our own, relax in one of the many bars and restaurants in the evening.
Today we take the morning flight to La Paz, from where we continue to the Tiwanaku ruins which is recognized as the most important civilizations prior to the Inca empire. We cross the Bolivia – Peru border in the afternoon, and later in front of the Titicaca Lake, we check in at Hotel Taypikala Lago.
We start early with a visit to the Sillustani ruins which is a pre-Incan burial ground on the shores of the beautiful Lake Umayo. Close to the ruins we visit a local family to learn about life style in this part of Peru. We continue to Juliaca airport to take a flight to Lima, check in at hotel Britania Miraflores, close to restaurants, bars and to shops.
Check out from the hotel in the morning and then we start with our “Lima Gourmet Tour”, we start with a visit to a local coffee roastery located in the bohemian district of Barranco, home to writers such as Mario Vargas Llosa. Then we continue with a visit to a traditional market to try exotic fruits and vegetables. We end the tour by the Larcomar shopping centre, where we will have a buffet lunch in front of the sea, at Mangos restaurant. After lunch some time for shopping. Later transfer to Lima Airport for international flights.