This is an ambitious itinerary,trekking in three of the very best locations in the Peruvian Andes.
* The Cordillera Blanca and Santa Cruz Trail
*Arequipa and the Colca Canyon
*Finally. Cuzco and the magical Inka Trail leading to the ‘lost city’ of Machu Picchu.
The trekking on both the Santa Cruz and Inka Trails is reasonably energetic with the former being the first trek is likely to a challenging indicator of fitnees and acclimatisation. From Day 2(apart from a brief return to Lima) we Will be high up in the Andes and altitude Will be a significant feature of the trip. Good acclimatisation however is a natural process and much care has been taken with the sequence of the itinerary to allow this to happen.
Huaraz our base for the Santa Cruz Trail (3050m)
Arequipa (2320m) bu tour base for Colca Cañon is Cabanaconde (3290m)
Cusco (3350m) and Machu Picchu (3600m)
beautiful mountain in the world and Huascaran.8768 m, Peru`s highest mountain.
This trip is 22 days ex Lima . The first and last days refer to the days of arrival in and departure from Lima, and may not be the days you depart from or arrive back home.
Arrive Lima Hotel.
We leave Lima early for the eight hour bus journey to Huaraz.The first part of the journey follows an arid desert coastline with disturbing evidence of Peru`s burgeoining urban population in several overflowing shanty settlements. As we head up into the mountains the landscape quickly becomes les sobre and rural life looks to the far preferible. Once over the pass of Conococha we have a first glimpse of snow covered mountains and after a long day we finally arrive in Huaraz, the Gateway to the Peruvian Andes. Hotel(B)
Huaraz, at 3100m above sea leve lis the capital of Ancash province and the trekking centre of the Cordillera Blanca.There is time to relax. Recover from the travelling and start getting used to the altitude. We usually arrange an afternoon acclimatisation walk beyond the town and up to a Pre Inka temple. A descent through fields finishes at the termal pools at Monterrey. First acclimatisation tip-drink plenty of wáter (B)
Time to start trekking. The bus takes us to Cashapampa at the other end of the range , a journey of 3-4 hours. As the road is parallel to the mountains the views are quite spectacula. The final climb to our campsite is up a winding mountain road, and the bus leaves us with nthe tents, food and our gear for the next 7 days on trek. 2900m (B, L, D)
The arrieros (mulemen) arrive with the donkeys early in the morning, we take down the tents and leave after breakfast. From the camp we walk up the narrow Santa Cruz valley. This is the first parto f one of the most famous treks in Perù, the santa Cruz – Llanganuco circuit. As we gain height the valley opens out and more snowy peaks emerge onto the skyline. We camp at the small lake of Ichic cocha.3800m. 5-6 hours (B,L,D)
Day 6 -7
Continuing up the Santa Cruz valley to Taullipampa, the peaks of Alpamayo, Quitaraju and the amazing rock and ice towers of Taulliraju gradually dominate the view, The valley becomes a sea of lupins – bring lots of film! 4200m. 4 hours.
We spend 2 nights at the campsite at taullipampa, eather for arest day, (a chance to acclimatise more slowly) or to take a short diversión up a side valley or scramble up and along a nearby ridge with views towars Alpamayo, best kown because of its striking Pyramid shape. In Peru it is known simply as the most beautiful mountain in the world. (B,l,D)
Our high pass is Punta Union (4750m). A short, steep ascent to the pass gives us some of the best views in the range. We have plenty of time to enjoy being there, and we can pick out Chacraraju and Pyramide in addition to many peaks to the south. From the pass we descend into the greener valley of Huaripampa, and arrive at the campsite of Pariac or Cachinapampa (3800m) 6 hours, (B, l, D)
From Pariac or Cachinapampa, the Trail leads down through cultivated land, to the village of Colcabamba. The rural scenes we pass through provide a welcome contrast to the higher mountain environment in which we have spent the last few days, 4 hours.
Our transport is waiting at nearby Vaqueria. We cros sour second high pass, the Portachuelo de Llanganuco with the help of a revving bus engine, descend the beautiful Llanganuco valley and return to Huaraz with a Good meal ( and wine) to mark the end of our first trek. (B,L)
The long return bus ride to Lima is usually a lively ride with re-oxygenating blood, a sense of achievement, relaxation and a welcome rest from activity. (B)
A morning flight to Arequipa. Peru`s second largest city lies at 2325m and enjoys a predominantly warm and sunny climate. Often called the `White City’ after the pale volcanic, sillar used in the older building, it is overlooked by the snow-capped, perfectly shaped volcano. El Misti. It is best known for its Spanish colonial architecture with many buildings dating from the 17th and 18th century. In the afternoon we make a tour of the city spending some time in the famous Santa Catalina monastery and there is time in the evening to continue the sightseeing. Hotel (B).
We leave early on our drive to the Colca Canyon, 100kms long with its claims to reach a depth of 3400m almost twice that of the Grand Canyon. The tiny traditional Andean settlements and terraced fields along its length add much to our visit. The drive from Arequipa reaches a staggering 4800m on the bleak altiplano (that is why we don’ t come here first) before deopping down to the spa town of Chivay. We continue to Cabanaconde ready to start our trek, Basic Lodge. (B, L, D)
The day begins with photo opportunities at the well known lookout viewpoint of ElCruz del Condor (3800m) before we begin the long descent down into the Canyon.
Our first camp is at Llahuar where there is a thermal pool. (2120m) 4hours. (B, L, D)
Easy hiking down the canyon. We stop at the old town of Llatica where the local people produce cochineal used in cloth dyes. The dye is made from small parasitic insects which are ‘farmed’ on a hábitat of prickly pear cacti. We camp neat to the small settlement of Fure, a small fertile oasis. 5 hours. (B, L, D)
We leave the main canyon t osee several waterfalls on the river Huaruro. Back in the Colca Canyon an old road leads down to the oasis of Sangalle where we camp.
4 hours. (B, L, D)
Our circuit ends today with a steady hike up the south side of the Canyon to arrive back at the starting point, the small village of Cabanacond. 4hours. Our bus iswaiting and we head back to Arequipa.
Well acclimatised, relaxed and at ease with the sights and sounds of Andean Perù, everyone should be ready to make the mosto f our final destination – Cusco and The Inka Trail! A short morning fligh from Arequipa Will still leave enough time for a walking circuit of the main Inca sites above the town – your guide Will advise. You buy a combined ticket in Cusco which covers the entrance charges to a number of the local sites. The massive Inca temple-fortress, Sacsayhuaman, is a breathless half hour walk from the main square, the Plaza de Armas. It is one of the wonders of Perù and the most accesible example of massive Inca stonework. From Sacsayhuaman we hike up the Hill to the statue of Jesus and a perfect view over Cusco. Then we follow the path along to the ruins of Qenco, Cusillyuioc (Temple of Monkeys), Salumpunku (Temple of the moon), Puca Pucara and Tambomachay.
You can catch a taxi back to Cusco from anywhere en route. (B, L, D)
We leave for the Inca Trail, and drive to the roadhead in the main Urubamba valley – Kilometro 92. We cross the river and a pleasant rising Trail passes through small settlements. A short hike off the Trail leads to some Inca ruins and terracing at Llactapata before continuing up to a saddle with Good views down and across the main Urubamba valley. A descent leads to our first camp at the village of Huayllabamba. 3 hours. 3000m. (B, L, D)
The hard work begins as we climb up to Dead Woman`s Pass (4198m), a tough day and the highest point of the Inca Trail. Take plently of time to admire the view and as we mee tour first Inca steps below the pass, maybe think how the Inca built it all.
We descend the far side of the pass and camp at 3000m. 6 hours (B, L, D)
The Trail climbs slowly to another pass where we have excellent views of our objective later in the trip, the Vilcanota massif. Then we follow the winding Trail down into cloud forest and the ruins of Sayacmarca and Wiñay Wayna. Camp at 2650m. 6 hours. (B, L, D)
The path contours a final hilside and enters a cloud forest full of begonias, bromeliads and tree ferns. A steep flight of stairs leads to the first Inca gate and shortly afterwards to the Sun Gate from where suddenly we can see Macchu Picchu spread out below us. A dramatic momento impossible to describe. The amazing Inca stonework and architecture combined with the location and the remoteness simply defies belief. Almost as incredible is the Stone-stpped Trail up the pinacle of Huayna Picchu, a great climax to the visit but perhaps not unless you are Good with steepness and height.
Finally an afternoon train back to Cusco (4-5 hours) a marvellous experience in itself. What a day! Hotel. (B, L)
Fly to Lima (am) , then fly home or continue with your own arrangements. If there is time before your return flight, explore the city (With care!), visit the gold museum or the Catacombs or shop for a few las minute wall hangings! (B)