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Machu Picchu, Nazca, Arequipa & Colca Canyon: Explore historic Paracas, Machu Picchu, and the White City

Days: 12 | From: $6,150/per person

See the iconic Machu Picchu as well as some of Peru's lesser-known cultural gems: the cultural history of Paracas and Nazca, the beautiful colonial city of Arequipa, and gorgeous Colca Canyon.

  • Includes accommodations at first class hotels that reflect the best of local culture
  • Includes excursions and tours with superb private guides
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We tailor itineraries to your dates and interests, adjusting hotels, excursions and length as desired.

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At a glance

  • Lima
    1 night: renowned cuisine and world class museums
  • Paracas
    2 nights: unique history, beautiful coastline, the unforgetting Nazca Lines
  • Sacred Valley
    2 nights: Andean life and ancient ruins on foot and by bike
  • Machu Picchu
    1 night: spectacular day hikes to and around this stunning icon
  • Cusco
    2 nights: walk the streets of the captivating former Incan capital
  • Arequipa
    1 night: beautifully preserved colonial architecture
  • Colca Canyon
    2 nights: spectacular scenery, soaring condors, and natural hot springs

  • All itineraries are fully customizable. We will send you a personalized variation that reflects your interests and travel dates at no extra cost. Call to discuss your travel plans with one of our Specialists who know this region firsthand.

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Sample itinerary

Day 1

Welcome to Lima

Miraflores Beach, Lima

Arrive to Lima, former capital of the Spanish empire in the Americas, and transfer to your first class hotel in Miraflores, Lima’s main cultural and commercial district. This is a great area for strolling around and is home to many of Lima’s best restaurants.

Private tours of Lima or visits to any of Lima’s museums can be arranged; we can also arrange culinary tours focusing on Peru’s increasingly renowned cuisine, or art tours for those with special interests.

Accommodations: Atemporal

Housed in a renovated 1940s townhouse in the chic Miraflores district, this new nine-room hotel provides a relaxed atmosphere with impeccable service. Atemporal offers its guests an alternative lodging experience: The personalized attention to detail includes a Maître de maison, concierge on duty around the clock, house car and chauffeur for short excursions, 24/7 menu created with locally-sourced natural ingredients, and full connectivity. Atemporal is entirely private, meaning only guests and those they invite can use its exclusive spaces, with their offbeat but functional collector’s aesthetic, including a veranda, salon and private garden.

Upgrades available: Hotel B, Miraflores Park Hotel, and others
Day 2

Travel to Paracas

Paracas

Set out for Paracas, a treasure trove of Peruvian cultural history. The Paracas and Nazca cultures that lived in this area produced impressive crafts and textiles that are displayed in the area’s fascinating museums, and also created larger legacies, such as complex underground aqueducts and massive geoglyphs on the desert floor. You will be dropped off at your hotel, located on the shore of the beautiful Paracas Bay, with time to relax in the pool, explore the beach, or do some kayaking on the bay.

Accommodations: La Hacienda Bahia Paracas

The Hacienda Bahia Paracas Hotel is located on the beautiful Bay of Paracas, close to the only marine protected area in Peru, Paracas National Reserve. The hotel has a spacious pool overlooking the bay, a spa and fitness center, and several dining options: an elegant restaurant with views of the bay, courtyard café, bar, and lounge.

*Includes: Breakfast

Upgrades and alternatives: Libertador Paracas , a five-star property, Hotel Las Dunas , a family-oriented property located about 45 minutes away, near sand dunes offering sandboarding and other desert adventures
Day 3

Nazca Lines Flyover

Nazca Lines - Aerial View

Take a flight over the desert to see the Nazca Lines, fascinating ancient geoglyphs created by the Nazca culture between 400 and 650 CE. The lines, which were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, are composed of hundreds of individual figures, such as animals, insects, plants and flowers, and people.

In the afternoon, visit the Paracas National Reserve, the only marine reserve in Peru, which is home to a variety of species and also houses a museum of artifacts from the Paracas culture, as well as a burial site that has been dated back to approximately 100 BCE.

Accommodations: La Hacienda Bahia Paracas

*Includes: Breakfast

Day 4

Fly to the Sacred Valley of the Incas

Road into the mountains of the Sacred Valley

Fly over the Andes to Cusco, the ancient capital of the Incan Empire. Your local guide will meet you at the airport and take you to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, a long, fertile river valley surrounded by snowcapped peaks that lies between Cusco and Machu Picchu.

Visit Chinchero, a traditional small town situated on a plateau overlooking the Sacred Valley. Explore a colonial church with remarkable paintings and frescoes, which was constructed over the ruins of an Incan temple and is surrounded by impressive Incan terracing. Chinchero is also home to several highly-regarded weaving cooperatives known for the quality of their textiles. Peru is known for its intricate traditional weavings, many of which use symbols to tell stories or depictions of daily life.

Afterward enjoy lunch at a great small restaurant founded by a renowned local chef. Your private guide will be there to help you make the most of the entire experience.

Accommodations: Hotel Sol y Luna

The Sol y Luna Lodge is located in Peru's Sacred Valley of the Incas, not far from the town of Urubamba. Peruvian art adorns each of the first class, comfortable adobe cottages, whose terraces offer spectacular views of the mountains. A place that does things the right way, this hotel has long been among our traveler favorites due to the superb accommodations, location, and service. The property offers two outstanding restaurants. There is also a stable with beautiful horses that can be taken out into the surrounding mountains on horseback riding excursions. This is a Relais & Chateaux property.

*Includes: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5

Incan Sites and Ancient Villages: Moray, Maras, and Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo View

Spend the day exploring more of the Sacred Valley, seeing less-visited sites that will deepen your understanding of the local culture.

Discover the unique Incan site of Moray and the nearby town and ancient salt pans of Maras. After a scenic picnic lunch, visit Ollantaytambo, one of the few towns to survive in its current layout from Incan times.

Accommodations: Hotel Sol y Luna

*Includes: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu from afar

Travel by train to Machu Picchu, one of South America’s most iconic sites.

Visit this remarkable site with a private guide, enjoy lunch at the famous Sanctuary Lodge, and then have the chance to explore the ruins on your own before returning to your hotel in Aguas Calientes.

Accommodations: Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

This hotel sits on its own 12 secluded acres in Aguas Calientes, the town located at the base of Machu Picchu. The hotel is ideally located in natural surroundings, a short walk to the train station and the shuttles that take visitors to the ruins, but just outside the town, which is quite touristy. Guests follow stone pathways to their rooms, located in comfortable one- or two-story whitewashed casitas. Unlike the other hotels in Aguas Calientes, the Pueblo is set in a natural cloud forest, allowing you to experience the beauty of this unique ecosystem during your stay.

*Includes: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7

Machu Picchu and Cusco

Sun behind the ruins at Machu Picchu

Return to Machu Picchu with your private guide in the early morning to explore the ruins. This is a great way to experience the site when there are far fewer people around. You’ll also have the chance to hike to the top of Huayna Picchu, the mountain that towers above Machu Picchu (about 2 hours round trip).

After visiting the ruins, catch the afternoon train back to Cusco, where you’ll be dropped off at your hotel.

Accommodations: Inkaterra La Casona Cusco

A Relais & Chateaux property, La Casona is set in a restored 16th-century colonial manor house, which was built over an Inca complex and later occupied by the conquistadors of Peru. Its 11 suites surround an elegant courtyard, and the hotel offers a dining room, dining terrace, lounge and sitting area. La Casona graciously preserves the site's historic details while offering modern comfort and amenities. An exclusive boutique hotel experience, and one of the top options in Cusco.

*Includes: Breakfast, Lunch

Upgrades and alternatives: Palacio Nazarenas, Palacio del Inka, and others
Day 8

Private Tour of Cusco: History, Culture, Architecture, and more

Cusco stone walls and buildings

Get to know Cusco with your knowledgeable private guide, visiting the historical highlights of this fascinating city. Visit Sacsahuaman, the massive Incan fortress on the hills above the city, where you can enjoy views out over Cusco and the entire surrounding area. Afterward enjoy the afternoon to explore more of the city on your own.

Cusco is one of the highlights of a trip to Peru, an intriguing place built on the foundations of the former Incan capital. You can observe massive Incan walls along many of the streets of the city. The city has a vibrant atmosphere and many excellent restaurants.

Accommodations: Inkaterra La Casona Cusco

*Includes: Breakfast

Day 9

Travel to Arequipa and Tour the White City

Arequipa - White walled city

Fly to Arequipa, often called the White City for its well-preserved sillar stone construction. Arequipa is a masterpiece of colonial architecture, and its historic center has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You have time to settle into your hotel before taking a tour of the city in the afternoon. Your private guide is a bilingual local who will give you an insider’s perspective on the area.

Accommodations: Libertador Arequipa

Located just minutes from the city’s central plaza, the 88-room Libertador Arequipa offers a restaurant and bar, swimming pool and Jacuzzi, fitness center and sauna, and lush gardens.

*Includes: Breakfast

Day 10

Journey to Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon

Depart for Colca Canyon, a place of sweeping scenery and natural beauty and home to the endangered Andean Condor. Colca is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, and is surrounded by towering volcanoes and mountain peaks.

You have the option to mountain bike the last few scenic miles to your lodge, or to transfer there directly. Take the afternoon to enjoy your lodge’s natural hot springs and relax.

Accommodations: Colca Lodge

Colca Lodge is located on the banks of the River Colca, near Peru's Colca Canyon. It is surrounded by pre-Incan agricultural terraces and sits near a natural hot spring, around which the lodge has created an eco-spa powered by solar panels and the springs' geothermic energy. The 45-room hotel has a rustic style, with thatches roofs and adobe walls, and most of the rooms have small terraces overlooking the Andean countryside. Amenities include three restaurants and two bars, lush grounds with gardens and courtyards, spa, and access to the thermal pools. Colca Lodge is ideally situated for activities around the Colca Canyon area, including hiking, excursions to nearby ruins and colonial settlements, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

*Includes: Breakfast

Day 11

Cruz del Condor

Colca Canyon

Explore Colca Canyon, one of Peru’s most beautiful natural areas. Visit the Cruz del Condor, a great place to spot massive Andean Condors as they soar along the canyon.

In the afternoon you have the opportunity to do some hiking through Colca Canyon, stopping in the traditional Andean village of Canocota and visiting the La Calera hot springs.

Accommodations: Colca Lodge

*Includes: Breakfast

Day 12

Depart for Home or Your Next Destination

Today you will say goodbye to your local guide and head to the airport for your flight home or to your next destination.

More Photos From This Trip

Sacred Valley - Willoc GirlMorayLlama at Ruins in Machu PicchuHikers at the gate over Machu PicchuMachu Picchu Ruins Close UpInkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel - Bridge (photo credit Inkaterra)Cusco Cathedral at NightArequipa

Popular Ways to Customize This Itinerary

  • Take part in a Pachamanca, a traditional Andean cooking ceremony on the shores of Lake Piuray.

  • Add a few nights in the Peruvian Amazon or Lake Titicaca, both easily accessible from Cusco.

  • Add extra days in Lima, Cusco, or Arequipa: All three are worth exploring on your own, and we can arrange a variety of activities, including city tours, culinary excursions, visits to ruins and historical sites, and active options such as hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.

  • Hike to Machu Picchu: Get off the train at Kilometer 104 to walk the last four to six hours along the famous Inca trail. Or see our Inca Trail to Machu Picchu itinerary for information about hiking the whole trail over several days.

  • Include some downtime for rest and relaxation! Some free time to unwind or have a massage will allow you to feel refreshed and ready for the remainder of your trip. Many of our properties include excellent spas or wellness centers. We can help arrange these services or include properties that offer health & wellness amenities.

  • Contact us to learn about more options for designing and customizing your trip.

Call us to start planning your journey today:

1-(800)-342-1796

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Why Travel with Vaya?

We're TRUE specialists

South America is the only place we do trips, and no one knows our destinations better. Our smart and engaging specialists are all current or former U.S. expatriates with years of experience in the region.

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From the first phone call to after you get back, we’re here for you every step of the way. We listen, create, customize and advocate for you, and design experiences that go beyond the expected.

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Our discerning sensibility and good taste go beyond just choices in hotels and top guides; we have a walk the walk commitment to the environment and are genuine leaders in conservation efforts.