South America Natural Adventures

nature travel, wildlife tours, adventure travel and general travel to Chile, Peru, Central America, Brazil and Antarctica


Custom Itinerary prepared for the Singh Family



Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Cusco and the Nazca Lines with the Ballestas Islands

llama and kid at machu picchu

Fly to Peru for an 8 day exploration of Peru's capital, Lima, the Incan culture of southern Peru and the enigmatic Nazca Lines. We have crafted this tour to have a surprisingly diverse experience in Peru in a short visit, one aimed at whetting the travel tastebuds for more. We spend time in the colonial city of Lima, adding a culinary experience to our exploration of the city itself. At Machu Picchu we exploe the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu at a leisurely and uncrowded pace. We also discover the spectacular and intricate ruins at Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley, as well as the ancient city of Cusco. Lastly we visit several islands, home to a variety of wildlife including penguins and Sealions, and overfly the amazing Nazca Lines, whose origin and meaning are still debated.

Day 1 - Friday, March 11: Birmingham / Lima
Fly from Birmingham or Atlanta to Lima, arriving between 9.30 and 11.30pm. You are met and transferred to your hotel, just across the road from the terminal door, assisted with check-in, and informed about your travels over the next week.       (*D)

Day 2 - Saturday, March 12: Lima/ Cusco/ Ollantaytambo
Aweaver in pisacfter breakfast at the hotel return to the airport for your 8.25am flight to Cusco on Lan, arriving at 9.40am. You are met and take a private tour of the Sacred Valley, ending at Ollantaytambo, where you overnight and visit ollantaytambo fountainthe amazing ruins. Along the way you will visit the market town of Pisac, and stop at a small farm to see how alpaca wool is spun and dyed for the colorful and traditional Andes cloth and clothing. One of the more interesting features at Ollanto is a fountain that stops and starts with a pass of the hand. When a hand is placed in the flowing water, it stops. Touch the entrance again, and it starts. Easier than the Clapper, and predating touchscreens by half a millenium. The area around the upper ruins is good for seeing the amazingly large Giant Hummingbird.          (B,L,D)


Day 3– Sunday, March 13: Ollantaytambo/ Machu Picchu/ Cusco
Take an early morning Vistadome train to Machu Picchu; the trip is an hour and twenty minutes. By overnighting in Ollanto and taking an early huayna picchu, machu picchutrain you have up to a couple of hours at Machu Picchu before the crowds arrive. After arrival at the Machu Picchu Villageviscacha machu picchu (was Aguas Calientes) station take the 20 minute bus ride up to Machu Picchu itself. Your guide takes you through the ruins, explaining its history and culture, for about 2 hours. After that you can continue with the guide, or explore on your own. You'll see that at about 2pm most of the crods leave, as they need to catch the train to Cusco. Our private transfer allows us to stay later. Eventually we do return down the mountain – about 20 minutes – to Machu Picchu Village, where we transfer by car to Cusco hotel, arriving about about 6.30pm. Your hotel is located in the old part of town, close to the main square, so tonight is left free to discover the small cafes around this area.          (B,L)


Day 4 – Monday, March 14: Thursday: Cusco
Today we explore the ancient city of Cusco, the capital of the Inca Empire. We begin with a city tour, wherequechua woman cusco cusco streetamong other things we see Incan walls still in use as the walls of current shops, hotels and private residences. The walls of Koricancha, the Temple of the Sun, remain despite a major earthquake; like many other Inca walls they survived while the more modern buildings built on top of them fell away. A little way outside town are the important sites of Sacsayhuaman, Kenko, Pucapucara and Tambomachay, which we visit. This afternoon and evening we have time to meander on our own, and have the opportunity to try a local restaurant of our own choosing.          (B,L)


cusco shop and cat

Day 5 - Tuesday, March 15: Cusco/Limaperuvian ceviche
Cusco has attracted travelers for centuries, and much of today is free to explore on your own. There are many craft stores, local cafes and restaurants, and interesting sights at every turn. Late this afternoon you are transferred to the airport for your flight back to Lima. On arrival you are met and transferred to your hotel in Miraflores, the seaside suburb that has many good restaurants, cafes, and shops, including the artisan market. Tonight is free to explore the Peruvian restaurant scene.           (B,*S)


Day 6– Wednesday, March 16: Lima
You will have a free morning. In the afternoon you discover Lima itself, on a private tour that reveals the essence of the city, showing its three historical periods: pre-Hispanic, Colonia and Contemporary. In Lima, there were several pre-Columbian cultures dating back thousands of years old. It was part of the Inca Empire until Francisco Pizarro founded the city of Lima on January 18th 1535 as capital of the Viceroyalty of New Castilla of the Spanish Empire.

huaca pucllanaAncestral Lima. In Huaca Pucllana archaeological site built in the fourth century ad. There we will have a panoramic view of this magnificent ceremonial and administrative center considered by the Incas a holy village. We will know the lifestyle and rituals of its ancient inhabitants.
Colonial Lima. The Viceroyalty of Peru was the most important of the Spanish Empire lima balconiesand Lima was the capital. Its historic center highlights the architecture and urban design of this period, revealing old streets with colonial mansions. Your trip includes the Paseo de la República, Plaza San Martin and Plaza Mayor with their different buildings: Government Palace, The Archbishop´s Palace, the Cathedral arranged bones san fransico conventand the Municipal Palace. Another beautiful building, some say the most beautiful in Lima, is the Central Bank Museum. One of Lima's museums will be visited, where we will see the a fine selection of gold objects, ceramics and textiles of various pre-Columbian cultures. In the opposite direction is the Convent de San Francisco, which shows the largest colonial religious art in America. Over there we will appreciate the choir room and the Library of the monks, the Sacristy, with its collection of paintings, its subterranean crypts, or catacombs, where you feel the presence of the colonial past, as the ossuaries hold often elaborately arranged bones of hundreds, or more likely thousands, or monks.
Contemporary Lima. View of the traditional areas of the capital: The Olive Grove of San Isidro, Miraflores and Larco Mar, distinctive residential and tourist center of contemporary Lima and vantage point to enjoy a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. In Larco Mar is a splendid example of art presented in Peruvian alpaca textiles, and a magnificent exhibition of jewelry and handicrafts from various regions of ancient Peru.            (B)


Day 7 - Thursday, March 17: Limabrujas de cachuche
We start today with a visit to the market, to see the local vegetables, fruits and seafood lima fruit stallthat have c ontributed to Peru's fresh and diverse cuisine. Your guide explains their uses and origins, and naturally we will be tasting along the way, becoming familiar with exotic fruits such as chirimoya, lucuma, aguaymanto and pacae, with their unique mixture of tastes and smells. We then head to a restaurant, where the chef introduces us, in a hands-on way, to the intricacies of Peru's national dish, ceviche. Return to your hotel mid-afternoon, and once again explore Miraflores, and try the wonderful Peruvian cuisine, this time with your new-found knowledge of its iungredients and preparation.     (B,L)


Day 8– Friday, March 18: Lima/ Ica/ Paracas
This morning you begin your private tour to the Nazca Lines and the Ballestas Islands. First travel along the stark desert coast to Ica, about 4.5 hours south of Lima. Near Ica are Peru's famous Nazca Lines, huge geoglyphs createhummingbird outline nazcad by the monkey outline nazcaNazca culture about 500 BCE by removing surface rocks to reveal the light colored ground beneath. The symbols are a mix of animal and human figures and geometric shapes. At the small airport you will receive an introduction to the Nazca Lines, then we board our small airplane for a 45 minute flight over the lines, the only way to see and appreciate them. After our return to the airport we visit the Regional Museum, with its collection of artifacts including textiles, pottery, metalware and mummies from the several cultures that have inhabited this area. After the flight return a little way north to Paracas on the coast, where you overnight in a modern and comfortable hotel.         (B,L,D)

Day 9 - Saturday, March 19: Ballestas Islands / Paracas / Lima
This morning visit the Ballestas Islands. On the way out we look shoreward to see the Candelabrum, a huge, 700ft high geoglyph on the cliff candelabra on cliff paracasin the shape of a trident. While easily mistaken for another part of Nazca culture, the candelabrum hails from a later time, although its origin is unknown - theories range from ancient 2,500 year old Nazcas to more or less modern sailorssealions creating a sailing guide. The most accepted explanation is that the Paracas culture created it around 200BCE, as pottery of that era has been found in the vicinity. Once closer to the islands you start to see their weathered shapes, and notice the birds wheeling overhead. At this point you may begin to hear the sea lions voices over the water, and as you get closer they will likely approach the boat. While you do not land on the islands the boat spends time at each to allow observation of the wildlife, at close quarters. Many seabirds will be seen, including the beautiful Red-legged Cormorant, Peruvian Booby, Inca Tern, Chilean Pelican and others. Humboldt Penguins nest on the ihumboldt penguinsslands, and these are usually seen swimming and diving in the water as well. After the return to the mainland visit the main information center for the reserve, look for other wildlife here, and walk out to the lookout tower to inca ternsobserve the Chilean Flamingoes that gather here. Most visitors are surprised to see flamingoes in this harsh arid environment - all the coast of
this part of Peru is desert, and rainfall is rare. We then head north, back along the coast, and return to Lima. We expect to arrive about 7 to 8pm, and go directly to the airport in preparation for our flight home. Although the airport is new and modern, checking in will still be a two-hour process. Once check-in has been done you can relax in the VIP lounge that we have prebooked for you - as your flight does not depart until around midnight, and you need to be at the airport three hours prior, these comfortable surrounds will be welcome before the flight.        (B,L)

Day 10 – Sunday, March 20: Lima/ Home City

Depart Lima a little after midnight and arrive back in your departure city this morning.         (*B)



(B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner; M: Meal; * in flight meal)