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29 Day High Andes Tour - La Paz to Lima

If you’re interested in travel through the Andean countries and want to experience the sights, sounds and smells of this fascinating region, then this 4 'weeker' is for you. Travel is through the arid desert of Peru and up into the high Andes following in the footsteps of the Incas with the main highlights being Nazca, Cuzco and the Altiplano throughout Bolivia, including the largest salt lake on earth.

High AndesDay 1: La Paz
Your tour leader will usually hold a group meeting at approx. 6.00pm on Day 1 (check the notice board in the hotel reception for the exact time and location). Your tour leader will give a briefing about the tour, outline the plan for the next few days, answer any questions and collect your ‘Local Fund’ payment in full in US$ cash. Then there will usually be the option for everyone to go out for dinner and drinks to start to get to know one another. La Paz is the highest capital city in the world at 3,636 metres. La Paz is built in the basin of a spectacular valley with the snow-capped Mount Illimani in the background. The city has colourful Indian street markets including the ‘witches market’ where women in flared skirts sell, amongst other things, dead cats and llama foetuses which are placed under new buildings to keep evil spirits away. The main square, Plaza Murillo, is where many years ago a president of the republic was lynched from a lamppost. La Paz is one of the best places to see a traditional peña show of Andean music and dance where local musicians play their time-honoured instruments such as zampoñas (pipes) and charangos (ukulele). As La Paz is at altitude, it is a good idea to arrive at least one day before the start of the trip to rest and acclimatise. There are heaps of optional excursions available in La Paz. Check out the Moon Valley with its strange rock formations shaped by the weather or take in the incredible views from Mount Chacaltaya and the world's highest ski resort at 5,221metres. Another fantastic excursion is to Coroico, the gateway to the Bolivian jungle region and a great place to see sub-tropical vegetation and plants. En-route you will cross a 5,000 metre high pass before descending to 1,300 metres on narrow mountain roads bordered by sheer drops. The excursion to Coroico can also be done by mountain bike, as it is downhill nearly all the way and very exhilarating, but not for the fainthearted!

Days 2-4: Free camping – Potosi
From La Paz we travel across the Altiplano (high plane) free camping near to the market town Oruro. Our next stop is Potosí (4,070 metres), the highest city of its size on earth with a population of 110,000. The city was established in 1545 soon after the discovery of a rich vein of silver in a nearby hill, the Cerro Rico (or “rich hill”). Silver from Potosí underwrote the Spanish economy, particularly the monarchy's extravagance, for over two centuries. Millions of Indians, and later, African slaves, worked in the mines where conditions were so appalling and dangerous that miners died in astronomical numbers, either in accidents or from silicosis pneumonia. You have the chance to visit one of the mines where you can see first hand how rough the working conditions were and still are!

Days 5-7: Uyuni – free camping
Travelling on we head to the desolate town of Uyuni in the south of Bolivia, to visit what is claimed to be the largest salt flat in the world, the brilliant white vast Salar de Uyuni. There is an opportunity to take an excursion to Fisherman’s Island where there are great views of the surrounding lake and giant cacti and llama provide perfect photo opportunities. The fantastic contrast of the brilliant blue sky (weather permitting of course) and the pure white of the salt flats will take your breath away. From here we head back to La Paz, free-camping near some hot thermal springs along the way.

Days 8-12: La Paz – Puno (Peru)
After two nights in la Paz we continue across the Altiplano and cross into Peru stopping at the border town of Desaguadero to change money. From here we drive around the southern end of Lake Titicaca which, at 3,855 metres above sea level, is the highest navigable lake in the world. Driving onto Puno we hope to arrive in time to visit the colourful markets. From here you have the chance to take an excursion to the islands of Amantaní and Taquile. On Amantaní we arrange homestay accommodation with the native Aymara/Quechua Indian families and you will have the chance to eat with the family, perhaps enjoy a party and dancing and maybe play soccer with the local children! The next morning you’ll visit Taquile Island where the people live in simple adobe huts and the men knit colourful hats. You will also visit the floating reed islands in the Bay of Puno, to see the Uros Indians’ way of life and ride in a traditional reed boat before continuing back to Puno. As soon as you arrive back we’ll drive up to the Sillustani ruins where we will freecamp for the night. Here you will have the option to visit these ancient burial towers and the fascinating little museum.

Days 13-15: Cuzco
Leaving Sillustani we drive along roads bordered by herds of llamas, alpacas and vicuñas. Our journey takes us past hot mineral pools, snow-capped mountains, through villages where the Indians sell food, fur hats and alpaca sweaters and over the La Raya Pass at 4,321 metres. It gradually becomes greener as we get closer to the former Inca capital of Cuzco, which means ‘navel of the earth’ in the Inca language of Quechua. This enchanting city has a mostly indigenous population of around 275,000 and is centred around the Plaza de Armas, which is dominated by the Cathedral and La Compañia de Jesus Church. Nowadays Cuzco is also legendary for its party atmosphere and brilliant nightlife and is jam-packed with arcades housing many fine restaurants, bars and shops. For people wanting the challenge of the 4 day Inca Trail trek there will be a briefing in which your local guide will chat about the arrangements for the next few days.
Please see the brochure or the ‘Travel Info’ section of our website for important booking regulations and prices. You may not be able to complete the trek if you do not read this information. For more details about the trail facilities, equipment, preparation etc. please ask your agent for an ‘Inca Trail Info Sheet’. If you are trekking the alternative Lares Trek you should ask for a ‘Lares Trek Info Sheet’. Both documents are available to download from our website. We have a full day trip through the Sacred Valley of the Incas and if you’ve purchased your Cuzco visitor’s ticket previously then you’ll be able to visit the Pisac ruins perched on a hill high in the mountains and the famous Indian market of the same name, in the valley below (that’s free). This is a great place to buy textiles, pottery and jewellery, not to mention the delicious empanadas (pasties) at the famous bakery. After spending time at both, we move down the valley to the temple fortress of Ollantaytambo, with its enormous terraces climbing up the hillside (you’ll need your visitor’s ticket again). If you are trekking the Inca Trail you will spend the night here at one of the little hostels in preparation for the next four days.

Days 16-19: Inca Trail or free time in Cuzco
If you are not hiking the Inca Trail, you will return to Cuzco where there are many other options available including an overnight trip by train to Machu Picchu, white water rafting, horse riding, mountain biking, canoeing, jungle excursions, shopping (make sure you bargain!)and sightseeing etc. If you have chosen to hike the Inca Trail you will cross spectacular passes and visit more Inca ruins en-route to the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu. A local guide will lead this expedition and there will be cooks and porters to carry the main equipment, leaving you with just a small daypack. The trek begins after a short bus journey and the first day is a relatively easy 4½ hour 10km walk which will get you limbered up for the highest pass at Warmiwañusca (4,200m) which you will reach before lunchtime on Day 2 (and which translates to “Dead Woman’s Pass”!). During Day 2 you will cover approximately 12km in about 7 hours and after the high pass it’s all down hill as the trail winds its way along old Inca stairs to our campsite. On Day 3 we pass the ruins of Sayacmarca and Phuyupatamarca, walking approximately 15km in 7 hours. The last morning, after an overnight stop at Wiñay-Wayna, you will rise early for the final walk to Machu Picchu and greet daybreak over the famous “Sun Gate”. There will then be time to explore on your own or simply take in the magnificence of the place before your guided tour. The ruins were only discovered by the outside world in 1911, when American explorer Hiram Bingham found them while looking for another “lost city” called Vilcabamba. Due to their isolation many of the buildings are still quite intact and you can’t help but admire Huayna Picchu (“Young Mountain”), which towers above the ruins. It is a hard climb to the top of the mountain (it takes about 50 minutes) but you are rewarded with spectacular views over the whole site. After spending most of the day at Machu Picchu you have the chance to soak your tired muscles in the hot springs at Aguas Calientes or meander through the markets before returning to Cuzco by train.

Days 20-22: Cuzco – Chivay
Making the most of your last free time in Cuzco you canexplore its amazing churches, colonial buildings andpicturesque streets, most of which have Inca walls, arches and doorways. Leaving Cuzco, we travel up to Colca Canyon through breathtaking scenery and pass several ghost towns which were destroyed by earthquakes. The Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, making it the world’s deepest. From the lookout point at Cruz del Condor you can see the river flowing 1,200 metres below and you’ll have a very good chance of seeing condors as they soar out of the canyon on the hot thermal currents. Our base for visiting the canyon is the town of Chivay where we’ll also have time to soak in the nearby hot thermal pools.

Days 23-25: Arequipa – Puerto Inca
As we depart Chivay you will see incredible pre- Columbian terracing along the sides of the mountains which is still yielding crops to this day. We drive down into the foothills of the Andes, to the start of the desert and the city of Arequipa, located 2,380 metres above sea level and dominated by the conical snow-capped El Misti Volcano. Here the attractions include the Plaza de Armas, one of South America’s most charming main squares and the Santa Catalina Convent, which is like a walled colonial town dating back more than 400 years. Shrouded with mystery, the convent’s 450 nuns lived in complete seclusion until 1970. Travelling back to the coast we visit Puerto Inca, the Inca's original port, which was only rediscovered in the 1950’s. Here we camp by the beach just down from the actual ruins.

Days 26-27: Nazca - Paracas
Continuing on we stop at the bizarre Chauchilla Cemetery where you’ll see ancient mummies that still have skin and hair intact after thousands of years. Travelling further inland, we reach Nazca, famous for the strange parallel lines and geometrical figures etched into the desert floor. Here you can take a flight in a light aircraft to see the ‘monkey’, ‘hummingbird’, ‘condor’, ‘spider’ and even what appears to be a spaceman. There are many more designs to be seen on this 30 minute flight but to this day, no-one knows why they are there! Continuing on, we stopover at Huacachina, a desert oasis surrounded by massive sand-dunes. Here you have the chance to take an awesome ride in dune-buggies or, for the even more courageous, sand boarding down the dunes is an unreal way to spend an hour or two. Reaching Paracas we’ll camp in the grounds of a hotel (with swimming pool) - a good time for a Pisco Sour party! Early the following morning there is the option to go by speedboat to explore the Ballestas Islands, passing the unusual ‘Candelabra’, a giant design carved into a desert hill, along the way. On and around these celebrated islands you’ll see thousands of sea lions plus many varieties of aquatic birds.

Days 28-29: Lima
From Paracas we have a short drive into Lima, the capital of Peru and where the trip ends. Lima was founded by the Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535, after he eradicated the Incas and made the city his capital. Lima has many fine colonial buildings and some of the best museums in South America including the Gold Museum, Museum of the Inquisition and the Catacombs below the San Francisco Church. Peru’s capital has heaps to offer and many of the sights, including the city’s two main squares the Plaza de Armas and Plaza San Martin, are within easy walking distance. If you want more time to explore properly Lima you may wish to allow a few extra days at the end of your trip.

Whats Included?

45% camping, 55% hotels/hostels * All transport on a fully equipped expedition truck * Fuel, road taxes, tolls and ferries * Services of your driver and tour leader * All camping & cooking equipment (BYO sleeping bag and roll mat) * Specialist vehicle liability insurance * Three daily meals while camping and lunches on travel days on the truck * Campsite fees & cooking gas * Hotels & hostels when staying in towns & cities *National park fees when visited in the truck.

All year round. Please enquire for available dates

£570 GBP per person (Local Fund $270 USD) - BOOK NOW

Please note that this tour is available in reverse - £620 GBP plus local fund of $270 USD

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