The Southern Peru expedition covers all of the highlights and is oriented for adventurous people who love traveling and discovering different cultures with hikes and walks. You'll be trekking Mountain Ausangate at 6,384 m/20,940 ft. and Mismi Mountain, which is the beginning of the Amazon River. The expedition requires acclimatization as you'll be exploring Rainbow Mountain, Lake Titicaca, and the Colca Canyon and into the with city of Arequipa. Our timing and itinerary turns a crowded area into a peaceful experience that makes it all worth it.
We will depart by bus to Andahuaylillas to enjoy a short visit to the Sistine Chapel of the Andes. We will then continue by bus to Phulawasi, the trail head of Rainbow Mountain sitting at 4,665 m/15,300 ft. Our ascent will ultimately take us to 5,050 m/16,526 ft. above sea level. The mountain is striped in colors ranging from turquoise to lavender and maroon to gold. We will then descend back to the bus by the Red Valley Pass to enjoy even more of the sacred geography. We'll have a late evening arrival to the hotel.Included. box lunch
This day we will head south to La Raya Pass at 4,300 m above sea level by bus. We'll then descend to the to the scenic Altiplano out to Lake Titicaca in Puno. At 13,000-14,000 ft., the Altiplana-Puna Plateau is the highest plateau associated with abundant magmatism and is the second largest after the Tibetan Plateau in height and reach. We will drive all the way to the northern side of Lake Titicaca to the Peninsula of Capachica and the port of Chifron. At Chifron Beach you will meet your local guide for travel to Lake Titicaca. He or she will continue the journey by boat on the highest navigable lake in the world to Amantani island for your native homestay.
Note:If you prefer a hotel instead of homestay, we could drive to the city of Puno and the next day have a full day on the lake Titicaca, with Uros floating islands and Takile island.
After breakfast we will explore the unique Amantani Island, full of terraces built by the Tiahuanaco and Inca civilizations. Here you'll see Quechua people who have preserved their lifestyle. As we explore you will hike up to the top of the island, Pachatata. After lunch with our hostess we will continue onto Uros by a shared boat ride on the highest navigable lake in the world. The community that lives on these artificial, floating islands made of reeds (totora) is both surreal and incredible. Despite outside influences, they have maintained their traditional culture, and you will not be disappointed by your experience if you accept the fact that visiting the Uros Islands is a commercial venture focused entirely on supporting tourism, as this is the reason that we still have the art of making these islands out of reeds. Without tourist dollars, we would only be able to see pictures of how people used to live on these reed islands. The people of Taquile are known for their fine handwoven textiles and clothing, which are regarded as among the highest quality in Peru. Knitting is exclusively done by males, starting at age eight. Women exclusively spin yarn and weave. Their textiles are protected by UNESCO. You will have the evening to enjoy Puno.Included Lunch.
Once again we will drive across the picturesque Altiplana-Puna Plateau. In the Pliocene, the Altiplano was probably only a few hundred meters high and had a semi-tropical vegetation, supporting a fauna dominated by large herbivores. We'll take a gentle climb up to the first pass to Cruzero alto (15000 ft.) and along the colorful lakes of Lagunillas which is usually full of flamingos. After a drive along extensive deposits of Upper Jurassic rocks, we'll take a hike on the petrified forest of Maucca Arequipa. At 14200, ft. it's a rock formation created over hundreds of years with volcanic material. Our climb by bus will continue to the high pass (Apacheta 16,000 ft.) with outstanding views of the Andean swamps and herds of llamas, alpacas, flamingos and many other high Andean birds. We'll have views of Cordillera del Chila, Mismi mountain, which is the beginning of the Amazon river, and finally the descent into Colca valley. Before dinner will have some time to enjoy the hot springs nearby the hotel.Included box lunch.
On the fifth day we'll have an early morning departure as we drive through colorful Andean villages with Pre-Inca and Inca roots that are now inhabited by people of the Cabana and Collagua cultures. Here we'll find small villages with colonial churches, such as Yanque, Achoma, Maca, and Pinchollo, and a spray of colors lit up by the hundreds of farming terraces from before and after Inca times. These are still in use by farmers today and the women wear their traditional clothing of long floral skirts. As we drive along the road, eventually the valley turns into one of the deepest canyons in the world at a depth of 13,650 ft., twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. Located here at 10,800 ft., Cruz del Condor is the most popular point for viewing the canyon.
It sits almost 4,000 ft. above the Colca River. This spot will give us a high probability of seeing the great condors circling above the cliffs against breathtaking scenery. Andean Condors are massive birds weighing around 33 pounds, and with their massive 10-foot wing span are among the largest birds in the world able to fly. For this reason, they prefer to live in windy areas and cliffs so they can glide on air currents with little effort. After lunch we zig zag up to Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Reserve. There we will try to see vicuña, a member of the camel family and thought to be the wild ancestor of the alpacas, llamas and guanacos. Vicuñas sport the finest wool and are the fastest camelids, running up to 50 kph/30 miles per hour. We will then return to the level, arid terrain of Arequipa.
Arequipa, the White City is located between the Andes and the coastline. It sits nestled between Misti, Pichu Pichu, and Chachani, a series of volcanic mountains ranging in height from 18,578 ft. to 19,866 ft. The city's many colonial buildings were crafted from smooth, white ashlar stone, giving much of the city a uniformly pearly appearance. According to a government survey, Arequipa has the largest amount of "workforce" within the country amounting to 625 547 people, the city's industrial sector has the largest nationwide diversification and is the second most industrialized city of Peru after Lima. We will have a walking tour where we'll visit the main square, travel down the colorful streets, and go to the Monastery of Santa Catalina. Santa Catalina is essentially its own little city, complete with the cutest alleys and streets, colorfully painted walls, gorgeous courtyards, and fresh flowers at every turn.
The complex, which stretches over 20,000 square meters, is built from volcanic sillar stone and is organized into cloisters, living quarters, a plaza, a gallery and a chapel. Back in colonial times when the convent was first founded n 1579, the second daughter born into every family was expected to become a nun. If they could muster up 1,500 gold pieces the entire family had privileges. Next we'll visit Museo Santuarios Andinos, where you will meet an Inca Ice Maiden. Perhaps the best-preserved mummy in human history, she is also known as the 'Lady of Ampato' because she was found at the top of Mount Ampato, a dormant volcano sitting at 20,624 ft. high. The mummy is a 15th century Royal Incan girl and was discovered in Peru in 1995. Her body was so well preserved due to the freezing temperatures on top of Mount Ampato. Researchers have suggested that Mummy Juanita was a victim of an important Incan sacrificial rite known as Capacocha, which has sometimes been translated as royal obligation. Scientists can now reveal her astonishing story. At the age of 12 she would have been taken away from her peasant parents and given a remarkable yearlong preparation for her particular role in life. She would have been put under the guidance of priestesses and dressed in the best clothes.
Her hair would have been immaculately braided, and her modest diet replaced with the finest foods. "There is no sign of violence," says Dr. Emma Brown, an archaeologist at Bradford University. What we suspect is that she was probably in a stupor when put in the ground. We think a combination of the altitude, the cold and the low oxygen meant that she would have just slipped away. Your late afternoon/evening domestic flight out of Arequipa should be followed up by your international flight back to home.
One night in every location for 5 nights to discover the hidden gems of the southern Peru. Our home stay on the Lake titicaca is an invaluable experience when you try to experience the full Peruvian culture but if you want to skip that experience we are flexible to drive you to Puno for your overnight instead of a home stay on the island.