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The Leader in Small Groups on the Road Less Traveled
Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!

2016 Southern Peru & Bolivia: Inca Landscapes & Lake Titicaca

15 Days from only $3795 including international airfare

Peru: Lima, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Puno • Bolivia: Copacabana, Lake Titicaca, La Paz

Trip Experience

Visit a historic monastery in Arequipa and discover ancient Tiwanaku near La Paz.

Trip Itinerary

Uncover the highlights that await in the Andean plateau and trace your path through Peru and Bolivia.

Trip Leader

Trip Leader William Flores describes his childhood in Bolivia, and why family is so important to him.

Trip Leader

Trip Leader Raul Jaimes describes childhood in Peru and visiting Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca.

Trip Extension: The Amazon Rain Forest of Peru

Learn about the rituals and daily life of the Yagua tribe from their chief in this trip extension to Peru's Amazon Rain Forest.

Trip Preview

Take a quick look at the local people, Inca heritage, and Andean landscapes that await you.

Courtesy David Karg

Feel the pulse of contemporary Peru in this colorful film portrait.

Courtesy Travel
A Quest for Luck in Mystical La Paz

Meet a Bolivian shaman and uncover the ancient spirituality that endures in La Paz.

Courtesy Mitchell Teplitsky
The Knitters

See how entrepreneurial Peruvian women are turning their traditional craft into a business venture.

Courtesy Regina Fraser and Pat Johnson
Peru – Its Coastal Cultural Heritage

Follow two women as they explore Peru’s Pacific coast, discovering its culture, cuisine, and arts scene.

Courtesy Mitchell Teplitsky
Pedro e Ivan

Meet a father and son who left Lima for rural Peru to cultivate and live off the land.

Courtesy David Conover
The Shamans of Peru

Meet Peru’s shamans and learn how they dedicate their lives to ancient rituals in an increasingly modern world.

including international airfare
14 DAYS FROM $2895 Land Adventure Only
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Itinerary Overview

Small Groups: Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!

Sweeping across southern Peru and western Bolivia, the Andean plateau is a landscape of stunning vistas, a place where ancient societies thrived in the shadow of volcanoes and on the shore of the world’s highest navigable lake. From colonial-era cobblestone streets to plunging canyons where condors fly, you’ll experience the history and beauty of southernmost Peru, then uncover centuries of culture in Bolivia, as you stroll traditional markets and explore pre-Incan ruins at Tiwanaku. Witnessing weavers at work, visiting islanders on Lake Titicaca, and meeting Peruvian farmers along the way, you’ll discover the spirit of the region up close on this inspiring adventure.

Day-to-Day Itinerary

  • 6 nights from only $1195

    The Amazon River. The very name conjures images of tremendous biological diversity: tropical birds winging through the forest … bromeliads blooming on ancient trees … Yagua villagers gliding along in dugout canoes. We’ll navigate this region on foot and by boat, and discover its astonishing beauty and diversity up close.

    View Extension Itinerary
Lima La Paz Expand All
  • Today, you'll fly from the U.S. to Lima. An O.A.T. representative will meet you when you arrive to assist with your transfer to your hotel.

  • After breakfast, we meet our expert resident Trip Leader, who will give us a late-morning briefing. We will also be introduced to
    our fellow travelers—including those who took the Amazon Rain Forest of Peru pre-trip extension.You'll get lunch on your own, and then we explore Lima together. Founded by the conquistadors in 1535, Lima became Spain's largest and wealthiest city in the New World. The city has a proud history, including the founding of one of the first universities in South America, the Universidad de San Marcos, in the middle of the 16th century. Today, Lima's historic city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We begin with a guided visit to Lima's Larco Museum, which specializes in treasures from ancient Peru. The Larco is home to one of the world's most outstanding collections of pre-Columbian gold and silver, as well as a fascinating collection of erotic archaeological artifacts. Then, we explore Lima's Colonial streets and architecture, evidence of the city's Spanish heritage, including the iconic San Francisco Church. This evening, our small group gets better acquainted as we enjoy a Welcome Dinner together.

  • After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Arequipa, where the elevation is 7,600 feet above sea level. When we arrive, we'll have lunch in the elegant Yanahuara neighborhood, where we'll savor examples of traditional dishes from the region. After lunch, we'll check into our hotel. Then our Trip Leader leads an informative orientation walk to familiarize us with our setting.

    Arequipa is a thriving metropolis where ancient and modern touches coalesce. Under El Misti Volcano's watchful eye, Peru's second-largest city is also the center of legal affairs. Much of Arequipa is built using the pale volcanic stones sillar and ashlar, which gives Arequipa the nickname “the White City.” Dinner is on your own this evening. The food of Arequipa is considered by many to be the best in Peru. Perhaps you'll try chicharron, deep fried pork, or rocoto relleno, stuffed chili peppers.

  • This morning, we enjoy a walking tour of Arequipa's historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We begin at one of the world's most unique religious sites, the 15th-century Santa Catalina Monastery. We'll explore some of the countless halls and interior lanes of this 65,000-square-foot city within the city, where vivid paint brightens walls made of sillar and ashlar, the local volcanic stone. Spanish-Moorish architectural details like flowing fountains, orange trees, and arched colonnades make this a setting as romantic as it is meditative. Then we'll visit the Sanctuary Museum to learn about some Inca mummies that were discovered frozen high in the Andes in 1995. The best known is Juanita, nicknamed the Ice Maid of Ampato, believed to have been a teenager sacrificed by Inca priests. Her discovery electrified the scientific community and caught the attention of the world. In this tucked-away museum, her mummy is maintained in a state-of-the-art freezing chamber and scientific teams work on analyzing her DNA. Please note: Juanita is removed from public display between January and April for preservation and study, but other mummies from the site, and artifacts found with them such as cloth and footwear, can still be viewed here during those months. We'll stroll through the bustling San Camillo Market, a hub of local life in Arequipa, and on to the city's main square, the Plaza de Armas. We'll see the La Compañía Church, whose elaborate stone carvings are fine examples of the architecural style known as La Escuela Arequipeña (Arequipa School)—a blend of indigenous Peruvian influences with Spanish and European models. After our tour, we'll have lunch at a local restaurant, then return to our hotel. The rest of your afternoon is free, and dinner is on your own this evening.

  • Following breakfast at our hotel, we transfer overland to Colca Canyon, ascending to a height of 16,000 feet above sea level. We pause en route for lunch in a local restaurant in Chivay before continuing. Once we've settled into our hotel, your afternoon is at leisure. Colca Canyon is at an elevation of 11,900 feet, in an area with geothermally heated waters, and you can enjoy a relaxing soak in the local hot springs. We gather for dinner at our hotel this evening.

  • This morning, we turn our attention to Colca Canyon. Dropping 13,600 feet from its rims to the banks of the Colca River, it's more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, but more gradual in its descent. For the indigenous people who have called the Colca Valley home for thousands of years, the dramatic terrain was (and is) no obstacle: They created their own terrace-based agricultural system for growing potatoes and corn, tended thriving alpaca herds, and built up a network of adobe villages all along the drop-offs, using snowmelt from volcanoes as their water source. One hundred eighty feet above the lip of the canyon, Cruz del Condor offers a bird's-eye view of the world's largest flying bird: the Andean Condor. We'll visit this lookout, where we'll watch for this majestic breed of vulture with its distinguished silver collar and ten-foot wingspan. One of its most memorable features is the seeming ease with which it flies—once it achieves flight, it rarely ever flaps its wings; instead, it glides on the air currents for hours. Though Cruz del Condor is best known for its condor sightings, its view of the canyon alone is unforgettable, with a volcano-laced vista stretching for hundreds of miles before us, and plunging to a depth equivalent to the height of the Rocky Mountains. We'll take a hike of approximately 90 minutes between Cruz del Condor and Cruz del Cura on the border of Colca Canyon, with natural viewpoints and more chances to see condors. After we enjoy lunch together in a local restaurant, we visit a Peruvian clothing workshop where traditional attire from the Colca Valley is made. You'll see how the familiar colorful textiles are created by artisans practicing centuries-old skills. The balance of the afternoon is free for discoveries on your own. This evening, enjoy dinner with your fellow travelers at the hotel.

  • After breakfast this morning, we travel overland to Puno, pausing en route at farms where we may meet a trio of Peru's most beloved animals. Vicuña may only be shorn every three years but, as a result, yield the softest fibers—so prized that Incas declared only royalty could wear garments of this material. Unlike the vicuña, llamas were bred for the common man: strong enough to carry a load equal to 30% of their weight for miles and smart enough to be easily trained, they were perfect pack animals (and acceptable, if less ideal, as meat). Alpacas were bred specifically for their soft hair, which comes in 52 shades, yielding fiber valued around the world.  Though they are cousins to camels, their long, thick-growing hair makes them look more like sheepdogs by the time they are ready to shear. We arrive this afternoon in Puno, established in the 17th century on the slender strip of land between the Andes and Lake Titicaca. The elevation in this area is 12,500 feet. For some Andeans, Puno is their only point of contact with the rest of Peru, as they prefer to maintain their distinct cultures. Puno makes a point of including the traditional arts of these peoples in the vibrant local music and dance programming, which has earned the city the name Capital Folklorica del Peru. We'll get a taste of the city's flavor during an afternoon at leisure here. We'll enjoy dinner together at our hotel this evening.

  • This morning, we head down to the Port of Puno to board a small boat for an excursion on Lake Titicaca to the Uros Islands. These 40 islands are man-made, fashioned by the Uru people from local tortora reeds, and anchored with ropes attached to stakes in the lake bottom. Each island floor is only six to eight feet thick, so that every step “squishes” a bit. The local people must constantly maintain not only the underlayer and anchor, but replenish the top layer, which means that they are constantly working on preserving the islands. Tortora reeds are also used to build houses and boats, and even eaten, with their roots considered medicinal.

    After this fascinating look into a truly unique way of life, we return to Puno and have an included lunch. In the afternoon, you can join our optional tour to the Sillustani Tombs, a pre-Incan archaeological site, or enjoy free time for exploring on your own. This evening, we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

  • This morning, we ride from Puno to Copamaya, and then experience A Day in the Life of the village of Iskapataza. This Altiplano community is known for its  textiles and agriculture. We'll visit a local school, and then the villagers will show us some traditional dancing and demonstrate their weaving techniques. We'll have the opportunity to speak with them about their crops, their  culture, and what daily life is like here. We'll also enjoy a meal of typical regional fare during a community lunch.

    In the afternoon, we cross the border into Bolivia and continue to Copacabana, located at an elevation of 12,600 feet. When we arrive, we settle into our hotel, where we enjoy dinner this evening. Copacabana is the largest Bolivian community on Lake Titicaca and the departure point for boat rides to Isla del Sol, an island in the lake where the Incas believed the universe began. The city is also home to the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana, one of Bolivia's best-known Catholic sanctuaries, which was built on the site of an earlier temple to an indigenous fertility goddess.

  • We board a boat this morning to see where it all began according to Bolivian lore. In their telling, Isla del Sol, the Island of the Sun, is where the creator of the universe rose up from the waters and threw the sun into the sky. We explore Isla del Sol's beauty by boat and on foot, going ashore on the southern part of the island to hike its dramatic contours, viewing the ruins of an Incan palace later used by Spanish priests as a retreat, and stopping at the Fountain of the Incas, which the local people still depend on, and which the first Spanish convinced themselves was the mythic Fountain of Youth. After lunch on the island, we return to Copacabana, which we explore on a guided walking tour. With whitewashed buildings and stone plazas, Copacabana reflects the Bolivian-Spanish tradition. Its gem is the gleaming Basilica of the Virgin of Copacabana, a 16th-century Spanish Colonial church that houses the dark gold-laminated wooden sculpture of the Virgin. Dressed in a blend of Inca robes and European-style finery, the Virgin is a subject of adoration with her own festival, during which an exact likeness is paraded through the streets because superstition dictates that if the real thing ever left the church, disaster would befall the entire nation. Discover the flavors of local cuisine of your choosing during dinner on your own this evening.

  • After breakfast this morning, we bid farewell to Copacabana, and travel overland through scenic Andean landscapes to La Paz, Bolivia's administrative capital. We stop for lunch in the South Valley of La Paz. We'll visit the Valley of the Moon, a landscape of stone spires and unusual rock formations, then continue to La Paz and check in to our hotel. At 12,000 feet, La Paz is the city at the highest elevation in Bolivia and its second-largest. Ringed by mountains and perched on the rim of the Altiplano, La Paz is home to centuries-old brick buildings, Spanish Colonial cathedrals, and modern skyscrapers alike. We enjoy dinner at a local restaurant this evening.

  • After breakfast, we’ll drive to the site of Bolivia’s most important archaeological site: Tiwanaku, a ceremonial location on the southern shore of Lake Titicaca used by a pre-Inca civilization reaching back to 600 BC. The people of this ancient city were excellent artisans and left behind a series of mysterious monoliths, as well as a pyramid, temple, and aqueducts. This was a well-planned city, seat of one of the Americas' most powerful and organized civilizations, and today it is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We'll explore the site's monumental ruins, then pause for an included lunch. In the afternoon, we continue our discoveries at the Pumapunku temple complex, the massive stone slabs of which provide a vantage point for looking out over the surrounding plains. We’ll also stop at the site’s Lytic Museum—which houses several large stone objects, including a monolith representing Pachamama, or Mother Earth. Later this afternoon, we return to La Paz. Dinner is on your own this evening.

  • Today we head north from La Paz to La Cumbre Pass, a 15,000-foot-high passage through the Andes, where we’ll pause to take in outstanding mountain vistas. Continuing northward from the pass, we travel along the North Yungas Road, where the views continue to be dramatic. As the road makes a winding descent of more than 10,000 feet, at points it is only a narrow shelf carved into cliffs. Historically known as the “Death Road” from the days when it was the only route to the Bolivian Amazon from La Paz, travelers marvel safely at its stunning views today because commercial traffic now follows a newer alternate road.

    As we descend, we’ll stop to view some of the many waterfalls that line the route, and to admire the views from the town of Yolosa at 4,500 feet, where we’ve descended into a subtropical environment. We continue to Coroico and have lunch at a local restaurant. Then we visit a coca farm in the area, where we’ll learn firsthand about the role the coca plant plays in Bolivian culture, with the chance to chew coca leaves as the locals do. Afterwards, we return to La Paz, where dinner is on your own this evening.

  • Today, we'll begin our walking explorations of downtown La Paz on a guided tour, starting out with the neighborhood of El Prado Avenue and Murillo Plaza, home to the President of Bolivia. We'll learn more about the city's current status as the nation's de facto (but unofficial) capital, and get an introduction to its history as we stroll its streets. And we'll also take in some of the city's striking settings as we walk, catching glimpses of the surrounding Andes Mountains, including the three snowcapped peaks of towering Illimani, the name of which comes from the indigenous Aymara people who lived here before the Incas, and whose descendants still dwell in Bolivia. We'll see some of the local mercados (markets), which are wonderful places to meet the people of La Paz—from well-dressed professionals to itinerant street vendors and Andean women in their traditional garments of brightly colored multi-layered skirts and bowler hats. In particular, we'll visit the Witches' Market, where indigenous people sell plants, potions, and talismans used in ancient Aymara curandero (healing) rituals, and yatiri (witch doctors) offer their fortune-telling services. After lunch at a local restaurant, the afternoon is at leisure. On your own, you might visit the Gold Museum, which is known for its stunning collection of pre-Columbian gold, silver, and copper, and ceremonial objects of the Tiwanaku people. We gather for a Farewell Dinner at our hotel this evening.

    • Meals included:

    Very early this morning, transfer to the airport for your flight home. If you are taking the post-trip extension to Bolivia: Sucre, Potosi & the Uyuni Salt Flats, you will fly to Sucre a bit later in the morning.

    Bolivia: Sucre, Potosi & the Uyuni Salt Flats

    6 nights from only $1495

    Discover the world’s largest salt flats, experience a silver mining city perched 13,000 feet above sea level, and delve into the cultural gems of Sucre, Bolivia’s capital. On this extension, you’ll explore the Uyuni Salt Flats by day and night and admire Potosi’s rich Spanish colonial legacies.

    View Extension Itinerary

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