4x4 Self Drive Guided Inca Tracks (22 Destinations)
- US $ 5,869
- +17 Destinations
- Andes Mountains
- Age range
- 7 to 70 year olds
- Hotel, Lodge, Guesthouse
- Max Group Size
- Jeep & 4WD, Private Vehicle
- Physical Rating
- Travel style
- Jeep & 4WD
- Rather Poor
- LLesleyCharltonWritten on October 17, 20185.0 - ExcellentFirst of all I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to Percy and Federico for facilitating the trip of a lifetime, it was all we expected … and more. I don’t want to write too much about the itinerary for fear of spoiling it for prospective travellers, suffice to say it is an excellent way to get a true flavour of this incredible, beautiful, country and its people. The tour A very well researched, circular tour of many of Peru’s highlights. There is a lot of driving involved but this is driving with a difference as the roads are varied and interesting, the views spectacular and the scenery diverse. However, it would not be ideal for a nervous driver. You have to adopt a different style of driving on the highways, trusting advice received on the two-way radios from your fellow drivers when overtaking and negotiating traffic, yet there is no pressure to drive fast or take unnecessary risks as, should you get separated, the guides wait until the group is reunited before continuing. Some of the off-road sections can be steep and narrow with sheer drops and oncoming traffic but we never felt in danger. The emphasis is always on safety and the focus on enjoyment - after all, it’s YOUR holiday. The vehicles Well equipped, comfortable and fun to drive. It’s interesting how noticeable the change in performance is at altitude! Each night the guides clean and prep the trucks for the following day, so all you have to do is put fuel in and drive. The accommodation Quirky and interesting out on the road, modern and cosmopolitain in the cities - a nice mix. Get used to putting toilet paper in the bin (I have to stop myself doing that now I’m home) and the lack of internet (you may think you can’t live without it but you can … you just appreciate it when you get it). The food On the road - regular tea and coffee breaks with tasty snacks and great picnic lunches in scenic locations. Breakfast and dinner - all the basics with interesting twists and additions. We enjoyed the fact that we ate the majority of our meals with our fellow travellers and there never appeared to be an issue with the special dietary requests that we observed. The extras (that we booked) Dune buggy at Haucachina - an exciting ride, all together in one large buggy, with the option to boogie board down one of the sand dunes. Great fun. Flying over the Nazca Lines - the only way to really appreciate these mysterious shapes and lines. Well worth the game of Twister to get into your seat in the light aircraft. All six passenger seats have window views and the pilot circles slowly (and low) in both directions over each of the symbols you visit, so everyone has a good view and the opportunity to take pictures. White water rafting - although the water was quite low when we went, our guide did his best to make it as exciting as possible. Not the fastest but a lot of fun. Vista dome train to Machu Picchu - unlike any train journey you’ve probably experienced. The views were magnificent and not wanting to spoil the surprises, expect the unexpected and don’t bother taking snacks for the journey. Of course, Machu Picchu itself was absolutely magical. Zip-lining in Oxapampa - a great way to see the cloud forest from the treetops and if, like me, you want to opt out of the wobbly bridges you can zip those bits instead. Essential things to take (or not) Bug spray. Layers of clothing as temperatures change throughout the day, depending on where you are. Don’t bother taking too many clothes as you’re always packing and unpacking and getting laundry done in Cusco is cheap and sets you up for the second half of your trip. Evenings are casual so no posh frocks required. Pens, pencils, small notebooks - not just for the school that Peru Safari support but as gifts for children you may encounter along the way. Music to play in the truck. Things to do Try local delicacies like guinea-pig (fiddly and not a lot of meat but it has to be done), alpaca (lean, tender and super tasty), coca tea (addictive for all the right reasons) and Cusqueña Negra (dark lager which sounds so wrong but tastes so right). Take a massage in down town Cusco (we upgraded to the “medium” massage at £7 for an hour). Buy some fabric if you have room in your luggage (the colours are amazing). Sample gelato at Filippo Manenti’s in Oxapampa (you’ll be spoilt for choice). The guides As stated at the beginning of this review, we cannot thank Percy and Federico enough. They went above and beyond to make this a trip of a lifetime. Enthusiastic and informative, we appreciated their knowledge and experience and enjoyed their company and humour. We may have joined as customers but they made us feel as if we left as friends. The effort they put into the small things such as remembering how you like your tea/coffee, their willingness to accommodate your requests for toilet/photo/droning stops, their ability to answer even the most obvious of questions without making you feel silly and the fact that they really didn’t mind if it took you forever to find a space to overtake one of those trucks - all very much appreciated. Their attention to detail made the whole trip run super-smooth and stress-free. You guys are amazing.Show detailed ratings
- GGeoffreyTwiseltonWritten on August 9, 20185.0 - ExcellentCloud Warrior Tracks Tour to Kuelap (15 days) June -July 2018 After a great adventure in 2017 we didn’t hesitate when Paul invited us to join a reconnaissance trip with his teenage son Seb and the suave Peruvian – Victor aka socio, a Spanish term for partner – who we called ‘saucy-o’. We met fellow travellers at Lima, a freelance journalist from the UK and a group of four Australians from Melbourne. Our trip took us up greater elevations with exceptional, panoramic snow-capped mountain ranges. We drove through the Huascaran National Park, across the Cordillera Blanca range close to the Pastoruri glacier, one of the few remaining in the tropical areas of South America. Taking time filming and photographing all that we saw. Negotiating the Canyon del Pato was thrilling, an unpaved, winding 43k road with steep drop offs and 35 single track tunnels. The real test was the reconnaissance for future places to set up for lunch and was coddiwomple at times. The main routes had been determined but finding an area to have lunch and a comfort break was more of a challenge. Our mettle was tested at times, driving up single tracks not knowing whether we would be able to turn around to come back down again, but that’s what made this trip so different, exciting and once again seeing the mind-blowing scenery. Lunches were on grassy plains, alongside lagoons and in the mountains. The flora, fauna, history and many archaeological sites dating 3000BC made this trip very different from the south, just as exciting, in a different way.Show detailed ratings
- JNJackWritten on December 20, 20174.5 - ExcellentHad the adventure of a lifetime with Peru Safari. It definitely wasn’t a holiday it was a mission to explore the real Peru. We saw places that we would never have thought we could get to due to the dedication of the team to make this a truly memorable experience. We laughed, we danced, we sung and above all the memories will live with me till the day I die.Show detailed ratings
- LCLawrenceWritten on November 7, 20174.5 - ExcellentPeru Safari 11th October to 25th October 2017 A truly wonderful adventure. Our guides, Hans and Percy, were knowledgeable and very relaxing company. They were easy to get along with and produced some wonderful coffee stops and food for lunches in some amazing locations. We will never forget having lunch at the top of the world (over 4200 metres) in the sunshine with an amazing 360 degree vista. There is a lot of driving to do with some 6/7 hour days, but the scenery is worth it and you get well off the beaten track. The rural roads are not much more than tracks with great views down into the valley below. It is after all an adventure/safari and not a regular holiday. Peruvian driving standards are not great, particularly in busy towns. You have to be alert to traffic coming from any direction and a vehicle with its indicator(s) on does not mean that he will necessarily be going in that direction! Accommodation in the rural areas was comfortable and you get to stay with some interesting people in their own property, who are very friendly and happy to share their knowledge of the local history and culture. There was always a hot shower to be had. Peruvian cuisine is wholesome with a lot of meat (chicken, beef, pork) usually served with rice AND potatoes. Salads are very good with fresh avocado which taste delicious. If you are looking for something different; are happy to drive for many hours most days; and are comfortable with moving on each day, then this is a great way to see Peru and soak up some of its fantastic scenery. Lawrence & GillieShow detailed ratings
- KKarronWritten on October 14, 20175.0 - ExcellentWow, just returned from a two week tour around Peru with Paul et al. When they say that this is an adventure, they are not exaggerating. This is a fantastic way for people who love to drive, to see a beautiful country from off the beaten track. Although a popular tourist destination, Peru is much more than the requisite Macchu Picchu, Cusco and Lima. Although these places are must-see places, it is not the sum of Peru. Peru Safari took us to amazing places not visited by most tourists. We picnicked at remote archeological sites drenched in history. We drove through tiny villages perched precariously on the sides of steep mountains. Saw fields of crops planted on slopes so steep one wondered how a billy goat could climb it let alone a human being. The acccommodations on this trip vary widely in terms of level of luxury, with the Lima and Cusco hotels obviously being the most luxurious. However, what the other accommodations lacked in luxury (constant electricity, decent water pressure), they gained in representing the true Peru. They all had something special to make the stay unique. Whether it was spectacular views, remarkable food, awesome ‘chilcanos’, peacocks in the garden, the guinea pig barn, the in-house chapel, the roaring fire at the end of a long day. And always, always, warm, friendly , people. Each place was special and welcoming. And what about our guides? Paul, Hans and Percy – their laid back, easy going attitude made the day to day logistics look effortless – which of course they weren’t. They were a fabulous team that was always attentive without being intrusive. Paul’s rendition of Julio Iglesias is side splitting. Hans is a bona fide hero- willing to dive into the frigid waters of a raging river to recover a lost shoe. And Percy, saved our convoy on a daily basis by bearing the brunt of crazy Peruvian truckers. In summary, a fabulous trip for the driving enthusiast who doesn’t want to follow the typical tourist path. Highly, highly recommended.Show detailed ratingsPeru Safari commented on this reviewThank yo so much Karron. A great experience to tour with you and Nigel. Hans and Percy say Hi! Hope to see you the Goodwood Revival for a Peru Revival. Kind Regards, Paul
- KFKurtWritten on October 9, 20175.0 - ExcellentFor our 30th wedding anniversary, my wife Dawn and I decided to cross an item off our “bucket list” while we were still reasonably young and able to do it. The item selected was “Machu Picchu”, so as the family vacation planner, I started my research sometime last fall. While gathering the typical flight and sightseeing info to plan the trip, I stumbled across an article on “adventure tourism” and that’s how we found PeruSafari.com. When I showed the itinerary and activities to Dawn, she was a little wary. “That’s a lot of time in a truck,” was one of the first things she said, but we’re so glad to have pushed our collective boundaries to embark on a Peruvian adventure of a lifetime in September 2017. We did and saw things only possible by traveling on and off-road into the real, authentic Peru. The days were full of adventure! Sometimes we weren’t entirely sure where we were headed, but knew Paul, Hans, and Percy had something fun, interesting, and visually stunning in store. We “sand-boarded”, viewed Inca mummies, flew over the Nasca lines, drove some breath-taking off-road tracks…particularly above the Apurimac Gorge, had our share of Pisco Sours and Chilcanos in Cusco (ok, we had them everywhere), rafted the Urabamba River class 2 and 3 rapids, took the Vista Dome train to Machu Picchu, hiked Huayna Picchu, visited un-excavated Inca sites, saw vicunyas, llamas, and alpacas, traveled into the jungle to visit several water falls, and so much more! Our little group of six were well taken care of from the first day briefing at the hotel in Lima, until our final drop off at the Lima airport. Our comfort, safety and satisfaction were always of primary concern for our 3 guides. The Toyota HILUX Peru Safari trucks were well maintained, and any issues that arose with a clutch or tires were dealt with promptly. Those vehicles were our daily “homes” and we maneuvered them safely through a variety of terrain, altitudes, and road conditions…all in relative comfort, and always feeling safe in our incredibly versatile and durable truck named “Nina”. The accommodations ranged from very nice hotels to family-owned private haciendas that you’d only be able to visit (or even find) by booking this tour. Our food and water supply was good with no major tummy issues reported by either of us the entire trip. We ate a lot of chicken, beef, fresh fruits, and veggies (plus Pringles and lemon candies). During our 15-day tour, we experienced the amazing bio-diversity of Peru’s many climates from Pacific desert, to high desert, to mountain glaciers, to the humid rain forest buzzing with cicadas. We saw authentic Peruvian towns and villages, with its humble, friendly people still living in tune with and close to nature as their ancestors have done for centuries. We also maneuvered some insane driving conditions that can only be described as “aggressive” and lacking in basic rules of the road. But hey…it’s Peru and it comes with the territory. The driving itself was an important part of the adventure. While stressful at times and requiring un-divided attention, by the end we had the on and off-road driving pretty well figured out. But a word of caution…if you don’t like to drive and don’t feel confident maneuvering a vast array of driving conditions both on and off-road…this tour probably isn’t for you. In conclusion, we can’t thank Paul, Hans (and Chawpi), and Percy enough for the care, expertise, knowledge, and hospitality as they introduced us to the Peru they know and love, which now lives in our hearts as well. Kurt and Dawn Frohlich Sept/Oct 2017 Pilots of “Nina”Show detailed ratingsPeru Safari commented on this reviewThank you Kurt & Dawn. It was a huge pleasure to share some of the highlights of Peru with you both.
- MSMarkWritten on July 11, 20174.5 - ExcellentWhen ever I am asked "what was your holiday in Peru like?" I have two answers... first one is "it was an adventure, not a holiday". Second it....IT WAS EPIC! Paul and Hans are great hosts, fun, knowledgeable, resourceful...and great at karaoke! Paul's Mick Jagger impression in the we small hours is a memory that will stay with us for a long time! As others have said, this is not a holiday....you drive through stunning scenery, meet great people and stay in some amazing and "interesting" places. Some seriously dodgy roads and driving standards means that you do need to be a confident driver. Both Sue and I would like to thank Paul and Hans for being excellent hosts and for delivering an experience that will stay with us for a long time....still dealing with the post Peru blues. Finally..top tip...stick to two Pisco Sours an evening..3 is just wrong!Show detailed ratings
- JSjulieWritten on May 31, 20174.5 - ExcellentWhat an adventure! If you love driving and want to discover the real Peru then this is the trip for you! What fun we had. So miss the lovely scenery and of course the great company. Highly recommend it if you are bored with beach holidays!Show detailed ratings
- RPRichardWritten on May 7, 20175.0 - ExcellentSimply put - Epic ☺ It really is a true adventure. From Lima to the Desert, to the Nazca lines, to the Andes, to Cusco and Machu Picchu, to the Jungle, everyday has something that is simply amazing. Paul and the team we’re great hosts throughout and even managed to find time bust some pretty fancy moves on the dance floor ☺ Just awesome……Show detailed ratings
- PWPatrickWritten on March 15, 20175.0 - ExcellentWhen we (that's Virginia and I plus our three you adult offspring Anna, Charlie and Aidan - who are still, very happily, content to travel with us on our expeditions ) decided that Peru was to be our next trip destination from our home base in Melbourne, Australia, the challenge was to figure out the best way of tackling it in the time we had available. We're always up for an 'epic' drive and trips like Mongolia in 2011 and the back-blocks of Cuba in 2013 as well as a hell of a lot of remote area touring on our own continent has set the bar pretty high. We're always happiest on the 'road less travelled', so to speak and appreciate that often you get what you pay for when it comes to adventure travel. So not really knowing much about Peru apart from what we'd heard about the awesomeness of Macchu Picchu and stories of the Incas amazing history it was time to enter research mode and try to figure out how best we tackle things. Not being much chop with queues, crowds or overly touristy things we're always looking to find the road less travelled as it were and having entered something along the lines of 'Peru by 4WD' into google one of the most interesting, serious looking and professional websites was Peru Safari. I registered to receive their newsletter but life was getting in the way and as the months went by no one really had had time to lock anything in. Then Peru Safari sent out their newsletter including a fabulous review done by one of the newspapers in the U.K. who'd been on one of the trips and that, as they say, sealed it! Only snag was that they didn't have a trip on, on the dates that we'd be there. So after a few emails backwards and forwards Paul (the operator, who turns out to be an Englishman who splits his time between running a small fleet of Land Rover Defender campers in the UK and the business in Peru- how perfect!) agreed to run a trip specially for us. The only provisos were that we needed to be aware that it was a less than ideal time and we might have delays here or there. Whatever, it sounded awesome and we were off on another epic drive! Day 1 Having arrived into Lima at the end of what was a 29 hour haul via Sydney and Santiago it was great to get through immigration and customs quickly and without a hitch and immediately see a nice big Peru Safari-Walsh Family sign being held high by Hans the driver who would take us to our hotel - the very nice Casa Andina in the Miraflores district, about an hour’s drive from the airport. Talk about a baptism of fire, peak hour and holiday season combined to turn the driving conditions into what could only be described as mayhem, seemingly devoid of any rules or lanes. It truly was like being in some mad video game but Hans was unfazed, giving me some confidence as I be tackling all of this the next day, and he calmly delivered us to the hotel unscathed. There we met Paul for the first time and were treated to a round of Pisco Sours, the national drink and dangerously drinkable and had a briefing on what to expect from the next day. Paul headed off to make final preparations to the vehicles whilst we tucked into a grazing dinner at the hotel - all very tasty and easy and just what we needed before crawling into bed fairly shattered. Even so being on the cusp of what promised to be a brilliant road trip made it hard to get to sleep at the thought of it. For a few minutes anyway! Day 2 We took breakfast early, 6 am or so and were immediately more convinced than ever that we'd made the right call engaging a private guide as two coach loads of American tourists jostled for positions at the buffet and arguments ensued before being shoved onto the buses headed straight for Cusco that day, somewhere that for us was still a four day scenic drive away. Paul arrived with the vehicles as planned by around 6.30 and by 7 we were on our way. Peru Safari is in fact just Paul and his Peruvian wife Marisol and the bonus there is you get personalized hands on service and our initial impression of Paul was that he was clearly a guy who we would all click with immediately and that’s certainly been the case. The vehicles are late model Toyota Hilux Diesels equipped with ARB bull bars shipped from the UK, Old Man Emu suspension, snorkels, full canopy, LED light bars, two way radios and pretty much everything you could need. Lead car also carries a satellite phone, emergency oxygen (that we'd later need as fate would have it), medical supplies, car fridge (again from ARB, so much Aussie gear!) and all supplies for lunch and morning tea stops. All in all you'd have to say the whole set-up is first rate. Anyways after an hour and a half or so we gradually started to leave the sprawling mecca of Lima behind on a very overcast and quite smoggy morning that neutralized what I am sure were some amazing coastal views on the outskirts of town. Lima at 11 million people accounts for about one third of the entire country's population and from what we briefly saw of it that morning is a city that sees a lot of people living in slums, with mile after mile of buildings that you'd think were abandoned or dilapidated only to realize that no, these were in fact people’s homes. We pushed on to our first stop which was a roadside affair with a difference - a bank of wood fired stone ovens turning out delicious mini loaves, those we enjoyed stuffed with olives and a pretty decent Peruvian coffee to go with. A couple of hours later we were in desert country and headed for the Oasis of Huacachina where we'd booked to go on the dune buggies. This was completely awesome with our driver Jesus clearly being an utter expert and the beast of a thing he drove was like something out of Mad Max; a Chevy Suburban V8 stripped back the chassis and rebuilt with full roll cage and safety frame, motor racing seats with full harnesses and capacity to seat 10. The speed at which he tackled the dunes was not for the feint hearted but brilliant fun and it's an hour that will live long in the memory. As will the sight of the young adults, clearly still kids at heart careering down the massive dunes on snowboards. Not for this aging bunny that. After a tasty lunch of local asparagus followed by a traditional beef stir fry we were back on our way and starting to head towards Nazca and our brilliant hotel for the night, a fabulous historic hacienda called El Majoro which was full on like something from a movie set, with gorgeous rambling gardens, stunning bar side pool, and very decent food offer where again there was no shortage of flavour. Before we got to the hotel though we visited an archaeological site were a vast number of mummy tombs were discovered only in the last few years and is only just starting to be opened up to tourists. Jaw dropping is the only phrase I could use to describe and an absolute must if you visit the region. All in all if this was to be the first day of the trip the bar was being set very high indeed! Day 3 Up early again today to have a quick brekkie and head to Nazca airport and beat the crowds for our flight over what are called the Nazca lines. These really are one of the great mysteries of the world only discovered and by chance in more recent years but date back to the pre Inca Nazca peoples some 2000 years ago. The 'lines' are markings in the sand so large they can only be seen from the air and to this day it beggars belief of science how the work was done. Staggering. After our flights on 6 seater Cessna aircrafts it was back to the cars for the start of one of the most jaw dropping drives of the trip towards the hamlet of Chalhuanca. The route took is on one high mountain pass after another, a white knuckle drive ever there was one, overtaking semi-trailers hauling goods at a snail’s pace but often having to do so with a fair gulp of faith, mindful of massive drop-offs to the ‘never never’ if we put a foot wrong. This wasn't off road but it was every inch as exhilarating. One particular section near the Pampa Galeras National Wildlife reserve we passed through a tiny and probably nameless settlement where kids of 5 or 6 years of age rushed to the vehicles literally cap in hand and we duly obliged. How could we not. This was at an altitude of 4400 metres and that’s where these folk who speak ketchua language carve out an existence. But it remains the most picturesque of places in our entire travel escapades. Peru Safari in their literature had said we may see pink flamingos, condors and vicunas.They weren't bulshitting, we saw all of those! Gradually we descended to Tampamayu lodge - the only great accommodation for 100 miles from all accounts and again charming it was, set on the Chalhuanca river which itself is just screaming for someone to give it a good going over with a fly fishing rod. There's always next time! A few beers and wines and a simple feed of roast Trout or and we were tucked up in bed, a tad shattered but loving every minute. Day 4 Now it was time to head off road on for the most part very good dirt roads, deeper into the Andes to towards Cachora. This valley was lush and green with farmers working abundant crops of corn, potatoes and more and living for the most part in dwellings made of Adobe and no, that's not the software package but rather the ancient Andean brick made of red earth, eggs and straw. This offers ideal insulation in either warm or cold weather and looks a bit like what Grand Designs would call rammed earth.We finished up a lot earlier this day arriving at a totally spectacular private villa that you won’t find in any guide book. Owned by a friend of Peru Safari in a wonderful, spiritual, fascinating man to talk to called Teo it offered more jaw dropping views, the upstairs lounge windows framed a spectacular vista onto Mount Saltankay - the second highest peak in all of Peru complete with quite terrifying looking glaciers cascading down its faces. A lazy afternoon ensued as Virginia slept off the trip's first case of upset tummy and afterwards a brilliant home cooked 3 course meal of rice soup, beef with a mushroom gravy and mashed potato and a delicious sponge cake with macerated fruits. Whilst there we also had a look at the property's guinea pig enclosure- teaming with hundreds of the little critters that make up an important part of the Peruvian protein diet. We look forward trying it at some point on the trip. Day 5 After saying our farewells to Teo we went back through the village and then embarked on the steep climb to the lookout point which is the start of the trail to Choquequirao. This was another nerve fraying experience as we ascended higher and higher on the track again with some 3,000 foot drops right off the edge. There had been very heavy rain overnight and this only aded to the sense of drama. Not a 4WD track per-se but again just the steepness, the stunning vistas all around and the presence of some real danger if we did stuff up meant that the drive had as much going for it as any Alpine country low-range climb or Australian Simpson Desert dune cresting. After around 45 minutes we reached 'the top' which consisted of a tiny carpark with enough room for 3 or 4 cars, a couple of stalls selling drinks and souvenirs and a departure point for those doing the trail. When we were there half a dozen horses (or were they donkeys, it was hard to tell!) being loaded up with supplies, the most amusing of which being one animal who appeared to be being used exclusively to transport slabs of Coca Cola. For those doing it it's a 4 day trek from there. It's believed that only 20% of Choquequirao so far been uncovered and if it all gets exposed it will be an even more spectacular site than Machu Picchu and certainly a lot bigger. It would though be hugely expensive to do so and it’s great that for the most part it remains totally undeveloped. The daily average number of people getting in there sits at 11 compared with Machu Picchu that runs at 3,000 to 3,500 per day. By my maths that’s more than a million visitors per year. Having taken the short 20 minute trek to this look out point which on this day was sadly shrouded in mist we headed back to the cars for the descent as it was time to head to Cusco. It was New Year’s Eve after all! By late afternoon we made Cusco and checked into the cute Llipimpac guest house before Paul took us on a quick walk around the town so we could get our bearings. Then came the party to end all parties - New Year’s Eve in Cusco. From a brilliant balcony table at the very good Limo restaurant overlooking the plaza we witnessed was is without doubt the most amazing NYE party we've ever seen. Fireworks started around 10 pm building to an absolute crescendo at midnight with all the surrounding hills joining in. The sight of countless thousands embarking on the traditional 7 laps around the square for good luck was amazing to say the least. And the whole thing was topped off by the nativity scene which was in a thatched roof hut in the middle of the square catching fire and going up like a fireball. It was madness. It was unforgettable. Limo was good without being out of this world but you do have to cut them some slack given the occasion. Food was light enough to be enjoyed the whole way through, we had a couple of bottles from Chile with dinner and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot at midnight that tasted in pretty good nick. Service was on the ball and friendly and the requested window table was duly delivered. As was a table of predictably loud Americans right next to us but they turned out to be pretty good fun and apologized in advance for their existence. A new year’s we'll never forget that’s for sure. Day 6 A very lazy start today after our NYE exertions and a day spent exploring Cusco as it gradually woke from its slumber. In the morning hardly anything was open but gradually the place came to life. We had coffee at Cicciolina (espresso far better than milk coffees), made a booking there for later in the week, grabbed a sandwich for lunch at a cafe on the square and later headed up to San Blas where we found some great souvenirs and had a really good walk around which is so often the best way to discover a city. The traders here are hopeful rather than pushy like in some countries and there's actually some really nice stuff around. Dinner was at the Peruvian/Chinese fusion restaurant Kion followed and this place was excellent. Same owners as Limo as it turns out but the food for the most part here was outstanding with one of our favourites being a shrimp Chauffa- the Peruvian spin on fried rice but with lemon juice replacing soy sauce and all the better for it. We enjoyed the dumplings, char Siu lamb, roast duck and a pretty decent bottle of Pinot Noir from Argentina. Like Limo you do get the impression that these restaurants are operating with the tourist dollar in mind but not at the cost of offering some real quality. Kion would sit very comfortably on a list of good restaurants in Melbourne or Sydney. In bed nice and early with a crack of dawn start the next day in mind. Day 7 Up at 5am today to get organized for our full day tour of Machu Picchu. Can't visit Peru without doing that! Again all arrangements that Peru Safari put in place worked out very smoothly with nice operators at all junctures. Being January train to Machu Picchu doesn't run all the way to Cusco because of increased landslide risk so instead we first of all took a minibus ride of an hour and a half or so to connect with the train at Ollantaytambo station. Try saying that after a few Pisco Sours! The mini-bus journey was unremarkable but things soon changed up a gear when we boarded the 'vista dome' train - very comfortable with great views from all seats and nice snacks and drinks served En route. On arriving at Machu Picchu township we started to get a feel for the scale of how much of a tourist drawcard this has become, with long queues continually filling the only 29 seater buses for teg final 20 minute bus ride up the mountain. Arriving into Machu Picchu itself by now the drizzle had turned to steady rain and there seemed to be thousands of people jostling for positions. Inca theme park madness. Our arranged guide though was excellent and it’s one of those places that you really have to witness for yourself – no words or photos can really do it justice. Just the scale of the place, the perfection of the stonework, the art and planning that went into its creation is totally awe-inspiring! If only we could have had it to ourselves… Day 8 Today we had brekkie at a very easy-going 9am before heading off on a day trip from Cusco. First port of call and just overlooking the city was another Inca site called Saqsayhuman where the huge Christo Blanco that overlooks the city also sits. After a good look around there we headed to Pisac, famous for its market. On the way though we took in a wonderful animal refuge called the Ccochahuasi where we witnessed the brilliant condors, awesome in full flight, got up close and personal with Llamas, saw a rare bear who'd been rescued, and an abundance of other animals being well cared for in a very good facility. Anna was in her element by this point. Next stop was a centre for traditional crafts bringing various communities as a cooperative where we witnessed firsthand supremely skilful women working Llama fibres into intricate fabrics with mind-boggling abilities. Needless to say we took advantage of the gift store that had some of finest quality we saw on the whole trip. Then on to lunch at the totally off the beaten track but equally excellent El Huacatay restaurant in Urubamba where we had the best traditional Peruvian food of the trip and a nice bottle of Malbec from a pretty extensive list of South American wines. A real find this place and definitely well noted for any future trip to Peru. Then back to Cusco in time (just) to freshen up and head out to dinner at Cicciolina which is an absolute goldmine doing very fine Peruvian dishes and some more Italian but all of it very good in a classy dining room and bar set up that would sit very comfortably back in Melbourne. So day 8 was definitely THE day for eating and drinking up that point of the trip anyway. Day 9 Afar three and a half days based in Cusco it was time to hit the road again and by 8am we did just that back tracking towards the dusty busy town of Abancay some 180ks away. Along the way we stopped for morning tea at yet another great archaeological site also obliterated by Spaniards called Saywite. This one had a fascinating 'story stone' of the Incas which was reasonably intact and some other amazing stone structures including what would once have been a quite awesome mad made waterfall that cascaded towards an Inca temple. Though far off the tourist route there was a caretaker on site who gave us an excellent account of what the story stone had to tell. After that it was a long climb in treacherous weather literally up in the clouds with visibility bringing things down to a crawling pace at times all the way to Andahuaylas and our hotel that had echoes of Soviet era Mongolia. Charlie found a great shop selling all manner of Police and military gear and stocked up on a few items before we all headed out for a dinner of Pollo a la Bras -chicken cooked over hot coals. It was simple and utterly delicious the only snag being our eyes were clearly bigger than our mouths and we ordered way too much. Must remember to go the quarter with chips only next time.... Day 10 Up early as usual today to tackle long drive to Ayacucho. The road north along a high Andes ridge presented some massive climbs again right up to 4,200 metres but the funny thing is after a while, in our case now over a week at high altitude you don’t start to feel it anymore. Veering off the main road at one of the high plateaus we headed off-road and down a precipitously steep track with multiple hairpin switchbacks with sheer drop-offs that had the driver in full concentration mode, particularly when a sleet squall arrived half way down. The point of this escapade was to witness the very rare puyas de raimondi plant that only exists one or two other places on the planet and only flowers once every 80 years. We were lucky enough to see a couple in full flower and it really was a sight to behold. Lunch by the creek at the end of the descent followed and we then continued on marvellous dirt road drive through lush farming land and truly remote communities pretty much all the way to 'Cusco without the tourists' - the charming city of Ayacucho. This one is definitely on the 'must get back there sometime' list. Definitely not a tourist town, so much so that Gin and I had to pose for selfies with locals who clearly don’t see 'Gringos' very often. 30+ churches in the town, and a beautiful city square that we made quite a study of from a balcony table at our hotel whilst playing a game of 'let’s see how many Pisco sours we can drink. I think we had a tapas style dinner there too but that I cannot confirm... Day 11 Our Mongolia trip coined the phrase 'we've come in search of adventure, and I reckon we've found it' - and today was to be the day where once again adventure was high on the agenda. Leaving the very lovely Ayacucho at a respectable 9am we headed out into the mountains again and were soon enough at thr start of the drive along the Rio Mantaro gorge. Whilst this isn't the most dangerous road on earth it is apparently in the top 5 and having safely negociated it you'll get no argument from us on that ranking. Starting tamely enough it soon starts to asert itself and there are sections where literally a moments lapse in concentration would lead to the disaster and there are umpteen memorials along the way to people who seemingly have done juat that. Luckily the way we were going meant that we were on the 'mountain side' of the track but belive me that didn't make any less scary. Nor did having to reverse up a couple of times to let oncoming semi-trailers through. The speed at which the truckies and locals tackle the thing at is nothing short of unreal, showing scant regard for the sometimes 2,000 ft drop off the side with no saftey barriers. Anways after around 3 hours we made it through to the end, and the drama was behind us. Or so we thought. No, Paul had another trick up his sleeve with a 'short cut' dirt track that was every bit as nerve jangling as the road before it pretty much all the way to Pampas and just beyond to our accommodation for the night, the rather fabulous Casa Hacienda San Juan. This is a stunning property sitting at around 3000 meters above sea level and only accessible by 4x4. A few bottles of red by the log fire and an excellent home cooked meal finished off what was another truly memorable day. Only 220ks covered but a full 9 hous of epic driving indeed! Day 12 Leaving this hacienda was hard, you really wanted to stay a day or to but we had places to go to and things to see. After another good scrambled egg breakfast we were back in the Toyotas and headed for Indio's home base of Tarma. Indio being Paul's brother in law, a charmingly witty Peruvian man who though spoke little English, though more than our Spanish we had fun communicating with. Indi joined us in Cusco to give Paul a hand and play relief driver for yours truly when needed, and needed it was on occasion! The route today would not be as arduous as some taking a great new road out of Pampas as we headed on a bit of a reconnaissance mission to an ancient convent that Paul and Indio were curious about only to arrive there perfectly timed to coincide with their 3 hour 'lunch break'. Oh well, next time. But all was not lost as we made our way to avratger hilarious village totally devoted to the mighty Trout. It was literally like a trout theme park an we enjoyed a tasty meal of you know what. Later as we approached Tarma we headed off on a dirt track again to visit Tarma Tambo, the very old city with yet more Inca ruins. This old town is pretty much untouched and rarely visited by tourists it would seem. After that it was to the fabulous (praise the Lord, there's another one!) hacienda Santa Maria, run by Indio and his lovely wife Deli. With original furniture shipped from France back in the day, an intact chapel, dining room adorned with frescos and a drinking room known as the Chimineas this a place you'd beg to return to. Luckily we didn't have to do so as the itinerary sees us back here on the last night before heading back to Lima. Winning! Day 13 After an eery night of barking dogs, thunder and lighting we woke to easing rain and the news that the road to the jungle was theoretically open but in fact the road to Lima that qed be needing in a few days was currently closed due to a landslide. The wet season was upon us.After breakfast in the grand dining room for the drive down (ie from 3000 metres down to around 800) to 'the jungle' or more specifically the Pampa Hermosa jungle reserve. The drive into here was another nerve jangler with low range needed for the last hour or so, and lots of Rio Mantaro gorge flashbacks. By now we were getting better at ignoring the drop offs but scary it still was. Where the road runs out theres an Eco Lodge currently closed (and now owned by a far from popular American) and a place to park a few cars. From there it was a 20 minute hike down to the awesome river in full flow where we had a backpack lunch and marveled at the sheer power of mother nature. Trekking back out we saw the rare Peruvian 'Cock of the Rock' birds , resplendent in iridescent orange and black and along the way the jungle obliged with avocados and bananas growing in the wild and tiny remote coffee plantations if you looked closely. The weather held and we had a wonderful afternoon before heading back down to our accommodation for the night the Rio Grande lodge, right on the river. Pisco Sours made way for Peru Libres later as we solved to problems of the world on the deck overlooking the wildest river we've ever seen. Memorable days had become the norm by now. Day 14 Teaming rain greeted us for breakfast as our luck with planning this trip so late in the season appeared to be finally running out. But as we made tracks things started to brighten and as usual Paul had a plan b and c up is sleeve. After climbing out of the jungle area again we headed to another trout farm and out their back gate to the river below and had a few casts with the fly rod but to no avail sadly with the water flowing miles to fast to make any serious headway. We headed to yet another idyllic spot for lunch at the base of a gorgeous waterfall and afterwards had a look through some ancient cave and those in the group with tge the highest levels of fitness even partook in some abseiling to the hardest to get to points in the cave. Not for this puppy that. Then it was back to Tarma for our final night back on tge the road at the Hacienda Santa Maria and a relaxing meal and more Piscos by the fire. Tucked into bed early for the long day ahead... Day 15 Up very early today for a 6am breakfast and farewell to the Hacienda Santa Maria. On the road by 6.30 to tackle the long haul back to Lima, some 6 to 7 hours away or more depending on the road conditions. On the way we'd reach a trip topping 4,900 metres above sea level and see the worlds second highest railway pass.The road quickly climbed, the fog arrived, there were early signs of landslides, it was game on. Driving in Peru is often like that- like you're in some crazy video game on your last life as it were with stuff worked at you from all sides. Making things even more interesting is the fact that the combination of the high altitudes and bio-diesel (the only kind available) means you lose 30 to 40% of potentially engine power, rendering the Hiluxes pretty bloody insipid at times and hardly confidence inspiring in tricky overtaking manoeuvres. All part of the fun!Passed through the town of Oroya, heavily polluted by copper smelters at 3,800 metres and on towards the main mining region where the Chinese have taken a big interest and literaly removed a mountain to get to what the're after. Turns out on the day we traveled the route the chaos level was much less tuan usual and we made good time. Picked up some emails at our morning coffee break and got the confirmation we were looking for - a table at Centrale restaurant for the following night. Nice! But sadly, we were at the end of our 'Peru Safari'. Perhaps the biggest compliment we could pay Paul is that we missed his company as soon as we said our goodbyes. The attention to detail, preparation, planning and hospitality of the whole trip was first rate - we'd award it 6 stars if that were an option! Paul's planning some future expeditions into some even more remote parts of the country - we'll be watching out for details! Can't wait to go back...Show detailed ratings
ItineraryDownload PDF Brochure
- DAY 1 (LIMA)Start point Arrivals, Jorge Chávez International Airport, Av. Elmer Faucett s/n, Callao, Lima Province, Peru
- DAY 2 (LIMA - PARACAS - NAZCA)
- DAY 3 (NAZCA - CHALHUANCA)
- DAY 4 (CHALHUANCA - CACHORA)
- DAY 5 (CACHORA-CUSCO)
- DAY 6 (CUSCO)
- DAY 7 (MACHU PICCHU)
- DAY 8 (CUSCO OPTIONS DAY)
- DAY 9 (CUSCO - ANDAHUAYLAS)
- DAY 11 (AYACUCHO -PAMPAS)
- DAY 12 (PAMPAS-TARMA)
- DAY 13 (TARMA-PAMPA HERMOSA RESERVE OR OXAPAMPA JUNGLE)
- DAY 14 (PACHAMANCA TARMA)
- DAY 15 (TARMA-LIMA)
- DAY 16 (LIMA FAREWELL)End point Arrivals, Jorge Chávez International Airport, Av. Elmer Faucett s/n, Callao, Lima Province, Peru
Prepare for an adventure in this stunning destination with our travel guide.
AccommodationRated Excellent by past passengers
GuideRated Excellent by past passengers
MealsRated Excellent by past passengers
TransportRated Excellent by past passengers
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- Marcia9th August 2018
4x4 Self Drive Guided Inca Tracks (22 Destinations)
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- Lima (Peru)
- 226 km
- Reserva Nacional De Paracas (Peru)
- 56 km
- Oasis of Huacachina (Peru)
- 122 km
- Nazca (Peru)
- 89 km
- Puquio (Peru)
- 28 km
- Pampa Galeras National Wildlife Reserve (Peru)
- 134 km
- Chalhuanca (Peru)
- 98 km
- Cachora (Peru)
- 91 km
- Cusco (Peru)
- 16 km
- Pisac (Peru)
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