Discover the heritage of the Inca Empire in Peru and visit the spectacular landscapes of Bolivia and Chile's deserts and salt flats.

Crossing The Altiplano Holiday MapDepartures: Daily

Length: 18 days / 17 nights

Destinations: Lima / Cusco / Sacred Valley / Machu Picchu / Lake Titicaca / La Paz / Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats / Atacama Desert / Santiago

Highlights: Tour Lima's UNESCO World Heritage old-town city centre, in the Andes explore Cusco, the Sacred Valley of the Inca and Machu Picchu, sail across Lake Titicaca to visit Isla del Sol, and in Chile and Bolivia embark on a wonderful adventure to explore the deserts, lagoons, wildlife and stunning scenery of the Salar de Uyuni and the surrounding region.

Price: from £3990 per person

Single Person Supplement: £POA

Price Information: Based on 2 people travelling and sharing a double or twin room in our hand-selected hotel accommodation. See our Peru hotels, our Bolivia hotels and our Chile hotels for more information on our accommodation for this holiday. For a quote based on alternative accommodation, a detailed holiday itinerary document or to tailor this holiday itinerary, please Contact Us.

Holiday Itinerary

Arrive in Lima, Peru's bustling capital city, to start your holiday. Upon arrival we will meet you and escort you to your hotel. The remainder of the day will be free time for you to relax following your flight and to give you time to explore Miraflores, home to a fantastic selection of modern restaurants serving fabulous Peruvian cuisine (Peru was voted World Culinary Travel Destination of the Year an astonishing 6 years in a row from 2012 to 2017 at the World Travel Awards) so this is an excellent place to enjoy your first meal in Peru. Ask us about restaurant recommendations or reservations.

Meals: None

Overnight: Hotel in Miraflores, Lima

Lima Free Day - Pacific Coast
Lima Free Day - Huaca Pucllana

Today you will enjoy a tour to visit the historic city centre of Lima, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. You will visit the main central plaza to see the Presidential Palace and Cathedral and the highlight of the tour is a visit to the San Francisco Monastery with its collection of religious art, a fascinating library and the subterranean catacombs underneath the monastery.

Meals: Breakfast

Overnight: Hotel in Miraflores, Lima

Option: If you wish to add more time in Lima we have a selection of excursions to consider. Our Lima Gastronomy Tour follows the journey of food from a market to a kitchen for a cookery lesson followed by a meal in a fine restaurant. If you are more interested in history our UNESCO Caral Tour visits this 4000 year old ancient pyramid ruin, and our Pachacamac Tour visits this important ruin on the outskirts of Lima. Also worth a visit is Larco Herrera Museum.

Lima City Tour
Lima City Tour

Today we will escort you to Lima airport for a short flight to Cusco, the capital of the Inca Empire. In Cusco we will escort you to your hotel where the remainder of the day is free for you to explore this incredible city. Cusco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most historic, beautiful and interesting cities to explore in South America. We include free time in Cusco to allow you to acclimatise but also to provide time for you to enjoy this wonderful destination. Cusco is full of cobbled Inca streets, colonial architecture, churches and chapels, markets, art galleries, museums and much more and is a fabulous place to explore.

Meals: Breakfast

Overnight: Central hotel in Cusco

Option: Choose from a morning flight to have more time in Cusco, or an afternoon or evening flight to enjoy more time in Lima.

Cusco City
Cusco Free Day - Cusco Locals

Today enjoy an escorted tour to visit some of the most iconic sights within the city. Begin in the heart of the city with visits to Cusco Cathedral with its beautiful interior and the Inca temple of Korikancha which was converted into a church by the Spanish colonists. The tour then continues to the valleys surrounding Cusco to visit the Inca sites of Tambomachay and Sacsayhuaman, the latter of which is famous for its monolithic stones and as the location of the annual Inti Raymi festivities.

Meals: Breakfast

Overnight: Central hotel in Cusco

Cusco City Tour - Korikancha
Cusco City Tour - Sacsayhuaman
Cusco City Tour - Sacsayhuaman

Embark on a fantastic journey through of the Sacred Valley following in the footsteps of the Inca. Visit the traditional village of Chinchero famous for its traditional crafts and with a network of Inca streets and small Inca ruins. After enjoying a demonstration of the crafts techniques used by the villagers since the time of the Inca you will visit the ancient colonial church in the village which features a beautifully painted interior. Next stop is the unique circular terraces at the Inca site of Moray and the nearby village of Maras where a valley has been converted into countless salt pans over many hundreds of years - it is a wonderful sight to behold. Finally you will arrive at the traditional Inca town of Ollantaytambo to visit the large Inca fortress that overlooks the town. As the day concludes you will return to the Sacred Valley to enjoy a night in the tranquil and beautiful surroundings of this scenic part of Peru.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight: Central hotel in Sacred Valley

Option: After visiting Ollantaytambo travel directly to Machu Picchu and sleep in Machu Picchu Pueblo instead of the Sacred Valley for earlier access to Machu Picchu the following day. The Sacred Valley is also a popular destination to add a free day to spend more time in this wonderful valley. Please enquire for more information.

Tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas - Moray
Tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas - Maras
Tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas - Ollantaytambo

This morning you will enjoy the early-morning train to travel along the last stretch of the Sacred Valley towards Machu Picchu. The train is a wonderful journey passing Inca terraced landscapes with views of snowy Andes mountain peaks and traditional farmland as well as the raging Urubamba river in the valley below. The trainline ends at Machu Picchu Pueblo, the gateway to Machu Picchu itself, and on arrival you will meet your Machu Picchu guide and travel to the ruin for a full tour of this iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will enjoy the unforgettable "postcard" view of the site as well as visiting all of the important areas including the Temple of the Sun and Intihuatana Sundial and will learn about the fascinating history of Machu Picchu and the Inca Empire. After the tour has concluded we will escort you back to Machu Picchu Pueblo where you will have some lunch and free time to explore the town and pick up some souvenirs before returning to Cusco by train later in the afternoon.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight: Central hotel in Cusco

Option: Upgrade your Machu Picchu entry to a two-day ticket and add a night in Machu Picchu Pueblo if you would like to return to Machu Picchu the following day for more time to explore the ruin at your leisure.

Tour of Machu Picchu
Tour of Machu Picchu
Tour of Machu Picchu

Today you will enjoy another free day in Cusco which provides time to relax following your visit to Machu Picchu and a break in the holiday before you continue your journey through South America.

Meals: Breakfast

Overnight: Central hotel in Cusco

Cusco Free Day - Cusco Streets
Cusco Free Day - View of Korikancha

Today you will journey from Cusco to the Peruvian city of Puno on the shore of Lake Titicaca on a full day tour to visit the most interesting destinations along the way. The road you will follow is called the “Ruta del Sol” or the Sun Road and you will enjoy visits to an ancient Andean colonial church built in 1626, a visit to Raqchi Inca archaeological complex, and of course some incredible views of snow-capped Andean mountains and landscapes.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight: Hotel in Puno, Lake Titicaca

Option: Replace the Ruta del Sol tour with an upgraded overnight trip on the Belmond Andean Explorer Train, or on the one-day Titicaca Train. Please enquire for more information.

Ruta del Sol - Raqchi Inca Ruins
Ruta del Sol - Andes

Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and its highlight is the unique and iconic floating Uros Islands. This morning you will enjoy a cruise tour over the lake to visit the floating islands and discover their history and meet the indigenous people that will host your visit. Afterwards you will return to Puno to enjoy a tour to visit the impressive ruined funerary towers at Sillustani which are situated on the shores of Lake Umayo amidst spectacular settings.

Meals: Breakfast

Overnight: Hotel in Puno, Lake Titicaca

Option: Replace the afternoon trip to Sillustani with an afternoon boat cruise to Isla Taquile on Lake Titicaca, please enquire for further details.

Lake Titicaca - Uros Islands
Lake Titicaca - Uros Islands
Sillustani

Today we will meet you early to embark on a journey along the shore of Lake Titicaca to cross the border into Bolivia. Your destination is the beautiful lakeside town of Copacobana and here you will board a catamaran to cruise across this iconic lake to visit the island of Isla del Sol, the mythical birthplace of the Inca Sun God. On the island you will visit the Inca garden and Inca steps as well as the Inti Wata complex to learn more about the traditional societies that live in this region of Bolivia. In the afternoon you will return to Copacobana by catamaran and then travel onwards to the city of La Paz for the evening.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch (on catamaran)

Overnight: Central hotel in La Paz

In the morning you will depart the Salar de Uyuni and we will escort you to Uyuni airport from where you will take a flight back to La Paz. On arrival in La Paz we will first escort you to your hotel to check-in, then you will set off on a city tour through La Paz visiting the famous witch-doctors market full of weird and wonderful paraphernalia as well as the colonial church of San Fransisco and the famous Jaen street where you can admire the wonderful colonial buildings. The tour continues to Moon Valley on the outskirts of La Paz where you can observe the bizarre natural structures that have formed here.

Meals: Breakfast

Overnight: Central hotel in La Paz

Today you will start your epic 4x4 private tour through the famous Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in earth. Leaving Uyuni town behind your first visit is the ethereal train cemetery where rusted hulls of ancient steam trains have been left to bake in the harsh environment - it is a bizarre and enthralling location offering a great backdrop for fantastic photographs of this isolated and barren landscape. The tour continues to the colonial church of San Cristobal and the Valley of the Rocks where wind erosion has carved the rocks into fascinating and bizarre shapes creating a natural beautiful landscape spectacle. The final stop of the tour is the village of Villamar where you will visit cave paintings nearby before arriving at your hotel, located in isolated splendour in the middle of the Bolivian altiplano. Due to the altitude and the lack of light pollution on clear nights the Milky Way can be seen in all its fantastic glory.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Evening Meal

Overnight: Jardines de Mallku Cueva Hotel

Train Cemetery Uyuni
Salar de Uyuni at Sunset
Salar de Uyuni at Night - Milky Way

Although this region of Bolivia is perhaps more famous for the salt flats themselves the surrounding region contains some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in the world and today you will visit some of these magical locations. First stop on the tour is Laguna Colorada, a large shallow salt lake with waters that are tinged pink due to sediments and algae and which is home to grazing flamingos. The tour continues over the altiplano to the hot springs that overlook Chalviri Lagoon - where you can enjoy a natural thermal bath with possibly the finest view in the world, and "Salvador Dali's Valley" which contains eroded rock formations in naturally artistic shapes. The final visit of the day is the stunning Laguna Verde, a rich vivid turquoise-coloured lake in the shadow of a conical volcano.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Evening Meal

Overnight: Palacio de Sal Hotel, Salar de Uyuni

Laguna Verde Salar de Uyuni
Laguna Colorada Salar de Uyuni
Flamingoes at Laguna Colorada Salar de Uyuni

In the morning you will set off early from your hotel in the Bolivian altiplano to visit the Salar de Uyuni. You will enter the Salar and in your 4x4 vehicle will travel across this giant lake of salt making stops to admire the landscape and for photographs. You will visit the "island" of Incahuasi in the middle of the salar where you can explore and admire the giant cactus and spot for the local wildlife that lives in this oasis in the middle of the barren landscape. After enjoying lunch in the centre of the salt flats you will continue to Tunupa Volcano, a fabulous mountain on the edge of the salar, and will see pre-colonial ruins and ancient mummies before returning to the edge of the salt flats to watch the sunset over the Salar de Uyuni. You will spend the evening in a luxurious salt hotel nearby.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Evening Meal

Overnight: Palacio del Sal, Salar de Uyuni

Salar de Uyuni
Salar de Uyuni
Salar de Uyuni

This morning you will cross the overland border from Bolivia into Chile and will transfer to check-in to your hotel in the delightful town of San Pedro de Atacama. In the afternoon you will set off to visit Salt Mountain, Death Valley (also known as Mars Valley) and Moon Valley in the Atacama Desert. Not only is the scenery in this region stunning, but the lack of light pollution makes the views incredible and you will stay to admire the sunset in this incredible landscape in the beautiful wilderness of northern Chile.

Meals: Breakfast

Overnight: Hotel in San Pedro de Atacama

Full day excursion to visit the beautiful lagoons and lakes of the Atacama desert. Starting the day with a visit to the traditional Chilean town of Toconao the tour continues to the high altitude region of the Atacama to visit the stunning Chaxa Lagoon on the Atacama salt flat. This is a popular grazing spot for pink flamingos and these graceful birds can be spotted here. The journey continues to an altitude of 4500m to enter the Flamingos National Reserve to visit Meñiques and Miscanti Lagoons, these stunning lakes are nestled among impressive conical volcanoes. Lunch is included in a local restaurant.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight: Hotel in San Pedro de Atacama

Depart early this morning to visit the impressive Tatio Geysers. This giant geyser field is best viewed at sunrise when the early morning rays rise over the Andes mountains and dance off the rising steam columns of the geysers. You'll embark on a guided walk among the geysers before being able to bathe in the natural waters if you wish. The return journey to San Pedro de Atacama passes the Torcopuri and Saiecabur Volcanoes. In the afternoon we will escort you to the nearby airport at Calama for a flight to Santiago.

Meals: Breakfast

Overnight: Central hotel in Santiago

Today we will meet you at your hotel at the appropriate time and will escort you to Santiago airport so you can check-in for your international flight home.

Meals: Breakfast

Overnight: N/A

Option: Add an additional night in Santiago to allow more time to explore this city or to include our Valparaiso Tour or our Concha y Toro Winery Tour. Please enquire for further details.

Included

  • One domestic flight within Peru (Lima - Cusco)
  • One domestic flight within Bolivia (La Paz - Uyuni)
  • One domestic flight within Chile (Calama - Santiago)
  • All tours and excursions
  • English-speaking guides for all excursions
  • Entry fees to all sites included in the itinerary
  • Accommodation
  • All meals detailed
  • Transfers to / from airports or hotels
  • All transport and travel within South America

Not Included

  • International flights to/from South America. We exclude international flights to give the option to compare flight pricing or use airmiles, however we can include and provide international flights as part of your holiday and any international flights booked through us would be ATOL-protected as part of your package with us. Depending on time of year, departure airport and airline preference flight prices start from around £600pp economy. If you would like us to quote on international flights just let us know your preferred departure airport when you enquire.

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ATOL PROTECTION

This is a flight-inclusive package holiday. All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/atolcertificate.

Contact us if you want more information or want to book this holiday. One of our South America holiday specialists will be more than willing to help.