Highlights of Peru (3-weeks)

If you are lucky enough to be able to spend three weeks in Peru we can fill your itinerary with all of the highlights as well as some less-well known spots. Of course the highpoint is likely to be Machu Picchu but adventurous families will also love a white-water rafting excursion on the Urubamba and a friendly village homestay on the banks of Lake Titicaca. There is also the option to incorporate the Inca Trail trek if you are up for the challenge.

You will be escorted throughout by English speaking guides.


  Delve deep into Lima’s catacombs
  Search for caiman in a dug-out canoe
  White-water rafting adventure
  Visit Machu Picchu
  Homestay on Lake Titicaca
  See the condors above Colca Canyon

21 days from £3,450 pp

Plus international flights from £850

A 3-week holiday in Peru for a family of four usually costs from £13,800 based on mid-range hotels (excluding international flights)

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Highlights of Peru (3-weeks) day-to-day itinerary

Day 1 Lima
Arrive at the airport where you will be met by a Stubborn Mule Travel representative and taken to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax after your flight or explore the city. Lima replaced Cusco as Peru’s capital back in 1535 and was the centre of Spanish rule for 300 years. It is home to beautiful colonial buildings, a striking central square, an impressive cathedral, colourful markets and a number of really excellent restaurants.

Day 2 Lima
A full day to explore Lima with a guide. Inspire the children with tales of the conquistadors and visit the tomb of the most famous, Francisco Pizarro, in Lima Cathedral. You can also spook older children with a visit into the musty catacombs beneath the San Francisco convent where hundreds of thousands of bones are heaped into piles in the small cave-like rooms.

This evening you can join local families with a visit to the ‘Magic Water Circuit’, an impressive series of fountains that ‘dance’ to music and light in a spectacular show.

Day 3 Amazon Lodge
Transfer to Lima airport for a flight deep into the Amazon Rainforest to Puerto Maldonado. Once you have arrived take a boat along the Tambopata River to your lodge.

In the afternoon walk through the jungle to the canopy tower from where there are incredible views over a vast expanse of rainforest cut through by the Tambopata River. There will be many birds that you can see from the top, including toucans, parrots and macaws.

Day 4 Amazon Lodge
A full day of activities to get a real insight into this unique eco system. After breakfast you will take boat ride to Tres Chimbadas oxbow lake which you will explore by catamaran, searching for the resident family of giant river otters as well as caiman. Later you can walk to the clay lick near the lodge, where many parrots and parakeets descend most mornings to ingest the clay.

After lunch take a short boat downriver to a botanical farm where the local population grow forest medicines which are used in the local community. The children will be fascinated to learn about the weird and wonderful uses of the various plants. Sprained your ankle? You need andiroba oil which has the added benefit of keeping mosquitos at bay and is also rubbed on a baby’s umbilical cord to help healing. Feeling under the weather or hit by a virus? You need to boil some cat’s claw bark to make a tea which will instantly reinvigorate.

After dinner you can take a night walk into the forest; this is when the mammals are at their most active and although you are unlikey to see any larger animals, you will see many weird and wonderful frogs that will keep the children entertained!

Day 5 Sacred Valley
Transfer to Puerto Maldonado Airport and fly to Cusco. Your guide will meet you at the airport and will take you to visit Awanacancha, a village where families have grouped together to raise alpacas and llamas for their wool. This is then spun and dyed bright colours and woven into handicrafts. You can watch the process in action and the children will enjoy helping to feed the animals.

From here continue to your hotel in the heart of the picturesque Sacred Valley. You can spend the rest of the day relaxing at your hotel and enjoying the peaceful gardens.

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Day 6 Sacred Valley
An exciting morning white-water rafting down the Urubamba River. You will raft on the Cusipata section of the river which is ideal for beginners with a mixture of class 2, 3 and 4 rapids (although this will depend to a certain extent on recent rainfall). Some parts of the river flow quite gently and you can enjoy the scenery and mountain views, but at other times the river rushes through narrow gorges and you need to keep your wits about you as you follow your guide’s instructions and race through the choppy waters. The excursion includes a picnic lunch on the banks of the river and in the afternoon you will return to your hotel.

Day 7 Sacred Valley
After breakfast you will visit the impressive site of Moray, a series of huge, incredibly precise circular terraces. It is thought that this was where the Incans conducted research into agriculture but no-one really knows for sure exactly what the function of this other-worldly site was. From here you will drive to the salt mines of Maras, an impressive spectacle where the side of the mountain is carved into white terraces, each used to mine salt from the earth. You can learn about this procedure and enjoy the sublime views over the hills beyond.

Alternatively if today is market day you can visit Pisac Market, one of the largest in the Sacred Valley and a meeting point for Quechua people coming down from the hills. This is a photographers delight with local people dressed in traditional clothes, stalls piled high with colourful handicrafts and the odd llama wandering around. You can combine a trip to the market with the Pisac ruins. These are stunning, a huge swathe of agricultural terraces that descend down the mountain. If you want to get away from the crowds there is a lovely downhill trail from the ruins to Pisac Village offering breathtaking views along the way. There are a few steep drops so you need to keep younger children close at hand, but this is a lovely way to spend a couple of hours.

Day 8 Sacred Valley – Aguas Calientes
An exciting morning as you take zip-lines over the Sacred Valley. This is an activity that the children will love as you follow a series of 7 zip-wires over dramatic scenery with incredible views.

Later you will transfer to Ollantaytambo from where you will take the train to Aguas Calientes.

Day 9 Machu Picchu
This morning you will visit Machu Picchu with a guide, the highlight of any visit to Peru. The lost city of the Incas is perched on a remote hill-top high above the raging waters of the Vilcanota River. All around you the mountain peaks recede into the distance, covered in cloud forest and hiding who know what other ruins? You can spend hours exploring the site, allowing the children to roam amongst the different areas and perhaps climbing up to the Sun Gate for a phenomenal panoramic view over the ruins and mountains beyond.

The afternoon is free for you to further explore the site by yourselves.

In the evening perhaps head to the hot springs in Aguas Calientes where you can bathe in the warm sulphurous waters and relieve the aches and pains from clambering all over Machu Picchu. 

Note: More active families might like to consider doing the ‘express Inca trail’ a one day hike that allows you to arrive at the fabled site of Machu Picchu on foot, through the sun gate, in the afternoon just when other visitors are leaving. You can return to the site the following day for a more relaxed visit. If you would like to do this, please ask us for details.

Day 10 Cusco
After breakfast take the train to Ollantaytambo and from here continue by car to Cusco. The afternoon is free for you to explore.

Once the centre of the vast Inca Empire, Cusco offers an intoxicating combination of ancient religious sanctity and colonial splendour. Wander through the streets and you will come across huge stone blocks that were cut in Incan times with remarkable precision before turning a corner to find a lovely square that is framed by exquisite colonial buildings painted in pastel colours and attractive Spanish churches. Follow the cobbled streets that lead steeply up hill to the artistic quarter where you can find many excellent cafes, restaurants and markets, or head to the lively central market to bargain for souvenirs or try the local dishes in the huge food court.

Days 11-12 Cusco
Two full days to explore the city. We can either arrange for a guide to accompany you or you can explore by yourselves. Cusco is an easy city to get around and we find that most families enjoy being able to do things in their own time, with plenty of time spent in cafes with a fresh juice or ice cream.

Day 13 Cusco – Puno
Travel from Cusco to Puno. The quickest way to do this is to fly, but you can also travel either by train on the Andean Explorer, or by car, stopping at some of the sites along the way. These include the otherworldly ruins of the Temple of Wiracocha in Raqchi and the exquisite chapel at Andahuaylillas.

Day 14 Lake Titicaca
Head out onto Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, with spectacular views towards the Andes and over the lake itself. Visit a small community of Uros Indians who live on floating reed islands in the middle of the lake before continuing by boat to your homestay.

You will spend the night with a local family as part of a community homestay that has been set up by local villagers on a remote section of the lake. This is a very little-visited area (very different to the more commercial homestays available on the islands in the middle of the lake) and you will get a real insight into a rural way of life. You can walk through the village, hike to a beautiful lookout point, visit an ancestral ceremonial centre, learn about farming and weaving techniques and taste delicious local food.

Day 15 Lake Titicaca – Puno
Spend a morning with your host family before taking the boat back to Puno.

Day 16 Puno – Colca Canyon
After breakfast you will set off towards the Colca Canyon. Your route today takes you via Lagunillas where you can stop to admire the extensive birdlife and the high pass at Pata Pampa (4,820m). Here there are truly breath-taking views over the volcanoes of Ampato, Sabancaya, the Hualca-Hualca as well as the Mismi (the source of the Amazon River). As you approach the town of Chivay you can see the beautiful multi-coloured terraces of the Colca Valley and will take a short hike to the ruins of San Antonio, perched on a hillside with stunning views of the terraces.

Day 17 Colca Canyon
Rise early and depart for the Colca Canyon, a dramatic gorge that claims to be the deepest in the world and which is home a population of condors. You will take a walk in the canyon for around an hour and will see these giant birds, the largest land birds on earth with a wing span of up to 3m, as they soar on the thermal currents that rise from the valley floor. It is a truly remarkable sight.

Later visit the small village of Pinchollo, home to 1,500 year old terraces that were constructed by the Collaguas, an ancient people that lived in the Andes. You will also visit the small Andean community of Maca before returning to Chivay for lunch. The afternoon is free. If you are feeling active we can arrange either a horse ride or a cycling trip out into the countryside.

Day 18 Colca – Arequipa
After breakfast visit a small Coporaque village, getting to know the villagers and exploring the picturesque surroundings. You will have lunch with a local family before driving to Arequipa.

Arequipa is a gorgeous colonial city, its pretty centre a UNESCO world heritage site and packed with pastel coloured Spanish-style villas, whitewashed churches and busy piazzas all set against the impressive backdrop of the El Misti Volcano.

Day 19 Arequipa
A full free day to explore Arequipa or alternatively we can arrange for you to be accompanied by a guide.

Day 20, Arequipa – Lima
After breakfast transfer to the airport for a flight back to Lima. When you arrive you will be picked up by a guide and taken to your hotel for your last night. Perhaps head to the busy district of Miraflores for some last minute shopping.

Day 21 Lima
Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

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