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Santiago to Lima - Itinerary

Week 1: From Santiago, set against the backdrop of the snow covered Andes, for a short break.

Week 2: We cross the Chilean Argentina border, first visiting the city of Salta and on to Cafayate and Mendoza. In this wine growing area you can do a wine tasting tour on push bikes.

We cross to Bolivia, and the Uyuni Salt Pan, which is the largest in the world and so is the biggest slab of salt known, some ten billion tons of the stuff.  In the dry season you can hire jeeps for 2 days to cross. The stark, high country of the Altiplano and Potosi where a tour of the silver mines is a must.  Mining is still carried out deep into the earth as it has been for over 400 years since the Spanish opened it.

Week 3: Set dramatically against the mountains of Bolivia, high in the Andes, at 2,100 feet is La Paz a magnificent Andean Indian city, surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

Week 4: Into Peru and Lake Titicaca; we take boats to visit the Indians living on floating reed islands on the lake. The Inca believe they and the sun were born, or arose from this lake.

We drive across remote passes in the Andes to Cusco, the Incas Holy city; it’s the archaeological capitol of the continent.  The Spanish colonial buildings are built on the indestructible rock foundations of the losing Inca, as are many cities throughout the Americas 

Among the ruins of the Sacred Valley of the Incas you can hike for four days along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, or if you prefer take the train in a day.

Machu Picchu was lost to history around the time of the Spanish invasion; most likely everyone died from the smallpox which travelled with the invaders. The city was rediscovered with the idols left intact, unlike all the other cities in the regions where the Spaniards destroyed non-Christian imagery and statues. The discoverer of the city in 1911 was Hiram Bingham III. From him it’s thought the Indiana Jones character was developed. Bingham was actually led to the ruins by an 11 year old Indian by who famed nearby, so perhaps the city was never actually lost.

Some 40,000 objects sent to Yale University in USA, have now mostly been returned to Peru, displayed at the La Casa Concha Museum in Cusco.

Week 5: The Colca is the deepest canyon the world, we stand on the edge and watch Condors soar above us on the thermals, rising from below. On the fields by the road, we see Llamas also their relatives the Guanaco, Alpaca and Vicuna. 

In the Andes to Chivay Hot Springs.  At Arequipa a beautiful colonial town overlooked three old volcanoes. 

The Nazca Lines are a series of enormous drawings of animals, geometric figures and birds.  They seem as though they are drawn in the desert by a giant hand, from the air.  Opinions as to their mysterious origins over 2,000 years ago vary; from space craft landing sites to astrological calendars.

You can take a boat to the Ballestas Islands, to see the sea lion colonies and penguins. We finish in Lima, the centre of the Spanish conquest of South America.

 

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