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Peru & Bolivia

Itinerary

Cusco - Machu Picchu - Lake Titicaca - La Paz - Road of Death


Day 1: Cusco

You will be met from your flight and transferred to the joining hotel in Cusco. Cusco is a lively town rich in history that arracts large numbers of visitors; the gateway to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. You will spend the next few days here acclimatising and enjoying the local attractions.

Altitude: 3,326m (10,912ft) 


Day 2: Cusco

You may choose to explore independently or join an organised tour of the historic city centre and the surrounding Inca ruins (extra charge). Key sites in Cusco include the cathedral, Plaza de Armes (main square) and Qoricancha (Sun Temple). The four Inca sites closest to Cusco are: Tambomachay with its beautiful ceremonial stone bath, Puka Pukara an ancient fortress, Qenko and its sacrificial rock and the walled fortress of Saqsayhuaman. This evening the local team will give us details of the next few days of cycling.

Altitude: 3,326m (10,912ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B)


Day 3: Cusco

Another important acclimatization day before we begin our adventure. We will stretch our legs with a cycle around the local area to warm up for the coming days. You will also have time to enjoy more of Cusco's many historic attractions. 

Altitdue: 3,326m (10,912ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B)


Day 4 Cusco - Ollantaytambo

We set off on our bikes for a spectacular day of cycling into the Inca heartland. The first stretch is uphill on a paved road leading us away from the city into farmland. We continue riding on single track gravel road towards Moray. Just west of the village of Maras, Moray is an archaeological site with an impressive set of circular terracing which looks like an amphitheatre. Each layer has its own micro climate and it is thought that the Incas used this place as an experimental farm to determine the best conditions for growing crops. The remainder of the route is mostly flat. We ride though a lush green, pretty valley dominated by incredibly steep mountains. We stop to visit the Maras Salt Flats (entrance 20 soles) and transfer by vehicle for the final stretch to picturesque Ollantaytambo (2,800m). The village is the best surviving example of Inca planning with well-preserved cobbled streets and good drainage channels. It is presided over by a huge Inca fortress which is worth a visit.

Cycling Distance: 35km (22 miles)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 5: Ollantaytambo - Huyro

We begin with a morning transfer to Abra Malaga Pass (4,315m). From the summit we embark on a thrilling 70 km downhill ride to the subtropical town of Santa Maria (1,430m) - a 3,000m drop! The road snakes from the Andes to the Amazon rainforest through lush valleys with snow-capped mountains on the horizon. We encounter a variety of different climates and numerous ecological zones. There are fruit plantations where mango, pineapple and papaya grow in abundance; coffee, tea and cocoa also thrive in this area. The first 40 km or so are mainly on a tarmac road, thereafter we cycle on dirt track. We stop for lunch then continue to Wamanmarka archeological site, another Incan ceremonial site with agricultural terraces that resemble the circular terraces in Moray. 

Cycling Distance: 61.6km (38 miles)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D)


Day 6: Huyro - Santa Teresa - Aguas Calientes

We continue downhill to reach Santa Maria. From here we have an adrenalin pumping climb from to Santa Teresa. Our ascent starts soon after crossing the bridge which leads out of town and continues, hairpin bend after hairpin bend, up to 2,100m with an average incline of 10%. En-route the views into the surrounding jungle are spectacular. This area is teeming with wildlife. Parrots are likely to be screeching in the skies above while monkeys chatter in the trees. From the 2,100m summit we have a welcome descent to the quaint jungle town of Santa Teresa (1,900m) known for its hot springs. We will end the day at Aguas Calientes, all ready for an early morning start to Machu Picchu tomorrow.

Cycling Distance: 36km (22 miles)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 7: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Ollantaytambo

With an early start, our first views of Machu Picchu are one of the highlights of the trip. The Lost City of the Incas was rediscovered in 1911; today it is one of the world's most fascinating and important archaeological finds. We have a guided tour of the main site and learn more about the history and legends of this magical place. Time permitting it may be possible to ascend Huayna Picchu, the mountain which dominates Machu Picchu, for a panoramic view of the complex. We take a late afternoon train to Ollantaytambo through stunning mountain and jungle scenery.

Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 8: Ollantaytambo

You have time today to visit the huge Inca citadel that overlooks Ollantaytambo. Known as the fortress this was the site of a famous defeat of the Spanish conquistadors, before they came back shortly after to claim victory. The building also served as a temple and at the top of the terracing you will find a ceremonial area. Across the Urubamba River and 5 km from Ollantaytambo is at Kachiqhata, in a ravine you can visit the Inca quarry from where stones were transported to build the citadel and its surrounding impressive structures. If you look back in the direction of Ollantaytambo you will see an optical illusion in the form of a pyramid in front of the fortress. It is said that this is the point from which the 4 Inca brothers the founders of the Incas emerged. There is also an interesting museum in the town.

Accommodation: Hotel (B)


Day 9: Ollantaytambo to Urcos

Back on the bikes this morning, we ride from Ollantaytambo to Pisac. Located in the Sacred Valley on the Urubamba River Pisac is famed for its markets every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Locals travel in from the surrounding area to sell their goods including fresh produce, handicrafts and ceramics. In the heart of the central plaza, dominating the surroundings is a large Pisonay tree. Resting above the entrance to the valley are the Inca Písac ruins which this area is best known for. We cycle on south east to the small town of Urcos riding into the town along the bank of the River Vilcanota. We can stop en route to visit Tipon which boasts some impressive Inca terracing and a clever irrigation system. It's a steep 4km climb on a dirt track from the road to the site but well worth the effort. We stay tonight in Urcos.

Cycling Distance: 105km (65 miles)
Altitude: 3,180m (10,433ft)                                                                                                                                                          Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 10: Urcos - Sicuani

Departing from Urcos we pass by fields of rice and Lupins (the latter are used for stews and soups!) Hummingbirds fly overhead and lilac orchids line the road. We ride up out of the Sacred Valley, the terrain becomes less fertile as we head towards the small village of Tinta. Soon after this we come to the colonial village of San Pedro and the ruins of Raqchi, one of the most important archaeological sites in Peru. Its Temple of Viracocha is one of the last remaining examples of an Inca two storey building. The whole site is built on the only (dormant) volcano in the Cusco region. The last few kilometres of cycling bring us into the bustling town of Sicuani where we will stay tonight.

Cycling Distance: 95km (59 miles)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 11: Sicuani - Ayaviri

Today we reach the highest point of our trip, the Abra de la Raya Pass (4,335m). We cycle out of Sicuani, on reasonable quality tarmac with little traffic, through a lush valley with views of the colourful patchwork of crops high up on the mountainside. We are likely to see plenty of livestock grazing by the roadside including llamas and alpacas. As we approach the pass the temperature drops and our surroundings become less fertile. At the top there are incredible views of snow-capped mountains and a great photo opportunity next to the sign showing the altitude! It is a chilly spot so we won't hang around. As we ride on the surroundings become barren with no trees; icy mountain streams criss-cross the landscape. We descend into the market town of Ayavira (3,920m), the last major settlement on the road from Cusco with a colonial church and the nearby Pojpojquella hot springs - the perfect place to recover from a hard day on the bikes. (extra charge).

Cycling Distance: 107km (66 miles)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 12: Ayaviri - Lampa

This morning we ride out of Ayavira towards the sleepy village of Pucará (3,860m) famous for the ceramic bulls displayed on the roofs for good luck. We stop here to visit the pre-Inca ruins which preside above the town. Back on the bikes we ride on towards Lampa via the village of Caracara; it is an agricultural area where little seems to have changed in centuries. We pass through typical Andean villages where people go about their daily lives, with a tough 4km climb before arriving in Lampa. This is a beautiful colonial city almost lost in time, known as La Cuidad Rosada for its pink stone buildings. The Iglesia de Santiago Apostol located in the plaza de Armas is an imposing and eerie church, including a huge domed tomb containing hundreds of skeletons arranged into a skull and cross-bones formation.

Cycling Distance: 71.3km (44 miles)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D)


Day 13: Lampa - Puno

Today we ride towards Puno on flat terrain, avoiding busy Juliaca. Our route takes us from sealed roads onto a rougher 30km stretch before we join surfaced road again. We face a steep climb to reach Puno and will transfer for the final stretch as the traffic will be heavy. Puno is the main port on Lake Titicaca. This is the highest navigable lake in the world at 3800m. It is also the largest lake in South America and covers a larger area than the whole of Switzerland. Titicaca is in fact two lakes connected by a half-mile wide channel known as the Tiquina Straights. Puno is a small, lively, quirky town and the most convenient stopping point between Cusco and La Paz. Puno is also recognised as "Capital folklórica del Peru" (folklore capital of Peru) for its numerous artistic and cultural activities, particularly dance. 

Cycling Distance: 55.7km (34.5 miles)
Altitude: 3,830m (12,565ft)                                                                                                                                                          Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 14: Rest Day Puno

A leisurely day in Puno with time to explore the town and market. Just 5km from Puni, are the Floating Islands: Lake Titicaca's main attraction. You have the option to visit these man-made floating reed islands, woven from layers of totora reeds which grow on the edge of the lake. The Islands are home to several hundred people who are descended from the Uros Indians, a tribe which pre-dates the Incan civilisation.

Accommodation: Hotel (B)


Day 15: Puno - Juli- Copacabana

There is an early start for those who want to cycle the whole of today's route. Those of you who prefer to transfer part of the route at any time, or just towards the end of the day are welcome to use the support vehicle. Our route out of Puno hugs the shoreline of Lake Titicaca, passing through Chimu village where the main industry is production from totora reeds. There are usually several reed boats in various stages of construction lining the route. As we head towards Chucuito and Juli, the road curves away from the lake via the town of Ilave. This stretch of the route is an almost flat 80km. The small town of Juli, is known as pequena Roma (little Rome) because of its four colonial churches dating from the 16th and 17th centuries.

This afternoon we ride out of rural Peru continuing on relatively flat terrain with only one notable descent passing numerous small farms and settlements and cross the border into Bolivia, journeying on a further 12 km to Copacabana. The road stays close to the coastline with spectacular views over the pristine waters of Lake Titicaca.

Cycling Distance: 107km (66 miles)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D)


Day 16: Copacabana - Rest Day

A well-deserved rest day after yesterday's long ride and time to explore Copacabana; your first experience of Bolivia. Copacabana sits on the southern shore of Lake Titicaca, between Mount Calvario and Mount Niño Calvario. With cobbled streets, old stone buildings and a huge white cathedral the pretty town is an historic centre for religious pilgrimage. Today local and visiting Peruvian pilgrims still congregate here for the town's festivals. You can take a boat trip out on the lake to Isla del Sol the sacred Inca island and one of the main attractions on the Bolivian side of the lake.

Accommodation: Hotel (B)


Day 17: Copacabana - La Paz

This morning there is a tough ascent up out of Copacabana followed by undulating terrain before a plunging descent to the shores of Lake Titicaca. We board a ferry to the village of San Pablo Tiquina. We transfer by vehicle away from the shores of the lake continuing from the Huata Peninsula through the villages of Vichi and Santiago de Huata as the road climbs and descends along the way into La Paz.

Cycling Distance: 40km (25 miles)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 18: La Paz - Coroico

A spectacular day of cycling along the infamous "Road of Death", often described as the world's most dangerous road. For many years, this narrow, winding track with its sharp peaks and sheer drops was the only way of travelling between La Paz and the village of Coroico. However, a new bypass around the most perilous stretch opened in 2006 and the re-routing of most traffic to the highway means the old road is now safer than ever before. For adventurous mountain bikers it presents an incomparable and exhilarating challenge.

You can cycle or choose a transfer from La Paz to La Cumbre, a 4,750m pass over the icebound peaks of the Cordillera Real. For those who wish to cycle from La Paz (19km) there will be an early start. we transfer to the outskirts of the city to avoid heavy traffic. From La Cumbre we begin a thrilling descent of more than 3,500m in just 64 km. The route winds through the clouds into the humid valleys of the Yungas, a densely forested area which separates the altiplano and the Amazonian rainforests of northern Bolivia. The route seems to cling to the edge of sheer cliffs which plunge into deep narrow gorges. A high level of concentration is required - cyclists must dodge rocks, pot holes, puddles, other bikes, and oncoming traffic. However, the rewards are immense. This route is one of Bolivia's top tourist attractions and the dramatic scenery makes it one of the world's most beautiful roads. We stay tonight in Coroico (1,525m) where the lush, tropical surroundings are a welcome contrast to the rugged altiplano.

Cycling Distance: 64km (40 miles) or 79km (49 miles)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D)


Day 19: La Paz

After a transfer back to La Paz this morning you have a day to relax and explore 'the city that touches the sky'. Located high above sea level (ranging from 3,000m to 4,100m), La Paz sits in a bowl surrounded by the high altiplano. Today you have time discover the key sights and the language, culture and customs of the most Indian country in South America. Native religions, dialects, clothes, music and medicine all form part daily life. The city centre is dominated by lively Plaza Murillo which is bordered by some of the city's most important buildings including the cathedral, Government Palace (Palacio Quemado) and the Congress Building. Before 1904, this building housed a convent, a jail, and a university. There will also be time to wander along the narrow, cobbled-stoned Jaen Street, with its fascinating colonial architecture. Museo Nacional de Arqueología houses items from Tiwanaku, Bolivia's premiere archaeological site. The energetic can climb to Mirador Laikakota lookout which offers panoramic views of La Paz and is a great place to photograph snow-capped Illimani.

Accommodation: Hotel (B)


Day 20: Tour Ends

This morning we bid you farewell. You will be transferred to the airport, for your international flight home.

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