Holidays to Kuelap and the North of Peru

North Circular

The Pre-Inca North of Peru

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Ancient Cities and Cloud Forest Fortresses

12 day holidays to Peru's unexplored north for £2395pp

The south of Peru might have Peru’s most famous sights, but if you can make yourself look beyond the undoubted attractions of Machu Picchu, then the unexplored north of Peru rewards the adventurous traveller with a constant stream of surprises. And best of all? You can have them all to yourself...

From the pre-Inca delights of Chan Chan and Tucume, to the beautiful colonial history preserved in Cajamarca and Trujillo, there are some stunning and largely unvisited sites of international importance, culminating in the stupendous cloud forest fortress of Kuelap.

Outline Itinerary

  • Day One: Arrival in Lima
  • Day Two: Fly to Cajamarca
  • Day Three: City tour of Cajamarca
  • Day Four: Visit to Cumbemayo
  • Day Five: Drive to Leymebamba
  • Day Six: Tour of Kuelap
  • Day Seven: Visit to Gocta Waterfalls
  • Day Eight: Travel to Chiclayo
  • Day Nine: Royal Tombs Museum
  • Day Ten: Tour of Chan Chan
  • Day Eleven: Temples of the Sun & Moon
  • Day Twelve: Fly back to the UK

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Detailed Itinerary

Day One – Start of your Holidays to Peru

We will be waiting for you at Lima airport to meet you on arrival as you begin your holidays to Peru. You will be taken by private transfer to your hotel in the cosmopolitan Miraflores area. After you’ve checked in the rest of the day is yours to explore the area. There are numerous cafes and restaurants within a stone’s throw of your hotel all waiting to introduce you to Peru’s fine cuisine.

Day Two – Flight to Cajamarca

After breakfast this morning we will pick you up and take you for a flight up to Cajamarca. On arrival in this pleasant Andean town, we will take you to the lovely Laguna Seca hotel, where you can relax in the extensive gardens and enjoy the private hot springs and swimming pools. (Breakfast included)

  • The hotel offers an extensive list of massage and spa treatments if you'd like to pamper yourself?
  • Or if you're feeling more active you might like to take a horseback ride around some of the surrounding countryside?

Day Three – Tour of Cajamarca and Otuzco

After a free morning to relax and settle into your holidays to Peru, this afternoon we will take you for a tour of the major sites in Cajamarca, such as the Cathedral, the Belen monastery, and the famous ‘Ransom Room’ where the last Inca emperor, Atahualpa, was imprisoned by Pizarro until he agreed to fill it to the ceiling with gold and silver... We’ll then head to the summit of Santa Apolonia hill, before we drive out to the pre-Inca burial chambers in Otuzco. These ‘ventanillas’ or ‘little windows’ are chambers carved into the volcanic tufa rock, and acted both as graves and sites of ritual veneration. (B)

Day Four – Cumbemayo

The Cumbemayo archaeological site, located a few kilometres outside of Cajamarca, is generally acknowledged as one of the oldest man-made structures in the Americas, and even today it isn’t clear how, in around 1500BC, the inhabitants of this area were able to construct this enormous aqueduct, which brings water from the Pacific side of the Andes across to eventually drain out into the Atlantic. As well as the undoubted historical interest of the site, the area is also naturally beautiful, with high peaks, lush slopes, and some intriguing rock formations, which we will visit along the way. (B/L)

Day Five - On to Chachapoyas

We will leave Cajamarca this morning for a drive across two mountain ranges and several different ecological zones, as we descend into the canyon of the Marañon river on one of the most amazing road journeys in Peru. From the 2300m elevation of Cajamarca, we will head through lush agricultural land, up into the cloud forest, across arid plateau-like terrain – peaking at around 3000m - and then begin our descent to the riverside town of Balsas: a drop of over 2000m. From here we will climb back up the other side of the canyon on our way to the town of Leymebamba. We will arrive here in the late afternoon, and we will have a quick visit to the Mallqui museum, where over 200 Chachapoyas-culture mummies are being recovered for restoration from their original home near the Laguna de los Condores. After this we will head further on to our lodge just outside the town of Chachapoyas. (B/L/D)

Day Six - Tour of Kuelap

Although many people outside of Peru haven’t heard of it, today will take you to one of the absolute stand-out highlights that Peru has to offer, with a full-day excursion to the pre-Inca fortress of Kuelap. We will set off in the morning for the drive from our lodge to the village of Tingo Viejo, a little way up the mountain on which Kuelap is perched. From here we will walk up to the citadel itself, enjoying the spectacular views. The fortress is absolutely stunning but is little-visited so after a guided tour you can explore this incredible site yourself, giving you plenty of time and quiet to appreciate this amazing location. (B/L/D)

Day Seven – Gocta Waterfall

After breakfast this morning we will head out from Gocta Lodge to the village of San Pablo. From here, we will walk through the cloud forest to the stunning Gocta waterfall – the fourth highest waterfall in the world. The 783m drop over two falls is an enormously impressive sight and one we can enjoy over a picnic lunch! In the afternoon, we’ll head back to the lodge so you can relax in the gardens and enjoy a last night here in the Andes. (B/L/D)

Day Eight – On to Chiclayo

Today we will pack up and leave Gocta Lodge as we drive you down from the mountains to the coast. You will arrive in the city of Chiclayo in the early evening and we will take you straight to your hotel so you can relax and enjoy the large and lovely pool. (B)

Day Nine – Royal Tombs of Sipan

This morning we will pick you up and take you out of Chiclayo to the fantastic Royal Tombs museum in the town of Lambayeque. This museum is possibly the best in Peru and holds the items found in the nearby ‘Lord of Sipan’ archaeological dig. This impossibly rich burial has been described as “South America’s Tutankhamen” and it’s hard to exaggerate the quality and range of the exhibits on show. It helps that it is also superbly curated and it’s something you will always remember. After lunch, we'll take you by coach a little further down the coast to the colonial city of Trujillo. You'll arrive in the late afternoon and we'll take you to your hotel in the colonial centre of the city so you can have a walk around the Plaza de Armas and get stuck into some of the great northern cuisine! (B)

  • We could also arrange a tour to the amazing "Valley of the Pyramids" in Tucume if you’d like to learn more about the pre-Inca history of Peru?

Day Ten – Chan Chan and Huanchaco

We will drive out of Trujillo towards the Pacific today as we visit the huge Chimu city complex of Chan Chan. In pre-Inca times this was the largest city in the Americas and was the same size as contemporary London - it originally covered over 20 square kilometres and had an estimated population of over 100,000. After a full guided tour of some of the restored sections of the site, we'll head to the nearby beachside Trujillo suburb of Huanchaco, for you to enjoy the freshest of seafood and to spend a relaxing afternoon by the ocean. (B)

Day Eleven - Temples of the Sun & Moon

You will have a free morning today, to explore Trujillo and to get those all-important postcards sent... Then, after lunch, we will pick you up from your hotel to visit the nearby Temples of the Sun and Moon. Built by the Moche culture around 500AD, these 130-foot tall pyramids are thought to be the largest adobe structures in the Americas and were built in stages with each pyramid built on top of its predecessor, meaning that the superb painted plasterwork has been largely preserved. In the evening, we’ll take you to the airport for a short flight back to Lima and then back to your Miraflores hotel to get ready to head out and enjoy your last night here in Peru! (B)

Day Twelve - Last Day of your Holidays to Peru

Sadly your holidays to Peru come to an end today, and we have left the last day of your holiday free to make sure we can accommodate any international flight time. If you don’t depart until the evening we can organise some extra sightseeing for you and we always make sure you keep your hotel room until you leave for the airport so you can leave your packing until the very last minute... (B)

Options for our Holidays to Peru

Mancora Beach, Peru

Beach Breaks in Peru – 3 days from £595pp

The best beaches in Peru are in the North and as they’re much closer to the equator than those around Lima, the weather is warmer all year so they’re an excellent choice to soak up some sun on the sand and enjoy some downtime on your holiday. The palm fringed white sands of Mancora and Punta Sal are our favourites.

Machu Picchu

Visit Cusco and Machu Picchu – 5 days from £895pp

No holiday to Peru is complete without a visit to the incomparable Machu Picchu, so why not take just a few days and add on a flight up to the ancient Inca capital of Cusco, from where you're just a train ride away from Machu Picchu. The sight of this lost Inca city, high in the cloud forest, really is something that will stay with you forever.

Peru Central Train to Huancayo

Huancayo by Train – 3 days from £350pp

Until very recently when China stole the title the train line from Lima to Huancayo was the highest in the world. If you’re going to Peru and you like trains then this journey is a must! The route takes you through beautiful countryside and the comfortable Pullman carriages and bar make it a very relaxing journey.

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What's Included?

The standard price for our 'North Circular' holidays to Peru is £2395 per person, which is based on two sharing a double or twin room in our standard hotels.

That price includes all your accommodation, internal transport, transfers, tours, guides and entrance fees. It also includes all your meals in Chachapoyas, and breakfast every day.

We don't have any "local payments" or sneaky charges: everything you have read about on this itinerary is included in that price. And because everything we do is tailor-made, we don't have fixed departure dates or minimum numbers for our trips. Outside of national holidays or other special events, this price is valid for the whole of 2020.

International flights

So with the exception of a few meals, everything on your holiday is included. What we don't include as standard is your international flights, because with these you have a huge range of options depending on the date you want to travel, the route you want to fly, and your preferred departure airport in the UK.

We aren't tied to any particular airline, and we will be delighted to discuss all options with you, or you can even book the flights yourself if you prefer: it's totally up to you.

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