If I had to choose one South American country to visit that combined the most diverse qualities and features to attract a savvy traveler, it would be Peru. The Peru that most people know is one that boasts a historical past with remnants and relics from the prolific Incan empire popping up through most of the country. The lesser-known Peru is the one that includes surf beaches, desert oases, traditional indigenous cultures, architecturally significant colonial cities, fine cuisine and the southwestern section of the Amazon jungle that few people ever experience. And while this may sound exotic, it is accessible, relatively inexpensive, and the people are warm and welcoming.
Traveland (tel. 800/321-6336; www.traveland.com), the Latin American Connection, offer several package deals at discounted prices to get you to Peru. The seven-day "Inca's Legacy - Cusco and Machu Picchu" package is priced from $999 and includes round-trip airfare from Miami to Lima, airport transfers, a night's stay at the four-star Hotel Carrera Las Americas in Lima, airfare to Cusco, tour of Incan ruins, four-nights at the three-star Mabey Palacio Imperial Hotel in Cusco, dinner, full-day guided tour to the sacred Valley with lunch, train to Aguas Calientes and return, lunch, one-night at the three-star Presidents Hotel in Aguas Calientes and an escorted tour to Machu Picchu. Departure dates are February 22 and March 9, 23 and 30, 2006. Thursday departures almost every week between April 13 and June 30 cost an additional $100. Add $100 from Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles or New York.
One of Traveland's new "Hot Deals", the seven-day Cusco, Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca package is priced from $1,199.
Gate1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) has a "Hot Deal" on its "Nine-Day Inca Peru Inca Special" priced from $799 per person. The package includes round-trip airfare from Miami to Lima on Lan Peru (other departure cities are available for additional cost), airline fuel surcharges, round-trip flights from Lima to Cusco-Lima, seven-nights accommodation (three in Lima, four in Cusco), all transfers, seven breakfasts, a farewell dinner, sightseeing per itinerary in air-conditioned modern motor coach, tours of Lima and Cusco, services of English-speaking local guides and entrance fees. The Machu Picchu tour is optional for an additional $167. The $799 is valid for the March 14, 2006 departure only. Add $70 for departures on February 14 or May 23, 2006. Add $80 for departures on September 26, October 17 or November 21, 2006.Booking deadline is December 28, 2005 for these prices taking into account a cash discount.
Gap Adventures (tel. 800/708-7761; www.gapadventures.com) has a vast selection (over 150) of tours within Peru. These land-only packages start as low as $495 per person. The "Inca Discovery - Lares" tour ($495) runs for eight-days from lima to Cusco and features visits to the Sacred Valley, Lares Trek and Machu Picchu. Spend a week retracing the steps of the Inca, one of the most fascinating civilizations in the Americas. Travel from Lima into the heart of the Andes and the charming colonial town of Cusco. Explore Cusco and its nearby ruins, then join expert local guides and porters on the lesser-traveled Lares Trek to Machu Picchu. The package includes all domestic transportation (internal flight, train and van), accommodation in hotels for five-nights and two-nights camping while on the trek, and all meals during the trek (three breakfasts, lunches, and dinners). This tour departs regularly throughout the year and the next tour available departs on January 20, 2006. A local payment of $200 to cover entrance fees etc. is additional as is international airfare.
The 21-day "Absolute Peru - Lares" tour is one of the most in-depth tours available of the country, visiting the Nazca Lines, Colca Canyon, Arequipa, Lake Titicaca, Cusco, Lares Trek, Machu Picchu and the Amazon Rainforest. Travelers get a chance to experience the full spectrum of what Peru has to offer. Priced at $1,750 per person based on dual occupancy it includes transport by bus, local flight, train, boat and canoe, all meals while in the jungle, during the homestay and hiking the Lares Trek, a guided tour of Nazca desert cemetery, a guided tour of Colca Canyon (two-nights), a guided tour of Taquile and Uros Islands on Lake Titicaca, a four-day Lares Trek with local guide, cook and porters, a guided tour of Machu Picchu and a two-night Amazon Jungle excursion. Tours depart from Lima regularly throughout the year (the next tour available departs on February 19, 2006) and a local payment of $250 is additional.
The "Choquequirao Trek and Inti Raymi" tour is a special 12-day trip from Lima to Cusco that visits the Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Choquequirao, Inti Raymi and Machu Picchu. Take an exhilarating four-day trek to the lost Inca fortress of Choquequirao and witness the celebration of the annual Inti Raymi festival -- the most famous Incan event. This package, base-priced at $1,050, includes transport by local flight, train, van and hiking, eight nights hotel accommodation and three-nights camping, all meals whilst hiking, a Cusco Tourist Ticket, guided tour of Machu Picchu, guided tour of the Sacred Valley, the four-day Choquequirao trek with local guide, cook and porters, a guided tour of Choquequirao archeological site and the Inti Raymi celebration This tour is run to coincide with the Inti Raymi festival with departures from Lima on June 14, 16, 19 and 22, 2006 only. A local payment of $250 is additional.
Fly South Vacations (tel. 800/234-5245; www.flysouthvacations.com) has a "Lima Special," but you'll have to be quick as the purchase deadline for it is December 15, 2005. For $549 per person based on dual occupancy, your package includes round-trip airfare from Miami, airport transfers, three-nights' accommodation at the Hotel Mariel, breakfast daily, hotel taxes and service charges. Travel is valid through March 31, 2006.
The "Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu and Posada Amazonas" deal is priced from $1,599 per person and includes round-trip flight from Miami, two- nights at the Hotel Mariel in Lima, tours, transfers and meals as specified in itinerary, three-nights at the Terra Andina Hotel in Cusco, one-night hotel accommodation at the Machu Picchu Inn in Aguas Calientes, the backpacker train tour of Machu Picchu, and two-nights' all-inclusive hotel accommodation at the Posada Amazonas Hotel in Puerto Maldonado, hotel taxes and service charges. Both these deals are valid for travel from January 4 to March 31, 2006. Add $175 from San Francisco, Los Angeles or Dallas or add $225 from New York, Philadelphia or Boston. A December 15, 2005 purchase deadline for this trip also applies, although if you are lucky they may extend that deadline.
Airfare prices to Lima vary somewhat between airlines and suppliers. CheapTickets (tel. 888/922-8849; www.cheaptickets.com) has midweek round-trip non-stop flights from Miami to Lima in January for $475 plus taxes ($74) on Lan Peru. From New York, the fare is $508 plus taxes of $72 on either Lacsa Airlines or Avianca with one stop.
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