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Father Daughter Trip to Peru

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I will be traveling in May 2014 to Peru with my father and I am in the process of planning the trip. Right now the rough itinerary has us starting in Lima and heading south to hit the cities of Pisco, Ica, Huacachina, Nazca, Arequipa, and Puno and the major sites in these areas. From Puno we will take the Andean Explorer to Cusco where we will stay for a few days before heading out to do the Lares Trek/Machu Picchu. Returning to Cusco we will make our way to Puerto Maldonado and Madre de Dios for a few days. The length of the trip is flexible but we are hoping to keep it around 3 weeks. I have a few questions regarding the itinerary, any advice is much appreciated.
What is the best way to travel from Lima to Puno, while visiting the major sites in between (such as the Nazca Lines, Ballestas Islands, Colca Canyon)?
Any suggestions for specific companies/tour operators for Ballestas Islands, Nazca Lines, a rafting trip, Colca canyon?
We definitely want to book guided tours for the Lares Trek and time in the jungle-any suggestions for tour operators or specific itinerary for these excursions?
We would love to incorporate some beach time, even though we won’t be able to visit the north, where are the best places to experience the coast south of Lima?
Both of us love extreme sports, so if you know of any unique experiences in the area please let me know!
Finally, is the time we have allotted, 3 weeks, enough to experience it all?

Thank you!

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    Sounds like a great trip.

    Best bet for transportation south of Lima to Arequipa (as well as for most other places in Peru) is the bus. There are express companies and very inexpensive locals (or economicos). As the distances from Lima to Nazca are not that great, I recommend the cheaper local buses, especially between the cities Pisco to Nazca. Plus they're a lot of fun.

    There are lots of travel agencies around Ica and Pisco where you can book a tour to the Islas and the Paracas Peninsula. Get a Lonely Planet or Fodors for Peru and check out the good travel agencies--I'd wait to book until I got there. As with almost everything else in Peru (MP and Madre de Dios excepted)this is much less expensive than booking on the internet and the supply is elastic enough so that you won't be crowded out. Islas Ballestas are very interesting and I recommend them highly.

    Huacachina not so much--there is, however, a very good regional museum in Ica.

    Same with Nazca--your hotel will doubtless have a travel desk or agent who can help you book a flight, or you can go to the airport and see what you can find. Whatever you do, get to the airport early in the morning, as flight conditions are best early in the day. There are also a lot of other interesting archaeological features around Nazca.

    Don't know anything about the southern beaches. This link says the best are around Arequipa.

    Best way to get to Puno would be to take a train, but I don't see any on Perurail. You can take a bus, and this site looks like you can take a bus to Colca (Chivay) and then from Chivay to Puno. Taking the train or bus may help with altitude sickness as your body may be able to adjust on the slower ride up to the altiplano. Otherwise, you can fly. I felt like Colca Canyon was somewhat of a waste of two days, but you may feel differently.

    Three weeks for the south of Peru should be enough. Next trip go north.

    !Buen viaje!

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    Here is a link to a good sight for Peru with lots of info on tours, operators and activities

    There is a pretty well worn "gringo trail" which covers all the places on you list and can be done either as a clockwise route e.g. Lima - Cusco - Puno - Arequipa etc. or in the opposite direction as you suggest. Either way is good for acclimatisation but I would say the clockwise route has the edge.

    Buses are comfortable, cheap and frequent. pay extra for full cama services on longer journey and stick to the bigger companies like Cruz del Sur, Ormeno etc.

    We trek from Lares to Ollantaytambo a few years ago and felt it was the best experiences on that trip to South America. I am not sure whether the trek to MP follows the same route but here is a link to my blog entry for that trek with a lot of photos.

    We were hoping to do something similar last year but when we arrived in cusco we found that our guide Miguel had been tragically killed a year or so before.

    I would also recommend the Inka Express bus as a means of getting from Puno to Cusco or vv. much cheaper than the train and it stops at lots of places of interest along the way.

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