Peru: Suggested Itinerary

Mountainous terrain, vast coastal deserts and steamy, tropical rainforests

Day 1: Arrive in the hectic capital, Lima and check in to a local hotel spend at least a day in Lima. Tour the colonial quarter or visit one of the country's great museums, such as the Museo Arqueológico Rafael Larco Herrera or Museo de la Nación, then hit either a great cevichería or a cutting-edge novo andino restaurant. Fly into Cusco for your next two days.

Days 2-3: The former capital of the ancient Incas awaits you. Spend a couple of days seeing the old Inca capital at a relaxed pace, making sure to see the Plaza de Armas and visit the Cathedral, Santa Catalina Convent, and Qoricancha (Temple of the Sun). Cusco is one of the best places in Peru to shop, eat and have a good time, so make sure to squeeze those vital activities in with sightseeing.

Day 4: Take the morning train from Cusco to Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes), South America's number-one attraction. Spend the middle part of the day exploring the ruins here and then head back to Cusco on the train.

Day 5: If you weren't able to catch an archaeology museum in Lima, or even if you did, check out the beautifully designed Museo de Arte Precolombino. Enjoy some of the lively cafes, bars, and restaurants of Cusco; you'll find plenty while strolling around the Barrio de San Blas. You must also try to see the fantastic ruins, Sacsayhuamán, overlooking the city.

Days 6-8: Take an early morning, half-hour flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado, the gateway to the southern Peruvian Amazon jungle of Tambopata National Reserve. Board a boat for a 2-day, 1-night trip to one of the jungle lodges along the Río Madre de Dios. On Day 8, head back to Puerto and then catch a flight to Cusco. Spend the night in Cusco.

Day 9: From Cusco, take the extraordinarily scenic train to Puno and Lake Titicaca (or if you want to visit some of the Inca ruins en route, take one of the premium tour bus services that make a day of the journey). Spend the night in Puno and get acclimatized to the awesomely high altitude for the next day's boat trip out on the lake.

Day 10: While an overnight trip that allows you to spend a night with a family either on Isla Taquile or Amantaní is the best way to experience the people and customs of Titicaca, you can also do a 1-day trip that lets you to visit the Uros floating islands and the fascinating culture of Isla Taquile.

Day 11: Catch an early morning flight from Juliaca airport to Arequipa, the elegant southern city known as "La Ciudad Blanca" for its beautiful colonial buildings made of sillar - white volcanic stone. Stay close to the gorgeous Plaza de Armas and spend the afternoon at the wondrous Monasterio de Santa Catalina, one of the finest examples of colonial religious architecture in the Americas.

Days 12-13: From Arequipa, set off on a 2-day, 1-night exploration of Colca Canyon, the best spot in South America to observe giant Andean condors, which soar overhead at Cruz del Cóndor. Explore some of the villages of the valley, as well as the thermal baths, on the first day and spend the night at a rustic hotel in Colca before marvelling at the condors the next morning.

Day 14: Spend the morning shopping for alpaca goods before flying to Lima, where you'll catch your flight back home.