Expert-Led Group Tour

Peru group tour - Northern Peru 4x4 Self-Drive Safari

17 days

from £4,525pp
  • Drive your own expedition four-wheel drive vehicle around northern Peru
  • Be accompanied by expert guides on two-way radio, travelling in a second vehicle
  • Travel to a more off the beaten track region of Peru.
  • Spend time in Huaraz, Leymebamba, Chiclay and Trujillo.

This Peru adventure holiday encompasses the stunning scenery, rich culture, cuisine, and history of Peru. Drive your own expedition 4 x4 vehicle on a 17-day adventure around northern Peru with routes spanning the most spectacular mountain ranges and roads that Peru has to offer. Self-driving allows exploration way beyond the normal tourist path and makes for an unforgettable adventure. A guide vehicle will accompany throughout the trip providing communication services, local liaison and back up for driving if needed.

Explore the fascinating yet little visited pre-Inca archaeological sites of northern Peru combined with the snow-capped mountains of the Cordillera Blanca.

Chiquian, Chavin and the Cordillera Blanca

The first part of this trip is based in central Peru around the Cordillera Blanca mountain range. Begin your adventure in Lima, and then head north through the coastal desert to Chiquian. Continue to the UNESCO archaeological site at Chavin which dates back to 1200BC. It is a special site with a large central ceremonial square and a system of underground caves and tunnels. From Chavin, head 'off the beaten track', travelling further north to Huascaran National Park, with time at leisure to explore on foot.

Canyon del Pato and CAJAMARCA

Continue onto the Canyon del Pato, the road here is not for the faint-hearted, as it snakes along a path hewn out of sheer rock, over a precipitous gorge and passing through 54 tunnels. Next morning, leave for Cajamarca, a charming Andean town with colonial churches and architecture.

Leymebamba and Kuelap

Journey into the Amazonas region, exploring the citadel of Kuelap, the largest ancient stone structure in South America, built in the 6th century AD. It is a fascinating site with over 400 buildings encircled by huge stone walls. It is a keen contender to rival Machu Picchu in stature but not in visitor numbers, it is quite likely no-one else will be there. Visit the colourful adobe tombs at Revash that look like mini houses built into the side of the cliff along with the museum at Leymebamba home to over 200 mummies.

What happens on a typical day?

Time at the wheel is variable dependent on road conditions and weather etc. However, for each day you should calculate around six hours, there are some rest days and shorter days too. You will have picnic and coffee stops along the way.

The roads are spectacular, and mainly tarmac, although you will be expected to do some off-road driving on some days. It is essential that you have full concentration while driving, and can stop for a break at any time if feeling tired.

Will I be accompanied by a guide vehicle throughout?

The guide vehicle will always be at the head of the convoy, and in radio contact at all times. Guides are always available to take over if you feel tired or are not confident with any section of the route.

What are the vehicles like?

The vehicles are Toyota Hilux 4x4 expedition trucks, professionally prepared for this Peru overland adventure. With smooth and powerful 3.0 turbo diesel engines, and a host of special expedition accessories.

This tour is also available on a tailormade basis, please contact the Steppes Travel team to discuss further options and for a detailed itinerary.

How many people per vehicle?

As part of this tour, there will be three vehicles, plus the guide vehicle, with a maximum of four persons per vehicle.

What is the accommodation like in Peru?

The accommodation is generally small and simple, often family run.

What will the weather be like in Peru in June?

Generally, the days will be warm and sunny, average temperatures are likely to be between 15oC and 22oC. Evenings will be cooler, especially when in the mountains so a fleece or jacket will be needed.

What will the altitude be like in northern Peru?

In northern Peru, Chachapoyas and Leymebamba, the altitude is around 2,300 metres, this will rise to just over 3,000 metres on the road to Cajamarca. In central Peru, Huaraz is at 3,100 metres, whilst during the treks reach altitudes of between 3,800 and 4,600 metres.

Departing on:
  • 15th November 2019

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour LecturerStatus 
15th Nov 2019 1st Dec 2019 £ 4,525 £ 900 call Local guides Available
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • 24-hour assistance while travelling
  • Accommodation as indicated
  • Accompanied by a guide vehicle throughout
  • Airport transfers
  • Breakfast included in all hotels
  • Picnic style lunches enroute
  • All dinners except Lima, Cajamarca and Trujillo

what is excluded

  • Dinners in Lima, Cajamarca and Trujillo
  • Fuel (Normal fuel cost is around £180 per vehicle for the trip)
  • Gratuities
  • International flights
  • Travel Insurance (mandatory)
  • You will need to pay a fully refundable damage security deposit of £1,100 locally in Peru. This is to cover the insurance excess and damage.


Itinerary at a glance

Collapse all
Day 1

Evening in Lima
Evening arrival in Lima where you will meet your guide at the hotel. The Casa Andina is situated in the Miraflores district of Lima, with time for dinner, a stroll along the seafront park, and a good night's sleep prior to the start of your journey.

*Please note the route and itinerary could change, this is a brand-new route. There is a recce trip departing in May 2018 to check the exact logistics*

Lima, the 'City of Kings', is a vibrant and bustling metropolis worthy of exploration. Nestled on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, Lima is known as the 'Gateway to Peru' and combines colonial splendour, prestigious museums and beautiful parks with lively nightlife and ample opportunities for sampling its world-famous cuisine.

You will be staying at Casa Andina Miraflores Select, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Lima - Chiquian
This morning, leave Lima, for a six to seven-hour journey north to Chiquian. You will head through the coastal desert via Huaral, cutting inland at Aspero, where a 4,500-year-old mummy was very recently found. Climb steeply towards the Huayhuash mountain range through the day via some interesting tracks, and arrive that afternoon at the simple, small family run Hotel Nogales, in the tiny Andean village of Chiquian. This is a technical stop en-route to the southern tip of the immense Cordillera Blanca Range.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

You will be staying at Hotel Nogales, bed and breakfast

Day 3

Crossing of the Cordillera Blanca range
Journey north towards Chavin, approximately three hours, and the impressive temple of Chavin de Huantar, built between 1200 and 300 BC and is the only large structure remaining from the Chavin culture. The Chavin are considered to be one of the most influential people to have lived in the Andes prior to the Incas. The temple was a ceremonial and pilgrimage centre for the Andean religious world and is one of the earliest pre-Columbian sites in existence. Despite floods and earthquakes, the 12 metre Chavin Lanzón still stands deep within the temple, and its appearance is hugely impressive. This mysterious place is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After lunch in the village at a typical Peruvian eatery, you will then make a crossing of the Cordillera Blanca range close to the Pastoruri Glacier, in the shadow of 6,300 metre peaks. It is one of the few glaciers left in the tropical areas of South America, but is fast retreating with the onset of global warming.

This is one of the most scenic drives in South America, a journey of about three hours, and you arrive in the late afternoon at Cuesta Serena Lodge, a delightful small boutique Andean-style hotel, located just outside of Huaraz. The hotel sits overlooking multiple white glaciers including the majestic Mount Huascaran (6,768 metres). A Pisco Sour on the terrace overlooking the Andes rounds the day off.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

You will be staying at Cuesta Serena Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 4

Huascaran National Park
Still heading north, you have a shorter drive of about an hour today. Turn off and climb higher to the remote Llanganuco Mountain Lodge. Here relax and enjoy the Huascaran National Park in all its glory, from this "off the beaten track" upscale lodge location. In the afternoon, there is an optional trek to the lake and ruins at Keushu, with the chance to swim (if you're feeling brave) and spot the Patagonia Gigas, the world's largest hummingbird.

A roaring log fire and drinks back at the lodge round off the day.

Huaraz is the capital of Ancash, overlooking the spectacular Cordilleras Blanca and Negra, and the gateway for those seeking adventure. Located in the middle of the country, it sits on the edge of the Huascaran National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is home to the highest mountain in Peru, Huascaran at 6,768 metres, over 600 glaciers, almost 300 lakes and three rivers. A paradise for trekkers and climbers, the snow-capped peaks of Cordillera Blanca offer some of the most spectacular scenery in Peru and arguably the world.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

You will be staying at Llanganuco Mountain Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 5

Llanganuco Trails
Free day to take in the stunning mountain scenery. You could stretch your legs and take a trek from the lodge, there are a selection to chose from depending on your fitness levels and how long you would like to walk. Alternatively, just take in the scenery from a sun lounger, join a yoga session or have a massage.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

You will be staying at Llanganuco Mountain Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 6

Visit Canyon del Pato
Today take on the Canyon del Pato - the day will be split into two four-hour sections with an early start. Largely unpaved, with precipitous drop offs, the Canyon serves up 28 miles of sinuous, winding single track road, with 35 narrow tunnels blasted through the vertical jagged rock. Its challenging, and as such deserves full concentration, but is also one of Peru's most rewarding 4x4 experiences.

From the Canyon, route to the small village of Huamachuco and stay overnight at the friendly family run Mama Wasi Hotel close to the town square.

Nearby are the ruins of Marcahuamachuco, which have been around for 1600 years, but only recently have they started being promoted as an archaeological site, which could one day rival Machu Picchu. The site is pre-Incan and there is still much unknown and undiscovered.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

You will be staying at Mama Wasi Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 7

Explore Cajamarca
Next morning, you leave for Cajamarca, a charming Andean city well known for its hot springs and colonial architecture. With huge historical significance to Peru, Cajamarca was the scene of the final days of the Inca Empire, as Pizzaro started his long conquering march to Cusco to take the country.

It was here that he captured and held Atahualpa hostage, only to execute him two years later, and you can visit his final holding cell. Cajamarca boasts magnificent colonial architecture like the Cathedral and the churches of San Francisco, Belén and Recoleta. This is a land steeped in tradition and your base here, the Hotel Costa Del Sol, situated on the Plaza de Armas, is an ideal starting point to visit the sites on foot. The journey will be between five to six hours today.

Cajamarca is a charming Andean city in northern Peru. Well known for its hot springs and colonial architecture, in particular, the Cathedral, San Francisco church and the Belen Monument Complex. In the year 1532 the city witnessed the fall of the Inca Empire by the Spanish conquerors.

Breakfast and lunch included

You will be staying at Costa del Sol Cajamarca, bed and breakfast

Day 8

Picnic at the Laguna de los Condores
From Cajamarca, journey into the Amazonas region, and a relatively undiscovered land, full of both natural and archaeological wonders. This is one of the most spectacular roads in Peru. Stop for a picnic picnic at the Laguna de los Condores close to the town of Leymebamba. The journey today will take between six and seven hours.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

You will be staying at Kentitambo Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 9

Discover the Kuelap ruins
Early morning, travel about three and a half hours to Kuelap, the largest ancient stone structure in South America. The Kuelap complex remains relatively unknown in this remote zone, which only thirty years ago took two months to reach from the nearest road. Built by the Chachapoyas, the fortified jungle citadel of Kuelap was home to the 'Cloud Warriors' of Peru.

Massive stone walls and hundreds of ruins stand as a reminder of a formidable culture lost to history. The monument was built in the cloud forests, 3,000 metres above sea level, of what is today the Amazonas Region of Peru, and was occupied from the 6th-16th century. Its strategic location and massive 20 metre stone parapets cover an area of almost 65,000 square metres and up to 3000 people lived here.

It has been thought that the Chachapoyas were conquered by the Incas sometime in the 15th century. Kuelap, however, seems to have been left alone by the Incas, and the Chachapoyas continued to live there. With the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century, however, the Chachapoyas culture collapsed, and Kuelap was abandoned forever. It was only in 1843 that the site was rediscovered by the outside world. Apart from archaeologists, the Peruvian government is also now paying attention to Kuelap, to promote as an alternative to Machu Picchu, with the installation of cable cars to transport tourists to the site. Until now, travellers could either opt for a three to four-hour hike, or a steep 4x4 route. A wonderful chance to see this remote and relatively undiscovered location before it becomes 'discovered'.

Continue another three hours to the Gocta Andean Lodge overlooking the impressive water falls.

Named after the Inca 'Festival of the Sun', Leymebamba is a small town in the vast jungle-filled region of Amazonas. Sitting at the bottom of a steep-sided valley, this quiet town is famous for its cheese and yoghurt.

Whilst traditional handicraft shops dot the streets, the town's main attraction is undoubtedly the archaeological museum. Built using Austrian funds, it is this that most visitors come to see.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

You will be staying at Gocta Andes Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 10

Gocta Falls
Waking up at this stunning hotel location is a real treat. Gocta Andes Lodge was designed to enjoy the view of the falls, with all oriented towards them.

After breakfast, head on foot or by horseback to the falls. At 771 metres, are thought to be the third highest waterfall in the world, as a result of an expedition led by German explorer Stefan Ziemendorff in March 2006.

Explore the area with the chance to observe a variety of hummingbirds including the famous endemic Spatuletail, butterflies, flowers, and occasional toucans, monkeys and other species from the region.

Time permitting, also visit the mysterious Sarcophagi of Karajiaset, located high in the side of a cliff. Hugely impressive at two metres tall and rediscovered in 1985, archaeologists believe that one of the sarcophagi of Karajia is the mummy of the highest Chief of Kuelap.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

You will be staying at Gocta Andes Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 11

Gocta Falls to Jaen
Leave the Chachapoyas area and journey in the direction of the Pacific, to the town of Jaen, a journey of three to four hours. This serves as a stop-over heading towards the Pacific coast.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

You will be staying at Urqu Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 12

Moche tombs
Today drive from Jaen to the Chiclayo area on the coast, a journey of about six hours. Close to Chiclayo stop at one of the most significant archaeological finds of recent years. In 1987, an enormous complex of un-plundered Moche tombs was unearthed near Sipan on the north coast of Peru. The most famous belonged to a Mochican warrior priest who was buried among dazzling treasures, unlike any seen before in the region.

Before finding the Moche leader, archaeologists were met by a guardian - the remains of a man wearing a copper helmet and holding a shield. He had been buried in a sitting position and his feet had been amputated to prevent him leaving his sentry position. Researchers had no idea of the opulent riches that lay beyond, until excavators came upon a tomb, still sealed, with a wooden sarcophagus in the centre - the first of its type to be reported in the Americas. Within the coffin, lay the remains of a mighty noble clad in pure gold regalia, who became known as the Lord of Sipan.

The treasures found are so extensive that a large museum has been constructed which is entirely dedicated to highlighting this incredible discovery. The Royal Tombs Museum of Sipan was constructed in nearby Lambayeque to hold most of the artefacts.

Drive to nearby Tucume, a journey of 90 minutes, to stay overnight close to 1,000 year old pyramids. You will be staying at the Hotel Los Horcones de Tucume in a standard room on a bed and breakfast basis.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

You will be staying at Hotel Los Horcones de Tucume, bed and breakfast

Day 13

Royal Tombs Museum of Sipan
This morning visit the Royal Tombs Museum of Sipan in nearby Lambayeque.

After a late lunch spend the afternoon at leisure with time to explore Chiclayo or relax by the pool in the shadow of the pyramids.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

You will be staying at Hotel Los Horcones de Tucume, bed and breakfast

Day 14

Tucume to Trujillo
Today take the coast road south towards Trujillo, a journey of about five hours. Known for the nation's traditional dance, the Marinera, the colonial centre is also home to the grand Trujillo Cathedral, with its bright yellow façade. West of the city, the huge adobe complex of Chan Chan is an abandoned city once home to the ancient Chimu kingdom.

Stand in the right spot and the glamorously colonial streets of old Trujillo look like they've barely changed in hundreds of years. It is a good city to explore on foot.

Breakfast and lunch included

You will be staying at Casa Andina Premium Trujillo, bed and breakfast

Day 15

Explore Caral
Our journey leads to the 5000-year-old UNESCO citadel of Caral, the oldest city in the Americas. Only rediscovered in 1948, it is a located in the desert with an elaborate complex of temples, an amphitheatre and houses.

After the six to seven-hour journey from Trujillo, along the Pacific Coast, a chic lodge awaits for your final evening. Spectacularly set in a remote desert location, the Empedrada Lodge is set in a tranquil spot backed by huge sand dunes and overlooking the Caral archaeological complex. A sunset dinner next to the pool, is an ideal way to round off your Kuelap Expedition.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

You will be staying at Hotel Empedrada Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 16

Caral to Lima
Return to the hustle and bustle of Lima after a late breakfast and arrive in time for a late ceviche seafood farewell lunch at a well-known local speciality restaurant. The drive will be between four and five hours depending on traffic in Lima.

Breakfast and lunch included

You will be staying at Casa Andina Select Lima, bed and breakfast

Day 17

Breakfast and check out late morning (with shower/luggage storage facilities) from your hotel. Nearby, there are shopping and lunch options overlooking the ocean at Larcomar, a smart cliff top development of designer shops and restaurants. Maybe take the chance to purchase some local silverware, ceramics, and alpaca garments.

Breakfast included


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Kentitambo Hotel

Kentitambo Hotel

Kentitambo is a family run boutique hotel nestled on a hillside in Leymebamba....

View Accommodation

Gocta Andes Lodge

Gocta Andes Lodge

The lodge, as the name suggests, sits on a peaceful hillside overlooking the stunning Gocta Falls....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Destination Experts

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour Lecturer

Local guides

A 4x4 with two experienced guides will always be at the head of the four-vehicle convoy, and in two-way radio contact at all times. They will give information on the surrounding highlights, answer your questions and offer guidance on driving techniques. A guide is always available to take over if you feel tired or are not confident with any section of the route.
Enquire about this Expert Led tour:

Group Size:

Min 6 / Max 13

Tour Expert:

Local guides

Departure Date (S):

  • 15th November 2019

  • Active - The pace of this tour will be quite busy, expect long travel days and very little time at leisure.

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