Expert-Led Group Tour

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

17 days

from £4,290pp
  • 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
  • Spend time in Huaraz, Leymebamba, Chiclay and Trujillo.
  • As featured in the Financial Times 'A 'Top Gear'-style road trip through Peru'

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

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.

Where does this Peru self-drive tour visit?

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.

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.

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.

From this mystical and mist enshrouded fortress, descend to Leymebamba to visit a superb small museum that houses over 200 Chachapoyan (pre Inca) mummies that were recently discovered in a secret tomb overlooking the Laguna de los Condores.

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.


On average six hours per day, which included picnics, coffee breaks and photo stops. Bear in mind it’s not six hours on the M1. You will be on truly epic roads with spectacular scenery. However…If you don’t enjoy driving, this may not be the tour for you.

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.


For solo travellers wanting to join this trip there is the option to drive your own vehicle at a supplement cost, alternatively, you can travel in the lead vehicle with the local guide at no additional cost.

What is the accommodation like in Peru?

It will be an eclectic mix of good city hotels, mountain lodges, historic haciendas, and jungle retreats, all selected for their unique locations and the experiences they provide. 

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 ExpertStatus 
15th Nov 2019 1st Dec 2019 £ 4,290 £ 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

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Day 1

Evening in Lima
Arrive in Lima this evening where you will meet your guide at the Casa Andina Hotel, situated in the Miraflores district of Lima. Take a stroll along the seafront park, find a place to have dinner and retire early for a good night's sleep prior to the start of your journey.

You will meet with the rest of the group for a short briefing at the hotel (meeting time to be confirmed in your final documentation).

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.

Dinner not included.

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

Day 2

Lima - Chiquian
Meet your guide at the hotel for a detailed briefing in relation to the routing and equipment, before familiarising yourself with your Toyota Hilux 4x4 expedition vehicle, in readiness to depart. Follow the guide/safety vehicle out of the suburbs and leave Lima, for a six to seven-hour journey north to Chiquian. Head through the coastal desert via Huaral, cutting inland at Aspero, where a 4,500-year-old mummy was recently found.

Climb steeply towards the Huayhuash mountain range via some interesting tracks and arrive in the afternoon at the simple, small family-run Hotel Nogales, in the tiny Andean village of Chiquian.

Breakfast and lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Hotel Nogales, bed and breakfast

Day 3

Chiquian to Llanganuco
Following breakfast, drive north towards Huascaran National Park. After lunch, cross into the Cordillera Blanca range close to the Pastoruri Glacier, in the shadow of 6,300 metre peaks. One of the few glaciers left in the tropical areas of South America, it is fast retreating with the onset of global warming. This is one of the most scenic drives in South America.

Arrive late afternoon at Llanganuco Mountain Lodge, a delightful small Andean-style lodge, located high above Huaraz. With beautiful vistas, the property sits overlooking multiple white glaciers including the majestic Mount Huascaran (22,205 feet). A Pisco Sour on the terrace overlooking the Andes rounds the day off.

Breakfast and lunch and dinner included.

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

Day 4

Spend the day in the high Andes. After a relaxed breakfast, there are a number of optional excursions (at additional cost) which include:

- Trek to the lake and ruins at Keushu, with the opportunity to swim (if you're feeling brave) and spot the Patagonia gigas, the world's largest hummingbird.

- Take a 4x4 drive and picnic by the turquoise lagoons with spectacular views of the glacier.

- Dependent on seasonal road conditions, there is a route to the temple of Chavin de Huantar. One of the earliest pre-Columbian sites in existence, despite floods and earthquakes, the 12 metre Chavin Lanzon still stands deep within the temple, and its appearance is hugely impressive.

A roaring log fire and drinks round off the day, in preparation for one of the toughest legs of the trip, with a dawn departure next morning to Humachuco.

Breakfast and lunch and dinner included.

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

Day 5

Llanganuco to Huamachucho
Today, take on the hardest part of this adventure - the Canyon del Pato. Largely unpaved, with precipitous drops, the canyon serves up 45 kilometres of sinuous single-track road, with 35 narrow tunnels blasted through the vertical, jagged rock. It is challenging, but it is also one of Peru's most rewarding 4x4 experiences.

Drive 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 about 1,600 years, but have only recently been opened as an archaeological site. The site is pre-Inca and large parts of the ruins are uncovered. As further excavations take place and more is discovered, this site could one day rival Machu Picchu.

Breakfast and lunch and dinner included.

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

Day 6

Huamachuco to Cajamarca
A morning departure for Cajamarca. 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. Cajamarca
boasts magnificent colonial architecture like the cathedral and the churches of
San Francisco, Belen and Recoleta. This is a land steeped in tradition and our
base here, the Hotel Costa Del Sol, situated centrally in the Plaza de Armas,
is an ideal starting point to visit the sites on foot.

Breakfast and lunch included. Dinner not included.

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

Day 7

Explore Cajamarca
There are a number of optional activities in Cajamarca or simply relax for the day.

It was here that Pizzaro captured and held Atahualpa hostage, only to execute him two years later, and you can visit his final holding cell, or head for a relaxing few hours to the nearby Banos Del Inca - the historic Thermal Baths. There are numerous historical sites around the city to visit, or just wander the narrow cobbled streets and take in the colonial atmosphere of the old town, before choosing your dinner location for the evening.

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 at the hands of the Spanish conquistadors.

Breakfast and lunch included.

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

Day 8

Cajamarca to Leymebamba
From Cajamarca, drive into the Amazonas region, a relatively undiscovered land, full of both natural and archaeological wonders. This is one of the most spectacular roads in Peru. Enjoy a picnic lunch at the Laguna de los Condores close to Leymebamba and overnight at the Kentitambo Lodge. This intimate lodge has only four rooms and was originally a house for observing hummingbirds. The name translates as ‘Hummingbird Inn’ from Quechua, and the hummingbird feeders that are dotted around still attract large numbers of these beautiful birds. Built from ecologically-sourced timber, the lodge blends into its cloud forest surroundings. Each room has a private terrace overlooking the museum and a pond.

The journey today will take between six and seven hours.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Kentitambo Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 9

Discover the Kuelap Ruins
Suggested tour (additional cost £137 per person)

Start the day and travel 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 3,000 people lived here.

It has been thought that the Chachapoyas were conquered by the Incas during 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. This is a wonderful chance to see this remote and relatively undiscovered location before it becomes 'discovered'.

Continue another three hours to the Gocta Andes 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 in this stunning location is a real treat. Gocta Andes Lodge was designed to appreciate the view of the falls, with all rooms oriented towards them. There is an option to head out on foot or on horseback to the falls this morning (additional cost of £137 per person). At 771 metres, they are thought to be the third highest waterfall in the world.

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, visit the mysterious Sarcophagi of Karajiaset, located high on 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 Lambayeque
Leave the Chachapoyas area and start the transition in the direction of the Pacific.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

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

Day 12

Royal Tombs Museum of Sipán
In 1987, an enormous complex of Moche tombs, still intact, were 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.

Prior to 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, his feet amputated to prevent him leaving his sentry position. Researchers had no idea of the opulent riches that lay beyond, until excavators came upon a sealed tomb 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 nobleman clad in pure gold regalia, who became known as the Lord of Sipan. The treasures found were so extensive that the Royal Tombs Museum of Sipan were established to house the remarkable artefacts that were discovered. First thing this morning, visit this museum before exploring the site of the Moche tombs.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

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

Day 13

Tucume to Trujillo
Taking the coast road, journey south towards Trujillo, known for the nation's traditional dance, the Marinera. The colonial centre is home to the grand Trujillo Cathedral with its bright yellow facade. If you stand in the right spot, the colonial streets of old Trujillo look like they've barely changed in hundreds of years.

Spend the night at Moche Lodge, a quirky boutique hotel west of the city and just a short distance from the adobe ruins of the pre-Inca city of Chan Chan. There is the option to take a short taxi ride into the city this evening to explore its narrow streets, fascinating culture, and excellent varied dining options.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Moche Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 14

Spend Half a Day at Chan Chan
Visit 14th century Chan Chan, the largest adobe city in the world and the largest pre-Columbian city in South America.

Once housing an incredible collection of precious metals and delicate ceramics, the Spanish ruthlessly stripped this mighty city of its treasures. Since then, time and the elements have also severely eroded its mud walls, however the sheer scale of the city - which once supported 60,000 people - remains awe-inspiring. A sample of the city's finest artefacts, having survived the conquistadors' frenzied looting, can be seen in nearby museums.

Trujillo was founded in 1534, named after Francisco Pizarro's native town in Spain. The town and surrounding area abounds in pre-Columbian sites, particularly the impressive ruins of Chan Chan, the largest adobe city in the world. The city also has a large number of old churches and colonial homes, plus cathedral, convents and monasteries. In addition there are good local beaches within easy reach and good surfing possibilities.

Breakfast and lunch included.

You will be staying at Moche Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 15

Explore Caral
Today travel to the 5,000-year-old UNESCO citadel of Caral, the oldest city in the Americas. Only rediscovered in 1948, it is 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. 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 Miraflores Select, bed and breakfast

Day 17

Depending on your flight times, there will be some free time today. Nearby, there are shopping and lunch options overlooking the ocean at Larcomar, a smart cliff-top development of designer shops and restaurants.

Breakfast included.


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

Kentitambo Lodge

Kentitambo Lodge

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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