Travel to Peru and be awed by the ancient civilisation of the Incas

Travel to Peru and discover the secret land of the Incas as you journey along the coastal shores of Lima, travel beneath the Amazon Jungle's lush canopy, past the llama-filled plains of the Sacred Valley and beyond to tiny colonial towns. Embark on an adventure of a lifetime along the Inca Trail, trekking to Machu Picchu. Head to the dizzy altitude of Lake Titicaca before journeying to Bolivia and immersing yourself in the history of La Paz. This insightful adventure through Peru is sure to leave you astounded by the magic and mystery of the sacred land of the Incas.

Start
Lima, Peru
Finish
La Paz, Bolivia
Countries
Bolivia,
Peru
Themes
Explorer
Code
GGSQ
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 16
Carbon offset
614kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Experience the untouched world of the Amazon rainforest. Wander along jungle trails on the lookout for monkeys, parrots, otters and caymans, and sleep in a nature lodge lit by candles and kerosene lamps
  • Marvel at the mother of all Incan cities, magical Machu Picchu. Enjoy a guided tour of the ruins and free time to explore on your own
  • If trekking's not your thing, simply take a train to Machu Picchu instead – a great excuse to stay longer in lovely Cuzco
  • The floating reed islands of Uros on Lake Titicaca are a marvel of concept, construction and history. Take a boat tour on the world's highest navigable lake and stay with a local family there
  • Feast your eyes on beautiful Spanish colonial architecture, from Lima through to La Paz

Itinerary

Bienvenidos! Welcome to Peru. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. Enjoy a walking tour of downtown Lima, including the city's historical centre. Flanked by streets of ornate colonial mansions, palaces and churches, Plaza Mayor is the best place to start any exploration of Lima. Take a walk through the old streets to get a feel for colonial life. If you arrive early, we recommend you take a walk around Miraflores. Go from Central Park (Parque Kennedy) to LarcoMar via Larco Avenue. Alternatively go to Parque del Amor (Love's Park) for a nice view of Lima's beaches. Other great things to see and do include a tour to Pachacamac (around 30 km from downtown Lima), the Museo de la Nacion and the Gold Museum. Limenos (Lima's residents) are friendly and there are plenty of great restaurants and cafes to sample ceviche, a local seafood speciality.

Notes: This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information on this.
Take a flight to Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon Jungle, where you'll be staying for two nights. Upon your arrival, the lodge staff will take you to their office in town. Here you can leave most of your luggage in safe storage and continue travelling with a small pack with just the necessary items for your next two nights in the jungle. You’ll then take a motorised canoe upriver to your jungle lodge in the Madre de Dios area. There will be time to unpack and unwind once you get there. The next two days are packed with activities. Your full day in the jungle includes a trek which lasts approximately half a day. At times the paths can get quite muddy and some people can find the trek a little exhausting. Along the way there will be regular stops, and you'll encounter magnificent fauna and flora in their natural habitat. You might spot everything from macaws and monkeys to peccaries, jabirus, otters and thousands of butterflies. The guides can also teach you about the medicinal properties and practical uses of the plants. For lunch you will return to the lodge.
For your night-time excursion, you will venture out in the dark in search of caimans on the Tambopata River. The naturalist guide will use a spotlight in order to locate them on the banks of the river, so you can observe them from a respectable distance.

Notes: We stay at two different lodges in the same area. The activities may vary slightly according to which lodge you are at. Depending on which lodge you are staying at, the included night excursion may be on the night of Day 1 or Day 2. As both of our lodges are in the same area of the jungle, you will see the same wildlife and your overall jungle experience will be the same in either lodge.

Fly from Puerto Maldonado to Cuzco, the true heart and soul of Peru (approximately 35 minutes). Take the time to acclimatise to the city's 3,450-metre altitude and enjoy a walking tour with your local leader. You'll visit the Coca Museum, where you can learn more about the infamous plant that has been an essential part of life in the Andes for centuries. You'll also visit the local San Pedro market. You'll see that the grandiose cathedral, built on top of an Inca palace, dominates the Plaza de Armas. There are several impressive Inca ruins within the city, but the most easily accessible is Coricancha, which was the Inca empire's richest temple. For lunch, perhaps head to Yanapay restaurant on Ruinas Street, which not only offers delicious food but is an excellent cause supporting underprivileged children.

Notes: The Boleto Turistico (Tourism Ticket) is a good option if you want to visit the museums. This ticket also includes the archaeological sites around Cuzco such as Saqsaywaman, Q'enqo, Pica Pakara, Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Some museums in town, like the Contemporary Art Museum, Regional History Museum and Qosqo Native Art Museum can only be accessed by purchasing the Boleto Turistico.
Head to Ollantaytambo, visiting a local community en route. When you arrive in Ollantaytambo you'll see it's a magnificent example of Incan urban planning. It's one of the few places where the Incas defeated the Spanish. Ollantaytambo's archaeological site is located to the east of the Plaza de Armas. The upper terraces of this site offer great photo opportunities of the squared grid town below. Visit Hearts Cafe for a bite to eat – it's part of a project supported by the Intrepid Foundation and the coffee there is excellent.
During the next four days, you'll do one of the following, depending on what you've arranged:

Route 1: Hike the Classic Inca Trail;
Route 2: Hike the Inca Quarry Trail;
Route 3: Take the train to Aguas Calientes, after staying in Cuzco for two extra days.

While away from Cuzco, the bulk of your luggage will be stored at your hotel. If you’re hiking the Inca Trail or the Inca Quarry Trail, the evening before you leave Cuzco you'll receive a small duffle bag to carry your clothes in for the next four days (6 kg maximum). Your team of porters will carry these bags for you, together with the food and equipment for the trail. Please note that you won't have access to these items until the end of each day, as the porters will always be ahead of the group. If you’re travelling to Aguas Calientes by train, you'll be able to leave most of your luggage at the hotel in Cuzco and only travel with the necessary items during the excursion by train.

Route 1: Classic Inca Trail

Travel by minivan to the 82 km marker and meet your crew of local porters, cook and guide. The first day includes uphill trekking to the campsite (located 3,100 m above sea level). On the way you’ll see the Inca sites of Ollantaytambo, Huillca Raccay and Llactapata, and catch incredible views of the snow-capped Veronica Peak. In the evening, unwind at the campsite with a nourishing meal.

Notes: The Inca Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people, but please come prepared, as the trail is 45 km long and often steep. Each day's journey generally consists of 7 hours of walking (uphill and downhill) with stops for snacks and lunch. Trekking usually begins at 7 am (except on the fourth morning) and you reach the campsite around 5 pm. Accommodation on the trek is camping (three nights). Double tents (twin-share) and inflatable camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.

Route 2: Quarry Trail

Make an early start today and drive to Choquequilla, a small ceremonial place where Incas worshipped the moon. Drive to the starting point of the trek, Rafq'a, and meet the horsemen who join us on the hike. After an hour’s walk, reach the small community of Socma. Carry on to the Perolniyoc cascade lookout, an opportunity to stop for photos and a food break. Continue to the campsite (3,700 m above sea level). You should reach the campsite around lunchtime. After lunch, set off to explore the Q'orimarca archaeological site, which once served as a checkpoint to the Incas.

Notes: The Quarry Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people. The hike is 26 km long in total and its highest pass is at 4,450 meters above sea level. Throughout the trek, horses will carry your gear and camping equipment. The first two nights are spent camping, and on the third night you'll stay at a simple hotel. Double tents (twin-share) and inflatable camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.

Route 3: Train

After spending the night in Ollantaytambo, leave around 9.30 am and take a short drive to the town of Pisac, which is well known for its market. Here you’ll have the opportunity to shop for souvenirs and perhaps try some local Empanadas. Arrive back in Cuzco in the afternoon, where your leader will take you to the San Pedro Market in order to buy some things for a picnic tomorrow. In the late afternoon, you’ll have an option to visit the Choco Museum and try some exquisite artisanal chocolate that's prepared in-house from cacao beans. Be sure to sample some of the delicious hot chocolate.

Notes: The included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Route 1: Classic Inca Trail

This is the most challenging day of the trek as you ascend a long steep path (approximately 5 hours) to reach the highest point of the trail. Colloquially known as 'Dead Woman's Pass', Warmiwanusca sits at a height of 4,200 metres above sea level, giving amazing views of the valley below. The group will then descend to the campsite in the Pacaymayo Valley at 3,650 metres.

Route 2: Quarry Trail

This is the most challenging and rewarding day of the hike. A three-hour walk takes you to the top of the first pass of Puccaqasa (approximately 4,370 m high). After enjoying picturesque views of the valley, it’s a short walk before stopping for lunch. Afterwards, make the two-hour hike to Kuychicassa, the highest pass of the trek at 4,450 meters. From here, descend to the sacred site the Incas called Intipunku (Sun Gate), with views of the Nevado Veronica mountain. Head to the campsite, only a stone’s throw away at Choquetacarpo.

Route 3: Train

Today, take a taxi to Tambomachay, an archaeological site just outside of Cuzco. From here you’ll take a short downhill walk (1–3 hours) back to Cuzco. On the way, stop to admire some of the archaeological sites including Puka Pukara, Qinqu Quenqo and Saksaywaman. Arrive back in Cuzco in the afternoon and enjoy some free time to go shopping, or perhaps visit Merida, Mendivil and Olave art galleries and workshops. Your tour leader will be able to give you some suggestions.

Notes: The included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Route 1: Classic Inca Trail

Start the day with a climb through the Pacaymayo Valley to Runkuracay pass (3,980 m). Enjoy beautiful views of the snow-capped mountain of Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending to the ruins of Sayacmarca (approximately 2–3 hours). Continue over the trail’s third pass to the ruins of Phuyupatamarca (3,850 m), also known as the 'Town Above the Clouds'. Start the descent down the Inca steps to the final night's campsite by the Winay Wayna archaeological site (approximately 2 hours).

Route 2: Quarry Trail

Today’s hike is all downhill. The first stop is the incomplete Kachiqata quarry, where the Incas were intercepted by the Spanish. Around midday, your trek comes to an end. Explore the cobbled streets of Ollantaytambo before taking the short train journey to Aguas Calientes. This is where you’ll meet up with the travellers in your group who didn't hike. Visiting the natural hot springs in town is a recommended way to spend the late afternoon. Spend the night in a comfortable hotel before tomorrow’s visit to Machu Picchu.

Route 3: Train

After a drive to Ollantaytambo (approximately 1.5 hours), catch a train through the winding Urubamba Valley to Aguas Calientes (also approximately 1.5 hours). The city is nestled in the cloud forest at the foot of Machu Picchu. For those who want a sneak peak, there is time to visit Machu Picchu independently before a guided tour the following day (dependent on ticket availability). Otherwise, you can while away the afternoon in the natural hot springs at Aguas Calientes.

Notes: The included lunch on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Route 1: Classic Inca Trail

This is the final and most spectacular leg of the trek to Machu Picchu. The day starts before dawn, with breakfast at 4.30 am. Say farewell to the porters as they descend to the train station and begin hiking by 5.30 am. Walk to Intipunku, aka the Sun Gate (approximately 2.5 hours). Weather permitting, enjoy unforgettable views over Machu Picchu, ‘Lost City of the Incas’, as the sun rises (and before it’s crawling with visitors).

Route 2: Quarry Trail

Depending on weather conditions, take a bus at 5.30 am along the winding road to Machu Picchu (approximately 30 minutes). At Machu Picchu, join up with the travellers in your group who hiked the Classic Inca Trail. If the skies are clear, enjoy a spectacular sunrise over the ancient city from the Sun Gate before going on a guided walk around the ruins.

Route 3: Train

Take an early bus up to Machu Picchu at 5.30 am. The city was built around 1440 AD as a country retreat for Incan nobility, but there’s evidence that the land had been a sacred Incan site for much longer. Take a guided tour around the ruins of temples, palaces and living quarters, and enjoy free time afterwards to wander around on your own before the group returns to Cuzco.

For all routes: After taking advantage of the seemingly endless photo opportunities, it's time to return to Cuzco for a well-deserved shower and a Pisco sour. Your evening is then free for the last night of your adventure.

Notes: Due to Intrepid's internal safety policy, our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking trips to the mountaintop ruins of Wayna Picchu.
Enjoy free time to relax, shop and explore more of Cuzco's sights. Perhaps rest you weary legs at a cafe on Plaza de Armas. For those who can't get enough active adventure, why not try mountain biking in the hills that surround Cuzco?
Travel by local bus through the dramatic scenery of the high altiplano to Puno, located on the shores of Lake Titicaca (approximately 6 hours). You'll be at an altitude of 3,820 metres. There will be a couple of stops along the way to pick up and drop off passengers. Take in glorious views of the seemingly endless water stretching into the horizon. This place is a melting pot of Aymara and Quechuan Indian culture and traditional Andean customs, and it wears its traditions on its sleeve. If you're lucky your trip will coincide with one of the many cultural festivals here.
Embark on a tour of the lake by slow motor boat, stopping off to visit the Uros floating islands. The Uros originally built their islands to isolate themselves from rival tribes. The islands are built from many layers of totora reeds that grow in the shallows of the lake. To get a closer look at daily life in the Lake Titicaca region, you'll be welcomed into local homes for an overnight stay with the community. Make the most of your visit by helping your host family with their daily activities or trying to chat in the local language, Quechua. A game of soccer is also a great way to make local friends.

Notes: Your homestay tonight is a mud brick house. Rooms have beds and many blankets, and there are shared drop-toilets but no showers.
This morning after breakfast you'll board the boat again and head to Taquile Island (approximately 1 hour). Here, the tradition of knitting is strictly a male domain, and women do the spinning. It's a great place to pick up some high quality, locally knitted goods. An uphill trek (approximately 1 hour) brings you to the main area of the island. After the visit, you will descend about 500 steps back to our boat. Then travel back to Puno by boat (approximately 3 hours).
Travel by comfortable local bus to Desaguadero and cross the border into Bolivia. After border formalities at the Peruvian migration office, you'll walk across a bridge to the Bolivian side, submit your passport at the Bolivian migration office, then board the bus again. Head for La Paz, and after 30 minutes or so there's another stop where your documents will be checked by authorities. The journey to La Paz takes about 5 hours (don't forget that Bolivia's timezone is 1–2 hours ahead of Peru!). When you arrive, you might feel like you're on top of the world at around 3,600 metres above sea level. Discover the colonial architecture and browse the markets – you'll see this town is a interesting mixture of the indigenous and modern.
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast this morning.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
14 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 6 dinners
Transport
Boat, Bus, Kayak, Plane, Private minibus, Private vehicle
Accommodation
Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (8 nights), Jungle Lodge (2 nights)
Included activities
  • Leader-led walking tour
  • 3d/2n Amazon Jungle stay
  • Coca Museum
  • Orientation Walk - Cuzco
  • Private bus to Sacred Valley and local community visit
  • 3 Night / 4 Day Inca Trail (or Quarry Trail) and a guided tour of Machu Picchu
  • Machu Picchu entrance and Guided Tour
  • Lake Titicaca boat tour & homestay

Dates

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For information about altitude sickness click here


Important notes

SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS
A single supplement is available on this trip. On the following nights the single supplement is not available:
- Days 2-3 Amazon Jungle

INCA TRAIL PERMITS
Inca Trail permits are sold on request basis only. Once deposit is paid and passport details provided, Intrepid will endeavour to secure a permit for you.

If Inca Trail permits are unavailable by the time you book, you can opt to hike the Inca Quarry Trail instead.

The Inca Trail closes in February to allow cleaning and restoration works. If the trek portion of your trip starts in February you will be automatically booked to hike the Inca Quarry Trail.

Should you choose not to hike at all, please let us know in writing at the time of booking so alternative arrangements can be made. Without this prior warning, local fees may apply.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Sacred Land of the Incas trips score an average of 4.71 out of 5 based on 218 reviews in the last year.

Sacred Land of the Incas , April 2016

Sacred Land of the Incas , April 2016

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