What's the best way to experience Peru and Bolivia? This Overland adventure!

This adventure takes you through the centre of ancient Inca heartlands on a short but sweet Overland tour. Travel through Peru and Bolivia and discover the secrets of these mystical places as you explore the streets of Cuzco, trek along ancient Inca pathways, visit the islands dotting Lake Titicaca and ramble over the impressive Machu Picchu ruins. From the once mighty Inca capital of Cuzco to the breathtaking altitude of La Paz, discover the history and beauty of these two mighty nations on this Overland adventure.

Start
Cuzco, Peru
Finish
La Paz, Bolivia
Countries
Bolivia,
Peru
Themes
Overland
Code
GDOL
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 4 Max 22
Carbon offset
346kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Fall in love with magical Cuzco, high in the mountains of Peru
  • Follow in ancient footsteps on an Inca trek
  • Discover the mystery of crumbling Machu Picchu
  • Visit the ancient funerary towers of Sillustani
  • Set sail on the waters of Lake Titicaca
  • Discover the remote beauty of the Island of the Sun
  • Climb through the jumble of twisting streets in La Paz

Itinerary

Bienvenidos! Welcome to Peru.
The trip begins with a group meeting at 10am to meet your crew and your fellow travellers. Following the meeting, the rest of the day is free to explore Cuzco.

At 5pm, there will be a second meeting. This time specifically to discuss the plan for the hiking days ahead.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If your flight arrives too late, we recommend that you consider arriving a day early and book a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader.
The Cuzco region truly is the heart and soul of Peru. The city itself is the continent's oldest continuously inhabited city and was the home of the Incas for two centuries before the Spanish built their first capital here. Today Cuzco is a fascinating combination of both cultures. Inca-built walls line the central streets and many of the elegant colonial buildings are built on or around Inca foundations. This is a city steeped in history, tradition and legend and is a perfect base for explorations into the Inca world or to enjoy a range of outdoor activities.

Take the time to acclimatise to the city's 3,450 m (11,150 ft) altitude and explore the many Baroque churches and ancient temples that dot the city.
ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!

Before your trip: Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.

During your trip: While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly. Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:

http://d3oxn90f3yphmd.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/file_attach/52735_product_altitude-sickness.pdf
The next 4 days are spent trekking in the Andes. We will begin with a tour of the Sacred Valley before beginning either the Community Trek or the Classic Inca Trail to the world heritage site of Machu Picchu. Please see below for the itineraries of each of these options.
We will typically leave Cuzco first thing in the morning and drive to Sacsayhuaman ruins which are just 15 minutess from our hotel. These ruins are best known for the gigantic blocks that make up the zigzag frontal of this fort like construction. There are many theories as to why Sacsayhuaman was originally built and what it was used for but the most likely is that it was a temple complex where offerings were made to appease the gods. Sacsayhuaman is an amazing place and the early morning light makes the great view of the Cuzco rooftops that we get here even more beautiful. We then head further on into the Sacred Valley proper, stopping high on the mountainside to explore the ruins of Pisac. We will walk downhill along small pathways, through ancient arches, storage buildings and houses, learning about the history of the site from our local guide. When we have finished exploring we head down to Pisac town where we have time for lunch and can do a bit of shopping in the extensive handicrafts market that the town is famous for.

Here our groups split, and those doing the Community Inca Trek drive up into the highlands of the Cordillera Urubamba. The drive itself is amazing with stunning views as we wind up towards the trailhead. On this trek you return to the Sacred Valley, arriving in Ollantaytambo at the end of your trek, where you are joined by any of your group who prefer not to trek at all for a guided tour of this Inca site, before leaving next morning on the early train for Machu Picchu. Those who choose to trek the Classic Inca Trail will head straight to Ollantaytambo from Pisac, exploring the ruins here that afternoon and camping overnight, heading to the Classic Inca Trail start point early the next morning.

PLEASE NOTE THAT IF YOU WISH TO BOOK THE CLASSIC INCA TRAIL THIS MUST BE ADVISED AT TIME OF BOOKING, OTHERWISE YOU WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE BOOKED ON THE COMMUNITY TREK. Full details of the trekking options are below.
INCA TRAIL:
When people talk about "The Inca Trail", they are usually referring to a particular trekking route that follows a ancient pathway that leads to Machu Picchu. What many people don't realise is that there are a actually a huge number of Inca Trails that criss cross the Urubamba Valley and surrounding mountain ranges, many of which are genuinely remote, rarely used by western tourists, offering a chance to experience the real unspoilt Andes. On all Dragoman overland tours that travel via Cuzco we offer you the choice to trek either the "Classic" Inca Trail or our unique alternative, the Community Inca Trek, which is exclusive to Dragoman (and by the way, it's not the Lares trail that many other operators use!)
THE COMMUNITY INCA TREK:
Dragoman's Community Inca Trek is a unique trekking route where you'll hike through pristine unspoilt Andean scenery, walking ancient Inca Trails and staying as guests of the local communities as part of our pioneering community-based tourism project, Tarpuy Yachay. This trek is all about getting away from the overcrowded thoroughfares of the Classic Inca Trail and getting out into the real Andes - not to mention being part of a project with provides a genuine, direct benefit to the host communities we travel through, by supporting education, income generation and environmental sustainability projects. The trek itself is about the same as the Classic Inca Trail in terms of length and difficulty, taking three to three and a half days and ascending to about 4800m when you cross the highest pass. The scenery out here is truly magnificent, spectacular mountain peaks, verdant hillsides dotted by isolated villages and the odd llama and alpaca, you are unlikely to see another tourist here.

The itinerary:
Day 1: Cuzco - Zurite
We leave Cuzco first thing in the morning by bus and proceed to Sacsayhuaman for a tour of the ruins. These ruins are best remembered for the gigantic blocks that make up the zigzag frontal of this fort-like construction. There are many theories as to why Sacsayhuaman was originally built and what it was used for, but the most likely is as a temple complex for offerings to appease the gods. It is an amazing place and the early morning light makes the view of Cuzco rooftops even more beautiful as it helps to define the stonework detail.

From here we head to Chinchero, a small village in the Sacred Pampa where the locals speak mostly Quechua, the language of the Incas. We will observe a traditional weaving demonstration and tour the archaeological ruins. From here we drive to Waypu Lake where we have an energising picnic lunch. We will then drive to Quillarumpiqoc, the Moon Temple, from which we will hike to Zurite. Here we stay in a homestay with a local family, enjoying a traditional home-cooked meal and gaining an insight into the lifestyle of the locals.

Approximate walking time: 5 hours (8 km)

Day 2: Zurite to Amaruwatana
After breakfast we leave Zurite and head towards Amaruwatana camp. The walk will take us through
Qenteqentiyoc (the hummingbird temple), where we can visit and admire this archaeological Inca site. Following the
ancient path all the way to the top of our first pass at 4,500 metres, where we will have a dramatic view of both
mountain ranges, Vilcabamba and Vilcanota. From here we start walking down on the way to our first camp in the
Sambor valley where we will spend the night.

Approximate walking time: 8 hours (13 km)

Day 3: Amaruwatana to Ancascocha
Early in the morning after breakfast we trek for 2 hours to get to our second pass at 4,700 metres; from there we have
fantastic views of the rock formations below us. Sometimes it is possible to see Andean ibis, herons, torrent ducks,
caracaras, eagles and foxes. After another 2 hours we arrive to a nice highland valley, a place named Kenqo Mayu, or
zig-zag river, where glacier water flows through the valley. Our lunch will be at the end of the river, and after lunch we
will continue downhill and follow the ancient trail, which goes on a little uphill section which leads us to our campsite
in a community called Ancascocha. We will arrive to our campsite in the late afternoon near to a large glacier mountain
and glacier stream. If we arrive on time there is an optional hike to the lake, a one hour round trip.

Approximate walking time: 6.5 hours (10 km)

Day 4: Ancascocha to Ollantaytambo
After eating breakfast and breaking camp we start hiking down the Silque Canyon. We will descend by way of the
narrow canyon, following a stream that will gradually get bigger. We can observe tall granite walls on the sides of the
canyon, populated by a large variety of orchids and bromeliads, filling the environment with magnificent colours when
they bloom. We continue on the trail making zig-zags. After crossing many little bridges we will reach the community
of Camicancha, where we stop in a nice volcanic rock area, with magnificent views of mount Veronica, a snow capped
mountain. From here we are very close to the Chilca community where we finish our trek. A vehicle will transfer us
to Ollantaytambo and our hotel. After showers and a little rest, we get ready for the cultural tour of this incredible
archaeological site, which is very well known as the Temple of the Sun.

Approximate walking time: 5 hours (12 km)

Day 5: Ollantaytambo - Machu Picchu
After a great nights sleep in our beds we have another early start but this time to catch the train to Aguas Calientes. The early train allows us to get to Machu Picchu before the trains from Cusco arrive. At Aguas Calientes we jump straight on the bus and up to the citadel itself, where we meet the rest of the group.
THE CLASSIC INCA TRAIL
The "Classic" Inca Trail route usually starts at Kilometre 82 of the Cusco –Machu Picchu railtrack, taking in Abra Warmihuañusca (Dead Woman's Pass, 4200m) and the ruins of Phuyupatamarca and Wiñay Wayna en route, eventually arriving at the Sun Gate above Machu Picchu early in the morning after 3 days of trekking. This route is still extremely popular as it is seen by many as the "original" Inca Trail. It's also probably the best trek to choose if you're really interested in history and archaeology, because of all the other Inca sites it passes along the way.

Unfortunately, in recent years the classic trail has almost become a bit of a victim of it's own popularity. It is important to realise that the trail is now very busy, with 500 people starting the trek every day. There are only a certain number of places where it is feasible to camp, so your group will be camped alongside others, and you will meet a lot of other trekkers along the through way. Nevertheless, it is still an awesome trek, passing some stunning scenery from snow-capped peaks to abundant cloud forest, and the sense of achievement you'll have when you catch your first sight of the Lost City of the Incas is something you'll never forget.

The itinerary:
Day 1
We join the community trekkers for a tour of the sacred valley and enjoy lunch at Pisac. We then head to Ollantaytambo to view more Inca ruins and camp the night. Meals provided:Lunch, Dinner, Snacks

Day 2
The following morning after breakfast at the campsite, we catch a bus to the 82 km marker and are joined by a crew of local porters, cook, etc. As we hike from high plateau to dense forest, you will see some remains of ancient villages and temples, the first of which is Llactapata. The starting point of the trek (the 82 km marker) is located at 2,850m above sea level. The trek includes some uphill trekking to the campsite (over 3,000m above sea level). Take advantage during the 4 days of the trek to get to know your porters. You will realise they work the hardest on the team and are gentle people willing to share with you their culture, language and trek experiences.

Day 3
This is the most challenging of the trek as we ascend a long steep path (approx 4 hrs) to reach the highest point of our trek, Warmiwañusca, or Dead Woman's Pass, at a height of 4,200 m (13,779 ft), before descending to the Pacaymayo Valley (3650m above sea level. This is 2 hrs downhill). Depending upon on local conditions, you might camp here today, or may need to continue further up and down. We might cross the first and second passes on this day. From the second pass, Runkuracay (3,980m above sea level - 90min uphill) we can enjoy views of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending to the ruins of Sayacmarca (2 hours downhill). From here it is only a few more minutes to the Chaquicocha campsite (3,620m above sea level).

Day 4
On day 3 of the trek, we continue over the third pass and soon reach the beautiful ruins of Phuyupatamarca, the 'Town above the Clouds' (3,850m above sea level/90min uphill). Start descending real Inca Steps (2 hrs) to reach our final night's camp by the Wiñay Wayna, or 'Forever Young' ruins (2,750m above sea level), with panoramic views of the valley below.

Day 5
Machu Picchu – Cuzco. Today is only a short final hike (90 min) to Machu Picchu and we climb the steps to the Sun Gate to watch the ruins emerge from the mist below. As with the community trek our guide will show us the most important constructions as well as explain the history and the mythology of this magnificent place. There is some free time to explore the ruins further at your own pace or you can just chill out and watch the hummingbirds or vizcachua. Late afternoon we head back down to Aguas Calientes and take the train back to Ollantaytambo and return to Cuzco for a well-deserved rest.
NON-TREKKING PACKAGE:
There is also a non trekking option. If you do not want to trek at all but want to take part in the Sacred Valley Tour and guided tour of Machu Picchu, this can be organised however you MUST inform us at time of booking.

You will leave Cuzco with your fellow passengers and your tour leader who will be trekking the Community or Classic Inca Trail. You will visit the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, followed by a beautiful scenic drive over mountains and through valleys, via the ancient city of Pisac and on to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Continuing along the valley, you will pass through the village of Urubamba where you will have lunch with your fellow passengers before heading back to Cuzco. In Cuzco you will stay at our nice, centrally located hotel for a further 3 nights and this will be booked for you by your tour leader. There are no activities booked or organised for you during your time in Cuzco. You will re join some of your fellow travellers and your tour leader on the fourth day in Ollantaytambo, and stay in a hotel in Ollantaytambo overnight.

On the fifth day, after an early breakfast we walk to the train station for the 2-hour journey to Aguas Calientes, from where we take a local bus up to Machu Picchu. After a guided tour of the site, there is free time to explore before returning by bus to Aguas Calientes. In the afternoon we catch the train from Aguas Calientes to Poroy, and then a private transfer takes us back to Cuzco.

Please also note that there is a possibility that you may be the only person booked on to the non trekking package, however this package will offer you plenty of time in Cuzco to explore the town and surrounding sites (in total 4 or 5 nights depending on your trip).
WHICH TREK TO CHOOSE?
The Community trek goes through unspoilt mountain scenery and you are unlikely to see any other tourists. Along the way we camp as guests of the villages and get to meet local families and get involved in local community chores and activities. The staff and pack animals that we use on this trek are also all from the local villages so the communities directly benefit from your trekking. In addition, a financial donation is made from the kitty, and matched by Dragoman, for every person who does this trek.

It is important however to realise that whilst both treks finish at Machu Picchu on their final day, the Community Trek does not trek right through to the Sun Gate as you do on the Classic Inca Trail. You still arrive before the crowds however, and it is possible to walk up from Machu Picchu to the Sun Gate to take in the famous view. The Classic Inca Trail route is also much better preserved than the trails on the Community Trek. The Classic Inca Trail also sees more ruins along the way than the Community Trek.
The Community Trek option is automatically included as part of your trip unless you advise us otherwise. So if you want to take the Community Inca Trek, no further action is required. If you would prefer to trek the Classic Inca Trail, or choose not to trek at all, you must inform us at time of booking.

In order to secure Inca Trail permits, it is vital that you provide the correct and most up to date passport information at the time of booking (DOB, passport number, expiry date and name spelling exactly as it appears in the passport that you will be travel with) Any inconsistency between the information provided and the passport you travel with may result in you not being granted access to the Inca Trail.

Please note that permits for the Classic Inca Trail are limited and cannot be guaranteed. If they are unavailable you will be booked onto the Community Inca Trek instead.
Today the trekkers and non-trekkers will all meet up for a guided tour of Machu Picchu with a local expert. Following the tour there will be free time to explore the site before catching the train back to Cuzco.
Machu Picchu is one of those genuinely magical places, and catching your first glimpse of the lost city of the Incas through the early morning mist is definitely a moment you’ll never forget.

The ruins of this forgotten city are stunningly located, perched high in the Andes surrounded by verdant cloud forest, with the river Urambamba running through the gorge far below. Hidden away on a ridge between the mountains, Machu Picchu is invisible from below, so it's no surprise it's ruins remained a secret for so many years. Historians believe the city was probably completely self-contained, surrounded by agricultural terraces sufficient to feed all it's inhabitants and watered by natural springs. It's thought that the city was the location of a royal palace and estate, home to the Inca emperors, or possibly a sacred religious and ceremonial sight.

Discovered in 1911 by the explorer Hiram Bingham, although the ruins were heavily covered by dense jungle foliage, many of the buildings were well preserved and in excellent condition. The city consists of more than 200 buildings, from houses to temples, storage buildings and public spaces. It's fascinating to be able to gaze down on the city from above and imagine how it would have looked during the height of the Inca empire.

WAYNA PICCHU: Please note, due to Intrepid's internal safety policy our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking this activity.
The following day is free for you to relax and rest weary legs in Cuzco. Or for those with energy left to burn, try some optional adventure activities such as white water rafting or mountain biking.
In the morning we have a 440 km drive to Puno.
Located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, Puno is a melting pot of Aymara and Quechuan Indian culture and traditional Andean customs are still strongly represented here. The town is known as the folklore capital of Peru and is famous for its traditional dances. Many festivals are celebrated here, so if you're lucky your visit might coincide with one of the colourful evening parades, when the streets fill with costumed dancers and musicians.
En route to Puno we will visit the Sillustani ruins and museum.
Tucked away in between the many small villages around Puno are the ruins of Sillustani . These ruined towers are set on a beautiful peninsula near Lake Umayo, built by a pre-Inca civilisation hundreds of years ago. The Sillustani Indians built several "Chullpas", funeral towers whose construction is far more complex than anything the Inca ever built. Each tower would have contained the remains of noble men, buried together with offerings to secure their comfortable passage into the next life.
Border information: Exit Peru at Yunguyo, enter Bolivia at Kasani. This morning we will cross into Bolivia and head to the lakeside town of Copacabana, before boarding a boat to the stunning island of Isla del Sol. In Isla del Sol we will stay in a basic local hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 4 hours.

About Copacabana:
Copacabana, Bolivia, has little in common with the famous Brazilian beach, but it's a picturesque small town on the shores of Lake Titicaca nevertheless. The town centres around it's small whitewashed square which is home to an amazing Moorish style Cathedral. At sunset there is no better place to be than sat at one of the many simple local fish restaurants on the shoreline, watching the sun slip down behind the horizon, before heading into town for a game of table football with the locals, or a visit to one of the many bars that feature live music here - many of whom are often from Argentina.
If you have time, this is a good place to take a boat trip out onto Lake Titicaca. By taking a local boat to Isla del Sol you can spend a day exploring this historic island, famous for being the birthplace of the whole Inca civilisation. The modern day Aymara and Quechua peoples of Bolivia and Peru still accept the legend of the sun being born on this island as their creation story even today. There are a host of ancient ruins to discover, tiny traditional villages and beautiful walking routes. You can wander through the stone ruins, exploring theislands dry slopes covered with sweet smelling incense brush, or hike over the ancient pampas which are still cultivated by the island families.
Spend the day on Isla del Sol with a guided trek across the island. Boat to Copacabana in the evening. Overnight in a simpel hotel.
A 160 km drive brings us to La Paz, Bolivia’s capital where we have time to explore the city and do optional activities. Overnight good quality colonial hotel in central La Paz.
At around 3,600 m, La Paz feels like the top of the world. It's not far from it and vies with Tibet for the title of highest capital in the world. Although Sucre is the official capital of Bolivia, La Paz is the centre of commerce, finance and industry. Despite the abundance of colonial architecture, La Paz's indigenous roots run deep, and the atmosphere in the market-filled streets is both modern and traditional.
The old town is full of markets and winding cobbled streets full of people selling anything and everything you could ever think of. Different areas of the city have established markets selling things you'd expect like food and flowers, and also things you've probably never seen before - check out the dried llama foetuses on sale in the Witches' Market!

There are plenty of other activities to do in La Paz, from playing a round of golf at the highest golf course in the Americas or trekking through the Yungas. You can also arrange excursions to Mount Chacaltaya and Moon Valley to take in the superlative mountain views. Another option is to visit the Tihuanacu ruins which are a short journey away. The city is also full of impressive churches and museums, including one dedicated to the history of the coca plant.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
n/a
Transport
Overland vehicle, Train
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (4 nights), Hotel (7 nights)
Included activities
  • Alternative Inca Trail and Quechua Community trek
  • Tour of the Sacred Valley, Sacsayhuaman and Ollantaytambo
  • Machu Picchu guided tour
  • Sillustani Ruins and Museum w/Guide
  • Uros Island boat trip on Lake Titicaca
  • Isla del Sol boat trip

Dates

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For information about altitude sickness click here


Important notes

1. This trip is run by our experienced overland partner Dragoman.
2. Please note that this trip requires minimum numbers to depart, and may be cancelled up until 56 days prior to departure. The places showing on the dates and availability page are an indication only so please contact Intrepid to check if your preferred date will depart before making any final arrangements, such as booking non-changeable flights.
3. You need to choose whether you wish to hike the Classic Inca Trail or the Quechua Community Trek (http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/inca-advisory/community_trek_peru.pdf) at the time of booking. If you do not indicate a preference, the Quechua Community Trek (http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/inca-advisory/community_trek_peru.pdf) will be confirmed automatically.

Classic Inca Trail permits are sold on a request basis only. Once deposit is paid and passport details provided, Intrepid will endeavour to secure a permit for you. If Classic Inca Trail permits are unavailable by the time you book, you will be booked on the Quechua Community Trek (http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/inca-advisory/community_trek_peru.pdf) instead.

The Classic 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 Quechua Community Trek (http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/inca-advisory/community_trek_peru.pdf).

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 Cuzco to La Paz trips score an average of 4.75 out of 5 based on 4 reviews in the last year.

Cuzco to La Paz , November 2015

Cuzco to La Paz , November 2015

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