Visit Peru and explore this incredible country from Lima to Cuzco

Visit Peru and discover its highlights from Lima to Cuzco on an exciting journey that encompasses modern cities and ancient worlds. Explore Peru's lush Amazon Jungle, the epic Lake Titicaca and the vast Colca Canyon. Enjoy local homestays, hike the famed Inca Trail and be immersed in fascinating Peruvian culture while discovering its history buried deep within the walls of lost cities.

Start
Lima, Peru
Finish
Lima, Peru
Countries
Peru
Themes
Explorer
Code
GGSA
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
707kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Lima’s grand colonial facades, Spanish houses and endless culture make it one of the prettiest cities in Latin America. Adjust to the altitude with a pisco sour and some ceviche
  • Seeing the enigmatic Nazca Lines is an incredible experience, whether they’re the work of ancient civilizations or something more supernatural
  • Whether you trek the classic Inca Trail, the Quarry Trail or take the scenic train route, the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu are a majestic destination, no matter how you get there
  • The floating islands of Uros on Lake Titicaca are a marvel of concept, construction and history. Take a boat tour on the lake and spend the night with a local family in a traditional island community
  • Explore Cuzco, South America's oldest continuously inhabited city. The city has ancient foundations, an interesting blend of Inca and colonial influences and endless things to see and do
  • The Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, and some might even say, twice as grand. Witness the dizzying scenery, soaring condors and the terraced crops of the locals
  • The Amazon Jungle is known as the world's lungs. Get a glimpse into a wild place with some of the largest biodiversity on Earth

Itinerary

Welcome to Lima, Peru. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 4 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're 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 these details to provide to your leader.

One of the most beautiful cities in South America, there's plenty to do and see in Lima. You’ll get to see downtown Lima and the historical centre on your walking tour tomorrow, but we also recommend arriving a few days early to see more of the sights. There’s the famous suburb of Miraflores, Central Park and Lovers’ Park, and the 16th-century monastery of San Francisco with its catacombs of some 10,000 remains. There are also plenty of museums including the Museum of the Inquisition, the National Museum and the Gold Museum. Be sure to have a bite of Peru's national dish of ceviche.

Notes: As this is a combination trip, your experience can be quite different to the other travellers. Some will arrive later in the journey at Cusco and others will have a shorter trip than you. Also, everyone will make a choice between three different routes to Machu Picchu including the classic Inca Trail and a train ride. Due to the high altitude of many of places we visit, the air is thinner and some people can suffer altitude sickness regardless of age, gender or fitness. Please see the 'Is This Trip Right For You?' and 'Health' sections in the trip notes for detailed information.
On the second day of your trip, you’ll be introduced to downtown Lima’s historical centre with a guided tour. Here the streets are flanked with colonial mansions, palaces and churches. You’ll also get to see the iconic Plaza Mayor with its imposing Cathedral. After the tour, take a local bus from Lima to Pisco for about four hours. The bus will stop about three or four times along the way until you reach your destination. Once you’ve arrived, you might like to have a drink of Peru’s national drink – the Pisco sour, made from Local Brandy of the same name.
This morning, head to the nearby Ballestas Islands, which are sometimes referred to as the ‘Galapagos of Peru’. Weather permitting, take a one-and-a-half to two-hour boat tour of the islands to see pelicans, red-footed boobies, flamingos and even penguins. After the ride, you’ll make your way towards Nazca during a three hour drive. Along the way, stop in the town of Huacachina. This little settlement sits beside a small lake with dramatic sand dunes. Perhaps go sand-boarding or simply enjoy the photo opportunities.

Arrive in Nazca, the city famous for its mysterious pre-Inca civilization. You’ll visit the Nazca lines, enormous geoglyphs representing animals drawn into the sand thousands of years ago. Climb to the viewing platform, or if you’re feeling brave, take an optional flight over the lines for the best experience.

Notes:
- Between June and September, the port to Ballestas Islands might be closed due to weather conditions. If this happens, you’ll be offered an alternative land tour of the Paracas National Reserve instead.
- Flights over the Nazca lines are not recommended for those with a weak stomach. Planes turn sharply to facilitate viewing of the lines. Several local operators offer flights over the lines and there have been safety issues in the past. While Intrepid cannot guarantee the safety of any of the flights, your tour leader can recommend some operators that are safer than others according to our assessment. Your leader is specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting booking this activity through any other operators.
Today we visit the Chauchilla Cemetery, where you can see the tombs of people of the ancient Nazca civilisation, dating from 100AD to 700AD. It is something of an eerie sight to see the skulls, bones and even hair of the dead, preserved in a remarkable state thanks to the dry desert air.

There will be free time for you to take an optional flight over the Nazca lines.

Early in the afternoon we travel from Nazca to Arequipa by local bus (approx 9hrs). Standing at the foot of El Misti Volcano and oozing the best of Spanish colonial charm, Arequipa vies with Cuzco for the title of Peru's most attractive city. Built out of a pale volcanic rock called sillar, the old buildings dazzle in the sun, giving the city its nickname - the 'White City'. The main plaza, with its cafes and nearby cathedral, is a lovely place to while away the day.
Spend the day in stunning Arequipa. Perhaps wander the main plaza with its lovely cathedral, many cafes and eateries. You may like to visit the Juanita Museum, which houses Peru’s famous ‘Ice Maiden’, the Inca mummy of a girl who died in the 1440s. There’s also the Monasterio de Santa Catalina, a 16th century monastery which only accepted women from well-to-do Spanish families. These nuns grew infamous for their luxurious lifestyles, each one having her own servant, splurging on fine products and enjoying frequent parties.
Today we travel by minivan to the town of Chivay - approx.5hr trip. Along the way, you’ll see llamas, alpacas and vicunas and learn a little about the differences between them. You’ll also stop for breaks and photo opportunities near these adorable creatures. At the second stop you’ll get to try some local coca tea. The third stop takes you to the highest point on the tour at Patapama (4,800 metres above sea level) before descending to your destination of Chivay. The town will be your base for exploring the Colca Canyon in the coming days.

Break for lunch in town and then go on a short trek in the area which will take you to the local thermal baths. From here you can either spend the evening soaking in the baths, dining on llama steak at a nearby restaurant or seeing some live Andean music at a pena (local bar).

Notes: When stopping off at Patapama, you’re likely to experience some shortness of breath. This is nothing to worry about as it’s a short stop and the bus will quickly descend to lower altitude. Remember to prepare for altitude sickness before the trip. The accommodation in Chivay is very basic, has no heating and can sometimes be noisy. There are, however, en suite toilets and you may request extra blankets on a chilly night.
Wake up early to visit the Colca Canyon. More than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, the Colca has some breathtaking views. Here you’ll see terraced crops that have been cultivated since pre-Incan times by local villages. Perhaps the stars of the show are the Andean condors. See the world’s largest flying birds from a viewing point above the canyon and watch them soaring above and below you.

In the afternoon, visit a Colca Canyon community and meet your host family for a homestay. You might like to offer to help your host family with their daily activities such as planting, collecting water, peeling potatoes or preparing the family meal.

Notes: While the homestay has very basic facilities, it’s a great opportunity to meet the locals. You’ll be sharing a toilet with the family and have no access to a shower. There is however a proper bed with plenty of blankets and breakfast in the morning.
Say goodbye to your host family take an approx. five-hour bus ride to Puno. Although it’s a long day of driving, you’ll enjoy dramatic views of the Altiplano (Peru’s highlands). Your destination of Puno is located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, which you’ll be exploring in the coming days. The town is also known as Peru’s folklore capital for its thriving Indian cultures, including the Aymara and Quechua. If you’re lucky enough to arrive during a festival, you’ll be treated to an elaborate parade of costumes and dances.
Start the day with a tour of Lake Titicaca (3,820 metres above sea level), the world’s highest navigable lake. You’ll take a motorboat across the lake and learn about its spiritual significance for the ancient and modern-day Indians. During your tour, you’ll stop off at the Uros Islands, floating manmade islands made entirely from reeds and home to several families. Later, you’ll be taken to another homestay in the Lake Titicaca region to take a closer look at daily life here. Make the most of your visit by helping your host family with their daily activities or try chatting in the local language, Quechua. A game of soccer is also a great way to make local friends. You’ll be staying in a mud brick house for the night.

Notes: The homestay at Lake Titicaca will be very basic accommodation, but a rewarding experience nonetheless. Be prepared to use shared drop toilets and have no access to a shower for the night. There will be plenty of blankets to keep you warm.
After breakfast, take the boat again to Taquile Island for about an hour. The locals here make their livelihood out of textiles, with the women doing the spinning and men doing the knitting. Browse the handmade goods sold here including warm, high quality items. Next, take an uphill trek for about an hour to visit the main area of the island. After a brief stay, the boat will take you back to Puno (about three hours).

Puno is the hometown of Kusimayo, a terrific local organisation that works towards improving the living condition of children and adults affected by poverty and malnutrition in this part of the world you have now come to know so well. Take a look at this short video for more information on this wonderful project: https://vimeo.com/154422813
Kusimayo is supported by the Intrepid Foundation which means you can donate to this project and your donation will be match dollar for dollar by the Intrepid Group. Please donate through our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/kusimayo/

Take a long and scenic bus ride across the Altiplano towards Cuzco, which should take about six hours. Cuzco is the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city and here, colonial buildings are built upon foundations remaining from Incan times. The evening is yours to spend as you choose. Perhaps take a little time to acclimatise to the city’s high altitude (3,450 m) and then wander around the magical streets, viewing the many Baroque churches and ancient temples of the city.
Enjoy a free day in Cuzco, the heart and soul of Peru. You may like to visit the city’s many museums and archaeological sites with a boleto turistico (tourism ticket). This includes the Contemporary Art Museum, Regional History Museum, Qosqo Native Art Museum and the Inca ruins of Saqsaywaman, Q'enqo, Pica Pakara, Pisac and Ollantaytambo. The most easily accessible among these sites is Coricancha, which was once the Incan empire's richest temple until the Spanish built a Dominican church on top of it.
Depending on the travel arrangements you made before the trip, during the next four days you’ll be doing one of the following: hiking the Classic Inca Trail, hiking the Inca Quarry Trail or staying in Cuzco for another two days before taking the train to Aguas Calientes. 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:
Today 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, which is at 3,100 metres above sea level. On the way you’ll see the Inca sites of Ollantaytambo, Huillca Raccay and Llactapata, as well as incredible views of 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 seven 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, which is 3,700 meters 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 the third night you will 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:
For those travellers disinterested in hiking the trail or who are unable to, you will spend an extra day in Cuzco.
Please note: 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 five hours) to reach the highest point of the trail. Colloquially known as 'Dead Woman's Pass', Warmiwanusca sits at a height of 4,200 meters above sea level, providing 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 us to the top of the first pass of Puccaqasa (approximately 4,370 meters 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:
We'll head to a community along the valley to learn about local lifestyle and activities, and if our visit coincides with market day, we can spend time browsing the stalls in search of hand-painted beads or warm ponchos and maybe practising a little bit of the local language, Quechua. Your leader might also suggest an optional local meal or an Andean picnic with the locals.
The town of Ollantaytambo has been built over an ancient Inca town, which is a magnificent example of Inca urban planning. This is one of the few places where the Incas defeated the Spanish.
Please note: 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 metres). Enjoy views of the snow-capped mountain of Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending for around two to three hours to the ruins of Sayacmarca. Continue over the trail’s third pass to the ruins of Phuyupatamarca (3,850 metres), also known as 'Town Above the Clouds'. Start the two-hour descent down the Inca steps to the final night's campsite by the Winay Wayna archaeological site.

Route 2 Quarry Trail:
Today’s hike will all be downhill. The first stop is the incomplete Kachiqata quarry, where the Incas were intercepted by the Spanish. Around midday, come to the end of the trek. 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 soothing way to spend the late afternoon. Spend the night in a comfortable hotel before tomorrow’s visit to Machu Picchu.

Route 3 Train:
Travel by train through the winding Urubamba Valley to Aguas Calientes (approx 90 mins).
Sitting at the base of Machu Picchu in a picturesque valley, Aguas Calientes takes its name from the numerous hot springs that are dotted throughout the area.


Notes: Included lunch on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Route 1 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. The walk to Intipunku (the Sun Gate) takes around two-and-a-half hours. Weather permitting, enjoy unforgettable views over Machu Pichu ‘Lost City of the Incas’ as the sun rises (and before it’s crawling with tourists).

Route 2 Quarry Trail:
Depending on weather conditions, take a bus at 5:30 am this morning along the winding road to Machu Picchu. The journey takes around 30 minutes. At Machu Picchu, join up with the travellers in your group who hiked the Classic Inca Trail. If 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 options - 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 your last free day in Cuzco. You may like to use this time to rest up and regenerate after your hike or go exploring in and around Cuzco. If you’ve got any energy left, perhaps go on a bike ride through the hills that surround Cuzco.
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.

The Amazon accommodation is simple but comfortable, with en suites, flush toilets and mosquito nets. There is no power here, kerosene lamps are used for light, and showers run cold water only.
Travel back to Puerto Maldonado today and then take a short flight of about three hours to Lima. On arrival, spend your time seeing any of the sights that you missed at the beginning of the trip. In the evening, perhaps go for dinner with the group and reflect on your Peruvian adventure.
You've reached the end of your adventure. There are no activities planned for today and you’re able to depart the accommodation at any time. If you feel like you didn’t have much time in Lima at the start of your trip, perhaps stay on for a few extra days to see more of the city. We’ll be happy to assist with booking accommodation (subject to availability).
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
20 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 7 dinners
Transport
Plane, Taxi, Public bus, Private vehicle, Canoe, Boat, Train
Accommodation
Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nights), Homestay (2 nights), Hotel (13 nights), Jungle Lodge (2 nights)
Included activities
  • Chauchilla Cemetery Tour
  • Colca Canyon Tour 3d/2n
  • Colca Canyon Tour
  • La Calera hot springs
  • Lake Titicaca boat tour & homestay
  • Orientation Walk - Cuzco
  • Coca Museum
  • 3-Day Amazon Jungle trip

Dates

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For information about altitude sickness click here


Important notes

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT:
A single supplement is available on this trip. On the following nights the single supplement is not available:
- Days 18 & 19: 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.
http://www.intrepidtravel.com/sites/default/files/pdf/Inca_Quarry_Trail.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

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Peru Encompassed , July 2016

Peru Encompassed , July 2016