Travel to South America and tour Peru on an eye-opening sojourn from the depths of the Amazon to the heights of the Andes. Visit Lima, explore ancient Cuzco, see the lush Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo, and marvel at the wonder of Machu Picchu. Offering an up close look at Peru's diverse attractions, this is an unforgettable trip at a relaxing pace. Discover ancient cultures, natural wonders, welcoming locals and vibrant modern life as you journey through the homeland of the Incas.

This trip requires Inca Trail Permits. View permit availability here.


Start
Lima, Peru
Finish
Cusco, Peru
Country
Peru
Style
Comfort
Theme
Explorer
Code
GGKY
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • Descend into the vast catacombs beneath Lima on an underground tour. This is a side of Peru's capital not many people have seen

  • Marvel at ancient Incan architecture throughout the fertile Sacred Valley, before discovering the mother of all Incan cities, Machu Picchu. Enjoy a guided tour of the ruins and free time to explore on your own

  • Experience the untouched world of the Amazon rainforest. Stroll along jungle trails on the lookout for monkeys, parrots, otters and caiman, and sleep in a nature lodge lit by candles and kerosene lamps

  • Enjoy plenty of free time in Cuzco to discover the city's colonial and Incan architecture

Is this trip right for you?

  • Due to the high altitude of many of the places we visit, the air is thinner and some people can suffer from altitude sickness. Some people aren’t affected at all, but if you are, be sure to drink plenty of water and don’t push yourself too hard. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information about altitude sickness.

  • The Amazon Jungle can be very hot and humid, so it's important to drink plenty of water and wear light cotton clothing. Make sure you also bring tropical-strength insect repellant.

  • If you decide to trek the Inca Trail then you need to make sure you have a decent level of fitness. This is so you can make the most of the adventure.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Welcome to Lima, Peru. On arrival at Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport, you'll be transferred to your hotel in the well-known coastal suburb of Miraflores. In the afternoon around 2 pm, there will be a welcome briefing at the hotel with your Peregrine tour guide. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you're going to be late, please inform hotel reception. Later in the day your leader will take you on a half-day walking tour of downtown Lima, including the city's historical centre.

Flanked by streets of ornate 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. On one side of the plaza is the Cathedral of Lima, which houses the remains of Lima's founder, Francisco Pizarro. Visit the nearby San Francisco Monastery, with its catacombs containing some 70,000 human remains. Continue onto the Central market where you'll take a walking tour. The market has a huge variety of fresh produce on offer, including fruits, vegetables and even guinea pigs. You'll also have the opportunity to try some local Peruvian fruits and street food. The tour will finish in Lima main square, with your evening then free to do as you wish. Perhaps head out for dinner with the group.

Notes: Due to the high altitude of many of the places we visit, the air is thinner and some people can suffer from altitude sickness. Some people aren’t affected at all, but if you are, be sure to drink plenty of water and don’t push yourself too hard. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information about altitude sickness.
Included Activities
  • Lima - Guided tour of Catacombs
Optional Activities
  • Lima - Museo de la Nacion - PEN10
  • Lima - Gold Museum - PEN35
  • Lima - Museum of the Inquisition visit - Free
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Take a flight to Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon Jungle, where you'll be staying for two nights. A representative from the lodge will welcome you at the airport. You'll then make a quick trip to the lodge's office in town by van. Here you'll be able to pack the gear you'll need for the next few days and leave the rest, securely stored, behind. Travel by bus or motorised canoe to the Amazon lodge (approximately 30–45 minutes). Once you arrive, there will be time to unpack and unwind before a short orientation and briefing. Either tonight or tomorrow night, you’ll venture into the jungle for a night jungle excursion.

Notes:
We stay at two different lodges in the same area. The activities may vary slightly according to which lodge you are at. 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.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Your full day in the jungle starts with a boat ride (approximately 30 minutes) followed by a short walk (between 25 and 45 minutes). You’ll arrive at an oxbow lake in the middle of the rainforest – the habitat of a family of giant otters. Along the way you’ll see a variety of jungle fauna – perhaps hoatzins, monkeys, macaws, black caimans, flying parrots, and, if you are lucky, a family of endangered giant river otters (pteronoura brasilienses). In the late morning you will head to the parrot clay lick. Every morning the macaws and birds come here to feed on the salt in the clay. The macaws begin by ceremoniously circling the cliff area. Usually the feeding frenzy lasts 20 to 25 minutes. The salt from the clay is thought to detoxify the birds’ fruit diet. After lunch back at the lodge, you’ll head back out to the jungle to take a short walk and learn about the medicinal properties and practical uses of the plants. Return to the lodge once again to freshen up, then enjoy some dinner. After dinner there will be an optional night walk through the jungle.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today, travel back to Puerto Maldonado before taking the short flight to Cuzco (approximately 35 minutes). On arrival, your local guide will take you on a walking tour, including a visit to the Coca Museum - where you can learn about the infamous plant that has been an essential part of life for centuries in the Andes - and the local San Pedro market where you'll find vegetables, meats, local cheeses, chocolates, herbal medicines and many local handicrafts.

Take the time to acclimatise to the city's 3,400 metre (11,150 feet) altitude and explore the many Baroque churches and ancient temples that dot the city. 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.

Notes: 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 'Health' section in the trip notes for detailed information.
Included Activities
  • Cuzco - Orientation Walk
  • Cuzco - Full Boleto Turistico Pass, which gives you access to 16 archaeological sites in/around Cuzco (Transport & guides are not included)
  • Cuzco - Coca Museum
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Travel by private bus for around two hours through the Sacred Valley, on the outskirts of Cuzco. Known as Wilcamayo to the Incas, this fertile valley has long been the main source of food for the high Andes. At the Sacred Valley, visit the stone fortress of Sacsayhuaman where massive stone blocks that form the walls of this site give you a clear image of how highly developed Inca engineering was.

Venture to a community in the valley to learn about the local lifestyle. If your visit coincides with market day (Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday), spend time browsing the stalls in search of hand-painted beads or warm ponchos. Lunch will also be provided by the local community. Continuing on, drive 20 minutes to Ollantaytambo. 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.
Included Activities
  • Sacred Valley - Local community visit and lunch
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Depending on your pre-arranged travel arrangements, during the next four days you may: hike the Classic Inca Trail, hike the Inca Quarry Trail or stay 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 (5 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 for the next few days.

Route 1 Classic Inca Trail:
Today travel by minivan to the 82 kilometre 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 ruins of Llactapata, which was burnt to the ground by the last Inca emperor to discourage Spanish pursuit down the trail. In the evening, set up camp while the cook makes dinner.

Notes: The Inca Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people, but please come prepared, as the trail is 45 kilometres 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 foam 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 kilometres 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 foam 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, spend two extra nights in Cuzco before travelling by bus to Ollantaytambo. From here take a train through the winding Urubamba Valley to the town of Aguas Calientes where you’ll spend a third night.

Please note: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Included Activities
  • Trekking
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Route 1 Classic Inca Trail:
This is the most challenging day of the trek, as we 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 metres 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 metres 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 metres. From here, descend to the sacred site the Incas called Intipunku (Sun Gate), with views of the Nevado Veronica mountain. Head to the campsite, which is only a stone’s throw away at Choquetacarpo.

Route 3 Train:
Today, perhaps use your free day indulging your inner foodie in the eateries of Cuzco. Head to lunch at the arty Fallen Angel restaurant, and if you still have room for dessert, the ChocoMuseo offers tastings and chocolate-marking workshops. For you to make the most of your free time in Cuzco, your trip includes a “Full Boleto Turistico”, a tourist pass that gives you access to 16 archaeological sites in and around Cuzco, including Qenqo, Tambomachay, Pukapukara, Saqsaywaman, amongst others.

Please note: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
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, which takes you 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:
In the morning take the three-hour train to the town of Aguas Calientes, which is nestled in the hills at the foot of Machu Picchu. For those who want to, there’s time to visit Machu Picchu independently before the guided tour the next day. If you’d like to do this, please advise your group leader at the welcome meeting at the start of the trip. Otherwise, you might like to while away the afternoon in the natural hot springs of Aguas Calientes.

Please note: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Route 1 Classic Inca Trail:
The day starts before dawn with breakfast at 4.30 am. Say farewell to the porters as they descend to the train station and then 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 the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ as the sun rises (and before it’s packed full of tourists).

Route 2 Quarry Trail:
Depending on weather conditions, take a bus at 5:30 am along the winding road to Machu Picchu (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:
In the morning at 5.30 am, take a bus up to Machu Picchu. 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 some free time afterwards to wander around on your own before the group returns to Cuzco.

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.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your 'Inca Encounter' adventure comes to an end this morning. There are no activities planned for the final day and you're able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

9 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 6 dinners

Transport

Plane, Canoe, Private Vehicle

Accommodation

Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nights), Hotel (4 nights), Jungle Lodge (2 nights)

Included Activities

  • Lima - Guided tour of Catacombs
  • Cuzco - Orientation Walk
  • Cuzco - Full Boleto Turistico Pass, which gives you access to 16 archaeological sites in/around Cuzco (Transport & guides are not included)
  • Cuzco - Coca Museum
  • Sacred Valley - Local community visit and lunch
  • Trekking

Dates & availability

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Important notes

PASSPORT DETAILS:
Domestic airlines require passengers' passport numbers to issue their tickets. It is then very important that you provide this information at the time of booking.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT:
A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip however excludes nights 2 & 3 (Amazon Jungle) where you will be in shared accommodation.

ARRIVAL TRANSFER:
An airport arrival transfer is included. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking.

INCA TRAIL PERMITS:
You can opt to hike the Inca Trail on this itinerary. This must be specifically requested at the time of booking, otherwise the normal (non hiking) itinerary will be booked for you.
Inca Trail (and Quarry Trek) hiking groups have a maximum capacity of 16 travellers. If you opt to take the hiking alternative of this itinerary your group size may increase to 16 (as opposed to 12 as advertised) during the trekking part of the itinerary.
During the trek you may travel alongside other Intrepid and non Intrepid like minded travellers.
Inca Trail permits are sold on request basis only. Once deposit is paid and passport details provided, Intrepid will endeavor 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 or to continue with the normal (non hiking) itinerary of this trip.
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 offered to hike the Inca Quarry Trail. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/sites/default/files/pdf/Inca_Quarry_Trail.pdf

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides 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.

Reviews

Our Inca Encounter trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 8 reviews in the last year.

Inca Encounter, October 2016

Dianne Guy

Inca Encounter, July 2016

Olivia Dahan