Spend two unforgettable weeks among the old and new icons of Peru, from Gocta Falls to Machu Picchu

Experience the icons and tucked-away treasures of Peru on this in-depth Andean adventure. Kicking things off in Lima, head north to a mountain lodge outside Cocachimba that’s tailor-made for viewing Gocta Falls, the monumental natural beauty somehow kept secret from the world until 2006. Delve into the world of the Chachapoyas, the pre-Colombian warriors of the cloud forest, visiting the fortifications, mausoleums and mummies that carry the secrets of the afterlife. Then it’s off to beautiful Cusco to hike the Inca Trail, drink in the magic of Ollantaytambo and Sacred Valley, and explore the must-see Inca site of South America, Machu Picchu. Those looking for the perfect mix of Peru’s highlights and latest nature hotspots need look no further than this stellar two-week adventure.

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


Start
Lima, Peru
Finish
Cusco, Peru
Destination
Peru
Style
Original
Code
GGSTC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Until 2005, the Gocta Falls sat hidden in the Andes, known only to the locals. These secret waters flow to create one of the tallest falls in the world, setting a magical scene of mist, water and flourishing rainforest

  • Spend a full day exploring the ruined Chachapoya fortress of Kuélap, one of the most important archaeological site of the Andes

  • Understand the cultural importance of Chachapoya afterlife on an excursion to visit the rock-face mausoleums of Revash and the mummies of Leymebamba

  • The breathtaking cascade of the Gocta Falls has to be seen to be believed – witness it from the comfort of the Gocta Lodge while sipping cocktails by the pool

  • Lima’s grand colonial facades, Spanish houses and endless culture make it one of the prettiest cities to explore in Latin America. Adjust to the altitude with a pisco sour and some ceviche

  • Machu Picchu may just be the greatest icon of ancient South America. There's a reason this site is so famous, and it has something to do with how truly amazing it is

  • The Inca Trail is one of the best ways to approach Machu Picchu, along the way you'll see multiple Inca sites and beautiful landscapes

  • Explore Cusco, South America's oldest continuously inhabited city. The city has ancient foundations, an interesting blend of Inca and colonial influences and endless things to do and see

  • The Sacred Valley is known for its steep and soaring scenery, its mystical significance for the Inca and the indigenous cultures that still reside here

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip involves a plenty of walking to see the sites and the Gocta Falls hike on day 3. The trip is recommended for those with a reasonable level of fitness.

  • Due to the high altitude of many of places we visit, the air is thinner and some people can suffer 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. If possible, arrive into the country a few days early to allow yourself time to acclimatise.

  • Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information about altitude sickness.

  • This trip involves a lot of walking to see the sites, and if you do the Inca trail, there'll be strenuous hiking. The trip is recommended for those with a moderate level of fitness but there are also a few different trail options to suit your interests and physical capabilities. Please bring durable footwear suitable to hiking. See the ‘What to Take’ section of the trip notes for more information.

  • For those who do the Inca trail, you'll be camping with basic facilities. It's not exactly the Hilton Hotel but the rewards of the trek are great.

Itinerary

Welcome to Lima, capital of Peru. This adventure begins with a 2 pm meeting at your hotel – please ask the hotel reception for more information regarding this meeting or keep an eye out for a note left on the noticeboard. Your leader will be collecting your next of kin and insurance details, so please have these ready to provide upon your arrival.

Begin your adventures through Lima with an orientation walk through the Miraflores and Barranco districts, taking in splendid views of the colourful streets, lush green landscapes, quaint bridges and unhindered ocean views. Keep a camera ready for snaps of the phenomenal buildings, created with influences of authentic Peruvian republican and traditional gothic architectural styles as you wander through the flower-covered parks.
Included Activities
  • Lima - Leader Led orientation walk of Miraflores
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
After enjoying a late morning to explore the city further, depart by plane to the high jungle city of Jaen. Touch down, then embark on a 3-hour drive to Cocachimba. Yor lodge sits comfortably in the Andes and was created for the sole purpose to enjoy the views of the stunning Gocta Falls. Every bedroom is oriented towards the falls, not to mention the gardens, pools and surrounding terraces all bask under their towering glory while offering views of the rolling green canyons and roaming llamas below.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Spend the day hiking through the Amazonian Andes on a hunt for the Gocta Falls. In May 2005, a German economist by the name of Stefan Ziemendorff stumbled upon the falls while hunting for pre-Inca ruins. The following March, Ziemendorff announced his "discovery" of the third largest waterfall in the world – the locals had already known of the falls, but due to a combination of social isolation and a somewhat more humble view of the location, they never told anyone.

Conditions on the hike can vary; some times of year see the mountains cloaked in mist and rain, resulting in a cascading force emanating from the falls, whereas other times of the year result in sunshine breaking over the canyon peaks and a more wispy flow. Regardless, the sheer green from the forest surrounds combined with the height of the falls results in a memorable hiking experience, full of great photo opportunities. After returning to the lodge around midday, enjoy a free afternoon. Perhaps take some time to kick back by the pool with a beer.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cocachimba - Gocta Waterfalls Hike (Half day)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Kuelap is one of the most important archaeological sites of the Amazonian Andes. It forms an architectural group of stone characterized by its monumentality, boasting a great artificial platform that sits on the crest of rock in the top of the Hill Barreta. The platform extends for a massive 600 metres (1970 feet) and has as perimeter a wall that in some points reaches 19 metres (62 feet) in height.

It’s been estimated that construction on Kuelap began around the 6th-century, coinciding with the rising Chachapoyas culture before occupation of the site crumbled in the face of the Spanish Conquest in 1532. Its colossal walls and complex interior architecture are evidence of a well-organized population, which includes administrative, religious, ceremonial and permanent residences. Canals that tap into mountain springs, artistic stone carvings and towering walls all point towards a culture who had an understanding of architecture, art and military/protective interests.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cocachimba - Guided tour of Kuelap (Full Day)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Spend a full day delving further into Chachapoya culture, plumbing through the depths of mausoleums and uncovering mummies of an age passed.

Begin by exploring the Revash Mausoleums, a necropolis for Chachapoya’s dead. Serving as collective tombs in natural caves or excavated holes in the rocky walls, the carved faces of the Mausoleums sit high within the rock formation of Cerro Carbon. It’s been argued that these structures are replicas of ancient houses in the region, and strangely share similarities to cliff-houses of Colorado – although these are coincidental at best.

Afterwards, take some time to explore the Leymebamba Museum, home to many mummies uncovered at the Laguna de los Condores site. With plenty of funerary offerings and record collecting quipus residing inside, small hints of Chachapoya history becomes more and more obvious as the day goes by.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cocachimba - Revash Funeral Buildings & Leymebamba Mummy museum (Full day)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Enjoy breakfast at the lodge, then drive back to the airport to take a lunchtime flight back to Lima. After arriving at around 3 pm, the rest of the day is yours to explore. Perhaps discover the historic handcrafts, gold and jewels of the Museo Larco, or maybe just head out for a final dinner with the group and toast a pisco sour together.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Enjoy a free morning in Lima. The second half of your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place.

After the meeting, go on a walking tour of downtown Lima, one of the most beautiful cities in South America, and an optional dinner with your group. Be sure to get your hands in Peru's national dish of ceviche during your stay. As there's little time spent in Lima, you may like to arrive a few days early to see the sights, including the chic suburb of Miraflores, Central Park, Lovers' Park and the National Museum.

Notes: As this is a combination trip, your experience can be quite different to the other travellers. Some may start later in Cusco and everyone will choose their own route to Machu Picchu, either by train or trekking. Also, 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Lima - Gold Museum - PEN35
  • Lima - Museo de la Nacion - PEN10
  • Lima - Pachacamac Tour (30 km from downtown) - USD37
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
You'll say goodbye to the Lima Leader today. Take an included fight to Cusco. This flight will be unescorted, however you will be met at Cusco airport by your local leader. Welcome to Cusco, Peru. You'll have a meeting at 2 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place.Spend a little time acclimatising to the high altitude (3,450 m) and then head out on an orientation walk with your tour leader. You’ll visit the facade of Qoricancha temple, the local San Pedro market, the main square, past the 12 Angled Stone, Regocijo Square and San Blas Square. Finally you’ll visit the Chocolate museum where there will be an opportunity to sample a hot chocolate made from local cacao beans. This might be a good opportunity to purchase some gifts or souvenirs. There’s a small store where you’ll find various handicrafts and a variety of artisanal chocolate products. You might feel overwhelmed by all there is to see in Cusco, but there will be more time for you to go exploring at the end of the trip.

Notes: As this is a combination trip, your experience can be quite different to the other travellers. Some will have started earlier in Lima and everyone will choose their own route to Machu Picchu, either by train or trekking. 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
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cusco - Orientation Walk
  • Cusco - Chocolate Museum Visit & Hot Chocolate
Optional Activities
  • Cusco - Full Boleto Turistico Pass, which gives you access to 16 archaeological sites in/around Cusco (Transport & guides are not included) - PEN135
  • Cusco - Half Tourist Ticket Pass, which gives you access to selected archaeological sites in/around Cusco (transport & guides are not included) - PEN75
  • Cusco - Cathedral Entrance Fee - PEN25
  • Cusco - City tour - USD15
  • Cusco - Coricancha Temple entrance fee - PEN15
  • Cusco - Pisco Making - Urban Adventures - USD36
  • Cusco - Pre-Colombian Museum - PEN20
  • Cusco - Inca Museum - PEN10
  • Cusco - Machu Picchu Museum & Botanical Garden - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Travel by private bus through the Sacred Valley for about two hours. Known as Wilcamayo to the Incas, the valley has been a source of livelihood to the locals for hundreds of years. You’ll see maize crops covering the terraced valley walls and the sacred river beneath. For lunch, visit a community that live in the valley and learn about the local lifestyle and language. If it’s market day, you may have the opportunity to browse the local handicrafts such as beads and ponchos. Continue your journey to the town of Ollantaytambo where you’ll spend the night. If there’s time you may like to see the town’s archaeological site, which includes remnants of an Inca city and soaring views over the present-day settlement.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sacred Valley - Local community visit and lunch
Optional Activities
  • Ollantaytambo - Archeological site - PEN70
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
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 Cusco for another two days before taking the train to Aguas Calientes. While away from Cusco, 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 Cusco 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 Cusco and only travel with the necessary items during the excursion by train.

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 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 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 Inca 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 Inca 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:
After spending the night in the Ollantaytambo, leave around 9.30 am and take a short drive to the town of Pisac. Pisac is well known for its market. Here you’ll have the opportunity to shop for souvenirs and perhaps try some local Empanadas. Arrive back into Cusco in the afternoon, where your leader will take you to San Pedro Market in order to buy some things for a picnic tomorrow.

Notes: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Inca Quarry Trail only.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cuzco - 3 Night/4 Day Inca Trail (or 2 Night/3 Day Inca Quarry Trail)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
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 Inca 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:
Today, take a taxi to Tambomachay, an archaeological site just outside of Cusco. From here you’ll take a short downhill walk (between one and three hours) back to Cusco. On the way, stop to admire some of the archaeological sites, including Puka Pukara, Qinqu Quenqo and Saksaywaman. Arrive back in Cusco 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 or point you in the right direction.

Notes: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
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 to the final night's campsite by the Winay Wayna archaeological site.

Route 2 Inca 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:
After a drive to Ollantaytambo (about one and a half hours), catch a train through the winding Urubamba Valley to Aguas Calientes (another one and a half 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. Otherwise, you can while away the afternoon in the natural hot springs at Aguas Calientes.

Notes: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
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 4am. Say farewell to the porters as they descend to the train station and then begin hiking by 430am. One the final checkpoint opens at 5am, begin the final leg of the trek. 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 you enter Machu Picchu through the Sungate

Route 2 Inca 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 views 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 Cusco.

Visiting Machu Picchu:
According to Machu Picchu visiting regulations, all visitors must follow a pre-determined route within the site. This route must be followed in one direction only and once the guided visit commences exiting and re-entering the site is not permitted. Once the guided visit concludes, visitors must exit the site and personal exploration of Machu Picchu is not permitted.

For all trails - after taking advantage of the seemingly endless photo opportunities, it's time to return to Cusco 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Sunrise at Machu Picchu: Inca Trail trekkers: Due to safety reasons the final checkpoint for all trekkers does not open until 5am therefore the estimated arrival time to Machu Picchu Sungate is approximately 7.30am. Quarry trekkers and Train travellers: The first bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu departs at 5.30am. The estimated arrival time is between 6- 6.30am The sun rises at Machu Picchu at approximately 5.30am, therefore it's not possible to be there in time for sunrise.
Your tour comes to an end today and there are no activities planned. As there was little time spent in Cusco at the start of the trip, you may like to stay on for a few extra days to make the most of your visit here. We’ll be happy to assist in booking accommodation (subject to availability). If you decide to stay on, visit some of the sites you didn’t cover during your orientation tour at the beginning of the trip. These may include the Inca ruins of Coricancha, Saqsaywaman, Q'enqo, Pica Pakara, Pisac and Ollantaytambo.

Notes: You may want to consider purchasing a Boleto Turistico (tourism ticket) It gains access to the many fascinating museums here such as the Contemporary Art Museum, Regional History Museum and Qosqo Native Art Museum (transport & guides not included).
Please speak with your tour leader about this for more details.
Optional Activities
  • Cusco - Ruins & Market Walking Urban Adventure - USD70
  • Cusco - Pisco Making - Urban Adventures - USD36
  • Cusco - Stand Up Paddle Boarding - USD75
  • Sacred Valley - Via Ferrata & Zipline - PEN265
  • Sacred Valley - Mountain Biking - USD120
  • Cusco - Art Trail workshop - USD59
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

13 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 7 dinners

Transport

Plane, Private minibus, Train

Accommodation

Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nights), Hotel (6 nights), Lodge (4 nights)

Included activities

  • Lima - Leader Led orientation walk of Miraflores
  • Cocachimba - Gocta Waterfalls Hike (Half day)
  • Cocachimba - Guided tour of Kuelap (Full Day)
  • Cocachimba - Revash Funeral Buildings & Leymebamba Mummy museum (Full day)
  • Cusco - Orientation Walk
  • Cusco - Chocolate Museum Visit & Hot Chocolate
  • Sacred Valley - Local community visit and lunch
  • Cuzco - 3 Night/4 Day Inca Trail (or 2 Night/3 Day Inca Quarry Trail)

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. Delays to provide this information may result in third party booking fees.

Full passport details are required at the time of booking in order to purchase Entrance fees to important sites such as Machu Picchu. Delays to provide this information may result in booking fees or changes to your itinerary.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
Single supplement only applies for first and last night in Lima. Unfortunately Gocta Lodge does not offer single supplements.

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.
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/machu-picchu-peru/quarry-trail

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.

INCA TRAIL OR INCA QUARRY TRAIL
While hiking the 4 Day Inca Trail or the 3 Day Inca Quarry trail portion of this trip you may be joined by other Intrepid and/or non-Intrepid travellers.

On June 30th Peruvian authorities released a new list of regulations for visiting Machu Picchu, which came into effect from July 1st. The main points impacting our visits are:
1. There is now a time limit to visit the citadel. Morning visitors must exit the site by 12pm and afternoon visitors by 4.30pm
2. Visitors must complete a designated circuit, in one direction only. Exiting and re-entering the site is not permitted and, upon completion, visitor must exit the site. There is no allowance for personal exploration of the site any longer.
Overall we support these changes as they help preserve this invaluable archaeological site. While this somehow restricts the amount of time we are now allowed to spend in Machu Picchu, we’ll do all possible to maximise your time there and make sure you have the best possible experience.

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.