This active 12-day itinerary combines the cultural highlights of Peru's Sacred Valley with plenty of outdoor adventure. Based in historic Cusco, you'll tour ancient sites like Pisac and Moray then head into the cloud forest for a four-day trek along the Choquequirao Trail. Discover hidden Inca ruins and sleep under the stars as you make your way towards the crowning glory of Machu Picchu. After more downtime in Cusco, end the trip with a final hike up the "Rainbow Mountain" of Palcoyo.


  • Discover the highlights of Peru's Sacred Valley
  • Trek along the Choquequirao Trail
  • Explore the ancient ruins of Choquequirao & Machu Picchu
  • Stroll through the ancient Inca capital of Cusco
  • Hike the colorful slopes of Palcoyo Mountain

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Lima Lima
Day 2 Fly to Cusco Cusco
Day 3 Pisac, Ollantaytambo & Chinchero Tour Cusco
Day 4 Moray Terraces & Maras Salt Mines Tour Cusco
Day 5 Choquequirao Trek Day 1: Cachora to Chikiska Chikiska
Day 6 Choquequirao Trek Day 2: Chikiska to Choquequirao Choquequirao
Day 7 Choquequirao Trek Day 3: Choquequirao to Chikiska Chikiska
Day 8 Choquequirao Trek Day 4: Chikiska to Ollantaytambo Ollantaytambo
Day 9 Discover Machu Picchu, Return to Cusco Cusco
Day 10 Free Day in Cusco Cusco
Day 11 Palcoyo Mountain Trek Cusco
Day 12 Transfer to Cusco Airport, Fly to Lima & Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lima

Lima's Plaza Mayor

¡Bienvenidos! Welcome to Lima, Peru's largest city and central metropolitan hub, home to one-third of the country's population. Upon arrival, you'll be met by your driver and transferred to your hotel in the Miraflores/San Isidro district.

Located at the site of a pre-Columbian indigenous Ychsma settlement which was conquered by the Inca Empire in the 15th century and later by the Spanish conquistadores, Lima has a fascinating history and a diverse mix of cultures. Amerindian, European, Afro-Peruvian, and Asian—especially Chinese and Japanese—influences make Lima a dynamic and exciting city to explore. 

Lima's breezy location on the Pacific Ocean and mild desert climate make it perfect to discover on foot. After settling in, head downtown to mingle with locals, stretch your legs, and grab a bite to eat in one of the many award-winning restaurants. 

Day 2: Fly to Cusco

Private Transfer Cusco Airport (CUZ) - Cusco
Fly to the ancient city of Cusco

Today starts with a transfer to the airport, where you'll catch a short domestic flight to Cusco. This ancient city is the former capital of the Inca Empire, which reigned from the 13th to 16th centuries after conquering the Killke settlement in the same location. After arriving and checking into your hotel, head out to discover the city. 

At 11,000 feet (3,000 m) above sea level, it takes time to adjust to the altitude—so take it easy and remember to drink lots of water. Since Cusco was designed as a city for walking, start your exploration of the narrow stone alleyways on foot. Take a walk through the plaza—if the weather is beautiful, it's a perfect place to sit on a balcony and have a cup of coca tea while adjusting to the elevation. 

Day 3: Pisac, Ollantaytambo & Chinchero Tour

Terraced hillsides in Ollantaytambo

This morning, you will depart from your hotel in Cusco to start your exploration of the Sacred Valley. Your first stop is Pisac, one of the most important archaeological sites in the region. Explore the ancient Inca burial grounds, irrigation systems, and astronomy centers at Pisac Citadel, then descend to the valley floor to visit the town of the same name. Here you can browse its bustling textile market and shop for gifts and souvenirs.

Stop for lunch in Urubamba, where you'll enjoy traditional Peruvian Andean cuisine in a beautiful setting overlooking the Urubamba River. 

In the afternoon, you'll continue to the ancient Incan settlement of Ollantaytambo, one of the few remaining places in the Sacred Valley that retains its original Inca grid plan. Walk canal-lined streets, view ancient houses still in use today, and climb the agricultural terraces to enjoy an Inca’s-eye-view of the valley. At the latter, you will be able to spy some of the quarries from where the stone for Ollantaytambo was sourced. 

After a stop at Chinchero, where you can explore more ruins and a small but charming Andean town, it's time to make your way back to Cusco for the evening.

Day 4: Moray Terraces & Maras Salt Mines Tour

Maras Salt Flats
Maras Salt Flats

Head back into the Sacred Valley this morning, stopping first in Moray. Here you can marvel at the incredible series of stone terraced amphitheaters carved deep into the earth in the shape of a bowl. The exact reason for their construction is unknown; however, historians believe it was built to experiment with crop production in different micro-climates. 
When you are done exploring Moray, you will head about two miles away, to the salt mines of Maras. This village is known as a former salt-producing center and is thought to date back to pre-Inca times. There are over 3,000 salt pools here, spectacularly carved into the steep mountainside over a millennium ago.

In the afternoon, you'll return to Cusco and have the rest of the day to relax or discover more of the city.

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Day 5: Choquequirao Trek Day 1: Cachora to Chikiska

Start your trek in Cachora

Rise early this morning and lace up your hiking boots as you embark on an unforgettable four-day trekking and camping adventure. After a transfer to the rustic village of Cachora, you'll set out towards tonight's campsite, following a switchback trail down into the Apurímac Canyon. Your base for the night is Chikiska, a small mountainside settlement with beautiful views down into the surrounding canyon and valleys.

Day 6: Choquequirao Trek Day 2: Chikiska to Choquequirao

Mist over Choquequirao
This morning you'll depart from your campsite at Chikiska and continue your trek across the Apurímac River, passing through the communities of Santa Rosa and Maranpata. The steep path passes through territory which can get humid and hot depending on the season. Today's trek is one of the more strenuous days, but you'll be rewarded with dramatic views of the canyon as you approach the ruins of Choquequirao. In the evening, you'll arrive at your campsite, located beside the archaeological wonders of Choquequirao.

Day 7: Choquequirao Trek Day 3: Choquequirao to Chikiska

Views over the Apurímac Canyon from the Choquequirao Trail

After breakfast at your campsite, head out to tour the ruins with a professional guide. With few other tourists around, exploring the main plaza, ritual bath, and inlaid stone llamas at the ruins of Choquequirao is a remarkable experience. The site sits atop a hill rising 5,249 feet (1,600 m) above the Apurímac and was hidden from the Spanish for centuries until the American explorer Hiram Bingham stumbled upon it before finding Machu Picchu. The site is yet to be completely excavated, with much of it still shrouded by jungle and cloud forest.

After your visit to Choquequirao, your trek continues back to Marampata and a bit later to the depths of the Apurímac Canyon. Here you'll continue your climb into the forest and back to the camping site at Chikiska.

Day 8: Choquequirao Trek Day 4: Chikiska to Ollantaytambo

Enjoy bird's eye views of mountain scenery and ancient ruins along the way

Today starts with a climb to Capuliyok, where you'll take a short break while enjoying breathtaking views over the Apurímac Canyon and if you're lucky, observe condors soaring past. The trek continues at an easy pace, so you can enjoy the mountain scenery as you descend. In the afternoon, you'll be picked up and transferred to Ollantaytambo, where you can rest up for tomorrow's adventure in Machu Picchu.

Day 9: Discover Machu Picchu, Return to Cusco

Beat the cross with an early morning visit to Machu Picchu
Early this morning you'll set off on a scenic train ride from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. This train journey is a spectacle in itself, and you can sit back and appreciate Peru’s immense biodiversity as the landscape transitions from Andean green fields to lush rainforest, descending alongside the Urubamba River.

Upon arrival, an easy 25-minute bus ride takes you up to one of the highlights of your trip: the spectacular mountain citadel of Machu Picchu. Located at 7,970 feet (2,430 m), this 15th-century ruin is a masterpiece of engineering that served as a sanctuary and retreat for Emperor Pachacutec and his royal court. Machu Picchu, which means "Old Mountain," is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. 
Machu Picchu was abandoned 100 years after construction and remained largely hidden to the outside world until the early 20th century. Your guide will lead you around the site and explain the different buildings and curious corners of the building complex. Approximately one-third of the site has been reconstructed into its original structure, giving visitors a sense of the grandeur and artistry of the original citadel. 

After the tour, take the bus back to Aguas Calientes and grab lunch in the picturesque town center. Connect to your train to Ollantaytambo/Poroy and then a connecting transfer back to your hotel in Cusco.

Day 10: Free Day in Cusco

Discover more of the ancient Inca capital today

Today you're free to explore more of Cusco at your leisure. Suggested activities include: 

  • Visit the Coricancha, also known as the "Temple of the Sun." The temple was built by the Incan Emperor Pachacutec (1438 - 1572) and after the arrival of the Spaniards became the basis for the construction of the Santo Domingo Convent.

  • See the Cathedral, the most imposing monument in the central Plaza de Armas and a repository for Cusco's colonial art. Its construction lasted for almost 100 years, beginning in 1560 and ending in 1654.

  • Walk to Sacsayhuamán and next-door Quenqo, both archaeological complexes used mostly for religious and agricultural rituals, located 2.5 miles (4 km) from the city of Cusco. Built by the Killke people, Sacsayhuamán is a marvel of ancient architecture, a monolithic fortress built from giant blocks of stone, the origins and assembly of which remain a mystery. 

  • Discover the elaborate Puca Pucara ruins—an architectural complex of alleged military use with multiple plazas, baths, aqueducts, walls, and towers. It is believed that the entourage of the Incan emperor used it while he stayed at Tambomachay, the elaborate estate and baths nearby.

  • Explore San Blas, an old bohemian quarter famous for its picturesque white walls, blue doors, and creative artisan community. 

  • Experience the legendary Mercado Central de San Pedro, a large and diverse market famous for its mouth-watering fruit juices, home-style meals, medicinal herb stalls, and rows of various meats, breads, vegetables, and other necessities. 

  • Eat lunch at a local Peruvian restaurant and sample local flavors and cooking techniques—crackling pork, pickled vegetables, seasonal flavors, bread baked in earthen ovens, roasted vegetables, and sweet donuts make for a delicious and filling meal. 

Day 11: Palcoyo Mountain Trek

Admire the rainbow colors on show from the top of Palcoyo Mountain

Palcoyo Mountain is only about 12 miles (20 km) from the more famous Vinicunca, but while the latter attracts thousands of visitors, the 16,000-foot (4,900 m) Palcoyo is still a hidden gem with no signs of over-tourism. Today's mini trek is perfect for travelers who want to view Peru's colorful Rainbow Mountains on a relatively shorter and more gentle excursion, and a great option for those traveling with kids.

Rise early for your dawn transfer, stopping for breakfast en route. The journey takes you along the spectacular Red River for about 3.5 hours to arrive at the starting point of the short hike. From here, the 50-minute trek follows a short, mostly flat path, where you have the prospect of seeing llamas, sheep, vicuñas, and alpacas. Upon reaching the summit, you'll have plenty of time to relax, take photos, and enjoy the sweeping panoramic views.

After the return downhill hike, you'll head back to Cusco for the afternoon.

Day 12: Transfer to Cusco Airport, Fly to Lima & Departure

Sunset over Cusco

It's time to say your goodbyes to Peru this morning, as you transfer to Cusco Airport to catch a flight back to Lima and connect with your international departure. ¡Hasta luego!

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