- Taste causa, ceviche, and other Peruvian dishes in Lima
- Observe Andean condors up close as they fly through Colca Canyon
- Visit Taquile Island to watch Taquileños create world-renowned textiles
- Walk among the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu
|Arrive in Lima
|Lima Gastronomic Tour
|Fly to Arequipa, Explore
|Transfer to Chivay, Visit the Hot Springs
|Spot Condors in Colca Canyon & Transfer to Puno, Explore
|Transfer to Lake Titicaca, Visit Taquile Island
|Drive to Cusco
|Transfer to Sacred Valley, Explore
|Visit Moray & Salineras, Transfer to Aguas Calientes
|Aguas Calientes/ Machu Picchu
|Visit Machu Picchu, Take the Train to Cusco
|Fly to Puerto Maldonado, The Amazon
|Tour Collpa Chuncho & Visit Tres Chimpadas Lake
|Kayak on Tres Chimbadas Lake
|Fly to Lima, Depart
Day 1: Arrive in Lima
Welcome to Lima! Your driver will meet you in the arrivals hall and take you to your hotel. Then, you'll have the rest of the day to check out Peru's capital city. Sitting on high cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, there's plenty to do and see in this city of almost 10 million people. Check out the chic shopping centers in Miraflores, visit Museo Larco's massive collection of pre-Columbian art, or take a walk past the lemon-yellow buildings surrounding the Plaza Mayor de Lima.
Day 2: Lima Gastronomic Tour
Discover why Lima is called the Gastronomical Capital of the Americas today and visit some of the city's greatest culinary destinations. Start at one of Lima's diverse mercados (markets), where you can find everything from seafood caught just offshore to cherimoyas, or custard apples, harvested in the highlands. For lunch, try dishes like causa (layered potatoes, avocado, and seafood) and ceviche (fish cured in citrus juice). To top it off, head to Barranco for picarones, a doughnut made from sweet potato.
Day 3: Fly to Arequipa, Explore
This morning, fly southeast to Arequipa. Thanks to its unusual geography, Arequipa stands out in terms of beauty. The city is surrounded by three volcanoes which provide sillar, a white stone, for the construction of its colonial-era buildings, including the Casa del Moral and the Monastery of Santa Catalina de Siena, a sprawling complex that housed Dominican nuns for centuries. Take a tour past these and other incredible sites around the UNESCO-certified historic center.
Day 4: Transfer to Chivay & Visit the Hot Springs
Today, a private transfer will pick you up and take you north to Chivay for the next part of your trip. Along the way, you'll pass tons of native Peruvian wildlife like alpacas, vicuñas, and birds like ibis, flamingoes, and Andean geese. When you arrive in Chivay, the gateway to Colca Canyon, visit Aguas Termales La Calera, a natural hot spring, to relax before your adventure in the canyon tomorrow.
Day 5: See Condors in Colca Canyon & Transfer to Puno, Explore
Head into Colca Canyon early this morning to catch a glimpse at its famous residents: Andean condors. The canyon is a worthy spot to visit even without these large, majestic birds. Measuring 6,600 feet (2,000 m) at its deepest point, it's one of the deepest canyons in the world, and the surrounding valley is home to Collagua and Cabana peoples. People from these pre-Inca cultures still farm using andenes (stepped terraces).
Later, a private transfer will take you on the six-hour drive to Puno, a town on the shores of Lake Titicaca in southern Peru. The route takes you through Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Reserve, a reserve for flora and fauna of the puna ecosystem—the grasslands of the high Central Andes—like Peruvian feathergrass and guanacos. After you arrive in Puno, enjoy dinner at one of the area's many Novo Andino (new Andean fusion) restaurants.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Transfer to Lake Titicaca, Visit Taquile Island
This morning, set off on the still waters of Lake Titicaca to Taquile Island. The 2,200 or so Taquileños that live on the island operate in a collectivist society following the Inca moral code: Ama sua, ama llulla, ama quella (don't steal, don't lie, don't be lazy). You'll find no cars, few dogs, and little electricity in this community, but you will find an abundance of textiles. Taquile's textiles, knitted by men or woven by women, are recognized as a priceless intangible heritage by UNESCO.
Day 7: Drive to Cusco
Hop on a tourist bus and ride just under seven hours to Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire. Along the way, stop at ancient sites and fantastic viewpoints like Abra La Raya Pass, with its views of the snowy peaks of Chimboya. Tour galleries of pottery and stone sculptures at Museo Lítico Pukara (Pukaric Lithic Museum), walk beneath the crumbling walls of Raqch'i, the Temple of Wiracocha, and stop by the "The Sistine Chapel of the Americas," The Church of Saint Peter the Apostle in Andahuaylillas.
Day 8: Transfer to Sacred Valley, Explore
The scenic floodplain between Pisac and Ollantaytambo in the valley of the Urubamba River is known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Check out the handicraft market in Pisac, the largest in the region, before heading into the valley. Along the way, stop at an animal sanctuary and a textile cooperative for a taste of the valley's wildlife and culture. Your main destination today is Ollantaytambo, a well-preserved Inca town with working farm terraces, cobbled alleyways, and the ruins of a fortress.
Day 9: Visit Moray and Salineras & Transfer to Aguas Calientes
Visit two of the more well-known archaeological sites today, starting with Moray. This historically ambiguous site hosts three muyus (circular terraces) with depths of up to 98 feet (30 m). The dramatic change in temperature from the top to the bottom of each muyu creates microclimates like those in a greenhouse, leading many to believe the Incas used the site as an agricultural laboratory. There's no way to know for sure, and that enduring mystery is part of Moray's charm.
Then, head to Salineras de Maras, a patchwork of thousands of salt wells created by the Incas and still used today. This geometric landscape high in the mountains is a favorite for photographers, but even if you don't use a camera, you can bring a piece of the Salineras home with you. You can still buy salt from the wells in nearby Maras, just as the Incas once did hundreds of years ago.
Day 10: Visit Machu Picchu, Take the Train to Cusco
Presiding nearly 8,000 feet (2438 m) above the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu is undoubtedly Peru's most famous Inca site. Visit the citadel early today and get an extensive tour from a guide before the crowds arrive. Walk among 15th-century dry-stone walls and check out the three most famous structures—the Intihuatana ritual stone, The Temple of the Sun, and The Temple of the Three Windows—as well as some lesser-known spots around the area. At the end of the day, catch the train to Cusco.
Day 11: Tour Cusco
Take a tour of Cusco today to learn about its ancient history and current culture. Start above the city and visit Inca sites like Sacsayhuaman, known for its walls made out of huge boulders, and Q'enqo (labyrinth in Quechua), a huaca (holy place) named for the zig-zag channel that may have carried blood, chicha (corn beer), or holy water during rituals. Head back down into the city, and your guide will show you the bustling markets, colonial architecture, and museums that define the modern city.
Day 12: Fly to Puerto Maldonado, The Amazon
It's time to leave the city, whether ancient or contemporary and head into the Peruvian Amazon. Take a flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado and then take a guided ride up the Tambopata River toward Lake Sachavacayoc, where a secluded lodge awaits you. Here, the environment starkly contrasts with the dry puna landscape you saw earlier in the trip. The humid rainforest teems with life, from insects and giant tarantulas to flocks of birds and caimans floating in the nearby lake.
Day 13: Tour Collpa Chuncho & Visit Tres Chimpadas Lake
Today brings you to Collpa Chuncho, a large clay lick for guacamayos (macaws) within the Reserva Nacional Tambopata. The birds gather at this spot to eat the nutrient-rich clay, and you can watch them perch on the clay bank alongside the Tambopata River. After lunch, visit Tres Chimbadas Lake, a U-shaped body of water home to some true giants: giant river otters and giant anacondas. To see even more Amazonian wildlife, take a guided night hike into the jungle to spot monkeys, tapirs, and more after dark.
Day 14: Kayak on Tres Chimbadas Lake
Head back to Tres Chimbadas Lake today to relax or try your hand at different water activities. Kayak along the mile-long oxbow lake, looking for giant river otters, which gather as families to build dens, or amusingly-named birds, like the Rufescent tiger heron and the Wattled jacana. If you're feeling brave, try your hand at piranha fishing; the 12-foot-deep (3.6 m) lake is rife with them. Watch the sunset over the Amazon rainforest as evening closes in for your last night in Peru.
Day 15: Fly to Lima, Depart
Come full circle today when you fly back to Lima from Puerto Maldonado. Then, it's time to say adios to Peru and catch your next flight, whether you're headed home or off to another adventure.