Explore southern Peru on this multi-day itinerary, passing through some of the most beautiful places in the south. You'll visit Lima, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Puno & Lake Titicaca.

Highlights

  • Gastronomic experience in the culinary district of Lima
  • Tour of ruins in Ollantaytambo & Machu Picchu
  • Walking tour of Cusco through the back streets of San Blas
  • Scenic bus tour to Puno, stopping at picturesque towns
  • Lake Titicaca & Amantani Island

Overview

This tour includes some of the best of Cusco & South Peru. You'll experience cosmopolitan city life but also different communities out in the country and further south.

After spending a couple days in Lima, you'll travel to Cusco & journey through the Sacred Valley admiring the beauty and splendor of this valley. Then after trekking Huchuy Qosqo, visiting the Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo and being guided through the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu, you´ll begin to head south to Lake Titicaca and appreciate the majesty of this lake and its inhabitants.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Lima

Coastline in Lima from Barranco a district
Coastline in Lima from Barranco a district

After landing in Lima, one of our representatives will be at the airport to greet you and escort you to the hotel in Miraflores. The district is a diverse cultural center, with theaters, cinemas, and art galleries.

A great place to stay for your first night. Tonight, it’s all about resting to recovering your energy for the wonderful trip that awaits you.

Day 2: Lima Gastronomic Experience

Rock spiders dish, made of crab, limpet, mussel and sargasso (© Central Restaurant)
Rock spiders dish, made of crab, limpet, mussel and sargasso (© Central Restaurant)

We’ll start the morning in a local market, shopping alongside families and sous chefs. We will sample fresh fruits and explore Peruvian produce. Peru is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries and producer of an exotic array of jungle, highland, and coastal foods. The local market will whet your appetite for the day.

From there, we’ll walk in Lima’s historic center, checking out the Plaza Mayor, Cathedral, the Archbishop’s residence, the Presidential Palace and the bright-yellow Franciscan church, built in 1546, which was used as a cemetery in the colonial era.

Afterward, we’ll take a break to enjoy Peru’s flagship dish: ceviche. These sublime fish and seafood cocktails, gently marinated in chili and fresh lime juice, are a Lima staple. We’ll also be tasting other delicious options like Causa (avocado and shrimp layered between mashed potato). We culminate our gastronomic adventure with the lightest and crispest Picarones (fried dough), while every culture has a version, the Peruvian edition is special. Crafted from wheat flour that is dotted with anise and blended with sweet potatoes and pumpkin, they’re then lathered with a liberal helping of molasses syrup. 

Tonight we rest well after our busy city adventure for tomorrow we meet the Andes!

Day 3: Lima – Cusco – Sacred Valley

This morning you will take private transportation to the airport and head straight to the domestic check-in desks in the center of the airport. Please present your passport in order to enter the airport. Once you have your boarding card you can head upstairs to departures.

NB: Please ensure you find the gate with plenty of time to spare, as flights are not always announced and gate allocations often change and may not follow those written on your boarding ticket. Enjoy the flight.

On arrival to Cusco, you will be met by one of our representatives from Quechua Treks with a sign with your name on it.

Welcome to the Sierra! Once we gather together after breakfast, we break away from Cusco and descend into the Sacred Valley of the Incas. While still at considerable altitude - 2600m, spending our first day in the Sacred Valley is a good way to acclimatize, allowing our bodies to adjust to the attitude to come.

We will enjoy a light picnic lunch, then continue to our Lodge in the Valley. This is a day to relax, eat well and enjoy your surroundings.

Day 4: Maras – Moray – Pachamanca

After a delicious breakfast, we will drive through the valley, weather permitting en route, we will hopefully glimpse the snow-capped Urubamba Mountain range. The holy mountains of the Sacred Valley.

Our first stop is in Chinchero, a lovely town traditionally renowned for its specialized weaving techniques and unique hand made textiles. Here we will watch and learn about the art of Peruvian weaving, absorbed by color, in naturally made dyes a genuine feast for the eyes.

Next is a drive to the circular Inca ruins of Moray, an extraordinary Incan earthwork. Three natural, crater-like depressions are lined with a series of concentric circular terraces that get smaller as they disappear down into the earth. This is thought to be one of the Incas ‘Green Houses’, where they experimented with the different temperature zones or microclimates (created by the terraces) and developed new varieties of staple Andean foods.

Then by car, we follow a dust track through agriculturally rich plains, with examples of the finest Andean farming set amongst some of the most breathtaking scenery of the Andes, imposing mountains provoking wonderful sensations of freedom, wilderness, and spirituality.

Our next stop is the Salinas de Maras the naturally occurring, yet mysterious salt pans that cover the entire side of a canyon made of red rock. They have been in continual operation since pre-Incan times. Wonder at the ingenuity and practicality of the terracing system, whilst being mesmerized by the simplistic beauty and the shimmer of these pinkish white salt pans; it’s a view to behold.

After a great morning, we head down towards Ollantaytambo & the Hotel El Albergue for `pachamanca` a traditional style of Peruvian cooking. There is an organic farm here at the hotel where they host a Pachamanca Farm Lunch as well as visits to a Cañazo (sugar cane liquor) distillery and coffee roasting facility with tastings of these artisanal products.

The Pachamanca is a traditional Incan meal cooked upon hot rocks and includes a tour of the hotel and our adjacent organic farm. You're welcome to participate in the preparation of the Pachamanca, and while the food cooks, You can visit the farm and learn about traditional and contemporary organic farming practices.

The lunch includes a variety of cuts of chicken, pork, and lamb with alpaca, rabbit, and cuy upon request, Andean potatoes, and camote, organic vegetables, a variety of house-made salads and sauces as well as chicha morada (purple corn beverage). Most dietary restrictions can be covered, and wine and beer are available upon request. The lunch is served at covered picnic tables right on the farm with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, glaciers, and Inca archaeological sites.

After lunch, we Interact with a family of weavers typical from the Chinchero Area.

Day 5: Huchuy Qosqo: Day hike

Today we'll enjoy a one-day hike to this fascinating place built by the Incas. It is called Huchuy Qosqo, which in the local Quechua language means “Small Cusco”.

This place is very special because of the outstanding location overlooking the Sacred Valley 600 meters below, with great views of the Urubamba Mountain Range and some of its Apus (or sacred mountains) known by the locals since pre-Incan times.

The hike begins in the small village of Siwas (3,800 m), after 1.5 hours driving from the city of Cusco. In the morning we have to go up to the highest point of the day. To reach it, we walk slowly and steady for 1.5 hours along this not too difficult of an ascent to 4060 m. If the weather permits, we can see far into the distance the massive snow-capped Nevada of Ausangate, one of the three most sacred mountains around Cusco.

After we take some pictures and enjoy the views from the top, we begin the two-hour walk down to Huchuy Qosqo. A few minutes into the hike we join the principal path of the Inca Trail, passing through the picturesque village of Puka Marka. This place is just the entrance to an amazing section of a ravine. This part crisscrosses a creek, with picturesque small bridges above the water which flows down to the valley.

We continue walking and enjoy awesome views of agricultural terraces, some examples of the local fauna, like dear or unique birdlife and amazing viewpoints. Carrying on walking we finally reach our principal destination of the day: HUCHUY QOSQO!!!

We are going to have plenty of time to have our box lunch and then wander around the Inca Site, getting a great lesson to learn more about these incredible people who were able to build such complex sites around the Andes of Perú. Huchuy Qosqo shows a cultural example of agricultural engineering with irrigation channels and terraces.

In the afternoon we leave Huchuy Qosqo and descend for about two and a half hours towards the Village of Lamay, which is the place where we meet our transport to take us back to our hotel.

Hiking time: Around 8 Hrs
Altitude range: 4,060m-2,800m
Degree of difficulty: Hard - Moderate
Meals Included: Box Lunch

Day 6: Morning visit to Ollantaytambo & afternoon in Machu Picchu

After an early breakfast, we will walk around the Inca Fortress and ceremonial site of Ollantaytambo, marveling at these extraordinarily well-preserved ruins set around a tranquil plaza, renowned for its peaceful charm. The little-altered layout of the town offers an unprecedented peek into the way of life of its past peoples, the Incas. Even the street names are the originals.

Then we will take the train to Aguas Calientes (train station is located in the town of
Ollantaytambo). As the train travels along, the valley turns into a canyon and the scenery changes as the cloud forest begin to appear with the approach to the Machu Picchu Sanctuary.

You will disembark the train at Aguas Calientes where we get a convenient buffet lunch. After that, as other people begin leaving, we will board the bus to go up and start our exploration of Machu Picchu and visit some of the most important places in the archaeological site. There will be plenty of time for pictures after which we take the bus down to Aguas Calientes in order to catch the train back to Ollantaytambo. From Ollantaytambo, our private transportation will be waiting to drive us back to Cusco.

Day 7: Cusco

Our last day in Cusco begins in earnest today, as we spend the morning walking through some of the most beautiful streets of Cusco.

We will explore the old bohemian quarter of San Blas, famous for its picturesque white walls and blue doors and it’s historically artisan community.

On the other side of Cusco, we will find the San Pedro market, a Cusqueñan institution, not to be missed. Famous for its tantalizingly exotic fresh fruits and vegetables, mouth-watering juices (too many to choose from) and its natural medicinal herb stalls.

Onwards down Avenida el Sol, Cusco's central avenue, we arrive at the magnificent temple of Koricancha. Originally dedicated to the sun god Inti and said to have been the most important temple in the Inca Empire. Lunch will at a local Peruvian restaurant.

After lunch, we enter the awe-inspiring fort of ‘Saqsayhuaman’ and also seek out the less visited archaeological areas such as the temple of the moon.

Day 8: Cusco – Puno

Today we will drive to Puno. With several stops along the way, we will pass by Oropesa, the capital of bread! Yes, this huge sweet bread that you probably tried in Cusco; but if you missed it, this is your opportunity.

During our trip, we can see some beautiful colonial churches like Andahuaylillas. The church itself is enchanting, but the little plaza and the atmosphere of a small town in the Andes are what is most memorable about the place.

In the middle of the route, there is a family that runs a ranch that produces the most popular cheese of Cusqueno people. Here in this warm home, we will enjoy another amazing meal.

After lunch, we will continue on. If time allows, we will stop at the rock forest with gigantic rock formations. 

We then head to Fundo Chincheros, an end of the 19th-century ranch, dedicated to traditional Andean animal husbandries, such as llamas, alpacas, cows, sheep, and horses. There is the possibility for visitors to share daily farm activities, or just spending some relaxing time out in nature.

It is a very quiet place not more than 20 minutes from Puno city, has 125 hectares and it has been part of the natural reserve of Titicaca.

From here it takes two more hours to reach Puno.

Day 9: Titicaca - Uros – Amantani

Lake Titicaca is the world's highest commercially navigable lake. We will transfer you from your hotel to the harbor. We will visit two islands on the lake where the unique living cultures and traditions are still alive.

The first is the famous man-made Uros Reed Islands, where we’ll have a tour and an explanation of the unique way of life of the people who live here.

Then we will head to Amantani island, located 26 miles (38 km) away from the city of Puno (3.5 hours of navigation in a normal boat). Because of its more distant location, tourism on the island of Amantani has not developed in the same way as in Taquile. The main difference is that home-stays have remained a more authentic and cultural experience.

The 3,600 inhabitants of Amantani are of Quechua origin and they are mainly small scale farmers. We will spend one night on the island with a local family. The houses are very simple and services are basic. There is no running water, no electricity and of course no comfortable toilets or showers.

For many people, this home-stay experience and time spent with the host family is a revelation of the reality of the lives of Andean people at such altitude. This cultural exchange experience in Amantani is very touching and fascinating.

In this tour, every traveler is welcome to share with the locals their time, some artistic gift, educational activities or just conversations.

By participating in this tour, you will contribute to improving the library that we are trying to implement in coordination with the local people from this island.

Day 10: Amantani – Puno - Sillustani

After awakening under a huge, beautiful blue sky, we will enjoy an authentic homemade breakfast and will say goodbye to our gracious hosts. Getting back on the boat we will head to Taquile Island.

In Taquile, we will hike to the highest point of the island for breathtaking views of Lake Titicaca, from where we will be able to see the Capachica Peninsula and the Bolivian Mountain Range.

Lunch will be at a beautiful ranch built in the 19th Century, where we will have the chance to enjoy a traditional meal with a spectacular view all by ourselves, far from other crowds.

We will head back to Puno in the afternoon to the Sillustani archaeological site, a pre-Incan burial ground on the shores of Lake Umayo. The tombs, which are built above ground in tower-like structures called chullpas, are the vestiges of the Colla people, Aymara, who were conquered by the Inca in the 15th century. The structures housed the remains of complete family groups, although they were probably limited to nobility. Many of the tombs have been dynamited by grave robbers, while others were left unfinished. 

You'll have an evening departure to Lima from Juliaca Airport, where you'll be transferred to your hotel, Costa del Sol in Miraflores. Until the next time!

Map

Map of Beauty of Southern Peru: Sacred Valley & Lake Titicaca - 10 Days
Map of Beauty of Southern Peru: Sacred Valley & Lake Titicaca - 10 Days

Recent Trip Reviews

Related trips planned by kimkim specialists

Beauty of southern peru - 10-day, Peru - Aug 11 - Aug 25, 2017

Traveler: Benjamin Z. - Local specialist: James M

Great trip that more than exceeded my expectations. The guides, activities, and accommodations were fantastic. The only thing that I could have improved would have been to do more research myself and request more days hiking.

Having the opportunity to chat with James on the phone could have sparked a discussion of the pace of the trip and whether a more aggressive itinerary made sense for us.