Tour the essential highlights of Peru's Sacred Valley, Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Rainbow Mountains over seven days. Starting in Lima, you'll travel to the Sacred Valley of the Inca's, where you'll find a huge concentration of ancient Incan sites, including nearby Machu Picchu. Spend a day hiking to the high-altitude Rainbow Mountains, which have to be seen to be believed. End in beautiful Cusco, a city with centuries of history and culture to be explored.

Highlights

  • Enjoy spectacular views of the Sacred Valley of the Incas
  • Take a private tour of Machu Picchu, Peru's most famous ruins
  • Hike to the spectacular and unique Rainbow Mountains
  • Appreciate centuries of history on display in Cusco

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Lima Lima
Day 2 Lima to the Sacred Valley Sacred Valley
Day 3 Machu Picchu Sacred Valley
Day 4 Tour the Sacred Valley of the Incas Cusco
Day 5 Hike to the Rainbow Mountains Cusco
Day 6 Tour Cusco City and its Surroundings Cusco
Day 7 Depart Cusco & Lima  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lima

Plaza Mayor Armas, Lima
Plaza Mayor Armas, Lima

Welcome to Peru! Arrive in Lima, where you'll be met by a representative and transferred to your hotel. Rest up for the remainder of the day, and prepare for your adventure in the following days.

Day 2: Lima to the Sacred Valley

Moray, Sacred Valley of the Incas

This morning you'll be picked up from your hotel and taken to the airport for your flight to Cusco. Upon your arrival, a representative will be waiting to take you to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The elevation in the Sacred Valley is an average of 9416 feet (2870 m.). The Sacred Valley was important during the time of the Incan Empire, when it was an agricultural, spiritual, and political center.

On the way, visit Pisac, where you can explore the traditional market and the ruins. At the market, local craftspeople exhibit and sell a wide variety of fine crafts here, including woven goods, sweaters, alpaca rugs, tapestries, sculpture, jewelry, and more. The Pisac ruins include Inca agricultural terraces on a steep hillside, which are still in use today. They enabled the production of more food than would have otherwise been possible at such high altitudes.

Day 3: Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Early in the morning, head to Ollantaytambo, where you'll board a train for a scenic ride to Aguas Calientes. You will be able to appreciate Peru’s immense biodiversity as you see the landscape transition from Andean green fields to lush rainforest, descending alongside the Urubamba River. From Aguas Calientes, take a short bus ride up to the Machu Picchu ruins. 

This 15th-century Inca citadel is located at 7970 feet (2430 m.), and is a masterpiece of engineering. It served as a sanctuary and retreat for the Incan Emperor Pachacutec and his royal court. Machu Picchu was abandoned 100 years after construction, and remained largely hidden to the outside world until the early 20th century. Machu Picchu means "old mountain," and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. 

Your guide will lead you around the site and explain the history and significance of the different buildings. Approximately one-third of the site has been reconstructed to its original form, giving visitors a sense for the grandeur and artistry of the original citadel. 

After the tour, take the bus back to Aguas Calientes for lunch in the picturesque town center. Return to Ollantaytambo by train, and back to your hotel.

Day 4: Tour the Sacred Valley of the Incas

Agricultural fields of Moray

This morning, travel to Ollantaytambo, one of the few remaining places in the Sacred Valley that have retained its original Inca urban planning. Walk through streets with Inca-era canals and see ancient houses that are still in use today. Climb the agricultural terraces, from which you can enjoy an Inca’s-eye view of the valley. From the top you’ll be able to see quarries from where the stone for Ollantaytambo was sourced. It’s amazing to think how far these large stones were transported, especially as the Incas didn’t have pack animals strong enough to carry them. 

From here you'll continue to Moray, an incredible complex of stone amphitheaters developed by the Incas. While the exact reason for the construction of this site remains unknown, historians believe the Incas constructed it to experiment with crop production in different micro-climates.  

From Moray, continue to Salineras de Maras, an incredible patchwork of stone pools and paths developed by the Inca as a means to harvest salt, which you will be able to see from a lookout point.

Finally, arrive in the ancient city of Cusco, where you'll spend the next few nights.

Day 5: Hike to the Rainbow Mountains

Vinicunca, or the Rainbow Mountains

The Rainbow Mountain, also known as Vinicunca, is in the midst of a land full of wild desert landscapes, snow-capped glaciated peaks, herds of alpaca, and pristine beauty. We will pick you up very early from your Cusco hotel (about 3 am) and drive through the South Valley. The drive to the trailhead at Quesiuno is around three hours long. You'll stop en route for breakfast.

Begin hiking, following a lovely stream. You'll travel on horseback for a portion of the trail, for about 20 minutes. Herds of alpacas and llamas are all around, and you can enjoy views of Ausangate Mountain. Pass through villages, where you'll get the chance to interact with the local residents. We will stop for a packed lunch along the way.

Back on the trail, encounter more unique flora and fauna. You may see chinchillas and vicunas. Vicunas are the only non-domesticated animal belonging to the llama family in Peru. The red-hued mountains are another highlight of this portion of the hike.

After around 2.5 hours you'll finally reach your destination, the incredible Rainbow Mountains (16,466 feet/ 5,020 m.). There will be time to explore the area and to take pictures, spending about 30 minutes at the top.

Hike back down the same way you came up, where your horses will be waiting for you. The way down will take about two hours.

A van will be waiting to take you back to Cusco, about three hours' drive away, where you'll arrive in the early evening.

Day 6: Tour Cusco City and its Surroundings

Cusco's Main Square

Today, explore the amazing city of Cusco, the capital of the Inca Empire and one of the most historical cities in the Americas.

In the morning, begin your tour by visiting the Fortress of Sacsayhuamán, one of the most important military and ceremonial centers in Incan times. Continue strolling through the Plaza de Armas, where you will be able to explore the cathedral and admire its exquisite vestibules and priceless paintings from the Cusco School of the 17th and 18th centuries. Just a few blocks away is the Monastery of Saint Catherine of Siena, with its stone walls and overwhelming silence. Check out its beautiful art collection, and see how the nuns lived in the 17th century.

Finally, you will be able to learn about local people, food and much more during your visit to San Pedro Market. It's famous for its mouth-watering fruit juices, home-style meals, medicinal herb stalls, and rows of meats, bread, vegetables, and other necessities. The market allows a glimpse into Cusqueña culture, and shouldn't be missed.

Day 7: Depart Cusco & Lima

Farewell Peru
Farewell Peru

You'll be transferred to the airport in Cusco in good time to check in to your flight to Lima. From Lima, connect to an international flight back home. !Buen Viaje! 

Map

Map of Best of Peru: Cusco, Machu Picchu, Rainbow Mountain, & More - 7 Days
Map of Best of Peru: Cusco, Machu Picchu, Rainbow Mountain, & More - 7 Days